The ecommerce industry has already crossed the trillion dollar mark in sales worldwide. Ecommerce has not only changed the fate of big businesses worldwide but it has made it easier for small businesses to get an international exposure for their products. Ecommerce industry is totally dependent on technology for its effectiveness and growth. Big data has become crucial for the success of the ecommerce industry as it provides deep insights into customer behavior and industry trends. Big data facilitates decision making by giving peculiar analytics on every aspect of business from marketing to inventory management to helping in retaining customers. Following are few ways Big Data is facilitating ecommerce.
1# Data organization
Data has become most powerful resource for any business especially for ecommerce stores it’s a daunting task to collect data from multiple sources and organize it in a way that it gives useful information to business owners. Big data provides solution to all the challenges of data handling and also helps in analyzing data for making better business decisions.
For ecommerce businesses pricing is one of the detrimental factor in winning customer loyalty and retention. Big Data helps in collecting data on customer’s buying preferences. This helps in dynamically deciding the price at which most likely the customer is willing to buy products from a particular ecommerce store; Whether the ecommerce store should offer a 10% discount or 20% discount to a particular customer to make him purchase again and again from the store.
3# Supply chain management
For any business it’s very important to maintain suitable inventory levels to minimize inventory cost. Big Data helps in forecasting the levels of inventory an ecommerce store should maintain based on patterns. Big Data helps in effectively maintain the whole supply chain. It helps in keeping track on the supplier’s information and also gives a real time updates any potential problems which could occur. Amazon is using big data for predictive shipping which is a distribution method wherein a firm uses predictive analytics to forecast future sales based on historical data. Amazon has filed a patent for the same in late 2013.
4# Customer service
The other factor which makes an ecommerce store irresistible to the customers is its customer service. Customers choose an ecommerce store with transparent and responsive customer service. Big Data plays a pivotal role in integrating various communication channels including phone calls, live chat, emails etc to provide a responsive customer service. Big Data helps in understanding customer issues and actions that are needed to be taken in resolving them. SouthWest airlines is using Big data to provide excellent customer service. The airline is trying to get more information on what customers want through real time KPI dashboards and speech analytics. They are also using data analysis to deliver personalized experiences.
5# Social Media monitoring
For online businesses, social media plays an important role in brand building and driving sales. It’s equally important to learn what people are saying about your brand on social media channels. Big data helps in making sense of data collected from social media. You can get path breaking marketing ideas from your social media data. It also helps in conducting market research on your products and getting the opinion of people on your products or store. IBM’s Cognos Consumer Insights, a point solution running on IBM’s BigInsights Big Data Platform helps in analysis of social media. IBM is using it to understand and make sense of the chatter on social media routes.
6# Exploring trends
The searches that happen on search engines provide very useful information which can be used by ecommerce businesses in expanding their sales. Big Data helps in providing ability to compare the volume and popularity of search queries which helps in identifying the demand for certain products. The ecommerce business is very much driven through search engines so it’s very important to keep a track on search engine queries. Wallmart is using big data from 10 different websites to feed shopper and transnational data into an analytical system.
Since the advent of ecommerce, the power of customer has increased dramatically as they have options to select between various online stores at a click of a button. Thus to give the customers a more personalized experience, Big Data helps in keeping track of customer visiting patterns and purchase behavior. This helps in providing the visitor a more customized content on his next visit which will enhance their user experience. For example by tracking a customer’s preferences of buying certain products Big Data can help in providing discounts for those particular products to the customers. Sears and Kmart are trying to improve the personalisation of marketing campaigns, coupons and offers with big data to compete better with Wallmart.
8# Predictive analysis
Big Data helps in making much better informed decisions with the help of in-depth insights on your business’s sales, supply chain and customer information. It provides accurate forecast which could help you take the necessary steps in capitalizing on any potential opportunity or resolving any potential problem. Therefore it’s essential to take leverage of Big Data in making data driven decisions. Morgan Stanley had issues doing portfolio analysis on traditional databases and it has now shifted to Hadoop to analyze investments. It is being used by financial industry for sentiment analysis, predictive analysis and financial trades.
Big Data gives a competitive edge to an ecommerce store which helps it in standing out of the competition. As the amount of data has increased drastically in the past few years, the technology to handle such a huge and complex data has also evolved in the form of Bid Data. The ecommerce giant like Amazon is already depending on Big Data for its operation and growth but it can be equally useful for small ecommerce business owners. There are many new apps based on Big Data which are developed to facilitate online businesses. Hence the future of the ecommerce industry will certainly be shaped by Big Data.