Jun 25, 2015

For ecommerce operations, big data is not just coming — it's already here, and companies that are leveraging the vast streams of information they have about their customers are gaining significant advantages over those who are not. How so? Let's look at some areas where ecommerce firms benefit from big data.

One of the principal areas is in how they deliver their services and customer satisfaction. That's because it's possible to provide highly personalised services using the variety of data sources generated by customers' online habits and behaviours. This includes analysis of everything from the frequency of log-ins to how a particular customer browses on an ecommerce site, so that you know what the customer likes and how they might respond to special discounts tailored just for them — hopefully convincing them to make a purchase. Loyalty programmes are another great way to generate large amounts of quality customer data for future use.

Many online shoppers complain that they just don't get the customer service they need when either making a purchase or afterwards, especially for returning items. This again is where big data proves so invaluable.

The different channels of communication, from email to phone calls, can be streamlined and queries quickly dealt with by working out when there's likely to be peak demand, so that customers are not left waiting and become infuriated — leading to overall dissatisfaction and the possibility that they'll go elsewhere next time. This then enables higher levels of customer retention.

Big data helps to improve all areas of a company's operations, including the management of the critical supply chain. By analysing their data, online retailers can identify potential blocks in the system that could disrupt supplies and harm sales — before they have a chance to occur. As important is the ability to look ahead and determine where sales will be in the near future so that companies can make strategic plans for marketing and expansion and become more successful.

Big data is all around us, and tapping into it is now essential for all kinds of ecommerce operations.