Retailers turning to streaming analytics to unlock the full potential of real-time data

by October 25, 2021 0 comments

Soma Tah


Over the last year, with people having to stay indoors, online shopping has increased manifold and many retailers across India had their e-commerce capability put to the test. Data become critical to survival and data-driven decisions became the absolute necessity. In the retail industry, data can generate from multiple sources. It can be POS systems and in-store sensor data; it can also be the data generated from supply chain systems, and social media. If retailers don’t use or analyze those data quickly, the data lose its value and takes their competitive edge away altogether. That’s one of the reasons that businesses across industries rely on streaming analytics to enhance their decision-making skills. Because, when it comes to unlocking value from real-time data, traditional analytics are not enough. Unlike traditional analytics that operates on batches of data to provide more reactive insight, streaming analytics enables better business decisions by focusing on real-time data streams.    low Piyush Agarwal SE Leader Cloudera

As the online retail business continues to grow, the data generated helps retail businesses gain insights into their customers’ purchasing patterns and geographical areas with high demand, identify and resolve any issues in the supply chain, help with cost reductions, etc. Additionally, with same-day deliveries growing popular, retailers are increasingly depending on data to drive innovation and provide better customer experiences. Here’s where streaming analytics or data-in-motion has become critical, said Piyush Agarwal, SE Leader, India, Cloudera. But retail companies should be able to collect and correlate data from different sources – both within and external, and gain insights into their customers on-the-go. 

He talks about the challenges that retailers face to unlock the full potential of their data and how they can overcome the problems with the right data platform and solution.    

How are Indian retailers opening up to various data monetization opportunities? What are the challenges that they are facing in terms of unlocking the full potential of their data?

Besides using data to accurately predict and anticipate consumer needs, retailers are opening up business opportunities with data. Meal kits provider HelloFresh, for example, gained a 360-degree view of its customers using Cloudera’s data platform to expand its offerings. Among these is the ‘Dinner2Lunch” offering that enables customers to create both dinner and a creative leftover meal that they can have for lunch the next day with a single kit. 

While data can help deliver more personalized customer experiences or open new revenue streams, it can be challenging to achieve the level of integration that enables that as data is spread across multiple IT environments. Retailers are increasingly relying on a hybrid and multi-cloud strategy to run their businesses – such as storing sensitive data on private clouds while running their customer-facing website on public clouds so that it can scale. In addition to personalized insights, hybrid cloud solutions can break down the challenges seen in the retail environment stemming from high infrastructure costs, the inability to handle real-time data ingestion, or the volume and the variety of IoT data delivering deep business impact with customer-centric merchandising and an increased supply chain agility.

As data increasingly becomes a high-value asset, risks around cyberattacks also increase. To address consumers’ concerns on data security and privacy, regulations are enacted. However, such regulations can pose a challenge for retailers, especially as they embrace the hybrid cloud. With data shifting between different platforms and the cloud, the retailers need to know the source of the data, how it’s being used, and the potential of those data being lost, stolen or misused- to be able to protect it. With a full edge-to-AI enterprise data cloud like Cloudera Data Platform (CDP), retailers can ensure full governance and security of their data and analytics lifecycle across multiple IT environments. As retailers adopt the hybrid cloud, they can better harness the full potential of the data to meet strategic goals while reducing risks to a minimum.

How can streaming analytics transform brick and mortar retail as well as omnichannel retail?

According to a recent report, the traditional retail market will continue to dominate India’s retail in 2021 with 75 per cent market value accumulated there. While brick-and-mortar stores continue to be in demand, traditional retailers understand the value data can provide to their stores. And, for retailers, ensuring great customer experiences and customer satisfaction at the store is pivotal.  

In such a case, streaming data opens up the opportunity of leveraging in-store data in real-time with the use of sensors, videos, and beacons for actionable insights and autonomous decision-making. This technology allows retailers to measure and respond in real-time to shopper behaviour, measure geolocation, traffic, dwell times, and conversion metrics. Additionally, streaming analytics, enabled by the hybrid and multi-cloud, enables retailers to accelerate the time to market for new products and services and capture the low average attention time of the shoppers. With endless options at their disposal, consumers’ attention spans have reduced dramatically. Studies show that an average digital consumer’s attention span lasts for about 8 seconds. And that is an extremely narrow window for marketers to be able to create an impact on them. Therefore, the ability to understand the customer in real-time and cater to their specific interest will be a key differentiator for retailers in the ever-evolving customer landscape. For merchants, the ability to capture and analyze shelf, rack, table, and bin inventory levels allows them to prevent out-of-stocks (lost sales), monitor merchandising (display, pricing, promo, and planograms), meet compliance initiatives, and share these new insights with trading partners. Traditional retailers now have access to an entirely new level of customer-centricity that many have been missing out on for years.

On the other hand, for omnichannel retailers, streaming analytics can help transform business insights by accessing data from inside the business such as ERP and asset management, and outside sources, edge devices and external assets, and correlating them for real-time decision-making. From accessing historical data to the most recent one, streaming analytics can help retailers manoeuvre current challenges and pre-empt any future ones.

Besides targeting and engaging customers, what are the other areas / business processes / operations that can be transformed by streaming analytics?

A scalable real-time streaming data platform helps collect, curate, and analyze data, to help enterprises gain immediate, actionable intelligent insights. The speed of data is key to business agility and greater innovation and real-time data processing is a necessity to deliver relevant actionable insights. Going beyond targeting and engaging with the customer, the speed of data presents a new frontier for competitive differentiation in the retail industry. Retailers can become more proactive, rather than reactive, to current events which change in short time frames, such as responding to the changing markets in real-time. For example, building agile supply chains, by incorporating robust data analytics, to drive greater planning precision with real-time visibility across the entire supply chain and take action in real-time around things like demand forecasting.

Streaming analytics has the potential to transform business operations in many ways. However, the benefits of such efforts can only be reaped if organizations can move and analyze data whenever it is needed easily and securely. With the ability to have visibility and control over their data, retailers can confidently make use of their data to capture growth opportunities in India.

How do you differentiate yourself from the other streaming analytics solutions available in the market?

For any retail organization, time and speed are of the absolute essence. The speed at which data is being managed and processed will determine the kind of insights the company will be able to gain about its customers. Fast/instantaneous data processing will allow for real-time, up-to-date information about the customer, allowing companies to be able to understand and cater to a customer’s evolving needs and will help in smart decision-making. Fuelled by our open-source DNA, Cloudera’s hybrid data platform uses analytics and machine learning to make sense of a company’s data, from the Edge to AI, across any environments – on-premises, hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud.

A modern streaming architecture consists of critical components that provide data ingestion, security and governance, and real-time analytics. And Cloudera enables this seamlessly with Cloudera DataFlow, Edge and Flow Management, stream messaging, stream processing and analytics, and shared data experiences. Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) can run on hybrid and multi-cloud platforms, and companies can ensure unified security and governance across the entire platform with a Shared Data Experience (SDX). Additionally, the CDP enables data democratization, which has become increasingly essential, especially for businesses looking to accelerate decision making and discover new opportunities. With data democratization, a wider pool of users will be able to access data in real-time, enabling them to stream and perform aggregations for data-backed decision making based on real-time market conditions.

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