This week our guest blogger Sam Makad from Skyward ERP talks about Big Data and how ecommerce businesses can benefit from it to improve their businesses.
Business revolves around customers and understanding customers is no child’s play. The dynamics of the online market keeps on changing and one thing that is a hot topic is the “Use of Big data” for the ecommerce merchants.
Well, Big data is voluminous in nature and availed from the eclectic sources (social media, text, video, websites, AdWords, CRM software). It is the DNA with abundance information, which when analyzed & deciphered properly, can prove to be a boon for the ecommerce merchants.
Ecommerce retailers can use the Big data to improvise their overall business from sales to marketing to supply chain to customer services. Here, what is important is not the quantity but the qualitative analysis that makes sense.
Let’s see how Big Data Can Helps Ecommerce Merchant.
Imagine you walk into a store asking for a packet of bread and the guy shows you the section for bread and then also points you out, where you can find jam and milk – Same holds true for the online business.
The idea of Customizing preferences is basically to give the customers, what they need, on hand and then before they even ask. This forms an integral part of customer service and ecommerce offerings.
In a survey by MyBuys and the e-tailing group, 40% of respondents said they buy more from retailers that personalize their shopping experience across channels.
Most organizations do a big data analysis through cookies and cache; they analyze a lot of information such as the place where the customer lives, which sites he browsed and then thereby collating a data so that when a customer opens a website, he finds himself on the relevant page.
Also, it encourages the sellers involved with the ecommerce companies to give out best prices, deep discounts so as to be available on the top of searches and preferences of the customer.
By analyzing the Big data, the ecommerce merchant learns/measures the customer’s shopping pattern, browsing details, purchase trends & spending capacity. This helps them to create personalized offers for customers accordingly in order to increase their interest in particular products.
Now, companies are integrating ERP to gain even more. Syncing the big data with the ERP let companies have an access to a plethora of information that can be used in determining the Sales, stock the right kind of products, hire efficient people and expedite the delivery time.
Managing and forecasting the demand
Forecasting and predicting a demand is very important when it comes to driving an effective eCommerce business. The more the demand can be handled, the more effectively the business is to grow.
Then again, demand is substantial and also seasonal.
eCommerce is very dependent on the demand prediction. The sale season is all about being affordable and also being able to deliver in time.
Managing and forecasting aligns very much with the Customization of preferences in this aspect. An ecommerce merchant can’t expect the customer to stick to him even if he is under-supplying him repeatedly.
The data analysis actually is done in a way that the customer is shown the products in preference, which is:
- He has been searching/browsing those products lately
- The product is easy to deliver to his address
- A range of prices is available
The Black Friday sales are an example of demand forecasting for the companies and their management. In 2015, online shoppers spent $4.45 bn on Black Friday and Thanksgiving.
Most eCommerce companies also use the Big data to compare the sales and then accordingly optimize the hiring process. The same data is helpful in getting employees geared up for the seasons in demand and then most importantly to work out discounts and better prices, so as to attract customers and get more sales.
Better inventory management
Managing inventory is still one of the headaches for many ecommerce businesses and nevertheless, it is one of the pillars on which the business stands.
For e.g.- you see a book on one of the websites, click buy button and find it is out of stock. An utter disappointment.
Why did the merchant not check what are the hot products? Why is he not aware of his customer’s choice? Why doesn’t he know about the traffic graph on his website?
Merchants should not forget that a disappointment is the first step to customer dissatisfaction and thereby less number of visits and clicks.
So, now we know that inventory management is directly associated with the Customization of preferences. And, Big data helps a lot.
Ecommerce companies now use software to manage the inventory in each warehouse and location and then Big Data analysis helps them in customizing this.
A better inventory management leads to a good prediction of sales and demands and then, based on this appropriate storage is done- replacing the slow moving goods and stocking the faster-moving gods.
Better Customer Service
Statistics say that U.S. brands are losing approximately $41 billion each year due to poor customer service. Too much to lose!
Well, the most important aspect by which ecommerce steps a foot ahead of the general retail stores is accessibility, better customer service and pricing.
Big data helps in determining certain parameters for customer service for the ecommerce companies such as which mode of communication do the customer prefer for a region, for example, live chat or phone or emails.
And again, an analysis can be done as to which products get the most of the issues or customer service related concerns and then, they can work on it to provide the best readymade information online to avoid any such problem.
Moreover, based on Big data, the customer service can be made more effective and this also helps in controlling certain aspects of cost effectiveness and increasing sales.
- 71% of shoppers believe they will get a better deal online than in stores.
- 54% of shoppers will purchase products left in shopping carts, if those products are offered at a lower price.
Indeed, effective dynamic pricing is the most important aspect of an ecommerce industry.
Going by the current trends, we see the ecommerce to be cheaper than retail stores, the reasons being the fact that they use certain models such as B2B and B2C which cut the middle- men expenses.
Big data plays an important role in the pricing of the product for a merchant in ecommerce. The merchant can have the data of the same product being sold in different sites and then analyzes them finally to get a competitive price to attract customers.
This data analysis is also used to target a certain number of customers and determine the best demand season, which the prices can be slashed with a small discount, then appropriate advertisement would draw more customers.
Gathering Big data is no big deal but storing and organizing to the point that it is called a “useful material” definitely is.
Companies not only need the high-level expertise but also analytical tools to understands the complex pattern. It is a huge layer of information that has to be used painstakingly by the ecommerce merchants in order to gain the most from it.
Big data can help ecommerce businesses find better and personalized deals for their customers by analyzing their behaviour. To come up with the best deal to offer a company must know what its competitors offering.