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6 ways Retail SMEs can use Big Data

Big Data isn't a buzzword anymore now that even LHL is asking Singapore to maximise the benefits

If you are tuning out every time you hear the two words "big data", and especially if you are a small retail SME, and think its only for big boys, then you need to read this.

Big data has been getting alot of buzz in recent years. In Singapore especially, we generate tons of data on www and social media alike that goes un-captured and unanalysed.

Big data is a strategy that needs to be thought out and deployed. There is no uniformaly agreed-upon way to implement big data strategies. In general it means gathering data from multiple sources, both online and offline, and using it to improve your business — often by predicting what customers will do. A big company like can gather tons of data from customer purchasing history, browsing history, product reviews, website analytics and social listening and use algorithms to interpret the information.

But even the smallest retail store has its own “big data” to tap into. In fact, you’re probably already generating tons of data. The next thing to do will be to make meaningful business decisions out of those.

Below is a list of the valuable kinds of big data that you can use.

How to Improve Your Retail Store Sales using Big Data Sales Receipts/Point-of-Sale Records

How big is your average sale? Does the average size go up or down at certain times? How many sales involve discounts or promotions vs. full price purchases? What times of day, days of the week and months of the year do you make the most sales? Conversely, which ones are slow? You can use start to use information from your POS system and sales receipts to staff your store appropriately, or make decisions as to whether to setup a pop-up store in a specific mall, or make adjustments to your store hours.

For example, if you find that customers rarely come in after 6:30 p.m., consider closing earlier or reducing the number of sales associates on the floor at that time. You can also use this data to plan for seasonal fluctuations in sales, helping you manage cash flow better.

Inventory Tracking

Whether your inventory tracking system is part of your POS or standalone, it can tell you what items are selling the fastest, when to reorder, how much buffer stock to have on hand and when items are getting to the point they need to be unloaded at a discount (i.e., winter coats in March). Look at year-over-year inventory

Customer Loyalty Programs

If you don’t already use a customer loyalty program, start now! Forget about paper punch cards. Today’s digital customer loyalty tools are not only simpler and less hassle for customers, but most products also provide you with reams of information on what types of offers attract your loyal customers into the store — and what tactics are likely to work on others.

Website and APP Analytics

Even if you don’t sell any of your retail products online, studying your website analytics can show you how customers find out about your store, what websites drive traffic and what they do on your website. For example, if you see that lots of customers are searching for products, maybe you should start offering some of the most popular search items for sale online. Or at least include photos of what’s sold in your store so that customers can get a visual before they come in. Seeing what websites drive traffic to your store will enable you to put your focus on the places you’ll get the best results. For instance, if 80 percent of website traffic comes from FB, then you’ll be sure to keep your FB page updated. If most visitors are driven by pay-per-click ads or local search, you’ll want to focus on those.

Email Marketing and SMS Analytics

I hope you’re still using email and SMS to market to your customers. It’s still one of the most effective ways to engage with them. Review your analytics to see what subject lines, times of day, days of the week, etc., get the most opens and clicks. What do people click on most? What types of offers work best? Keep track of printed coupons or digital codes in-store so you know what offers are getting redeemed.

Social Media

You can use social media analytics to see what your customers do after interacting with you on social media. Do they go to your website, come to your store with a coupon code, etc.? Before that you can set up a sales funnel to direct customers to a particular page or url and have them take action there.


You can also track what customers talk and ask about on social media. Do they want to find a particular product? Do they all want to know about a certain product, or rave about it? Maybe it’s time to stock more or expand that line. Do they consistently ask if you have X when you only sell Y? Maybe you should order some of X and see how it sells.


As you can see, even the smallest retail operation has access to a lot of big data. By taking time to analyze it, you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t and improve your retail store sales.

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