Skip to main content

Retailers using big data to preemptively cater to customers this holiday season

Richard Jones Archive
It might seem as if customers are receiving circulars that contain every item on their wish lists this holiday season. Forbes explains that it's not magic that's enabling businesses to anticipate what shoppers want and which items will be the best-sellers of the year - it's big data.

With the National Retail Federation estimating the average American consumer will spend approximately $749 on holiday merchandise in 2012, there is a lot at stake for businesses looking to make up for time and sales lost during the recent recession. To capture the greatest portion of customers' spending, companies are trying to deliver what shoppers want, when they want it (or even before, if they can).

These capabilities are owed to advances in data analytics. Businesses are using the information customers enter when they buy products online, sign up for email newsletters and download mobile applications that link to loyalty programs so they can access rewards.

In fact, mobile participation might become an important aspect of companies' success, as customers are using mobile devices for online shopping at a much higher rate this year, according to a recent study by Monetate. Smartphone use is up 119 percent and tablet shopping has grown 161 percent.

Firms that can organize this information and uphold strong data quality can define better consumer demographics and learn from individuals' past purchases to send them targeted offers.