It’s no secret that the retail industry has faced drastic changes over the past decade.   Trends ranging from changing demographics (Millennials replacing Baby Boomers as primary customers), online sales growth while brick and mortar revenues decline, an increase in major security breaches affecting millions of customers, and customer experience failures (and wins) broadcast through social media. All of these affect the way major retailers, as well as mom and pop shops, do business today.

Industry Overview

In the 2015 Retail Industry Outlook Interview with Alison Kenney Paul, Deloitte’s Vice Chairman and US Retail and Distribution Leader, she talked about opportunities for growth in the retail sector:

“The proliferation of digital, social, and mobile technologies coupled with increasing consumer adoption of these technologies, continues to change the way consumers shop. Our 2014 holiday survey revealed that while consumers prefer the in-store shopping experience over online, nearly three-fourths (74%) of respondents intend to do some form of online research prior to making in-store purchases. Therefore, to capture these consumers at the start of their shopping journey, retailers must ensure they have an appealing presence across all platforms apart from merely providing an engaging in-store experience.

Realize, however, having a presence across each platform is no longer enough, and is now purely table stakes. Providing a blended online and in-store experience–leaving the consumer with the feeling that they just embarked on one cohesive shopping journey as opposed to several disjointed multi-platform shopping experiences–is a growth opportunity for retailers in the coming year. This convergent holistic experience needs to encompass not only product assortment, pricing, shipping, return options, and promotional offerings, but also provide a consistent aesthetic look and emotional feel.

The retailers that will move ahead of the pack in the coming year are those that can deliver a consistent, clear, clean, simplified, and seamless message across all channels.

Additionally, effective and relevant data mining also remains a growth opportunity for retailers. The retailers that stand to gain will be those that can effectively sort through the vast amount of available data, and then zero in on the nuggets of information that can be used to enhance customer service.”

Big Data

An organization’s ability to get to know their customers better, anticipate their needs adjust messaging and inventory accordingly, all while delivering a truly personalized experience is made possible and data plays a pivotal role. Not just data from one or two sources, but Big Data—with all its challenges in terms of variety of formats and types, the speed at which it must be processed, and the sheer volume of data being collected. This is Big Data in the real world—and demonstrates its impact on an organization’s ability to compete and sustain growth in today’s changing landscape.

“Mark Van Rijmenam, co-founder and CEO of big data platform Datafloq, explains that by combining sources of data such as weather conditions, social media trends, and market conditions, retailers can better predict what products they need to allocate, when and where. He provides the example of Walmart, who carefully tracked several data points to discover that more pop-tarts were sold when there was a hurricane warning. As a result, store managers at certain locations knew to order more pop-tarts during hurricane season and place them strategically at the front of the store.” http://thrivingmalls.com/2015/01/17/big-data-enhancing-retail-industry/

More examples of Big Data being used at Walmart, Target and others can be found here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-06-03/retailers-use-big-data-to-turn-you-into-a-big-spender

Solution

General Networks partners with MarkLogic, the only Enterprise NoSQL database platform provider in the industry, to build solutions that enable enterprise clients to take full advantage of their growing volumes of data in any format, from any source.   MarkLogic’s CTO of Retail and Consumer, Donald Soares, is passionate about helping the Retail industry tackle their Big Data challenges head on, and has created a series of articles targeted to the Retail Industry. From outlining Customer 360 or Omnichannel 360 programs that work, to pinpointing the flaws in today’s Retail Loyalty Programs and failing E-Commerce strategies, Donald’s insightful posts help savvy retail professionals navigate the future.

For real world examples of Big Data challenges being addressed today with solutions built with MarkLogic’s technology, visit: http://www.marklogic.com/blog/category/retail-and-consumer/

Contact General Networks to discuss your enterprise content, data and information challenges and learn more about solutions that address your needs and goals.

Written by: Cathy Ashbaugh, Senior Account Manager | cashbaugh@gennet.com