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Weathering the Big Data Tides: Benchmarks are a Retail Lifesaver


big data, data, retail, benchmark, shoppertrak, people countingData. Retailers can’t live without it. But how are they supposed to live with it when they are constantly being bombarded by endless streams from countless, diverging sources? And social media sites don’t make efforts any easier as they also continuously contribute new insights from their bottomless data storehouses.

Take Foursquare, a location-based social networking website, for example. Retrieving an interesting slice of data from last year, Foursquare released the most crowded back-to-school shopping days from 2012. Of course, with this data brought the suggestion that if consumers wanted to avoid possible chaos in the store aisles, they may want to choose alternative days to shop.

This information culled from one season will unlikely have much of an effect on consumer behavior this year. However, what if Foursquare or any other social media site examined years of accumulated data and found consistent shopping patterns that could potentially be used to drive consumer behavior? Should retailers pay attention to this?

For instance, should retailers gear their strategy around the likelihood that customers may follow Foursquare’s suggestion to avoid particular days when shopping for school? Or, given the data that the NRF released, consumers will ignore this revelation since more are doing their shopping earlier than ever before which could possibly clear the aisles a bit on the busiest days for others? Or, is this earlier shopping statistic a moot point because the ICSC mentioned that consumers are actually starting their back-to-school shopping later this year than in 2012? Or, does habitual human behavior prevail and people will continue to shop primarily when they have the time to shop – the weekend before school starts.

There may be slices of truth in all of these scenarios, but the question remains, how are retailers suppose to respond with all of this endless and overwhelming data?

The answer is intelligent business benchmarks. Data – no matter where it comes from – has little meaning without relevant, established benchmarks. Through our people counting technology, ShopperTrak has perfected the factors necessary to condense massive amounts of data into benchmarks that allow clients to confidently make critical business decisions. Solid benchmarks based on solid data enable retailers to respond to the right information in the right way without the constant distractions. ShopperTrak’s in-store analytics can help retailers navigate these data tides by understanding which data they should take note of, take action on, or just simply ignore.


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