Report Offers Big Data Starting Point for Nine Retail Challenges

Loraine Lawson
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Retail companies have Big Data capabilities, but they’re not sure what to do with them. It’s just too… big, according to a special report released today by Brick Meets Clicks (available for free download with registration).

“Discussions about Big Data and retail often bog down in the vastness of its potential, leaving retailers with only the vaguest guidance as they try to figure out where and how to invest in this powerful tool,” states the report.

That seems to be a common theme with Big Data right now. As I shared in my previous post on analytics, Dr. Shawna Thayer talked about executive paralysis with Big Data during the recent Data Strategy Symposium.

Bricks Meets Clicks took a more unusual approach to their survey, opting to focus less on statistics about Big Data usage and instead to clarify how Big Data can help.


The company asked a panel of retail experts to identify 12 specific challenges that Big Data could help resolve. Then, they surveyed nearly 150 retail professionals about those 12 options, their potential impact on the business, and the difficulty to execute.

The resulting report, “Clear Direction on Using Big Data to Solve Retail Problems,” digs into nine of these challenges (survey respondents didn’t express enough interest in the remaining three). What’s unique, though, is that it doesn’t delve into the survey findings. Instead, it uses the report to define the problem, explain the opportunity Big Data gives you, and then outline general action steps retailers can take. The discussion is entirely business-focused, with no technical talk.

Big Data

For instance, the survey identified “increase spending by your best customer” as the top challenge retailers would like to address. The problem is clear: How do you persuade your best customers to spend even more with you? Big Data gives you the opportunity to identify top shoppers and divide them by those who choose to shop with you and those who must.

The suggested action is to appeal more effectively to each group with different offers. Other top problems addressed in the report include “identify profitable items to promote” and “refine assortment to drive higher store sales.”

Even though the focus of the report is retail companies, I suspect that some of the opportunities and actions are applicable in other types of customer-focused businesses.

If you’d like to read another take on the survey’s key findings, SupermarketNews published a nice summary of the top recommendations.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.



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