It’s that time of the year again -- when retailers gear up for the back-to-school shopping season, getting strategies and technologies locked in to take advantage of the expected $75.8 billion in sales.
The good news is that NRF forecasts that back-to-school sales will rise from last year’s $68 billion, showing that there are dollars to be won in the retail world. But when competing for sales, there’s one factor that may help successful retailers stand out from the rest: Big Data.
Retailers can use this secret weapon, author Mike Sands asserts in Marketing Land, to help them deliver stellar digital experiences and compete with industry behemoth Amazon, known for dominating every aspect of retail from initial consideration to purchase and delivery. The knowledge and insight available in customer data gives retailers the edge they need to deliver exceptional experiences. By using data to understand what their customers desire and need, retailers can deliver data-driven relevance, personalized marketing and simple, seamless experiences – increasing the chances of making the sale over a competitor.
Of course, in order to effectively use that data, retailers must first have a solid technology strategy in place. Here are three tips for retailers to effectively build a Big Data strategy for back-to-school shopping season.
Adopt a cloud-first mentality
Massive data growth has prompted retailers to move increasing amounts of data to the cloud in order to capitalize on its immense storage capabilities and constant availability. The Harvard Business Review recently conducted a study and found that nearly 54 percent of cloud adopters experienced major improvements to their business models after implementing cloud technologies. Still, more than one-third of respondents have not transitioned to the cloud because they believe it would be difficult to manage and require extensive collaboration between IT departments, engineers and operations. By investing in revolutionary cloud technologies, retailers can store, analyze and act on pertinent customer information to cater products and services to customer needs, create a personalized shopping experience and boost revenue. Brands operating on legacy systems with limited storage capacity run the risk of missing out on valuable information as data likely remains inefficiently stored and unused.
Big Data gathered from busy shopping seasons offers the distinct advantage of forecasting inventory needs based on customer order history. Retailers can use Big Data to forecast demand during the busiest times of year so customers are not left without the bargain they counted on during a huge sale, as Marketing Week explored in a recent article. These precise insights can help companies plan and manage products for the future, reduce out-of-stock rates and increase customer satisfaction levels.
Merge online and offline data
As reported at NASDAQ.com, the growing use of cross-channel sales now requires every retailer, whether online or brick and mortar, to bring together physical and digital systems to serve customers across touchpoints. As a result, retail pure-plays are now turning omni-channel, relying on multiple avenues to reach customers and generate sales. This means online retailers are getting creative by launching physical stores or temporary pop-up shops to connect with customers. With this rise in multiple shopping channels, retailers must collectively study Big Data from online and offline channels alike to have a complete picture of consumer buying habits. A recent study of online and offline data revealed that shoppers often browse for products online first before ultimately making purchases in stores. With helpful insights generated by merging online and offline data, retailers can more easily track the purchase habits of customers and execute effectively on their omni-channel initiatives.
How is your retail company optimizing Big Data for the back-to-school shopping season? Learn more about Big Data and how ProKarma can help you channel it more effectively.