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Retailers to pin high hopes on big data

But Middle East retailers still underprepared for taking advantage, says Software AG

Retailers to pin high hopes on big data
Kichli: Big data is still not being properly managed and maximised to its full potential

Big data solutions could help Middle East retailers derive a better understanding of their customers' needs, though many retailers are not in a position to take advantage of these products, according to Rami Kichli, vice president for the UAE at Software AG.

Speaking to ITP.net, Kichli said that big data is one of the most elusive technologies for retailers in the region, despite high levels of interest in the capabilities that big data can provide. He explained that retailers struggle with the skills required to properly use big data.

"Big data is still not being properly managed and maximised to its full potential as the raw data it produces is still generally unstructured and most retailers do not really know how to comprehensively dissect and understand the information," he said.

"Without packaged solutions, Big Data could be considered a disruptive technology. This new component is in danger of being disregarded and overlooked if the proper skills are not applied to read, understand and hypothesise data for business solutions."

However, Kichli pointed out that he expected retailers in the Middle East to continue investigating big data solutions, and that, once they had come to grips with it, the technologies could help retailers to boost sales.

"If a company is going to ignore that then they will lag behind," he said.

"There's a growing connection between big data and our everyday life - none more so than in retail customer experience, where retailers are pushing technology into every quarter of customer service, advice, assist and rewards."

Indeed, Middle Eastern retailers are already gearing up for useful applications for big data - applications that provide insight on factors that were previously never measured. According to Ashish Panjabi, COO of Jacky's Group of Companies, there are several enticing possibilities for Middle Eastern retailers when it comes to taking advantage of big data.

"Big data can help map together factors that we never measured earlier with data that we've always been measuring as retailers," he told ITP.net.  

"For example, most retailers have got CCTV cameras in their store but most don't capture how a customer navigate their way around the store. However, most retailers today analyse data on the category-wise sales and overall footfall into their stores (with the use of footfall counters) and work out conversion rates.  

"If you could measure conversion rates based on how customers found their way to the product category or time spent by a customer before making a purchase decision on a particular type of product, it gives you much richer data to plan forwards for the future."

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