The Next Step for Big Data

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The Next Step for Big Data

By Michael Dickenson, Ironbridge Software - 06/07/2017

The capability to analyze data as it is collected allows a company to reach solutions to business problems immediately, rather than weeks or months later when sales opportunities have already been missed.

Real-time data is the next step for Big Data, and it will help lead businesses to faster answers. The solutions that it can offer a company are only as limited as the creativity of a business.


Access to daily data is not reserved for retail giants like Amazon or Walmart. In fact, there are many more brands that have access to this kind of information through EDI852 (electronic data interchange). This format allows retailers to send point-of-sale quantities, price and inventories to suppliers. This covers data points on a store-by-store level down to individual items, which are identified by a UPC and sometimes a retailer SKU. Data sets acquired through EDI852 can be made available daily, opening the door to dissecting it in real-time for deeper business insights.


Out-of-stock situations directly translate to a loss in sales or, worse, losing a consumer to a competitor. While proper demand forecasting can help foresee periods of increased demand, analyzing and monitoring daily data will help avoid running into out-of-stock situations, which is critical to maximizing sales and reducing downtime. 

By capitalizing on access to real-time big data, companies can set alerts to quickly investigate potential problems when metrics fall below a predetermined threshold. An out-of-stock crisis may arise during a sudden outbreak in flu season, or in reference to a product being mentioned by influential celebrities on social media. By analyzing incoming data, a business can spot a problem and begin working on a solution to rectify the situation immediately to avoid a further loss in sales.


When introducing a new product to the market, it is essential to track and evaluate the success of the product launch. The best way to determine if a product rollout happens according to plan is to obtain and review daily data. Analyzing the data of individual sale points during a product-rollout period on a daily basis can help pinpoint if the problem lies with the retailer or the supplier.

Retailers and manufacturers should always review their promotional efforts to evaluate their effectiveness. To maximize effort and sales strategies, conduct a thorough analysis and track the results of a promotion. Problems, once identified, can take on many forms and need to be resolved as fast as possible. Noticing there is a problem is the first step toward finding a solution.

From there, you can conduct a store audit for a deeper look into the issue to identify if the problem arose from an out-of-stock situation or a retailer compliance issue, such as a competitor’s sign placed in front of a competing product’s shelf facings or an outdated price sticker still on display.

Big Data insights in real-time is the next step toward a more efficient business. Through analyzing daily sets of data, a business can reduce the lag time between noticing a problem and implementing a solution. The advantages of utilizing real-time Big Data can have profound impacts on a business.

This is the next step toward a larger competitive advantage by improving operational efficiency faster to achieve a more proactive business approach.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News