Whether you're an e-commerce store novice, or you're just getting your feet wet, the words "big data" are probably part of your vernacular (and if they aren’t, they should be). You can thank advancements in technology and big data applications for the surge of information that can overwhelm even the most savvy of analyzers.
When applied correctly by owners, big data can take an e-commerce store to the next level of success. However, others wade through the enormous amount of information, fighting it like quicksand, only to wave the white flag in defeat. Big data is not just beneficial to your business, but can be a crucial factor that can make or break your efforts.
Here we'll look at what big data is, how to make it work for your e-commerce store, and what the most significant challenge will be. We'll also check out a few do's when applying big data to your niche, as well as one big don't.
What is big data?
Now that we've touched on the importance of big data let's take a look at what it really means to the success of your e-commerce store. In a nutshell, big data is focused on collecting large volumes of information, properly storing and analyzing it, and then using it to better serve customers and improve your authority within your niche.
Big data means something different for every market, and it’s a little easier to grasp for e-commerce store owners when you break it up into two categories: Marketing Data and Complex Product data.
Marketing data includes information such as competitive pricing, levels of social media engagement, bounce rates, sales transactions, SEO rankings, and much more. You can gather this data in a multitude of ways from email exchanges, keyword research, and just by crunching the numbers after a promotion.
Complex product data has more to do with what you're showcasing in your e-commerce store. For the automotive industry, you have many elements that must work together and make sense to the customer so they can shop seamlessly. You have to factor in make, model, year, SKU’s, price, and beyond to ensure that each auto part applies to the attributes. Here’s an image from a battery sold online from Auto Zone. Now keep in mind they have over twenty categories, and over 150 items in batteries alone (and this doesn’t even count the image and description.)
Basically – when it comes to complex product data, you want a finely tuned management system to handle the volume of information required to sell items successfully in an e-commerce setting.
When you combine marketing and complex product data together, you’ll have an organized e-commerce business with an edge.
Steps to make big data work for your e-commerce store
It’s not enough just to gather the complex product information and send out email blasts to market it. You have to do something with the big data to see results. Here are a few steps to incorporate big data.
#1: Choose your niche mindfully – Choosing a niche for your e-commerce store could be the easiest part of the job, or it might be the hardest. If there isn’t much data out there, two things could be going on. First, you may have hit a goldmine that few people have tapped into. Second, there isn’t much success in that niche, and it’s time to lean in a new direction.
You want to ensure that the niche you choose has plenty of data for you from manufacture's descriptions to online reviews. If you're passionate about birdhouses that are modeled after architectural masterpieces, then you might not have a ton of luck. However, if you choose a common appliance with many working parts, you'll not only make big sales, but you'll have the opportunity to sell lower-priced accessories.
#2: Gather and analyze competitive data – You can gain a lot of insight into your customers and products by looking at what the competition is doing. Competitive information like price, products descriptions, images, social media shares, and web design can help you improve your e-commerce store.
For example, if one of your top products drops off in sales, don’t start looking internally for the problem. First, check and see if your competitors have a lower price or are running a special. Also, check to see how clear their images are and how informative the description is because they may offer more value in these areas.
#3: Locate complex product data from multiple sources
When designing your e-commerce store, you'll want to find product data from a wide range of sources. Manufacturer's websites will often have impressive images and detailed descriptions. When it comes to the automotive industry, you'll also want to look to dealer portals, PDF's, and other unique sources that can give you an edge in your niche and refine your e-commerce store as both a place to buy products and gain valuable information.
When you're in a niche that involves many parts that work together such as automotive, appliances, or lawn products like mowers and weed eaters, the biggest challenge will be gathering and applying this information. It's a time-consuming task (but worth it when done correctly) that can make or break your business efforts.
The do’s and don’t of applying big data for your particular niche
There are universal rules that can be implemented to every niche when integrating big data into your e-commerce business. With that being said, there are also some applications that will impact the automotive niches effectively, but will be a waste of time if you're trying to sell quilting products. Here are just a few do's (and one don't) that you should consider when applying big data to your particular niche.
Do factor in content and image quality
The clearer you are with your product description, images, and videos, the more conversions you'll see. Take the complex product data you've gathered and give people enough description to be confident in the purchase. If you only skim the surface with a sentence or two and a blurry image, your customers won't understand the product and they'll find a different source they trust more to give their money.
Here’s a great example of a clear image and a product description from tractorsupply.com:
Do optimize your e-commerce store
Don't forget that if you don't optimize your e-commerce store, it will be hard for people to find you, no matter how much work you've put into the project. Make the effort to provide a simple and responsive procedure for checkout and have fast upload times. Big data is extremely beneficial, but there will be a few other factors that make an impact and improve your bottom dollar.
Don’t just become a gatherer of information
It can be easy to get lost in the search for complex product data and marketing information, and it happens to the best of us. While you’re doing all of your research and analyzing, be sure that you actually put the information to good use or your efforts will be in vain.
Do you want to research your products continually? Sure, but you want to focus your search to the most important aspects first, apply the knowledge, and then work outwards from there.
By: Dana Nevins
Outpace your competition in 2017 with our eCommerce Success Guide featuring the latest trends and free marketing success tips.