Leveraging Big Data & Real time Analytics can lead to insight-driven retailing

The Big Data phenomenon coupled with real-time analytics is making waves across the globe, irrespective of domain and industry types. In this paper, we will explore the changing face of retailing and how can Big Data and Analytics be leveraged to deliver insight-driven, fast paced decision making for survival and excellence.

Retail industry is probably one of the few to grapple with the most direct business impacts of enormous volumes of structured and un-structured data going inadequately analyzed and used.

While most retailers have plans to make use of big data, there are a number of challenges they face. But braving all odds and thanks to availability of innovations such as Apache Hadoop, most big retailers have been able to make progress in consolidating all their data. This in turn gives them the ability to derive far more powerful insights now than they could have done a few years ago.

So what areas of a retail set up can Big Data Impact?

Broadly speaking, the three vital pillars of a retail set-up viz. merchandising, operations and marketing can all be undeniably impacted and changed for the better using Big data and real-time analytics.

Big data savvy retailers can aggregate data from web browsing patterns, social media, industry forecasts, existing customer data, etc. - to predict shopping trends, forecast demand, segment customers based on location and demographics, optimize pricing and promotions, and monitor real-time analytics and results.

Innovative transformations in retailing as a result of Big data and analytics adoption

Buy now, pay later– An ideal way to target those shopping cart abandoners, a lot of modern retailers, online and off, are using customer activity trails to device newer methods.Big data enables companies to create comprehensive customer profiles, precise product recommendations and one-click checkout that are proving highly beneficial in enhancing customer shopping experiences and ensuring better billing probability. Targeted remarketing campaigns are yielding better results than ever before due to insight based planning and execution.

Fraud detection and prevention – Another area that has hugely benefitted from the use of Big data is a retailer’s ability to detect and prevent fraudulent transactions. Accurate profiling of customers based on demographics, preferences, interests and historical buying behavior have resulted in pin-pointing fraud suspects.

Stocking up just right– Big Data adoption has had tremendous impact on the way retailers handle and manage their inventory. All aspects of inventory management including in-store stocks, forecasting and even pack/SKU size is being decided based on insights obtained from data analysis.

Product suggestions & ideas – Suggesting customers to buy products has attained a whole new level with availability and access to real time insights. With Big data working in the foreground, these suggestions hold a strong link to customer preferences and previously demonstrated behavioral traits. There are retailer who even recommend gifting ideas based on customer profiling.

In this era of cut throat competition and hyper-activity, retailers are increasingly turning to predictive analytics in an attempt to out-perform their rivals on their path to success.

While there will be challenges in initial adoption, the key to success will be being open to change and learning to swim the Big Data river one simple stroke at a time. Its not a place to splurge, it’s a place to cautiously tread and adopt what is best for your business.