While it may seem far off, the holiday shopping season is closer than many of us realize. This time of year means a few things for retailers in particular, including increasing demands and rising website traffic alongside considerably boosted revenues. In fact, many companies generate the bulk of their profits during these last crucial months of the year, and therefore can’t afford any missteps.

As the holiday shopping season looms ever closer, now is the time for retailers to prepare. From outlining seasonal sales to displaying holiday merchandise, there’s a laundry list of things to do. Thankfully, big data can be a boon for businesses leading up to the holiday season, so long as merchants have the right tools and resources in place to analyze this information for the valuable insights it contains.

Shopping statistics: Big data abounds

Statistics pertaining to the 2015 shopping season show that there’s not only an unparalleled amount of big data available, there are considerable insights to be drawn from these numbers as well:

  • Overall growth: According to the National Retail Federation, holiday-related merchandise sales saw a 3 percent uptick across the board last year. While this may not seem like a significant increase, sales surpassed the $626 billion mark – a considerable chunk of change. What’s more, online sales grew by 9 percent last year, reaching an impressive $105 billion.
  • Significantly contributing to total sales: Holiday revenues are now making up a larger piece of the pie when it comes to overall e-commerce sales. As of last year, transactions completed during this season now account for more than 23 percent of total revenues, Statista found.
  • Cyber Monday reigns supreme: Retailers are now making even more than before on Cyber Monday, following the Thanksgiving weekend. Shoppers spent a total of $2.28 million on Cyber Monday in 2015.
  • More mobile: Shoppers are also using an array of devices to connect with retailers, including mobile endpoints. Statista discovered that 65 percent of users leverage their smartphones to search for coupons, and 65 percent of tablet owners utilize their devices to browse for gifts online. What’s more, over 32 percent of total Black Friday sales came from mobile device users.
  • Shopping extended: Last year’s numbers also show that despite the deep discounts offered on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, most shoppers don’t complete their gift lists on these days. In fact, 90 percent of consumers continue to shop well into December, and almost half shop post-holiday sales online and in-store.

From these numbers, it’s easy to see that big data is more available than ever this time of year. However, how can you put it to good use within your company?

Best uses for big data: Offering a winning customer experience

Person entering credit card number while online shopping

Big data can offer numerous insights as retailers prepare for the holiday rush.

Big data can unlock an array of insights for retailers, but when it comes to end-of-year preparations, it’s critical that companies mine their available information for tidbits that can help them provide the best experience for shoppers. Holiday shopping is often a stressful endeavor, with consumers looking for the biggest bang for their buck in the face of longer gift lists. What’s more, the holiday season only increases the competition among retailers – if one store doesn’t carry the exact item a customer is looking for, chances are very good that another company will.

In fact, ICMI reported that the vast majority of consumers – 86 percent – wouldn’t shop with a brand after having a single bad experience. In this way, the stakes are high for retailers as they enter the end-of-the-year rush.

Big data can provide a window into shoppers’ wants, needs and preferences, ensuring your brand is able to answer the big questions while better understanding your client base.

“Retailers want to know their customer to provide the greatest, most customized experience possible, so the customer will walk away satisfied, tell their friends, and feel confident to return to make another purchase in the future,” ICIM contributor Jodi Beuder wrote.

The learning process: Mining customer data

ICMI pointed out that the customer relationship management system is one of the richest sources of data today, and can help companies learn a great deal about their shoppers. Information including past purchases and returns, interactions with the brand and transaction amounts can help retailers pinpoint their best customers and answer their biggest questions, including:

  • Which products and merchandise are the most popular?
  • How do shoppers prefer to make their purchases and receive their items?
  • What triggers might have helped the customer convert?
  • What types of customers spend the most?
  • When are consumers doing the bulk of their shopping?

What’s more, this only scratches the surface of the questions that can be answered with big data analysis. By taking an in-depth look at available big data, businesses can ensure they’re providing the best experience possible by targeting specific customer groups with specialized advertisements, ensuring that popular merchandise doesn’t go out of stock, and that clients have an array of shipping options available to them. Best of all, the earlier these insights are discovered, the more time the brand has to adequately prepare inventory and address any pain points that customers might be having currently.

“The holiday season only increases the competition among retailers.”

Overall, this type of analytics is more important than ever in today’s retail environment.

“Who exactly are your shoppers, and why do they buy what they do? These are questions holiday data can help answer to shape retailers’ insights for the coming year,” RetailDIVE contributor Barbara Thau wrote. “While retailers have been asking these questions for eons, they’ve taken on a heightened urgency as consumers increasingly demand more personalized offers, and the retail-marketing model goes from marketing to many to marketing to one.”

What do you need to succeed?

In this type of landscape, there’s no time to waste. However, before retailers can take advantage of these valuable insights ahead of the holiday shopping rush, they must ensure that they have the right solutions to gather, house and analyze their big data.

That’s where Aunalytics comes in, with the big data analysis technology your company needs to make the most of its customer information. Our industry-leading technology means you have the right colocated environment to store your data, and that migration is seamless. What’s more, Aunalytics’ Hadoop-supported solutions are the best in the industry, providing even more powerful insights through analysis.

To find out more, contact the Aunalytics experts today.