More people than ever before are shopping online, a phenomenon which plays an important role in radically enlarging the customer base for retailers and fostering competitiveness like never before. Industry, businesses, delivery companies, transport companies and retailers can all benefit from this growing trend.
However, in order to ride the e-commerce wave, it is pivotal to look at how consumers behave online, especially through social media. Today, all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn are vehicles for advertising, while google algorithms are making sure that netizens are viewing ads that are relevant to them. Needless to say, this makes it much more enticing for anyone to press a button and get the latest running shoe, smart phone or multi-flavoured macarons that will be delivered right to his or her door.
This is exactly why the concept of Social Media is a top priority for many business executives today. Decision makers, as well as consultants, are constantly looking for ways in which firms can make money from platforms such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, Second Life, and Twitter. While there could be confusion on what the term social media really means, one way to view it is to consider it as all sites and networks which feature user-generated content (which is why Wikipedia can somehow fit into social media as well).
All this activity and content are of course generating huge amounts of data – from high-traffic times to purchasing trends – which all need to be analysed, a challenge which falls entirely within the realm of Big Data. To put it simply, by analysing all the information emerging from social media, retailers can improve their services, while logistics companies can streamline their operations once they’re armed with this valuable insight.
A major part of TransformingTransport’s e-commerce pilot involves analysing social media and extracting usable information so that e-shops can optimise their products and services. It will also identify key consumers’ problems online in relation to the logistics process. The pilot team is currently examining the importance of user-generated content and identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) that businesses can use to measure content importance. They are achieving this by using text mining algorithms. The team is outlining different ways in which e-commerce companies can use KPIs and extract useful information, overcoming the challenge of being overwhelmed by all the data.
By the end of the pilot, the team will have developed a powerful tool which will enable easy analytics of data. The tool will shed light on consumer behaviour in relation to the logistics process and highlight bottlenecks or challenges in the online purchasing cycle and logistics procedure.
Ultimately, this will enable e-commerce businesses to improve their logistics procedure and develop new business models that minimise transportation and logistics costs. Once again, from reducing emissions to making happier online shoppers, the field of Big Data is proving itself in bringing a better quality of life.