Improving retail sales through big data

The spread of ecommerce businesses has created a formidable threat to the continued prosperity of physical retail stores. More consumers are turning toward online stores because of their convenience and low prices. The proliferation of mobile devices has made this trend even more pronounced with many shoppers having access to digital shops anytime and anywhere. In order to compete, retailers need to leverage every advantage they can get. Fortunately, big data analytics can help.

Creating a more personalized experience
In a recent ClickZ article, big data expert Krishnan Parasuraman offered several ways that retailers could improve their business with data analytics software. One method was to use big data tools to provide a more personalized experience for shoppers. Online stores have it easy in this regard since from the moment a customer logs into his or her account, the site has access to personal information, order histories and shopping preferences to craft an individualized marketing and sales approach.

While retailers do not have that luxury, new technologies are allowing store managers to offer a similar experience. Facial recognition software built into security cameras can provide employees with customers' preferences when they walk into a store as well as alert them to the presence of a highly valuable client.

Even without that software advancement, stores can still leverage big data solutions to provide customers with a more personalized experience. RFID tags and POS systems provide retailers with a large volume of information to extract insights into consumer preferences and trends.

Optimizing store layouts
In addition, that information can be used to more effectively orchestrate product layout. For instance, American Apparel has used this technology to determine the optimal placement of its products to encourage consumer engagement.

Going further, retailers can use Wi-Fi pings coming from their customers' smartphones to monitor their location within the store and identify connections between the popularity of a product and its shelf placement.

StackIQ reported that big data tools can help human resources departments make efficient staffing choices, further improving a retailer's bottom line. Data analytics software can determine the optimal number of employees to have on staff and on the floor at any given time. By finding the right balance between having enough staff members to effectively support customers but not hiring so many as to create a drain on payroll, companies can improve their profit margins.

Many retailers are opting to use Hadoop Apache software for their big data needs. Businesses have been drawn to the low cost of investment and the flexibility of the open source platform. With Hadoop big data tools, businesses can scale their projects to meet their specific requirements. 

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