3 Ways Big Data Affects the Black Friday Shopping Experience

November 22, 2016
Don Schuett, VP of Commerical Management

There’s nothing quite as uniquely American as the phenomenon of Black Friday. A tradition that started in the parking lots of big box stores at 4 in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving, most Americans today choose to find their bargains online. But whilst Americans collectively love the pastime of deal-hunting on the day after Thanksgiving, the trend of online shopping holidays has gone fully global.

Black Friday’s meteoric rise in participation makes sense. It's not that the deals are getting better. It's that, thanks to Big Data, the shopping experience is getting smarter. Below, we’ll explore some of the intersections of Black Friday and Big Data, and take a look at why data analytics has become so crucial to the retail industry.

  1. Personalization: From the consumer's perspective, data helps retailers get to know their customers on a truly individual basis. Their purchase history, browsing habits, and other online activities help create a specific, individualized profile that person as a consumer. That means that retailers can better recommend products that the consumer is actually likely to need or want. That kind of personalization tends to make people feel unique, recognized, and appreciated. And beyond that, it just makes for a more convenient, time-saving experience.
  2. The Customer Journey: From the retailer's perspective, Black Friday is a major opportunity to connect with customers and make big sales online. But there are also 364 other days during the year. The ability to personalise the shopping experience by harnessing and analyzing data is undoubtedly a huge benefit for retailers. It allows them to traverse every step of the customer journey. Rather than simply dropping in every time a purchase is made, they can serve targeted ads, send personalized emails, and leverage other touch points that keep that customer actively circling the sales funnel.
  3. Using Data to Achieve a Deeper Understanding of Customer Beliefs and Behaviors: Though not related to product recommendations, conversions, or click through rates, properly analyzed data can yield actionable information for retailers in the physical world, as well. Take REI, for example, who instead of offering Black Friday doorbuster deals like most brick and mortar retailers, decided that their customer base would respond more strongly to the decision to not be open at all. Understanding who your customer is on a deeper level can have even more far-reaching consequences than simply understanding the products they buy.

As an online retailer, what would you rather have: an e-commerce platform that is essentially static and can provide no more insight than a typical cash register; or one that creates intelligence about the people who use it, and is able to unleash that intelligence to both improve the experience of the customer as well as improve the bottom line for the retailer? When it comes to retailers and Big Data, it is a win-win situation, whether it's Black Friday or any other day of the year.

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