ECommerce technology and platforms can provide the means to collect a vast amount of data that can be utilized in analyzing all areas of the business environment and the entire supply chain from the materials to the end consumer. This data and resulting analyses can, and will, change the retail market in ways that are just beginning to be imagined. Think of the changes to the retail shopping experience driven by Amazon to date and then think about the technology advancements that have been introduced since Amazon came on the market and you will begin to understand the potential opportunities that will be realized through the big data analyses of material collected through the eCommerce channel. Now with the rise and expansion of Alibaba in the eCommerce market these changes will only increase and expand in the use and importance of big data.
There are some key areas of the eCommerce experience that are especially impactful of big data practices such as the customer shopping practices, the customer purchase practices, and the customer collaboration practices. These analyses require an immense amount of data in order to learn the online shopping habits and the types of products that interest the consumer. This information is the most valuable information about consumer shopping habits and desires because it is based on the actual shopping activities of the consumer. This information is valuable because of the honest insights into the consumer shopping that cannot be attained through focus groups or surveys.
On the other side of the customer equation and usage data you have the supply chain usage data that can then be used to analyze and support the manufacturing of products through the delivery to the end consumer. The shopping data and analyses can be incorporated into the sales and forecasting data to refine the forecasts and replenishment orders. In addition, the consumer shopping and especially product search results are invaluable to developing new products and even service offerings. This information collected early in the product life cycle support more accurate product development life cycles which in turn can more accurately forecast usage at the end of the life cycle which will reduce the overstock inventory.
These big data practices will change the relationship between all partners in the shopping experience and even turn the retail value equation upside down. The consumer will gain the greatest value from the online shopping experience and will change the consumer use of the brick and mortar outlet to potentially focus more on the social aspects of shopping. By the same token, the new information collected from eCommerce big data will also improve the in person shopping experience in the brick and mortar outlets with a more focused product selection and more products that consumers want.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
What types of cross channel services and offerings would you like to see to enhance your shopping experience? Retailers are focused on maintaining sales volumes through reductions in pricing rather than expansion of sales, or even maintaining sales through creative utilization of eCommerce services. Did you shop over the Gray Thursday / Black Friday period? What was your experience in stores and malls?