Long considered part of the BI tech jargon, Big Data has emerged as a core ingredient of a successful marketing strategy, revolutionizing almost every vertical industry, from healthcare to manufacturing, banking, finance, and more.
The technology has carved a niche in the e-commerce retail market as well. Today, it’s a part of big and small e-commerce sellers’ business processes, enabling them to achieve their goals more quickly and efficiently.
Big Data for e-commerce: a challenging journey
While there are immense benefits in adopting Big Data technology, there are also massive challenges. Let’s look at some of the hurdles that e-commerce retailers face on the path to adoption.
- Volume: As implied by its name, Big Data integration involves the collection of huge volumes of relevant data from a variety of sources. E-commerce sellers get statistics related to customer behavior (based on searches and transactions), demographics, social media, and more. The challenge here is not only about gathering the data, but also analyzing and using it appropriately.
- Velocity: Handling data as it comes at unprecedented speed is another key concern for e-commerce sellers. Rapid analysis and timely action are essential to tap its full benefits.
- Variety: Big Data comes in diverse formats, from traditional structured numeric databases to unstructured text documents, videos, emails, and more. Retailers need to interpret it to make the right business decisions, allowing for possible data inconsistencies such as seasonal and peak loads (e.g., holiday sales trends).
- Complexity: It can be difficult to link, match, correlate, and interpret data that comes from different sources.
Daunting as the journey may seem, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Retailers who overcome the challenges and use Big Data to their advantage can achieve phenomenal success.
Big Data, big potential: How can it enable e-commerce growth?
Technology forms the core of the e-commerce retail selling process. It is the foundation on which the business is built as buyers connect with sellers through online stores and mobile apps. Disruptive tech such as Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality have become a part of the e-commerce scenario in recent years. Big Data in particular has emerged as a key ingredient in the recipe for e-commerce success.
Big Data can benefit online retail businesses in many ways; here are some of them.
1. Supports dynamic pricing
Pricing is one of the key parameters of e-commerce success, as customers tend to shop from the sites that offer the best prices. Sellers must price fairly owing to the stiff competition they face. The best approach is dynamic pricing, which is responsive to external factors such as consumer demand and competitors’ prices. Big Data analytics is a reliable tool that supports sellers with dynamic pricing.
2. Enables delivery of personalized customer experiences
The cutthroat competition in e-commerce makes customer satisfaction a major concern for sellers, and delivering a personalized shopping experience makes a big difference. Big Data analysis gives sellers insight on customer behavior and demographics and provides customers a personalized experience. For instance, customer data can be used to create buyer-specific e-mails for promotional campaigns.
3. Helps improve business performance
Integration of Big Data technology helps e-commerce sellers improve their business performance. It can track shoppers’ journeys in order to drive relevant content and purchases. Cross-device tracking, for instance, can be used to re-target buyers to decrease cart abandonment and improve conversion rates. The data can also provide sellers with a feedback tool to understand why customers aren’t completing transactions, then direct them to take steps to redress the issues, win over buyers, and build lasting relationships with them.
4. Facilitates smart inventory management
Analytics also improve inventory management for e-commerce businesses. Stocking the right levels of inventory is one of the biggest challenges for e-commerce sellers. Too much inventory results in storage expenses and risk of redundancy as the goods may never be sold. On the other hand, inadequate stock means that goods may not be available for customers and send them to competitors. Big Data predictive analysis comes to sellers’ rescue by helping them calculate optimal stock inventory levels, including predicting booms in demand during the festive season and holiday sales.
The benefits of Big Data analytics for online businesses make the technology a worthy investment, and tapping into the expertise of qualified professionals helps retailers get the most advantage from it. The journey seems to be a long one, particularly for small retailers who have to think twice before making such a massive investment. But, as this technology is surely going to reshape the e-commerce retail industry in future, failing to use Big Data may put retailers at a significant disadvantage compared to competitors.
For more insight on this topic, see 5 Steps to Your Customer’s Heart with Emotionally Aware Computing.