How to Leverage Big Data for Online Retail Personalisation

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Big data. For sure it’s not the first time you’ve heard the phrase. If you’ve been running your EKM online shop for a while, you’ll certainly know this business buzzword. Or you might be a newbie in the ecommerce space. Either way, read on to find out what big data is, how it can benefit your business and the best ways to leverage big data to personalise your shoppers’ online retail experience. 

What is Big Data? 



Yes, there is nothing new about the concept of gathering numbers and using them to predict behaviour and gain insight. After all, Wall Street has been around since 1685. However, big data has taken information valuation to a whole new level. It is everywhere and it has taken over how companies think about doing business. 

The term ‘big data’ refers to large amounts of information that are constantly growing and are speculated to reach 54 zettabytes of data by the end of 2020, 149 by 2024.  Analysing big data permits businesses to understand human behaviour trends. 

Data analytics or data mining (yes, there’s a difference) are tools used to collect and analyse big data, and many ecommerce shops use data tracking platforms. Big data can exist in different formats, but it is primarily categorised into structured and unstructured data. 

Structured data:  

  • Is gathered and assembled by an organisation
  • Is often recorded as a numbers
  • Examples include information in spreadsheets and directories

Unstructured data is:

  • Unarranged
  • Not fitted into a specific template or format
  • Eg: collected from social media 

Digital devices collect big data at different points in your customers’ online experience as they have mechanisms to constantly track input and collect details. These touchpoints include public social media sharing features like comments, voluntary surveys, data and information sharing platforms like free video calling sites, online purchases, and digital check-ins, etc. 

So when you think about big data, think cookies! Not the choc-chip kind but the kind websites always ask for.  Or, think about the time you accidentally opened a web page and later began receiving information from similar sites. If you’ve followed some of the backlash Facebook has received for data-sharing, then you understand how pervasive big data is in our society.

There is so much power in using the omni- and online- presence of big data and the benefits are certainly worth giving it some thought.

The Benefits of Big Data: Why Should You Use It For Your Online Retail Business?



It’s not as certain as looking into a telling glass ball, but using big data can give your business insight and foresight. Let’s start with insight. 

Big data allows you to look into the habits of markets and the consumers that drive them. If shoppers are tending to purchase the packages that allow internet calling for business over other communication deals, this information teaches you about buyers’ preferences at that time. You get to know your customers and you get to see how respective products perform. 

This insight is what leads to foresight. 

Analysing the behaviour of customers and the trends in their choices and preferences allows businesses to make better-informed decisions. You can invest more in popular products and better understand your product’s life cycle. Awareness of shopper preferences can also allow you to focus on specific product development. This results in an increased return on investment (ROI) for your business and the reduction of unnecessary costs. 

Of course, this will also greatly impact the experiences of your shoppers as they can have access to products they like. With both insight and foresight, you can price products appropriately, with shopper spending patterns in mind. You can also use the insight gained to guide your brand communication strategy, improving your overall engagement with shoppers.

Why Personalisation?

The most important benefit is the ability to personalise the shopping experience on your site. Arguably, personalisation is now a basic precondition for any ecommerce shop. If anything, the modern customer journey is all about convenience, and shoppers want that factored into their retail journey. 

Forbes gathered the following statistics illustrating how customers feel about personalisation: 

  • Customers that dislike impersonal shopping experiences: 71%. 
  • Customers that dislike impersonal websites: 74%
  • Shoppers who suggested that retailers ought to have more personalised experiences: 36%
  • Shoppers who are more likely to buy from a company if it has personalised experiences: 80%
  • Shoppers willing to share their data to gain a from a more personalised experience: 83%

Businesses are also taking note of the effects of personalisation. 

  • Ecommerce businesses putting resources towards personalisation: 89%
  • Marketers prioritising personalisation: 51%
  • Retailers funding personalisation: 79%

There is so much to think about when it comes to ecommerce personalisation. Even choosing the perfect and easiest-to-use shop theme is important. Here are a few handy ways to leverage big data for your EKM shops’ personalisation.

Ways To Use Big Data For Online Retail Personalisation

Know Your Shopper

So far, we’ve discussed how big data gives ecommerce businesses the privilege of shopper analysis and the benefits that it has to both business and customer. The goal is to improve personalisation, and big data can also allow you to create shopper profiles or buying personas. 

Developing shopper profiles helps you define your target market using different factors (ie: demographics like age, location, gender and/or shopping preferences and trends). 


Profiles like these allow you to maximise the return on the 91% of consumers that prefer shopping from companies that tailor their offers. Using your shopper profiles, you can curate your personalised shopping experience: 

  • Email discounts and deals for specific products
  • Recommend products based on previous purchases or site visits
  • Target potential customers using digital advertising and marketing tools like display advertising

Improve Customer Service

There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with an agent that has absolutely no clue about your customer journey, what you prefer and, as a result, how to help you. Enhancing customer support is one of the best and simpler ways to leverage big data. If everybody from your most senior management, right down to your contact center agents has access to the data your business hones into profiles, everybody can provide the best service. 



Big data can inform a shoppers’ purchase history, provide ideas of similar shoppers and their purchasing patterns, and give a scope of the issues customers face the most. 

Condensing all this data into easy-to-access formats that customer service providers can quickly read can take your customer care from, “Oh no! I never want to make a purchase from them again!” to “How do I sign up for a loyalty reward?”. And if it’s not the customer service providers’ department, they can efficiently and assuredly guide callers to the right one with a hot transfer

Establish Brand Loyalty

And that leads us to brand loyalty! The best way to sustain your relationship with your customers is to build loyalty to your brand. Like any relationship, this requires mutual engagement and interest. 

  • Email marketing with product recommendations, reviews, and unique discounts show that you are paying attention to your ecommerce customers’ likes and dislikes. 
  • Use the best POS system to see where your customers are making their purchases and create localised discounts for them. 
  • Having a loyalty program is another amazing way to keep your customers loyal, but also keep track of their purchases.



Inventory Management

Part of keeping your customers happy is making sure the products they want are available to them. With the predictive analysis that big data allows, your store can be certain not to overstock or understock. Use big data for social listening to determine which products are trending. 



If your ecommerce shop has multiple warehouses, using big data can help you monitor your inventory levels by tracking transactions. Furthermore, you can support inventory management by establishing a digitalised workplace community for employees to share and access information. 

Go Big Or Go… Bigger?

As an EKM shop owner, it is no longer a question of whether you should use big data or not. The answer is a giant YES! Big data is ever-growing and its importance in retail is massive. The benefits your business gains from leveraging it are worth investing in big data. 

On your quest to being a big business with big data goals, be sure to protect your network. Working with data and information has its risks, and you want to ensure your company’s safety from cyber attacks. Find the best enterprise network security products for your brand.

If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own online shop, read on for more insights into running your own online business here.


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Richard Conn – RingCentral US

Richard Conn is the Senior Director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications and VoIP Technology Provider.

He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia. Richard has written for sites such as Nextdoor and Marketscale.