Analytics: The real-world use of big data in retail

How innovative retailers extract value from uncertain data

“Big data” – which admittedly means many things to many people – is no longer confined to the realm of technology. While big data is the convergence of more data from more sources than we have ever seen, it also represents a cultural shift in the way retailers connect with consumers in a meaningful way. This bottom-line impact of big data is what makes it a business imperative and why retailers around the world it are leveraging it to transform their processes, their organizations and, soon, the entire industry. Big data is especially promising and differentiating for retailers. Today’s empowered consumers bring attitudes and expectations shaped by experiences across a diverse commercial world to every interaction with retailers. Now more than ever, consumers use data and technology to take control of their shopping experience. As consumer technology adoption and multi-channel shopping experiences become the norm, data becomes increasingly critical. For example, a consumer might begin researching a product on a mobile app, purchase it online and pick it up at a store. Coordinating this multi-channel shopping interaction requires entirely new data competencies for the retailer whose business now depends upon whether it can manage, integrate and understand this vast array of data coming at a non-stop pace.

We found that 62 percent of retailers report that the use of information (including big data) and analytics is creating a competitive advantage for their organizations, compared with 63 percent of cross-industry respondents. We also discovered that retailers are taking a business-driven and pragmatic approach to big data. The most effective big data strategies identify business requirements first, and then tailor the infrastructure, data sources and analytics to support the business opportunity.

To compete in a consumer-empowered economy, it is increasingly clear that retailers must leverage their information assets to gain a comprehensive understanding of markets, customers, products, distribution locations, competitors, employees and more. In this industry deep dive, we examine industry-specific challenges, as well as provide our top-level recommendations for retail organizations.

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