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Big Data, Shaping a New Retail Experience

Remember the days when you had to keep track of your favorite trends or new items to shop for? 

Those days are long gone.

Now, the power is with the customer. Each consumer carries thousands of recommendations in hand, as well as trend reports, video tutorials, competing product information, and so much more. Consumers are no longer limited to advice from in-store salespeople before making a purchase, but instead have a wealth of content to reference that is independent of the retailer.

In short, the advent of wireless internet and Big Data created the opportunity for a more educated consumer with expectations of a modern retail experience.

Retail shifted from the traditional, in-store experience toward one allowing for convenient shopping in a cyber space. Many factors combined to create a personalized virtual experience and converted passive content consumers to active online shoppers.


In addition to transforming the digital space, new Big-Data-related technologies revolutionized brick-and-mortar shopping practices. Such technologies are aligned with the trends promoting customer-centric applications that enhance consumer experience and simplify existing processes. Take for example, the new wireless iBeacon technology that bridges the in-store and virtual shopping experiences, bringing the convenience of online shopping to the “real world.”

According to a recent article in Forbes, “The iBeacon technology allows iPhones to seamlessly connect with physical sensors, called beacons, placed within stores…Retailers can use [this technology] to determine not only shoppers’ precise locations but also what product a shopper is looking at or which department he or she is in.”

Essentially, a consumer’s steps inside a retail establishment are used to instantly facilitate their experience. iBeacon provides shoppers with customized retail experiences tailored to their personal style, shopping habits, and preferences. Users are also notified about special deals and discounts through this application.

Because of this, shoppers can make informed purchases and avoid incurring the lost time of return trips to their retailer. In addition, the ability to get product information automatically delivered to smart phones before purchase better ensures customers enjoy a more cost effective and therefore, satisfying experience.

Consumers are not the only beneficiaries. According to Apple Insider, retailers can “use data sent by users’ handsets to monitor any number of metrics, including customer traffic,” to enhance the attractiveness of their stores.

The applications of Big Data are happening now, constantly growing and shaping a new realm of retail. As Colin Haig says in his SCN post Why Re-invent Retail?, Mobile plays a huge part in the future of omnichannel retailing. It’s a means of connecting and communicating with all shoppers in store, in real time. You can engage shoppers on an individual level…at the point of decision making. It’s what SAP calls ‘Retail. Right. NOW.’”

This technology is providing consumers with simplified processes, unique experiences, and is ultimately establishing a more gratifying, productive relationship between retailer and consumer.

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