The retail value of big data

For years, retailers have leveraged big data tools to improve their marketing efforts and profile customer needs. Sears Holdings has been one of the most fervent believers in the retail value of data analytics in recent years. Using resources built upon Hadoop architectures, the company has significantly enhanced its data analytics program. According to InformationWeek, since adopting Apache Hadoop technology in 2010, Sears has significantly decreased the turnaround time on its marketing analysis initiatives, while expenditures have fallen to a third of the cost of comparable big data platforms.

The retail giant recently announced it has been able to improve upon those figures, reducing the amount of time needed to return meaningful insight from data analytics processes as much as 70 percent. Sears CTO Phil Shelley presented a webinar highlighting the various benefits of the company's Hadoop programs. In addition to its cost-effectiveness, the Hadoop platform provides users with an open source foundation upon which developers can scale their projects as high or low as they please. Shelley noted that one application the corporation designed managed to reduce 6,000 lines of Cobol to 400 lines of Pig.

Marketing campaigns can be launched soon
Sears has been able to roll out targeted marketing campaigns more quickly than ever before, thanks to Hadoop providing efficient customer data analysis. As reported by Retail Info Systems News, Shelley attended a discussion panel at the annual National Retail Federation convention to highlight the corporation's success with these new measures.

"It's dramatically reduced the time needed for these projects. Because we have large granular data sets without the delays of finding data, it's taken weeks out of campaign delivery times," he said.

Maximizing resources through analysis
The company has also used big data tools to enhance its inventory management policies. By combing through their massive volumes of data, analysts for Sears have been able to use their available resources more effectively, cutting back on overstocked items and maximizing the timing of sales and store offers.

Shelley said at the convention, "we saw lower inventories in 2012 but higher sales, and that kind of supply chain optimization is only possible with that level of detail."

Retailers are finding that implementing data analytics can reap some big rewards from the wealth of information they have collected. Companies can increase those efforts by using Hadoop Apache tools. With its open source interface and scalable functionality, Hadoop can provide the resources needed to craft the analytical tools that will generate actionable results.

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