Perhaps no industry has been more affected by the data deluge than retail. E-commerce now compels even brick-and-mortar stores to develop a comprehensive online sales and marketing strategy. Supply channels are more complex, and the web has removed barriers that previously kept manufacturers from vertically integrating into the retail space. Retailers have more diverse transactional data than ever, which holds opportunity for deeper customer insights when synchronized with online and offline behavior data, but also poses a threat from cyber-attackers that threaten privacy, denial of service, and theft.
At the National Retail Federation’s (NRF’s) BIG Show 2015 in New York City this week, the prominent themes among both retailers and vendors revolved around maximizing the market basket today and the lifetime value of the customer into the future:
- Omnichannel Sales
- Real-Time Personalization
- Unified Customer Identify
- Predictive Inventory Management
- Next Best Offer
- Connected In-Store Experience
- Brand Loyalty and Emotional Affinity
Modern Architecture: Store, Meet Data
Underlying the vision of smarter retail, however, is a need to build a modern data architecture that enables the transition to a more competitive and customer-driven strategy. Now, more than ever, the chief marketing officer, category and merchandise managers, chief information officer, and IT directors must collaborate to ensure capabilities align with the vision of connected retail. An approach to big data in which the lines of business continue to operate independently not only perpetuates the problem of information silos, but also threatens to drive up fixed costs—from more sophisticated machines, a digitized sales floor, and enhanced marketing systems—and operating expenses—from a flexible planogram, retailtainment, and data-intensive sensors, beacons, and surveillance—with insufficient return on investment.
In order to generate the most value from the massive data that retailers now have at their disposal, marketing, IT, and operations have begun to consolidate their data in an enterprise data hub (EDH) built on Apache Hadoop. In fact, many of the most futuristic demonstrations seen in the NRF booths of Cloudera partners like Intel, Cisco, SAS, Oracle, Teradata, and SAP—interactive mirrors, predictive soda dispensers, real-time mobile offers, social shopping, personalized shoe design—are possible today because of Hadoop.
Smarter Retail: Access, Security, Analytics
An EDH offers two key benefits whose absence has historically challenged data-driven innovation in the retail sector: governed multi-tenancy and complete data security. In order to personalize offers that drive optimal market basket and to ensure the right inventory is in the right store to support demand on a just-in-time basis, marketers, buyers, and merchandisers need a complete view of the customer, schematic, and supply chain. Over time, the ability to bring more users to where the data lives also drives up data quality because there is less need for duplication and transformation, which prohibit analytical consistency and alter the original data such that important information can be irretrievably lost. With access management tools like Apache Sentry and Kerberos, business analysts, IT users, and applications all share space in a centralized data hub to drive deeper insights, perform edge analytics, and keep up with service-level agreements at scale without disruption from noisy neighbors or fear of an information free-for-all.
Second, no data strategy can be implemented without full privacy measures that prevent nefarious actors from stealing customer information. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) standardizes credit card transaction security to prevent cardholder exposure and fraud. Using Cloudera Navigator, merchants and payment processors can now fully and natively encrypt and key-manage all the data in a Hadoop cluster. MasterCard recently built the first fully PCI-certified Hadoop environment.
With a protocol of data security and governance for a multi-tenant big data environment, smart retailers can turn their attention to building differentiated experiences that transcend channel and delight customers. Driven by pervasive analytics that automate personalization, prediction, and cross-platform engagement, an EDH built on Hadoop is transforming retail today and into the future.