How to Use Big Data in Retail Training

The retail industry is leading the big data movement and setting a clear example of what brands can accomplish in sales with their large sets of data.

Published on 7 March, 2016

The retail industry is leading the big data movement and setting a clear example of what brands can accomplish with their large sets of data. The bottom line is that analytics has reinvented the retail sector, as these businesses can meet any operational need with some data and the appropriate solution. But herein lies the question: Which big data platform, software or tool is best for retailers?

“Businesses will invest a combined $40 billion into big data this year alone.”

Unfortunately, there is no finite answer to that query. Factor in a recent report from SNS research that indicated that businesses will invest a combined $40 billion into big data this year alone, and the question could have multiple responses. It’s clear that many different solutions work for a variety of reasons.

So, let’s take a look at four big data platforms at a high level – so don’t expect an explanation of Hadoop here – and discuss why retailers might choose one over another.

1. SAS

SAS has a solid collection of big data tools as a part of its business intelligence and analytics suite, but SAS Visual Analytics is the primary solution offered by the company. Retailers are fond of this platform because it supports a wide variety of use cases, and supplementary software can make SAS’s BI solution quite powerful.

In fact, Forbes reported on Stage Stores – a U.S. department store with brand names including Bealls, Peebles and Goody’s – and why this company procured its big data solution. According to the source, CIO Steve Hunter explained that his corporation needed to compete with Macy’s, yet it lacked the manpower. By choosing SAS as its big data tool, Stage was able to improve margins and turn over inventory more quickly. More importantly, Forbes noted that SAS “fit with Stage’s culture.”

2. IBM

IBM is a popular name in the big data market, largely thanks to cognitive system Watson’s appearance on the hit game show “Jeopardy” many years ago. Now, Watson Analytics is publicly available – and much smaller. Gartner explained that this gives IBM a strong ranking in its big data vision. With natural language analysis capabilities and pattern detection features, the source asserted that IBM’s big data software allows businesses to extract valuable insights “without advanced skills.”

When choosing an analytics platform, retailers must consider the four V's of big data

When choosing an analytics platform, retailers must consider the four V’s of big data.

Gartner noted that IBM Cognos – an integrated BI platform – is better for big deployments, and IBM supported that notion by providing Barnes & Noble with its big data solutions. According to IBM, this customer was able to keep inventory at appropriate levels and support perfect book runs. Barnes & Noble even used the platform for creating promotions and materials – a use case we’ve highlighted in the past.

3. Oracle

Oracle is another leader in the BI market, having supported similar technologies for years now, and Oracle E-Business Suite is a suitable big data solution for a variety of use cases and industries. Specifically relating to retail, Gartner reported that this analytics tool delivers many different functions to stores, such as supply chain optimization, financial analyses and customer relationship management capabilities.

Oracle’s big data solutions integrate with many different enterprise applications and support the cloud, so if a retailer has specific IT requirements, E-Business Suite or similar offerings from Oracle could be a best bet. Oracle explained that every source of data can be analyzed with its platform, allowing brands to gain a comprehensive view of their operations and consumer preference, as well as predict customer demands and enable the creation of personalized experiences “in real time.”

4. Manthan

“Manthan was specifically developed for retailers.”

Manthan might seem like an unknown name to be placed on a list among IBM, SAS and Oracle, but this cloud-based BI and analytics solution was specifically developed for retailers. Gartner explained that the Manthan Analytics Platform provides retail brands with everything they need for reporting, visualizing insights, and predicting consumer behaviors and industry trends. While the source asserted that this solution isn’t really a platform, but rather a package of applications, retailers should look into procuring Manthan if they want a “range of descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics.”

Contributing to Fourth Source, Manthan CEO Atul Jalan explained that retailers need big data tools from Manthan if they want to keep up with the modern era of commerce, since customers’ preferences must be taken into consideration when marketing, designing products and pricing items. That said, brands that want to analyze customer feedback for print marketing campaigns should consider Manthan.

Big data is much more than a fleeting trend, and if retailers still assume that, they’ll be left in the dust. The good news is that there are several analytics solutions on the BI market, giving brands many options from which to choose.

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