Kenny Lee

VP, PMDO

November 22, 2013

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How Big Data & Social Media Are Changing Retail

Plus - Ways retailers can track social data and examples of successful execution.

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Big data and social media have a powerful relationship. Not only are both highly discussed online, they are of particular interest to modern retailers as they look for strategy insights. As big data and social media begin to merge, they are changing the ways retailers look to leverage their value. 

The marriage of big data and social media.

The retail industry began analyzing data as a way to make better decisions, reduce costs, improve customer experience and increase revenue. As the importance of big data analysis for retailers and brand owners grows, the huge benefits to incorporating social media data into data collection and analysis practice is surfacing as well.

New research from eBay estimates that UK retail sales directly via social media are for £290m by 2014 from £210m (with a rise of 44%) as more and more retailers target consumers with personalized offers and deals on social network.

Here are a few ways retailers are tracking their social media data:

1 – Google Alerts
Google Alerts can be set up to track, and notify you of specific keyword mentions online, and in in Social Media.

2 – Built-in Analytics
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have built in analytics currently, which allow users to track and analyze certain types of data within those platforms.

3 – Social media tools
There are a growing number of specialized cloud-based tools that allow retailers and marketers to thoroughly track and analyze their Social Media activity and data. Hootsuite is good example.

Gaining customer insights through social media.

By combining social media data with other key information, such as POS transaction, merchandising, traffic count, and customer relationship management (CRM) information, analysis can provide companies with a broad perspective that helps them quickly address customer demands.

Some companies are using online sources of customer data to improve operations and business process, gain better brand perception, respond quicker to customer needs, and learn more about the competition. For example, Cisco famously leveraged social media data to make the launch of their ASR family of routers one of the top five most successful launches in history. You can view a complete seminar on this titled “Cisco and the Social Web: Our adoption and Evolution” by LaSandra Brill

Social media value propositions.

The main value from social media will come from the way it is used to influence and inspire purchases. Nearly half of social media users are already using social platforms to make purchasing decisions, and a similar number of users are actively deciding what to buy based on what they have seen on social media platforms, including reviews and recommendations. This is especially relevant to retailers in China, where Chinese social media use is growing faster then anywhere else on the planet.

Understanding this new trend can enable retailers to improve communication and engagement strategies that target consumers at the right time, in the right place and with the right message. Retailers have an opportunity to engage shoppers at every touch-point, at home, on the go, and in store. For more examples of how retailers are doing this, check out our article on “3 Reasons Online Shopping Won’t Kill Brick ‘n Mortar.” or explore “5 New Technologies Boosting Retail Sales.

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