Big data has become a major focus for retailers, as these companies look to improve pricing, marketing and sales strategies for a competitive advantage. However, harnessing these capabilities increasingly depends on analytics support from database experts as enterprises are collecting an ever-increasing amount of information from a range of channels and in a variety of forms.
Hispanic Business reported that firms have the opportunity to streamline shipping, drive conversion and optimize inventory, but only with the help of expert analysts. The source cited McKinsey Institute's prediction that the big data boom would create up to 190,000 new deep-analytics positions in the U.S. and a demand for 1.5 million data-savvy managers. Ravi Bapna, director of the University of Minnesota's Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative, commented on this trend.
"The premium for these sort of people is already very high, and it will only increase over time," Bapna said, according to Hispanic Business. "There is a huge shortage of people who can handle the data, who have the business acumen to be able to ask the right questions, to do the experiments and make the right inferences."
A significant development in big data has been the ability to sort and analyze unstructured information such as social media interactions to aid in understanding buying behaviors. Mike Webster, general manager of Oracle Retail, explained to Hispanic Business that major retail corporations like Best Buy and Target are becoming more interested in these solutions. The news source noted that Oracle software, which is used by the top 20 global retailers, allows companies to track purchasing, shipping and sales processes both in stores and on the Internet. Now these businesses are looking to merge that information with data on what customers want, where they are and how and when to make offers or ship products to them.
A predictive model
According to CFO, Destination XL Group, a retailer specializing in big and tall men's apparel, has been using big data to make better decisions regarding what items to carry. When Dennis Hernreich became CFO of the company in 2002, he reportedly realized that business intelligence (BI) tools could improve inventory management. The technologies have allowed Destination XL Group to analyze what sizes and products sell most and predict customer demands.
By leveraging big data to mine multiple sources and types of information, retailers have the potential to fuel more efficient, streamlined processes and avoid under stocked or excess products to better satisfy consumer expectations.
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