Improving the Retail Experience with Big Data

Published Apr-23-18

Breakthrough:
Innovations that use big data to improve customer experiences.

Company:
A.S. Watson Group, Hong Kong

The Story:

Improving the Retail Experience with Big Data One important way that retailers get ahead of each other and steal a march on their competitors is by enhancing the experiences they offer their customers. When many stores, shops and boutiques either online or on the high street sell the same types of goods, the quality of the service consumers receive is often a deciding factor of where they will spend their money. Such is its importance that businesses of all shapes, sizes and colors are forever looking for new and better ways to improve how they do what they do. And now big data and data science are getting in on the act.

For example, Dr. Watson is an innovative concept that uses a machine learning algorithm and integrates weather, search keywords and product information to give better customer experiences. It is a health and beauty module for a mobile app and provides health tips, personalized information and product recommendations. It was the winner of a 36-hour Big Data Hackathon in Hong Kong hosted by A.S. Watson Group (ASW), a leading international health and beauty retailer.

"For retailers, big data is a game-changer," said Malina Ngai, ASW Group Chief Operating Officer. "A.S. Watson Group is adopting a data-first strategy towards understanding customer shopping behavior, mapping them to our selection of products, shop floor space planning, marketing strategy and selection of store locations."

Importance of Retail

Retail is a key driver of economic growth in Hong Kong and therefore companies are continuously looking to draw insights from the ever-increasing amount of structured and unstructured information available about shopping behaviors.

The hackathon attracted 110 data science and technology professionals who were divided into 16 teams. They were challenged to solve real-life business problems in retail and recommend how to enhance customer experience.

Three Winners

While Dr. Watson was the champion two other innovations were awarded prizes. The first runner-up went to Trendmate, an enhancement to Watson’s mobile app that improves in-store experiences by providing personalized and targeted product recommendation, as well as content related to customer interests and the latest trending topics in the market.

The second runner-up was an app feature called Scan as You Go that lets users scan items in-store and get product information, personalized offers and discounts immediately.

While ASW received a raft of great new ideas, participants gained valuable experience of real-life business problems and had an opportunity to find genuinely new approaches to them.

"Data and analytics will never replace the experience and judgment in running a retail business, but it can definitely provide us the tools to perform better. Big data will play a major role in shaping the future of the retail industry," added Ngai.

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