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Moving real-time analytics from e-commerce to brick-and-mortar stores

Rachel Wheeler

August 16, 2013

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When most people think of the potential to use big data for retail analytics, their minds generally tend to drift toward online shopping. That's the most natural fit - after all, it's relatively easy to program a website or mobile app to use targeted marketing practices based on real-time information.

What's a little bit trickier is using data in the brick-and-mortar store environment. When shoppers wander into stores looking for products, it's difficult to pull up information about their buying histories and spending power in a matter of seconds. On a website, it's easy to present shoppers with links to products they might enjoy. In a physical store, by the time you've compiled that same information, the shopper may have simply walked away.

Technology may overcome this barrier, though. eBay has been working on a mechanism that makes in-store data a reality: By using Bluetooth technology to identify customers and compiling profiles based on their spending histories, the app can quickly bring sales associates up to speed. According to The Silicon Valley Business Journal, this technology will be ready to roll out soon.

"We've modernized the little black book," said David Geisinger, eBay's head of retail business strategy.

David Ramage, director of eBay Now, is a big believer in the new technology. He's hopeful that by moving analytics into the physical store location, the company can provide faster, more reliable service to shoppers who demand it.

"We know with greater precision where consumers are and where inventory is," Ramage told The Silicon Valley Business Journal. "And we only have to move products ten miles instead of hundreds."

It's important to emphasize data quality when working with shoppers' information in real time. These environments demand fast action, but moving too quickly can lead to mistakes that will alienate shoppers rather than ensure their loyalty.

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