Chris Morley

4 tips for retailers in 2013 on how to keep afloat in the data storm

Data, Data everywhere but just far too much to drink. Retailers are in the centre of a data storm that shows no sign of letting up. In the last 2 years has seen an explosion in the creation of data. In fact 90% of all data, yes all data was created in that timeframe. This increase is predominately from smartphone usage and our love affair with social media, both of which show no sign of slowing...

Much of the data that the retailers have access to is very structured, items such as our name, address, DOB, spend, items brought, frequency of transactions are easier to collect than ever before and can be combined with increased access to data such as our Facebook likes, Facebook demographics, tweets, product reviews, and many other traces from our digital footprint can be collected and used.  With all this data available it can be tricky for retailers to know what is important and what can be used to help give an advantage over competitors and see a happy returning profitable customer.

dat dat every where but not a drop to drink

And that is the main challenge for retailers – the shear volume presents issues in collecting – but also using. Such quantities and variety can present difficulty to the retailer. Add to that the sheer velocity of which this data is presented and changed and you have one great headache as wave after wave after wave of information crashing at the storefront.

In the middle of this storm are the retailers. Recent surveys have found that over a third of global retailers are in drowning in this surge. Even those that are capturing it have problems knowing what to do with it. Some problem points include;


  • Lack of sharing internally, and lack of ability to give access to data where appropriate
  • Poor use of data – not personalising as much as possible
  • Not linking the pieces of data together and not relising the ROI capture
  • Lack of ongoing quality data, infrequent or out of date data
  • Not enough data being collected

So now I painted a clear picture of the problem, how do I recommend retailers get the most out of their ability to access and use ‘Big Data’? Here are 4 key points to remember when making a plan of attack;

  1. Understand this is a change process and different way of operating, expect road bumps ad spillage, a few mistakes and accompany the change with adequate support to adjust.
  2. Be honest about the size, ability and resources of your company; identify gaps and possible recruitment or outsourcing needs
  3. Priorities the business functions that can gain greatest increases and improvements from the application of ‘Big Data’ – pricing, market segments and marketing are good places to start.
  4. The plan of attack needs a master management system, associated policies, processes and rules on use, engagement and sharing.

Ada Lovelace and Data Above all think differently. It was the anniversary of Ada Lovelace’s birthday on the 10th December that prompted this article. She was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. Because of this, she is often considered the world's first computer programmer.  She was also a daughter of the poet Lord Byron hence; her understanding of mathematics was laced with imagination, and described in metaphors. so  it seems appropriate to copy her approach when confronted with the challenge of ‘Big Data’ and how it can improve retailers.

Data exists in new surprising formats and places – the current ERP, CRM and analytics programs are no longer sufficient.  Forget terabyte this is data on a Yottabyte  scale we have never seen the like. Big Data may allow your business to know your consumer so well you know what they will call their children – but importantly you will hopefully know what they need, where they need it, when they need it by and the maximum they are will to pay.  The problem if you don’t know them, the competition will.



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Chris Morley Online Market Experts Chris Morley
Company: Online Market Experts
Position: GM
An online market expert, having been involved in the eCommerce industry since 2007 helping not only big business like Deals Direct, OO, eMitch, Columbus and others but also small businesses to engage and embrace online. i bring passion and enthusiasm to the industry and am always keen to talk shop.

Latest Articles by Chris

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