Christmas 2013


Consumers have thousands of messages flying at them during the holidays. The retailers that rise above the noise are able to match people with relevant products use big data. Lingerie shop True&Co. found that up to 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong size bra. To solve this problem, True&Co. began asking women to fill out a quiz that detailed their fit and size preferences,according to Its website automatically filters results to deliver bras that match the data.

That’s just one of the ways retailers are using analytics to boost their bottom lines. IBM found that 62 percent of retailers who use big data believe that information analytics is creating a competitive advantage. Instead of relying on months of sales data, a company can get an accurate snapshot of a new product’s success within days. Retailers who are able to gather and react to this information have the best chance to succeed this holiday season.

Turning Data Into Revenue

Data is a tool that helps organizations answer the questions that keep them from moving forward. The more data available, the better. Before they gather data, retailers need to establish a goal. Whether it’s foot traffic, sales efficiency or advertising effectiveness, collected data must point toward a specific question. A large chain rolling out a new line of clothing may wonder how many of each size to produce. A decade ago, companies would have had to increase production based on demand over time. With big data capabilities, the same company can track automatically populated data in real time and alter production based on demand. That way, it doesn’t lose sales or overproduce items.

Big data is also helping retailers turn one-time shoppers into regular customers. Rewards programs and special promotions provide incentives for consumers, but retailers need results. A rewards program is a simple way for retailers to track spending habits and measure sales trends.

Consumer Impact

Consumers may be wary about retailers tracking spending habits, but it will lead to a better shopping experience. When online retailers know customer habits, they’re able to alert individual customers to deals and promotions based on their history. That means less time sifting through online ads to find something you like. You’ve probably noticed that online banner advertisements reflect your interests more than they have in the past. That’s because retailers are able to track your spending and advertise related products. It’s a win for the vendor and consumer.

What’s Next for Big Data

Information analytics is expanding to all sectors of retail business. It’s just a question of how fast companies can develop the technology. A separate IBM study found that businesses are using analytics to improve working with distributors, transportation providers and materials suppliers. As Black Friday approaches, don’t be surprised to see targeted ads with screaming deals. According to, Macy’s is one of the leading brands leveraging big data to enhance its Black Friday strategy. The New York-based retailer anticipated a big online sales boon that prompted it to allocate for marketing budget toward web shoppers last year. Expect more retailers to follow suit this holiday season.