A Look Into The Retail Crystal Ball: Big Data Predictions for 2016

Written by Ed Higdon on . Posted in Insight

Modern woman shopping

In the world of big data and analytics, things are always changing. Retailers have long been innovators when it comes to finding new ways to collect, analyze and leverage data. That trend will continue throughout the year. Here are Lift 361’s predictions for retail big data for the rest of 2016.

Big Data Prediction #1: Improved In-Store Digital Experiences

The shoppers of 2016 will continue to waffle between the convenience of the digital marketplace and the experience of shopping in-store. Consumers like instant gratification – they want their items in their hands, as fast as possible, but the online experience allows for price comparisons and access to customer reviews.

Look for retailers to attempt to merge these two experiences with in-store digital displays. Technology like touch screens, digital help desks and interactive POS displays will be fixtures at major stores. Toys “R” Us is leading the charge with multi-touch kiosks that utilize the same technology as their store app. Customers can instantly check product availability – if an item is in-store, the kiosk tells the customer where to find it. If it is not in-store, the customer has the option of ordering it and picking it up at a later date, or locating the item at another nearby Toys “R” Us location.

In order to deliver, retailers will need to be able to leverage insights they gather from both online and offline shoppers in order to understand which types of features their customers are likely to use, and which types of features will truly enhance the shopping experience.

Big Data Prediction #2: Wider Adoption Of Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is hardly a new technology, but it seems that we have finally reached an era where VR is actually going to be accessible to mainstream consumers. Savvy retailers have kept an eye on VR and they are ready to pounce on this vastly-improved technology.

There are enumerable ways that retailers can use VR. One luxury boutique in New York City allows shoppers from anywhere in the world to strap on a VR headset and browse its showroom floor. While virtually shopping, customers can access the information they need to make a buying decision.

Virtual Reality is a technology that has endless applications, and in order to harness it for retail, stores must have a handle on the ways in which VR will improve their experience. Only analytics can provide the insights to help retailers choose if, when and how to adopt VR.

Big Data Prediction #3: Proximity Marketing Boom

The majority of shoppers in a store at any given time have a smartphone in their pocket or bag. Retailers are using beacon technology to deliver personalized in-store messaging to customers as they shop while also collecting information about traffic flow, time spent browsing and more. 2016 should be a big year for proximity marketing, as more retailers learn how to use the technology to provide real benefits, thereby improving opt-in numbers reducing the perception that Big Brother is watching.

Big data Prediction #4: Improved Omnichannel Strategies For Small Retailers

Every retailer should understand the importance of an omnichannel strategy. The big-box stores have been attempting to perfect their approach for a while now, but 2016 will be the year that small and midsize retailers begin to catch up.

Retailers whose bread-and-butter are physical sales will start to shift their attention to a more seamless experience across mobile and Internet. That online presence can provide additional revenue that will be vital to their long-term success while improving relationships with customers. The data that can be collected about their shoppers through online and mobile applications will give them the springboard to enter the realm of personalizing experiences, allowing them to better compete with big-box chains.

Though big data is hardly a passing trend, many retailers are still getting into the swing of using analytics to make strong business decisions. As technology continues to innovate, as platforms become easier to navigate, and as prices for technology continue to fall, big data will help shape some big retail changes in 2016.