Faced with an increasingly competitive market and a complex and continually changing global supply chain, e-retailers—or e-tailers—are forced to look at ways of enhancing their performance, as seen in our previous article: How smart logistics can keep your e-commerce customers happy. “Big data”—large volumes of unstructured information about customers’ behavior and preferences—as well as relating to the supply chain gathered and analyzed at speed—can help companies do just that.

 The benefits
Management consulting firm McKinsey claims big data and advanced analytics lead to better decision-making, which in turn enhances a company’s performance. Research by the firm in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2012 showed that companies that used big data and analytics outperformed their peers by 5% in productivity and 6% in profitability. Meanwhile, the Big Success with Big Data, 2014 report by Accenture based on a survey of senior executives from companies across 19 countries and seven industries, revealed that 92% of executives from those that were applying big data were satisfied with the results. They expected big data to have the biggest impact on their organization over the following five years in customer relationships (63%), product development (58%) and operations (56%).

Analyzing customer preferences
Monitoring data through site clicks and transaction information can enable you to analyze a range of things, including what consumers bought and what age group they represented. This can help you personalize the service you provide and foster loyalty to your brand. For example, it can provide you with the opportunity to tailor your marketing by approaching them with products that are similar to those they have bought before. Meanwhile, analysis can also look at consumers’ overall shopping habits, such as when they go online, which sites they visit, what products they like and what they say on social media. This can enable a company to make an informed decision about how best to target them, by perhaps addressing issues they raised on social media or gaining an insight into what new products they might respond well to.

Ensuring your shipping strategy meets your customers’ needs
But these days companies must go one step further to have an edge over their competitors. They need to ensure that the logistics providers they work with offer the best delivery solutions. Details about consumers’ geographical locations and their preferences when it comes to having products delivered can be crucial in helping a company tailor its strategy to their specific needs. Gaining an insight into customers’ behavior patterns can determine whether you should focus on same-day deliveries, customers’ preferred delivery time windows and whether you should introduce alternative collection points. Data offered up by the market, such as market changes across multiple channels, can help you determine if you need to modify the way deliveries are made or if timings need to be altered.

Managing your supply chain
Big data can also allow businesses to combine historical information with up-to-date analysis to plan for future events. For example, finding out about any ongoing issues that might interrupt the supply chain—such as traffic concerns—can help you not just to respond in the short term but make plans in the future, which could offer you a competitive advantage. Meanwhile, in-memory computing, which enables companies to analyze big data faster, can help e-tailers gain a more real-time view of their supply chain and examine what the possibilities are.

Conclusion
Big data is vital if e-tailers are to stay abreast of consumers’ demands and preferences, not least when it comes to shipping and managing their supply chain visibility. It can help you decide how best to target them and on the best delivery solutions, and to act promptly to meet consumers’ needs.

Landmark Global guarantees the timely and reliable delivery of parcels offering companies and their customers complete transparency. What’s more, we can work in partnership with your company to meet your specific logistics needs and find the best shipping solutions for you and your customers. For more information see our Offer your customers what they want when they want white paper.

 

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