How Retailers Can Take Advantage of Big Data
If you’re not familiar with the term “big data,” or more importantly the concept behind it, it’s not too late to get up to speed. Big data is here and its presence is expanding to fill every aspect of business today and into the foreseeable future.
Big data is just that: numbers so large they're difficult to comprehend, gathered from a myriad of sources. It’s only been a few years since we measured computer storage in kilobytes and then megabytes. Now it's terabytes, petabytes, exabytes and zettabytes.
The latest Digital Universe study from IDC estimates that the global volume of data currently stored and managed is over 1.2 zettabytes, and will reach 35 zettabytes by 2020. This includes monster databases like Facebook and Google, but also all those stand-alone drives people are using to back up video and music files at home.
With the major online players moving to the cloud, the growth of data will most likely increase. With Apple, Google and Amazon offering cloud storage, people will save more data. According to a recent study, more than 30 billion pieces of content will be shared on Facebook each month. You can be sure that every bit of that is being tucked away somewhere in the ether.
What does this mean for retailers? It takes very little time or effort for consumers to post their good, bad and ugly customer experiences on Facebook or Twitter. Retailers can no longer hope to contain bad publicity any more than they can contain pricing differences between stores. It’s all out there for the taking. Make no mistake, consumers are taking.
There's a silver lining though, and that’s the opportunity that big data provides to retailers. The collection of data for many retailers begins with the introduction of a loyalty program. Unfortunately, most retailers do little or nothing with that collected data other than warehouse it. While the idea of collecting all that customer-specific behavior information was attractive, the challenge was actually getting insights out of it.