A lot has been spoken and written about Big Data already. In terms of how it is going to affect the whole Retail wave, both physical and virtual, Big Data can help take out meaningful shopper/consumer data to better business prospects. It can be quite interesting for companies looking out to maximise the opportunity that lies in understanding the customer’s behaviour. But is India ready, is the question?
While Big Data is used in many a big conglomerate in the present day to understand every customer individually and provide them with the best of products and services, the small and medium sized firms need to increasingly join the bandwagon before it is too late. Although companies like ShopClues, Jabong, Flipkart, Paytm etc are utilising the computational data to analyse and better the customer experience, India hasn’t yet been bitten by the data bug.
Big Data: The next big thing!
Three decades ago, in around the 80s, just to store a Gigabyte of data would mean an investment of a million of dollars, but today, it is not more than 10 cents. The world today is connected through nine billion devices on the ‘Internet on Things’, and the projection for 2020 is a mammoth 20 billion. What are the retailers going to do with all that data? And where is all that data going?
Anthony Kilili, Head of Communications and Media at dunnhumby India, a customer science company that uses data and science to help retailers and brands to turn customers into endorsers and earn their loyalty, believes that the decision of shoppers today – from making the decision of buying to making the purchase – is all but predictable.
“It’s fragmented to say the least. The customer wants retailers to give out personal messaging in exchange of the data he/she is providing at every moment; be it the social media, or signing up loyalties etc. Today, customer is expecting the brand to give them benefit out of their own data,” he says.
While he doesn’t deem the data could be of any use to bigger players, it is the small and medium-sized players who need to maximise it before it gets too late.
Challenges India is facing
But India is lagging behind, not in accumulating all the data available but putting it to any response-worthy use. Anubhav Sonthalia of Sokrati, an ad technology and analytics company that comes with an innovative bend to online advertising analysis and focuses more on the customer than the product, opines, “Retailers in the US have already identified at least 30-40 shopping seasons, instead of counting only four.”
In India, though, we think of Diwali as one big one, and now Christmas is also coming up a little bit. “Then largely the eCommerce players are building something around the big billion day etc, but that is all. However, in the Western territories like the US there are 30-40 such seasons in a year where a person would like to shop. It is a science we are unable to reap benefits of in India,” he continues.
A lot of examples in the automobile space can sum up India’s using up of the data to improve customer experience and delight them, with Tata and Audi introducing sensors in their vehicles to monitor challenges faced while driving. “The volume of data, the variety of data coming from all sources and the velocity of the data, these are the three challenges that the retailers are facing today,” says Kilili.
But with the improvement in data processing, distribution and technology, and social and mobile networks showing immense growth in the last two years, India could well mine the opportunity all too soon.
Anubhav recollects a moment in history that turned the tables for an east London heavy metal band, Iron Maiden, “Iron maiden was going to stop making music albums because nobody was purchasing albums anymore due to music piracy. They analysed where were the songs getting downloaded from and the songs that were getting downloaded from bit torrent. They changed their tour itinerary, visited all the places where maximum downloads were happening, played the most downloaded songs and made people buy their albums.”
It always boils down to Data, and how, what you can analyse and the customer figures one can double down on. The retailers today have to understand their consumer right and focus their energy on that consumer.