Why big data is changing retail shopping from both sides of the transaction

Posted by Justin Hesser on May 28, 2013

The era of big data, instant information and communication has changed the way brands interact with consumers, but it has also changed the way individuals interact with businesses.

Gone are the days when consumers had limited resources to assist with their shopping efforts. Shoppers who would simply travel to a store and make choices primarily based on the consumer goods they could see and touch can now go online and access a bevy of data to supplement their decision making. Online reviews, product descriptions and price comparisons can help shoppers determine where and how to buy the products they are looking for.

With the recent advancement of mobile technology, this process is even easier for customers. A shopper can now view a product, pull out his or her mobile device and look that item up to find out how to best obtain that particular item. They can use location services to find the best place to drive in order to purchase it or they can order it online through their phone or tablet’s browser, if that’s the best possible option. Moreover, if the reviews of that particular item are not favorable, consumers can quickly search for competitive product.

Companies can no longer assume shoppers will buy what they need as soon as they find it in a store. They have to understand the way consumers behave and counter with their own big data strategies. Businesses that are cognizant of the options consumers have must collect data pertaining to this fact and use it to their advantage.

Custom application development will likely be necessary. Because businesses cannot afford to fall behind consumer trends, investing in solutions to monitor them is vital. To maintain economic viability, brands and retailers have to be in control of the shopping experience, rather than vice versa. Once customers take the lead in the data game, businesses will be at a significant disadvantage.

Big data changing the face of emerging market retail

On Monday, an article in the South China Morning Post examined the impact information is having on the way both consumers and businesses interact with one another. In emerging Asian markets, where more users are obtaining an internet connection each day and smartphone adoption is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, companies are working to keep up with this rapidly growing trend.

Li Hong, the author of the article, explained that businesses are taking advantage of every opportunity presented by increased smartphone functionality.

“Data analysis isn’t only about marketing,” Hong wrote. “Geographical data can tell us much about people’s consumption habits. In China, digital and big data can provide a window for brands into third- and fourth-tier cities which were previously out of reach to retailers due to high distribution costs. With the rise in mobile and internet use, e-commerce will add to this new outreach.”

Here in the United States, having the right solutions in place to control pertinent consumer data is crucial. Using FileMaker to develop a custom database software system is an ideal solution because of the strong capabilities of the platform. Businesses that develop these software programs can keep a keen eye on all important pieces information and use it to improve their own efforts.