Guest Column | January 21, 2014

4 Ways Big Data And Analytics Can Help Your Retail Customers

By Krish Mantripragada, senior vice president of information and analytics, First Data

New technologies provide retailers a deeper understanding into their own business performance as well as the opportunity to find out more about their customers’ behaviors and preferences. With the combination of Big Data and analytics —  and general economic analyses that provide comprehensive insight and analysis of consumer spending — VARs can help their retail clients take advantage of available tools to guide forecasting and make informed business decisions that can ultimately improve the bottom line.

By leveraging analytics, VARs can help their retailers improve their businesses in many important ways. Four key examples include:

  • Tracking Big Data: VARs can recommend that their retail clients use subscription services that tackle the broader market and not just their own business. By looking into reports that leverage store sales growth data by industry, payment type, and region, retailers are likely to find unique information that could help facilitate better forecasting and benchmarking, identify sales growth, and inform business decisions. Additionally, access to this type of data allows businesses to observe trends and stay ahead of the curve by observing changes in the economy and anticipating adjustments in consumer behavior.
  • Performance insight: In addition to using broad market data, VARs can assist retailers in identifying their own key metrics of retail sales, seasonality, business trends, customers, aggregate comparisons to competitors and patterns by location. This detailed information can help retailers manage and grow their business by making more timely decisions. By using real-time payments metrics and dashboards, retailers can efficiently manage and analyze data to provide insights on performance and stay on top of trends.
  • Customer intelligence and personalization: VARs should suggest the use of analytics, (which allow businesses to better understand consumer spending behavior), top customer profiles, retail shopping activity, and overall card spend analysis. Since retailers can now learn more about their customers than ever before, there is the opportunity for personalization by making products, services, experiences, content and other aspects of a brand more relevant to specific audiences. Retailers that collect and use data to personalize, however, must deliver clear and immediate benefits that exceeds or align with what consumers expect.
  • Marketing campaign tools: VARs can help their retail clients take advantage of sophisticated promotional management platforms or the new marketing tools available in next-gen POS systems, which allow retailers to apply automatic rewards for customer loyalty and targeted marketing campaigns. This can be done by attaching deals, coupons and loyalty management programs to a customer’s payment card, loyalty card or mobile wallet — all while collecting marketing campaign ROI to understand the campaign’s effectiveness. Such offers reassert the value of the business-customer relationship, encourage activity and generally save the customer time and effort, which is a win for all involved.

As consumer preferences and needs continue to shift, merchants need to anticipate the need for new, specialized analytics tools and capabilities. By being knowledgeable about available, customizable reports is one step that can be taken to keep a business competitive and at the top of its game. VARs can show retailers that regardless of company size, Big Data and analytics can help meet customer needs now and in the future.