We hear a lot about ‘big data’ and how it is used to personalise the relationship with the client. What is it exactly and how can I use it at my own small scale?

Big data provides, throughout the retail value chain, abundant information that can be a significant help in decision-making. It can help with organising inputs (sales, KPI, external elements), and deliveries.

Let’s imagine a drone delivers a package to a consumer before they have even ordered it. Such a science-fiction scene does not seem so far-fetched these days. Technology means that, with the storage of a vast amount of data, repeated patterns will be found that define predictive models. That can be used to improve decisions made in areas such as design, production, provisioning, in-store entertainment, staffing, expansion and customer loyalty. Including:

  • Predicting future collections and optimum stock levels for production and logistics purposes
  • Real-time price setting to optimise profitability
  • Personalised special offers based on customer loyalty card history
  • Staffing in bricks-and-mortar stores based on history of traffic, by the hour (even the minute), including external elements such as rain, when local football teams are playing, etc
  • Available as traffic measurement, sales per person, management and financial indicators
  • Decision-makers have access to so many indicators. Almost too much data!

You can use all the information big data provides to your store. Do your customers feel recognised? Do they feel unique, or simply a part of an email list? If one of my favourite brands wishes me a happy birthday on the right day, I will find this a small but welcome detail. Imagine sending a customer an email reading: ‘We have noticed you’re interested in our organic product section. This weekend, we invite you to attend the Eco Food Fair, featuring a speaker on organic farming’. They will feel recognised.

Never forget that retail is detail! Technology today allows us to process such details and gain value in the eyes of customers - provided the information is well segmented and personalised as far as possible.