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How is big data affecting the retail landscape?

May 1, 2014

"Big data" is undoubtedly one of the buzzwords in all sectors of industry today - but how it it affecting the retail landscape?

“Big data” is undoubtedly one of the buzzwords in all sectors of industry today – but how is it affecting the retail landscape? If a number of recent news reports are to believed, it’s already having a major effect.

A recent Mobile Commerce Daily report, for instance, noted that Neiman Marcus is currently using big data to personalize promotional materials and other documents sent to its online shoppers. For instance, if a specific customer regularly buys handbags from the company’s online credit card payment processing page, the retailer would use the data derived from that customer’s history to ensure all emails and other messages sent to that customer would revolve around handbags.

“Today we’re the largest omnichannel fashion luxury retailer, but customers are using all sorts of devices and interacting in lots of different ways,” said Jeff Rosenfeld, vice president of customer insight and analytics at Neiman Marcus, according to Mobile Commerce Daily. “So the question is how do we use people, data and technology to combine that insight and bring back that relationship so we can know our customer and personalize that experience the same way a top sales associate could speak to their best customer?”

The company is using big data in other ways, as well. Mobile Commerce Daily reported that the Marcus company is also using big data to find out how customers are arriving at its online merchant gateways – such as whether they were routed from advertisements, social media webpages, or other sources. The company then uses these findings to decide where to spend its media budget in the future. 

“I think if data went away, it would have a very material impact on our business,” Rosenfeld said, according to the news report. “We use it a lot in quite a number of ways.”

Big data is also influencing where retail outlets and other organizations put their store locations
Companies are making other uses of big data, as well – such as using it to inform where they put their store locations. For instance, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently rethought his company’s strategic growth plans through the lens of big data, according to a recent Forbes report. 

“This time around, Starbucks took a more disciplined, data-driven approach to store openings and used Esri’s mapping software to easily analyze massive amounts of data about planned store opening,” Mark Cohen, professor of marketing at Columbia University, explained to Forbes. 

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