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Big data, information as a tool for sales

The capture and analysis of data will be increasingly used by retailers

  • Key4Communications

One of the advantages of working in an online environment is the amount of information that companies can extract from their customers. What products they buy, which they searched for, if they did it from a smartphone or from a computer, in addition to all the personal information they communicate to make the purchase. Not to mention interactions in social networks: if consumers click on the "like" button, if they share the link to the product or the company, how many followers they have, how many brands they follow...

But of course, one of the drawbacks of working in an online environment is, also, the amount of information that companies can extract from their customers.

Because all that information needs to be analysed to be useful. It is not enough to have the data if we do not know what to do with it. According to a Monetate study, 39% of companies do not record this information as frequently or as fast as necessary, 45% do not use data to tailor their communication, and 42% are not able to apply it to each of their customers.

The problem is becoming more complex, since every five years, the amount of digital information is multiplied by ten.

Data, data everywhere
Companies and especially online retailers increasingly have the option to apply Big Data systems that capture and deal massive amounts of information in order to make predictive analysis. These tools, more accessible everyday, have been used for example in assessing the progress of diseases, to fight crime, and for business analysis.

For example, a company like Walmart manages one million transactions per hour and includes these operations in its database. It is estimated that this database has 167 times the information in the Library of Congress (with its 138 million documents). Although, obviously, all data is about a single theme: Walmart customers. More examples: Facebook hosts 40 billion photographs. And the human genome has 3 billion base pairs. All this information has to be analysed in order to be useful.

What to do with so much information
Obviously, a toy store does not have as much data as Walmart, but it is still necessary to organize and analyse all this complex information. If the data is processed properly, we can get useful information:

- To predict who could be our best customers. For example, we could see that those who buy in our online store using a mobile device spend more money or maybe acquire a particular type of product more often. This info can be used for specific campaigns for these clients.

- To know if our customer service is good enough. Or where does it fail and why. Maybe there is a problem with a particular category of product.

- To assess if the company is relevant in social networks. Maybe the brand has many followers, but it is also important to know if the messages are positive or negative. Or if our customers are especially present in any of these networks, which would allow us to, again, unfold specific campaigns for these media.

- We also have a lot of information about each of our clients and we can customize most of the proposals. Both for the final consumer, as Amazon does with their offers, as in the case of B2B companies.

It is difficult to adequately approach all this information and companies need to have the appropriate tools. But it will become increasingly important to know what to offer to whom and why.

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