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How Big Data Can Help Retail Sector Grow in India The Indian retail sector is witnessing a noticeable shift towards an organised retail market from the conventional unorganised retailing in India.

By Shikha Tara

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Volume, Velocity, Veracity and Variety, commonly referred to as the 4 Vs of big data, share their essence with the growth that the Indian retail sector has been witnessing. This growth has been attained from a multitude of players, varied platforms (online and offline) and a plethora of choices, along with speed that offers convenience to customers. These characteristics are not only limited to the growth of the Indian retail sector, but their optimal practices play a critical role to its eventual success.

The Indian retail sector is growing at a faster pace and is witnessing a noticeable shift towards an organised retail market from the conventional unorganised retailing in India. The main changes are:

  • Coming of an era where the customer attaches extra premium for choice, convenience, variety and brands etc.

  • The growing disposable income levels creating a favourable environment for customers to seek experience-based shopping

  • With the rise of mobile devices' consumption, the online market place has also expanded rapidly and has grown in leaps and bounds.

  • Demonetization also had a positive effect on the online retail sector in India.

  • Social media has also contributed into creating an avenue to have feedback on products and shopping experiences

The organised retail market, e-commerce and social media all are developing together at such a scale that we haven't witnessed in many other economies. With such competition and dynamic scenarios, retailers are trying to maximise their razor-thin margins with data-driven decision making.

This is exactly where the concepts of 4 Vs of big data are supporting the businesses and leading their way. Each player is getting into the game (though at different stages) of collating maximum and audacious datasets, to be able to utilise them to serve customers in the best possible way.

So, what does this mean for the Indian retail sector?

Indian retail sector is witnessing exabytes of information flowing across broadband pipes and the advent of multiple sources and techniques of data gathering.

  • Mobile phones, online shopping, social networks, GPS etc. all produce torrents of data as a by-product of their ordinary operations, providing relevant data to the retailers.

  • This enormous volume of the data gives them an opportunity to work with many petabytes of data in a single data set. However, they need to organise the data in the required format to make use of it.

  • The key lies in the speed of data creation, along with integration of such data from multiple sources, for any insights generation.

  • Real-time or nearly real-time information makes it possible for a company to be much more agile than its competitors.

  • Machine Learning has become the latest form to consume and process data faster – providing the opportunity to ensure the quality of the data and evolve that process with iterations.

It is imperative to source various data types/channels in today's world, to get as close as 360-degree view of a customer. Complete leveraging of the 4 Vs of big data can provide an edge to a retailer by having the holistic view of a customer to serve to their needs better. Once the retailers have these sorted, the Analytics & Machine Learning could be leveraged as strong ingredients for data driven business decisions.

Ultimately, it is a great combination of the 4 Vs of big data and the ever-evolving algorithms that enables the retailers to gain incredibly actionable insights to serve their customers better. This is the key towards their long-term growth & success – and Indian retail sector is all set for that.

Shikha Tara

Analysis Director, Dunnhumby

Shikha Tara is an Analysis Director of Dunhumby. 
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