Friday, November 18, 2016

5 ways online retailers can make use of big data

Online retailors are finding big data to be beneficially in more ways than one. When consumers get online and place items into their cart or purchase certain items under their store identification/ rewards card, the store saves this history and collects it in a database. After several purchases, the store is able to detect certain trends that reveal personal shopping habits and characteristics about the customers. A Target store was once able to detect the certain customer was pregnant based on data analytics. The database started to see a trend in items this consumer was purchasing and analyzed the data trend to hypothesize that these items are commonly purchased together during the beginning of a women’s pregnancy.
            Other online retailers store and analyze data such as what items a consumer clicked on, how long they were on them, whether an item was placed in their cart and even related items. Companies like Amazon have used big data to detect trends in relative items. If a certain number of consumers pair item A and item B (and C, and D) together during a single transaction or view Item A and Item B (and C, and D) during a visit, they are able to detect a ‘trend’, suggesting that these items much be related if they are often purchased together. They can then influence the items the next consumer will view/buy. If you purchased a body wash that most people bought paired with a lotion, after you add that body wash to your cart, Amazon will continue to remind you that most people also buy the lotion under a section called, ‘Suggestions.’ A significant amount of times this suggestion window will convince the average consumer they need item B in order to get the most out of item A.

            The ability for online retailers to store and analyze cookies, data based on a consumers moments, does personalize the online retailers to the consumer. It is as if before you walk into a store, the employees gathered all the relative shoes, shirts and jewelry into a corner just for you. It makes consumers feel understood and especially considered by the company. This personalization factor can also translate into a feeling of belongingness in a particular store vs. their competitors. Big data allows the vase pool of online retailers the chance to tailor the experience for a larger number of customers by storing and detecting data patterns. In addition, market research is probably one of the most accurate ways to study consumer behavior. Even when asking consumers about their choices, they may lie or just agree with everyone else. Their behavior is what reveals their actual thought process. Through data analytics, companies can then determine a target market/segment and tailor their advertisements to them. As our dependency on technology continues to increase, so will the amount of information/data we give to companies. I believe that having the ability to discretely study consumer behavior using big data will power better marketing research, strategies and advertisements.

Word Count:500
Emily Walz 


  1. When shopping online I sometimes find it very useful when I have suggestions that would go with the shirt I am looking for at the bottom of the screen. However, the second I logged off of that website and go onto something like Facebook, all of a sudden I am seeing that shirt or store in every advertisement. I thing it is incredible how companies can store your browsing data and place it into every advertisement on every website you visit. I even had an experience where I was on a website looking for furniture and because the furniture was too expensive I left the page to look at something else. When I went back to that furniture the price had dropped and was more affordable.
    As Emily said, I have always heard about the incident of Target. Target was able to track the shopping habits of a teenage girl and detect that she was pregnant before her parents knew. When Target sent home coupons for baby items it because obvious how easy it was for the to determine this girls pregnancy. This is an example of how the storing of big data for online retail can become a privacy issue. A lot of people do not want every little shopping habit tracked and would rather go through the time of clearing out their cookies, than having a store know so much about you through a click of a button. As cyber Monday is approaching issues with identify theft and phishing will invade a lot of privacy that most are not aware of. However, Cyber Monday is a big day for online retail in that they will be able to capture the shopping habits of millions of consumers. Retail stores can also target certain Cyber Monday deals to consumers that will most likely visit their store. Cyber Monday data is important to marketers not just for that day but for the holiday season to come.

  2. The idea that online retailers can detect their customers’ shopping trends and offer suggested products is both useful and frightening. For starters, it is undoubtedly beneficial for the retailer itself to track their customers’ purchases and suggest similar products because many times the customer will actually end up adding more to their cart than they originally anticipated. From my own personal experience, whenever I am online shopping I always click on the clothing items that are “Similar to this product.” While companies who do this may feel as if they are personalizing their customers’ experience, sometimes it can become too much. For example, whenever I am on a website that does not pertain to online shopping; there are always advertisements on the side of the page that show the clothing that I recently looked at. In my opinion, whereas it may be a good business tactic for the retailers themselves, it is a little unsettling from a customer’s point of view.
    Like Emily said, most people are aware with the Target situation where Target knew this woman was pregnant before her own father did. I do believe there needs to be some sort of boundary between a company’s “personalization” and their customers comfort. I do agree with Emily when she says that customers do feel a sense of belonging when stores already have suggested items waiting, but how far will some companies go to sell their products?


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