I read a great article (trying to find it, to give it its proper due, but have been unsuccessful) that outlined some of the ways that US retailers are using big data to better target particular groups of shoppers.  The group they were targeting here might surprise you.....the “late night Dad”.

When the drug store chain ran the purchase patterns late in the evening for adult males, they noticed a funny trend.  It seemed that in addition to buying diapers (which seemed to be on most of their shopping lists), they also bought some other items, including beer.  They also noticed that these males rarely went for the items that were on sale (which allowed for higher retail margins).  So, the retailer sent out a mailer to these targeted customers, outlining how they can get deals based on their particular buying pattern, and yes, this likely included deals on beer!  Their theory was that while they may have lost a bit of margin on some items, they would both garner more loyalty and some good margins on other items not on sale.  This is one unique way retailers are using Big Data to improve margins, create loyalty and drive more sales.

However, I think they are only scratching the surface....here are some other ways that retail companies can use M2M to improve existing Big Data solutions to improve their business:

Better traffic analysis in retail

Many people are utterly amazed when they find out just how technology-savvy many retailers are.  Sure, they aren’t too surprised to find out that many retailers have some of the most sophisticated inventory control systems on the planet.....one might expect that when you are selling billions (or tens/hundreds of billions) of dollars in product annually.  However, many people are stunned to find out there are also many retailers “watching” them in the store, and watching them very closely!

For a retailer, they need to know exactly what part of a display, aisle or row gathers the most attention.  In the case of many grocery stores, display space is sold based on how visible the product is to the end user, so this information needs to be accurate.  Most of these “metrics” are quite reliable, but they are not always based on much real-time information (often based on some observed patterns).  Many advanced retailers are using M2M technology to not only track where people are in the store, but also to track where they are looking (and how long they look at particular displays)....some of them can even break down the analytics based on gender or age!  This information not only allows the retailer to better charge for certain space, but it can even be information that can be sold back to vendors, who may wish to know how effective certain displays are.

Communicate to your clients, without saying a word

Ok, I found this kind of cool, but creepy at the same time.  I was told by a retailer (whom I have been asked to keep quiet) that they are using analytics to change the digital advertising in their store.  The customer will walk past a video system, and it will group them via their age and gender.....so, it may group a 15-29 year old male into group 1, a 59-75 year old female into another and so on.  Once it registers what group the client is in, it will change the display ads a little further down the aisle to provide a message that will appeal to this person more effectively.

Find out how your product is really used

Most companies talk about how they use Big Data to help to find ways to appeal to their customers, to increase loyalty and sales.  However, many of them miss out on a more obvious thing and this relates to the following…are they designing products that their customers really want, which will help to maintain loyalty to your brand? 

Now, to start, this would only be reserved for certain products.....you aren’t likely to put any kind of an alarming/notification system on a $4 bottle of shampoo.  But, many companies build products that have long lives, and more importantly, large price tags.  Such examples may be manufacturers of large appliances, HVAC components and high-end home electronics.  For these companies, it may make sense to equip the devices with some sort of wide-area network technology to allow for usage data to be sent back.  Now, there may be some security/privacy issues here, but since it would also allow for the company to repair/update devices (thus, reducing downtime), it may not be a concern for many to receive better service.

With this information, companies would be able to:

- optimize the design of their products
- remove/add certain features based on real-life usage
- better target customers based on what they need

Bottom line

M2M solutions can really take the hot trend of Big Data and make it so much better.  However, it needs to be done in ways that do not infringe on the privacy of users.  I think you will see most progressive companies finding creative ways to use M2M to improve their business. In fact, many already are!

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance.

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