How to make Big Data small business’ best friend

Want to drive e-commerce sales? Postcode Anywhere founder Guy Mucklow explains how Big Data can deliver revenue

Big Data is big business, and it’s growing. Over 90% of all the world’s data was generated in the last two years, and the Big Data market is forecast to be worth almost $50bn in another two.

Harnessed properly, Big Data has the potential to be a game-changer for all kinds of businesses. Decisions made based on the insights that Big Data provides will be more efficient and lead to a leaner, streamlined and altogether more effective operation. In the most simple terms, Big Data is the key to unlocking growth.

Any business with an online presence has the opportunity to be a data company. If a business is online and relies on web traffic to interact with customers or to generate new sales then they should be thinking about how they can use their data and make it work harder for their business.

Following Tesco and Amazon’s data path

While some of the predictions outlining the growth trajectory for Big Data are mind-boggling, this activity hasn’t happened overnight. Tesco was a trailblazer in the 1990s, catapulting itself to dominance on the crest of a wave built on the plethora of data gleaned about its customers from the Clubcard loyalty card.

The possibilities for data based customer insight are almost limitless. Take e-commerce, an industry that is growing at more than 15% year-on-year and ushered in a new era for retail. Within e-commerce, data analysis can inform and improve the customer journey and online buying experience, as well as drive growth through a more refined and targeted marketing strategy.

Today, customers expect a seamless buying experience and retailers need to provide an experience that will keep customers coming back. It has never been easier or more crucial to understand your customer, identify and determine trends and react quickly to changes in the norm.

Big Data, when used effectively, can directly drive improvements to the bottom line by streamlining the customer journey. Making a business agile enough to respond to signals and use information provided by customers to reduce ‘fall-off’ rates on their websites is essential.

The battle for sales drives online retailers to be even more focused on reducing the number of customers dropping off before transactions are completed. Big Data is a valuable tool to achieving this, allowing retailers to tailor a customer experience and design a journey that is clear and easy to follow.

At Postcode Anywhere, we have found that when customers provide their address at checkout, they will not instinctively lead with their postcode but with the first line of their address. We validate the address, making checkout more intuitive and simple, which in turn reduces the number of customers failing to complete their transaction.

Amazon’s success demonstrates the rewards that can be reaped when analysis of customer data becomes a priority for a business and these insights are fed directly into the customer offering.

Earlier this year Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer, told the BBC that: ‘’You can never have too much data – bigger is definitely better.’’ From a man responsible for providing 240 million customers with recommended purchases in real time, that axiom is worth bearing in mind for all retailers, no matter how big or small.

Making data work harder

Looking at the customer service function specifically, a coordinated customer service strategy is within reach by harnessing incoming data. By coordinating emails, phone calls and web channels, together with identifying the periods when support is most needed, companies will be able to allocate their resources efficiently and avoid customer problems before the customer considers looking elsewhere.

On top of the customer benefits retailers can use data analysis to be more efficient in attracting new customers. More in-depth analysis of customer data can lead to vast improvements in marketing strategies.

Data can help retailers determine the most effective way to drive new sales and convert new customers into repeat buyers. Creating customer profiles helps deliver more targeted communications to customers and prospects, putting things they are most interested in at the front of their page. Consumers are exposed to mass customisation every day, and won’t absorb generic marketing messages. Data can be used in e-commerce to cut through the noise.

Finally, data can help inform decisions on how to reach a target audience, and help decide how to commit scarce resources efficiently across social media, email and more traditional marketing techniques in order to gain optimum return on investment.

Big Data isn’t an asset for the future, and it isn’t just for technology firms or larger corporates. It presents the greatest opportunity since the birth of the internet itself for retailers that make it a priority to analyse the data trail that consumers leave behind.

Big Data has levelled the playing field, with the same opportunities now available to start-ups and behemoths alike. The insights are there and readily available if we look for them, and the success stories of the future will be those businesses that seek out and respond to the signals that we all leave behind.

Guy Mucklow is the CEO and co-founder of Postcode Anywhere.


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