Archive for the ‘E Retail’ Category

Big Data Analytics: Blurring the Line Between Brick-&-Mortar and E-Retail Experience


As an online retailer, there are many challenges to face. You don’t have a physical outlet for customers to browse and see what they like, nor do you have a floor manager to recommend certain products or answer questions your customers might have. However e-retailers make up for that by enabling customers to look through an entire stores inventory before making a purchase, see suggestions made by the website based on their past browsing history, and in many cases are just a few clicks away from an online customer service rep. But how can e-retailers become just as personal, if not more so, than their brick-and-mortar counterparts? The answer for more e-retailers is Big Data analytics, and, more specifically, the HP Vertica Analytics Platform.

E-retailer Snapfish is a textbook example of using Big Data analytics with HP Vertica to revamp their online business. Every online company these days collects data – some more than others. Yet few actually know what to do with their data or don’t have an analytics system in place to capitalize on it. Prior to Vertica, Snapfish had much of the data they needed right there in front of them, but couldn’t access or take action fast enough.

  • Promotions based on customer behaviors were delivered too late
  • Popular card designs weren’t featured properly
  • Customer photos were stored online unsorted instead of automatically placed in books for purchase.

In order to create an online environment that is as personal as a physical store, e retailers have to be able to understand their customers goals, see what they do, and pick up on social cues in real-time just like one would in a face to face conversation. That’s why Snapfish chose HP Vertica.

Blazing-Fast Speed for Immediate Buyer Insight

Following the implementation of Vertica, Snapfish saw an immediate turnaround. They are now able to finish queries up to 400 times faster, and send out email promotions and offers to capitalize on near real-time trends. Snapfish can now see where customers on the site are going, what items they prefer, and identify overall trends that are taking shape, all of which they are able to do on the very same day instead of months down the line (it doesn’t help to know what kind of Christmas card customers prefer when its March, does it?).

One of the more fascinating aspects of Implementing HP Vertica that makes customers interaction seem more human is, perhaps ironically titled, the use of “machine learning techniques”. As I discussed in my last blog post about Vertica and CI Vertica works very well with R, the open-source language used by many data scientists for predictive analytics and data mining. Machine learning is the brains behind suggesting items to you that you may not have looked at, but are related to ones you have. For example, If you are shopping for a DSLR camera online it might suggest that you look at an extra battery, or perhaps recommend either an external flash or a shoulder mount, depending on whether you tended to gravitate towards equipment for photo or video use during your browsing. It is Vertica’s tight integration with R that allows these techniques to be put into action swiftly and effectively.

Vertica enabled Snapfish to react quickly to customers’ preferences and patterns, allowing them to market themselves accordingly, boost revenue and increase customer retention. As a highlight: Snapfish DBA’s can now perform look-up queries in under 200 milliseconds, enabling them to accurately recommend products to customers much more effectively than before, once again adding to that personal in-store feel that’s so important. Snapfish can now see where their customers on the site are going, what items they prefer, and observe the overall trends that are taking shape – just as if they were running a brick and mortar store. Big data analytics are clearly critical in tailoring customer experiences online to be more personal, and the faster you can execute the more valuable it will be for both.

To Learn more, click here to view our recent webinar with E-Retailer Etsy, where we discuss how they use HP Vertica to their advantage. Both e- retailers Etsy and One King’s Lane will be represented at our upcoming BDC in Boston to speak about their success stories with HP Vertica. Visit our registration page to learn more if you’re interested.

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