Retail technology collects volume upon volume of data about sales, inventory changes, employee performance, customer behaviors – not to mention when and where it all happens. A pivotal fact about data, however, is that it’s not how much retailers collect; it’s how they use it. The solutions you use may give you the capability to report on one set of stats, but is that giving you the insights you need to be competitive? On the other hand, by leveraging Big Data, you can correlate information from a range of sources and reveal patterns that help you understand the types of experiences your customers want and how you can deliver them.
Consider these examples of how Big Data can impact your business:
- Insights, now: Unfortunately, more than half of all data that companies collect is “dark data,” data that is never used. It idly resides in a data center on the cloud because retailers can’t take time away from tasks at hand to analyze it. Case in point, using your current reporting capabilities and manual methods, how long would it take you to determine how a segment of your customer list completed purchases of a particular item during a promotion? A major advantage of Big Data is the speed with which it performs analyses. With the right platform, however, Big Data analysis can provide insights virtually instantaneously.
- Operational visibility: Big Data analysis provides a clearer picture of your business today – and what you need to do to keep it running smoothly tomorrow. By leveraging Big Data, for example, you can move beyond simply monitoring inventory levels to more accurately projecting whether they’ll be sufficient for an upcoming season or promotion. Additionally, you can more easily optimize prices, finding where they appeal to customers while generating profit. Big Data also gives you insights into employee performance, which can allow you to schedule your best team during high-traffic times to ensure your business delivers an exceptional customer experience.
- Customer intel: Busy consumers won’t respond or engage with a brand that doesn’t provide relevant, personalized service. Big Data will help you drill down into information on individual customers and their behaviors – on all channels – giving you the ability to deliver the offers and engagements they want. For example, Big Data can intelligently tailor upsell and cross-sell suggestions online, at the checkout, or in virtual fitting rooms. It can help you make smart decisions about brand extensions such as classes and entertainment – and send invitations to customers who will most appreciate them. By leveraging Big Data, you can also substantially improve marketing ROI by delivering offers to the right people at the right times.
- Brand reputation: Savvy retailers also leverage Big Data analysis to build customer loyalty. With insights from Big Data, you can ensure you have the merchandise in stock that your customers want and that you’ll delight them with shopping experiences tailored to their preferences and needs. McKinsey Global Institute sums it up: Data-driven businesses are 23 times more likely to acquire and nine times more likely to retain customers than their competitors that are not.
Transparency is key
Big Data analysis undoubtedly gives retailers an advantage with information and insights they need to create the ultimate customer experience. Some of the data that your business may want to utilize, however, is sensitive and personal – and increasingly regulated. Two well-known regulations are the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Maintaining your customers’ trust through transparency about data collection and how you will use their data is paramount to a Big Data analysis strategy that will help, and not hurt, your business.
Retailers who strike the delicate balance between transparency and consumer trust while leveraging Big Data analysis for insights to create ultimate customer experiences will be the businesses that score the biggest wins in their markets.
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