Running retail with data

This is a guest blog post by Matt Davies, head of marketing, EMEA, Splunk.

The retail industry is going through a constant journey of transformation as it is at the intersection of many disruptive technology trends. No sooner do retailers get a handle on the growing role of the cloud, they are then faced with having to implement an omni-channel strategy – and the associated technologies that come with that. Next step, once all those plans are in place is ensuring all those channels, as well as their move to the cloud, are secure. Then comes the need to embrace the opportunities of IoT – on both the front and back ends of the business – and the blurring of the physical and digital worlds. Alongside this, they need to differentiate through customer experience, ensure revenue keeps flowing and make sure that their IT department can evolve quickly enough to meet with all these growing challenges.

When you look at it like that, it’s exhausting. How does a retailer manage to keep encouraging customers to buy more and protect their transactions and sensitive data – all whilst keeping them happy? Increasingly this comes down to a series of real-time IT and business “moments” where having the right data in the hands of the right people makes sure the right decision is made.

One retailer who’s making use of machine data to help this at the moment is Kurt Geiger. The British shoe and accessory retailer currently uses machine data to help tackle each of those big questions – and to make sure all of those plates keep spinning. The retailer’s machine data is used to make sure the IT infrastructure (including Amazon Web Services) that underpins its website is running optimally. This includes having to manage peaks of activity like Black Friday and the Boxing Day sales. The same data is then used to help its security teams protect customers’ data by identifying any suspicious activity online or within the network. The machine data is also weaved together to map out customer journeys, both online and in-store.

Having this type of analysis allows retailers to stay on the front foot at all times. This is especially good when it comes to handling customer complaints – it allows the retailer to see exactly what needs to go where – and anticipate any potential issues.

Kurt Geiger is one of many UK and European retailers using machine data. IKEA is also benefiting from its, gaining end-to end visibility from e-commerce to security. Instead of being reactive to customer complaints, the Swedish retail giant is using machine data to troubleshoot issues proactively from multiple data sources, demonstrating the business impact and value of this level of visibility.

All retailers, regardless of their size, generate troves of data every day. With a lot of them, that data is just sat there, being ignored. Retailers need to realise that machine data and analytics go hand in hand – and neither are as complicated as one might think. The value from this data is typically first tapped into by IT but rapidly spreads and evolves to create tangible business benefits.

From IT, to security, to the customer experience – machine data and analytics can play a huge role in keeping shoppers loyal, secure and happy in a disruptive, transformative and innovative period in retail.

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