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Using Big Data to Operate at Customer Speed

The empowered shopper
This past holiday season, I spoke with a self-proclaimed "impatient, savvy shopper," who went into a large retailer armed with a tablet and a list of 14 toys. He found the first item on the list, scanned the UPC code, and put the item back on to the shelf. He bought the item right then and there, but not from the retailer he was visiting.

Using this same process, he went through all 14 items. He purchased every single item and spent more than $600. A grand total of $6.79 went to the retailer where he was shopping. He was able to find everything cheaper at a different retailer, and since it was the holiday season, free shipping was available for most of the items. Had he not had his tablet, he would have had to spend hours searching the Internet, combing ads and sales, or driving from store to store to find the best deals. He was able to knock out his entire list while finding the absolute best prices in less than 45 minutes -- all while visiting just one store.

Retailers fight back with big data
As we discussed this week, retailers are already monitoring brick-and-mortar store traffic with cameras, installing indoor positioning systems to track mobile devices, using cookies to track traffic on their websites, storing transactions from customer loyalty programs, and combining this information with data from third parties such as Skyhook to cross reference information gathered from shoppers' smartphones.

Such solutions deliver useful information in near real-time to business leaders and front-line workers and helps them interact with customers. That can increase profits and improve the shopping experience for customers and employees. Retailers can -- and do -- use such big data to operate at customer speed, meeting the challenge of offering the right product at the right price to the right customer.

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