How to create awesome data-related projects in retail

Dominik Ueblacker

Business Development Manager, Consumer Services

9 min read

Businesses all over the world are undertaking data-related projects. Just like musical notes are strung together to make a song, individual pieces of data can be combined to get a complete picture of a specific industry. In retail, for example, data can be used to understand customer behavior, make accurate predictions based on analytics, and personalize the customer experience. All of these factors contribute to successful products, as well as a strong marketing strategy.

With so much data available, businesses now have the ability to gain an advantage over competitors by understanding their audiences. But first, they need to have the right tools at their disposal. Here’s how to get data-related projects off the ground in retail. 

Gathering and processing data

The very idea of having near-unlimited access to customer data is overwhelming. And frightening at the same time. Retailers often don’t know what to do with the massive amounts of data they collect. They know it is important, but they don’t have the correct measures and strategies in place to be able to process it. Digital Experience Platforms such as AEM, Acquia, and Sitecore can facilitate the collection of data and also help businesses discover creative ways to use it.


Furthermore, retailers need to be clear with clients about what they will be doing with the data they collect, and then make sure they have client approval. Nowadays, many customers share data with companies but are unaware of what companies are using the data for. In fact, one survey concluded that 97% of consumers are concerned about their data being misused by businesses. 


Once a business conveys transparency about the use of data, the next step is to have employ a data strategist.

Using the skills of data strategists

Data scientists and data strategists tend to get placed in the same category, but in reality, they are quite different. Data scientists are important because they know how to process data, but businesses need data strategists to help them translate user information into priceless project assessment and strategy. Data strategists understand data, mathematics, and statistics, but also know about client issues and customer journey at the same time.

While 81% of retailers collect data from consumers, only 16% of them believe they are experts at translating that data into actionable insights. This is where data strategists can excel. Their main role is to help the retailer grow by understanding how the collected data affects the customer experience as well as the company’s bottom line. They take the collected data and use it to create a roadmap for success. In essence, data strategists are able to translate data information into a real product change. The changes they suggest in the customer journey are what create a new or better product.

Translating data into actionable insights

Once retailers have processed the data they collected and have contracted the services of someone who understands it, they can create real-time solutions or suggestions that make a better end-product. 


As one of the oldest retailers in the United States, Macy’s has taken up the task of using Big Data to create highly personalized experiences for its customers. Through weekly and monthly data reports, marketers within the retailer are able to design hyper-targeted emails which have some 500,000 variations to offer products to its client base. Macy’s uses Big Data to build a deeper connection with consumers, and that’s one reason why its overall sales have increased 10% over the last ten years while other Brick & Mortar retailers suffered decrease. 


Another example is that of Red Roof Inn. The hotel chain gathered and analyzed data to predict which airports would be negatively affected by weather, thus causing cancellations. The chain placed a number of hotels close to airports, and using the predictions, would create marketing campaigns directed at people whose flights were canceled. As a result, Red Roof Inn’s revenue grew 10%


Technological advancements have paved the way for a new era of retail. With a better understanding of consumers, retailers will be able to increase profits while also marketing products at specific groups instead of blanket campaigns for the collective. But if they want to be successful, they first have to harness the full power of data.  

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