How Big Data Helps Retailers Understand their Customers Better

One big topic at this year’s NRF Big Show was that retailers need to truly understand their customers’ tendencies in order to effectively target them across all channels – in-store, online, mobile, and beyond.


According to a conversation with IBM’s Ginni Rometty on Forbes, one way retailers can do this is by leveraging the increasingly vast amount of data retailers can collect and analyze on their customer-base.

From the article:

In the simplest terms, big data offers a means to understand shoppers via myriad digital touch points – from their online purchases to their presence on social networks.

“Mobile is everywhere – more people have a cell phone than running water and 25% of the world will be on a social network – that’s what created all of this big data: 2.5 billion gigabytes [of data] is created per day,” she said.

To put it in perspective the newness of it all, 80% of the world’s data has been created in the past two years, she said, a statistic also quoted by others in several show sessions.

It’s composed of structured data, “things that come in rows and columns,” and “unstructured data,” such as pictures, videos, tweets and location-based data.

And why should big data be top of mind for merchants? Because “it will be retailers’ basis of competitive advantage … and will be how you engage with your customers,” she said.