How Big Data Analytics is Disrupting The Retail Industry

Big Data In Retail

The retail industry is growing at a considerable pace! Isn’t that a term we have all heard?

Let me tell you this, it is not growing at a considerable pace, it is freaking booming! Just to give you a sense of how it is booming – Sales in 2017 was clocked at USD 3.53 trillion, it is poised to grow at 4%. It is also on the cusp of a technology revolution.

The power of mobile and digital technology has enabled retailers to craft cutting-edge experiences for their customers.

The present customer of the retail industry is an extremely fickle one. The newer generation of shoppers have little to no brand loyalty.

It actually is true. A report from the CMO council stated that 54% of consumers would consider switching in favor of better content and offers.

Aren’t we willing to switch to brands that offer a better buying experience and product range? Of course we are, the phrase “Customer is King” has been drilled into our heads repeatedly.

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Retailers are also seen to be investing in a range of unknown brands that can offer similar quality as compared to the bigger brands, at more competitive prices.

There is also the entire world of e-Commerce that has taken off in a big way which has given many retailers the decisions to make between brick-and-mortar and digital presence.

The retail industry is driving all these innovations home due to insights into the customer’s data that includes buying and product browsing behavior.

The industry analysts are also able to get feedback in a faster way and craft a new journey for their customers.

The technology enabling these amazing insights or fueling the new age customer journeys is big data.

To put it simply, your last batter in the 9th inning smacks a homerun, Big Data being the batter!

The Retail Industry : DISRUPTED.

Disrupting Agent : BIG DATA!

Big data is the technology that powers the crunching and analysis of extremely large data sets.

The criteria for the data sets to be ‘big data’ is their volume (their size), their velocity (the speed of incoming data) and the variety (the different types of data).

Big data, when applied to retail is able to transform it in unimaginable ways. Here are a few that I thought were most relevant and impactful:

Big data is helping retailers gather feedback in real-time

The number of customers and their buying process has grown rapidly. This rapidity is too much for traditional data systems to handle and process.

You can’t expect a calculator to calculate like a super computer now, can you?

The opportunities to gather feedback are numerous like the point where the customer moves from one product to the other, when the customer emerges from the trial room or when the customer makes a payment.

Each of these junctures are critical and can be tapped to see where the customer loyalty is swaying to. 

Big data services help make sense of all the data that is gathered at these points, by processing them at a pace that allows the retailers time to actually do something with the feedback and make the necessary changes.

Big data is driving in-store analytics for a better in-store experience

setups today are coming back into the game and are even winning it against e-Commerce by using in-store analytics.

In-store analytics is the sum total of all insights gathered from the customers’ interactions inside the store.

From the customer’s eye movements to their walking patterns to the performance of the products, there is data that can be gathered for all these aspects.

Big data helps capture this voluminous data and find patterns and trends in this that helps retailers craft their customer in-store experience.

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A classic example of this scenario is seen in the suggestions that in-store sales executives make to their customers, when they are aware of what the customer wants even before the customer saying anything.

Big data is what drives these kinds of innovations.

Big data is helping drive e-Commerce innovations for retailers

While brick-and-mortar is deriving benefits from the in-store analytics, e-Commerce players are using big data to drive their product displays and orientations in the home page.

There are e-Commerce retailers who are also investing in personalizing their web layout for each customer depending on the insights they get from big data.

Big data is able to track the digital behavior of customers on the retailer’s websites and apps to know more about what would work with them.

Big data is also at the heart of all the dynamism that is seen around e-Commerce today.

Customers using big data are more likely to get more business today from their e-Commerce entities.

Let me give you another fun fact just for kicks – According to Harvard Business Review, companies that capture the full customer journey are improving their shareholder value by 8.5 times

Big data is enabling better targeting campaigns for customers

Big data is also the favorite tool for the retail marketer today. Big data helps create more accurate customer personas by using accurate information.

Big data is also capable of aggregating different kinds of data about the same   customer into forming a single persona, which is then equipped with the collective information about the customer’s behavior (buying patterns, payment mode preference, festive buying patterns, brand loyalty).

This persona is then used to form better targeting campaigns for the marketers who are able to target their customers in a better way.

Big data also plays a crucial role in designing the promotional campaigns and festive season campaigns for retailers.

Big data helps conduct better business experiments

Business experiments are always advised for retailers who are testing the market with a new product or idea.

The core idea of a business experiment is to have data that conveys accurate insights into how the experiments are performing.

For example, if a product is launched in certain sectors of the market only, then the data needs to tell the retailers about which part of the market it belongs to.

With big data, this kind of analysis becomes easier.

Big data allows the conduction of such business experiments so that the retailers are able to take better informed decisions and derive solid insights from their experiments.


Big data is indeed the driver of many innovations that are seen in the retail industry today.

If you see a jazzy store or a great retail ad that suits your taste or an excellent promotional campaign run by your favorite brand, there is big data that is working hard in the background to make all  that happen.

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From being just your regular buzzword that people were making fun of, to becoming the biggest technology of our time, Big Data has revolutionized every sector and every industry.

Still in a dilemma as to whether you want to adopt Big Data or not? I thought I made it pretty clear with this article.

What’s your take on Big Data disrupting the retail industry?

Author: Abhimanyu Sundar
Abhimanyu is a sportsman, an avid reader with a massive interest in sports. He is passionate about digital marketing and loves discussions about Big Data.