Big Data is Merging Ecommerce and Brick-and-Mortar Retail in Exciting Ways

customer analytics and big data to shop online

I have been monitoring trends in the digital marketing sphere since the late 1990s. I can still remember the early predictions of traditional retail in the age of e-commerce. Many experts speculated that traditional retail stores would be driven out of business within a couple of decades. It has been exactly 20 years since I first read these predictions, but they have not come to pass. In reality, e-commerce is making brick-and-mortar retail outlets stronger than ever. Big data is helping them refine their omni-channel marketing strategies in new ways.

The future of omnichannel retail and big data

Retail brands have discovered that brick and mortar operations and e-commerce are not necessarily competitors. Merging the two is actually a very effective way to bolster revenue and strengthen their brand image.

A study published in Harvard Business Review highlighted this. The study showed that while online retail channel sales increased by 23%, brands that merged their traditional retail and e-commerce strategies fare the best of all. Only 7% of customers made all of their purchases online. The vast majority, 73% used multiple channels to make purchases and engage with their favorite retail brands.

Big data is essential to omnichannel retail marketing

This new integrated approach to retail marketing is proving to be incredibly successful. At the same time, it is far more complex.


Brands must develop a much more in-depth understanding of their customer base. This is a learning curve that most retail marketers are still struggling with. According to one study by SAS, only 8% of retailers have developed a holistic view of their customers. This makes it difficult for them to understand the effectiveness of their multi-channel retail marketing strategies and find ways to optimize them to their full potential.

Here are some reasons that big data is invaluable to the new realm of retail marketing.

Providing more personalized services

The SAS report stated that millennials are highly concerned about personalization. This new expectation was established with purely online retail channels, but has spread into multi-channel retail marketing as well.


It is impossible for brands to provide a personalized retail experience without extensive customer data. Retailers are collecting data on customers at both the online and retail level to provide better service. They monitor instore sales with sophisticated purchase tracking tools, as well as every possible event that takes place on their online platforms.

Hadoop algorithms help retailers parse this data together to develop a nuanced profile of every customer they encounter. This enables them to provide a personalized experience on their online channels. They can also get employees in the store itself to access this data to provide more timely and customized service to their customers.

Optimize both online and offline marketing strategies

In the early days of e-commerce, brands with multiple channels had very fragmented marketing strategies. They simply didn’t see the benefit of finding overlap between their online and offline marketing strategies.


Big data has helped brands form more detailed insights into their customer behavior on different channels. They can see where those behaviors overlap, which helps them create a strategy that overlaps with both networks. This can save them time and resources when it comes to developing marketing creatives, identifying target demographics and pursuing the right angles for their campaigns on both platforms.

They can also develop a more detailed overview of their customer behavior to understand their search behavior online. This helps them choose the right keywords and optimize their site for them accordingly.


Big data is the key to omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing is redefining everything that we ever knew about retail. It is even shredding the previous conceptions that we had about ecommerce. Big data is further challenging those beliefs, as it proves to be a very effective asset in the hands of all retailers across the world.


Rehan is an entrepreneur, business graduate, content strategist and editor overseeing contributed content at BigdataShowcase. He is passionate about writing stuff for startups. His areas of interest include digital business strategy and strategic decision making.