Everything that falls under the umbrella of Big Data has many applications. Most of the time, Big Data is associated with social networks, where the wealth of user interaction generates vast amounts of information which can be processed for various purposes. However, eCommerce applications can also be very useful, as long as you have the suitable technology and vision.
In the case of eCommerce, the main factor to take into account is that the goal is very clear: conversion adds a specificity which is harder to find in other Internet environments (e.g. in social networks there may be various goals, but they are never quite as specific). This point is fully aligned with decision-making based on well-structured data, the more the better. Organisation of information from the various agents involved in the business (stock management system, CRM, email provider, recommendation system, offline data, marketing campaigns…) is crucial, as are their correct integration and analysis. Given that these usually involve large amounts of data, the storage and analysis technologies associated with Big Data can be of great use.
What is the real usefulness of Big Data in eCommerce?
All this leads to data-based decision-making, a desirable feature in any business, but which becomes of particular interest when you have a large amount of information which can be even viewed and analysed in real time, and which is constantly updated at high speed. In many cases, the decisions made by online retailers are based on impulses or insights based on experience which, although they can often be right, would be much more effective if they could be contrasted with the real business data. The possibility of carrying out Big Data analyses within a suitable timeframe makes it possible to save on costs, avoiding the need for many “trial and error” tests such as A/B tests.
Even though it falls within the business analysis category, Web Analytics deserves being discussed separately as this is a purely Big Data application which is very closely related to the core of eCommerce. The record of uses’ navigation data offers clear possibilities for business knowledge. However, these data can be given even further use than just the usual storage and viewing (usually KPIs in dashboards and reports). If the automatic analysis and data integration techniques associated with Big Data start to be applied in this domain, possibilities are endless.
One of the smart applications derived from Web Analytics which are already being successfully applied to eCommerce is Recommendation Systems. Taking user navigation as their basis, complemented by the various actions that can be carried out in a website (adding products to the shopping cart, purchases, likes, comments…), personalised profiles are generated to adapt the product offer in each of the website areas so that the probability of conversion increases. Nowadays almost all the main online stores have smart recommendation technology.
There are other Big Data applications associated with eCommerce, particularly as regards the exploitation of user navigation data (Behavioural Targeting, personalised emails, shopping cart monitoring, retargeting…). These and many applications yet to come provide a wide range of ways to improve business. eCommerce based on advanced data analysis is now a reality for many successful online stores, and its role will become increasingly central in coming years as Big Data technologies become more affordable