Retailers and Big Data: How analyzing data can help meet consumer shopper demands

By Brahmajeet Desai, director of marketing, Kyvos Insights

There’s no disputing the recent holiday shopping season proved to be a bonanza for retailers but there’s also another truth:competition for customer dollars is stronger than ever. This means that in order to be successful, retailers will need to consider how build an engaging experience for existing customers while also building loyalty with any net new customers they are introduced to over the sales period.

The best way to achieve this is by maximizing the data retailers already have on hand in order to maximize the shopping experience through every medium. Most merchants have been collecting consumer data for years through a number of ways; between loyalty programs, purchase tracking, targeted advertising and even geo-locating, there exists mountains of information which can help provide a more personalized experience for each and every customer. This is becoming increasingly important, because as customer’s demands and shopping preferences continue to evolve, businesses which don’t cater to these desired experiences are likely to not only miss out on holiday sales rush — they may lose their customers all together.

Demand, demand, demand

As the holiday shopping season kicks off, it’s essential for companies to ensure their product inventory up to date. The fastest and easiest way to lose a customer to a different store is if the shelf for the product they are looking for is empty. Having the ability to ensure the right product is being supplied to the right store at the right time is key to meeting demands. This is especially important in peak sales periods, where the seasons ‘hot’ items can run off the shelves in record times, leaving stores potentially unprepared if they have committed to stocking the wrong items.

Retail stores are relying on five separate score cards to help them analyze their data and answer popular questions and demands coming from their customers:

•    Forecasting
•    Suppliers
•    Out of stock
•    Inventory purpose
•    Sales & operations planning

Making data driven decisions in the retail industry is imperative. Through Big Data, vendors are able to analyze the performance of each item at a store level, including lead times, shipment and forecasts, and identify ways to reduce excess days of supply across stores by examining all products at the store and distribution center level.

The shopping experience

With the retail industry already hyper-competitive, placing an increased focus on service delivery can often be the key differentiator between competitors. This means it’s essential for stores to truly know their customers. From their preferred method of communication to their shopping habits, retailers have a lot of this data on hand, which can help create lifelong customers. In today’s hyper-personalized world consumers not only expect, but demand, curated and customized shopping experiences.

A recent PwC survey, highlights shoppers are inclined to pay extra for a personalized service or experience. From self-checkouts, to hyper-personalized experiences and the introduction of messaging applications, customers are changing the way brands are interacting with them, both in-store and online. By leveraging data, they have access to and listening to customer chatter, retailers are able to create a truly unique experience. While some may think consumers are more worried about the latest and greatest products, they are actually more in tune with how their needs are being catered to.

Benefits of existing Big Data systems

During the busiest shopping time of the year, the last thing retailers need to be worried about is if the analysis of their data is helping them accurately meet their shopper’s demands. From a technical and business perspective there are many benefits companies can experience when using their Big Data systems properly. Some of these include:

•    Reduced time to insight.
•    Better forecasting visibility.
•    Drill down to lowest level of details.
•    Improved supply planning.
•    Improving sales by reducing out of stock items.
•    Cost savings on excess inventory.
•    Enhanced supplier collaboration.
•    New sales and revenue opportunities.
•    Better sharing and collaboration across teams.

Creating exceptional shopping experiences is what is expected of stores. If one part of that experience is ruined, it could taint the customer’s view of the store. Ensuring retail stores are properly leveraging the data they have collected may seem like a daunting task, but when done so properly customer’s happiness can turn into lifetime loyalty, leading to a successful company.