The e-commerce industry is booming world-over, and the Indian market is no exception. According to an October report by Gartner, e-commerce in India is likely to cross $6 billion in revenues in 2015, recording a 70 percent increase from a year ago. This makes India one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the Asia-Pacific region. With the convenience of access to mobile internet, mobile apps, doorstep delivery, one day delivery and cash-on-delivery options that e-commerce players offer, Indian consumers are readily moving to shopping and scoping for products online. With several well-established international companies as well as start-up e-commerce companies coming out of the woodwork in India, competition is rife and the game to lure new customers and ensure customer loyalty is on.
It was certainly not surprising to see a raging war amongst these e-tailers during Diwali, with almost all online shopping websites offering massive discounts on products ranging from electronics and white goods to clothes and footwear. However, what was surprising was that the traffic on these websites was out of control, and products sold out faster than was expected. While offering discounts did tremendously boost sales for these companies, there was also an ugly underbelly with customers who ended up buying out-of-stock products, slow webpage loads, web page crashes, payment issues, and a whole plethora of problems faced by an unexpected number of buyers visiting their portals.
Lapses of real-time information on website traffic and customer behaviour, these e-commerce players were unable to manage their product inventories and logistics. Several consumers were enraged by the poor level of service offered by these e-tailers, and what followed was mayhem. Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with thousands of unhappy online customers venting their frustration online. In a world that is empowered by social media, many of the well-established e-commerce players not only underwent a complete technical breakdown, but they also experienced an image and reputation collapse. With how quickly consumers can influence brands through social media, the organization must be held together and offer their consumers not only good, but great levels of customer service.
To be able to offer an outstanding customer experience, an e-commerce company’s front-end and back-end must be glued together. Big data and big data visualization tools can help e-tailers tie in their operations and identify problem areas predictively. A huge plus is for them to be able to do this real-time, and without adding on to their existing technology structure. Big data can be the missing ingredient between an organization’s front-end and back-end operations. Let me elaborate.
Big data and visual analytics can be used in two ways – one to analyse past customer behaviour and throw up patterns based on that, and the other would be for real-time analysis to respond while customers are in the process of shopping and decision making.
Below are three fool-proof ways in which e-tailers can turn their business data into a profitable business:
Putting your data in the hands of your business experts
Big data can help e-commerce companies manage their inventories, and raise alerts in advance on products that may be running low on supply. This would help keep the inventory well stocked, which leads to fewer instances of out-of-stock products. While a few Indian e-commerce companies do have dedicated big data resources, I do believe that hiring additional resources may be in vain. Data analytics software can help make it easy and possible for any employee to read, understand and predict trends.Visual analytics make it possible for organizations to put information in their user’s hands responsibly, without making business processes and complex computer languages between the experts and the data they need to understand. A business intelligence solution that can access and visualize your data in intuitive, easy-to-understand ways—while protecting the underlying data from inexpert users—allows your business experts become customer experts by letting them answer first one question and then the next in the iterative process that leads to true discovery.
Enabling speedy insight
In the business of e-commerce, customers’ expectations for fast resolution keep growing—and their need for speed doesn’t mean companies can flub the personalization and aligned experiences, either. If you can’t do it all, shoppers will find someone else who will—often only a few clicks away.
In order to keep up, I believe that e-commerce businesses need to equip their decision-makers with the ability to see and understand their data faster. According to researchers at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, the human eye can process data at approximately 10 million bits per second. Harness that power through visual analytics. Use intuitive, easy-to-understand images to make sense of your data and empower your business to move faster—in the right direction.
It’s not enough to bring in the power of visualization if you’re working with stale data. Make sure that the analytics solution you choose also has the ability to update as often as your data does. Build a dashboard once and refresh as often as you need. Daily.Hourly.By-the-minute.
Providing data access across multiple data sources
While business intelligence can “sit” on top of a data source and deliver reports—chances are that the information that you need is stored across multiple data sources. From website cart abandonment to interactive in-store displays, mobile apps to location data; your data is likely to be dispersed across the environment—and even across cloud and on-premises storage. It is critical that the data analysis solution that the company chooses offers flexible connections to multiple data sources.
Valyoo, a New Delhi-headquartered e-commerce company, specializes in category-specific online shopping destinations. Valyoo currently maintains four sites: LensKart, WatchKart ,BagsKart and JewelsKart. A data-driven company from the beginning, Valyoo wanted to increase its reporting efficiency, help managers make decisions faster, and keep up with increased reporting demands without hiring additional staffers. Being able to analyse the data generated on all of Valyoo’s web logs, the team is able to not only see what customers are doing, but they end up having more insights than what a regular brick-and-mortar retailer would have.
Of all the data in the world, 90 percent of it was created in the last two years alone. As an e-commerce company that is not only creating, but also utilizing data, big data and being capable to effectively consume data is at the core of building a successful e-venture.