The Retail Revolution Is Coming. Are You Ready?

25There is a revolution going on behind the scenes in the ecommerce and retail world. It threatens to overturn the status quo and change the industry forever. Companies that fail to keep up face the guillotine.

Big data analysis is fast becoming the most important weapon in the battle for retail customers and profits. For those considering a career in ecommerce, understanding the implications of big data is essential. The industry is fast becoming a massive employer and data mining and data analysis jobs are popping up on job boards as fast as they are being filled.

Essentially big data analysis allows ecommerce and retail firms to interpret shopper behaviour in so much detail that they can use the results to influence individual shoppers’ buying choices. Old-school loyalty cards and surveys are only a tiny part of this burgeoning industry.

Large retailers are now analysing in-store video data, national demographics, mobile location data, social media trends, and even weather patterns to calculate what influences their target market’s decisions. They are using the results to create precisely tailored products and services that target high value niches. Retailers are rushing to employ teams of data miners and managers with the know how to take advantage of these opportunities.

Have you ever noticed that big supermarkets put nappies next to beer close to the store entrance? This is because fathers who pop in to pick up nappies tend to grab beer at the same time. Big data analysis, also known as data mining, allows retailers and ecommerce firms to identify thousands of similar links. The flexibility of ecommerce means that each one can be used to boost sales and margins.

Large retailers with huge budgets have an advantage when it comes to gathering and interpreting this information. They can afford to harvest their own data and to employ teams of analysts to interpret the results. They can also afford to test niche-marketing drives and hone the results. Small and independent retailers, without the means or knowledge to compete, face an uncertain future. How do they compete with huge companies that can react to new trends within hours?

Data scientist jobs are currently the hottest ticket in the business. While many sectors are shedding employees, jobs in data mining are currently plentiful in the UK. With management consultants McKinsey estimating that data mining can boost retail operating margins by 60%, expect this trend to snowball as every big retailer jumps on board the big data gravy train.

Data mining careers are not limited to those with the mathematical knowledge needed to crunch the numbers. McKinsey reckons that by 2018, in the US alone, there will be a shortfall of 1.5 million managers and consultants with the knowledge required to interpret and act on the results. While algorithm jobs are creating huge opportunities for statisticians, the real growth in data mining jobs in ecommerce is set to be at the local level.

Soon every manager at ecommerce and retail firms will need to be a data-mining expert. As algorithms become more sophisticated they produce results that are relevant to a single store, and to even narrower sets of consumers. Managers with the skills needed to interpret these results and convert them into higher margins and profits are already in high demand.

Data mining gives large companies a huge advantage in the ecommerce and retail sectors. Expect companies that take advantage to grow and thrive. Firms that let big data pass them by face becoming the victims of the revolution.

McKinsey data link

For more information on data analysis jobs and data mining jobs please contact Alan Furley at alan@isluk.co.uk.

Information Technology