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August 21, 2017
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Data Has Sparked a Retail Revolution

Late last year Amazon made waves when reports surfaced that they were testing out a new retail store location in downtown Seattle. Not only is the fact that Amazon is experimenting with retail locations newsworthy, but their plans will transform grocery stores as we know them.

The new stores have no cashiers or checkout lines. Customers simply tap their cellphones on a turnstile when walking into the store, which logs them into the store’s network and connects to their Amazon account through the mobile app. Then the customer walks throughout the store and shops at their leisure. When items are added, or removed from their physical cart, they are also added or removed from their online cart. Upon finishing their shopping, the customer can simply walk out the door with their items and they automatically get charged through the app. The service is called Amazon Go, and they have dubbed this concept, “walk out technology.”

Walmart is also jumping into the foray, introducing a new “Scan & Go” framework, where customers download an app and use their smartphones to scan the barcodes of the items they want to purchase. Upon completion of their shopping, the customer clicks a button to pay from their phone and then shows their digital receipt to a store greeter on their way out of the store. No more checkout lines, registers, or cashiers.

The goal of both these technologies is to create more efficiency and cost savings. Customers are clearly on board, as they continue to ask for these new features. They crave more control and the convenience of avoiding lines altogether.

These new technologies are centered around using machine learning, sensors, and artificial intelligence. In the Amazon model, sensors are used to track the items customers pick up or put back. All of this generates data throughout the entire shopping trip of the customer. It’s important for companies to assess, when a customer enters their store or visits their website, what do they know about them and how can they best service them?

The Changing Landscape of Retail

All this data helps retailers better assess where to construct new store locations, how to most effectively set up store layouts, and improve the use of space and inventory for each store. Historical insights can be explored from past data. Additionally, real-time insights are gained from the point-of-sale as well as throughout the customer’s buying process. From sensors, beacons, weighted shelves, smart hangers, bins, and racks, data can be generated in a wide variety of ways. This presents challenges for businesses, specifically for how they can store all this data and how it can be leveraged to gain actionable insights.

Hortonworks has helped a number of retailers with these data challenges through Hortonworks Connected Platforms. With additional insights from data, retailers can make statistically confident observations based on empirical retail data, rather than relying on customer panels, in-store surveys, and focus groups as they did in the past. This helps retailers gain a clear 360-degree view of their customers, which leads to better website optimization and more effective store layouts.

Data is the new currency that buys retailers a competitive advantage through market segmentation, attribution, product recommendations. This enables retailers to personalize customer interactions in an all new way, leading to higher sales and happier customers.

To learn more about how companies are using Big Data and Hortonworks in retail, visit: https://hortonworks.com/solutions/retail/

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