Five tips for small retailers using Big Data

Posted by Justin Hesser on January 20, 2014

Retail is one of the most natural possible frontiers for the implementation of Big Data. There are hundreds of individual transactions that occur every day, and the margins businesses work under are narrow enough that any advantage, regardless of its size, could be crucial. Here's how you can get the most out of using analytics:

Use every available resource.

While the data that you collect might be a good start if you're a small shop, it probably pales in comparison to the amount that's actually out there. Being able to incorporate freely available information into your proprietary custom database software can be a cheap and effective way of realizing valuable insights. 

Consider the sales you didn't make.

Too often, companies just think about their current customers, and break them down into particular categories. It can be equally important to consider the conversions that didn't happen, and examine what factors were impediments. You should also be keenly aware of your potential market, and look to demographic information that can better help you to address segments that you're not reaching properly. 

Create a context. 

The proper framework is a critical part of getting the most out of Big Data. Matt Felton of Datastory spoke about the value of this process. 

"There's plenty of patterns to be discovered in big data alone, but you miss the really good ones if you analyze this data out of context. If you're simply looking at the patterns in the data you collect, you're limited to discoveries about the things 'you know you don't know,'" he says. 

Make it manageable

The amount of data is getting ever more vast, and it's difficult to completely parse it all. Consulting with a FileMaker developer is a good way to create workflows that you can translate a lot of noise into valuable signals. Instead of trying to do everything, focus on one particular facet of the experience: try improving your customer service funnel, or your welcoming channels or your loyalty programs individually, before making a lot of wholesale changes at once. 

Look to the cloud

There are a ton of services now that will help you manage information virtually, so it's easy to access whenever you need it. This can help you make decisions in close to real time, without having to wait for tedious loading times.