Examples of Big Data in E-commerce


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Big data is having a transformative effect on businesses and entire industries. The ability to collect, manage and analyze massive amounts of rich customer information for new insights is bringing about big changes in how companies perceive and interact with customers—resulting in increased revenues and competitive edge.

In the E-commerce Industry, one particular company, Expedia, is leveraging the power of big data analytics to learn what their customers really want and then deliver accordingly. As one of the world’s largest full-service travel sites, Expedia takes care of every traveler’s needs, from hotels and air travel to rental cars and more.

In a recent article for Investor’s Business Daily posted on Investors.com, author Lawrence Carrel discusses how big data is driving Expedia’s newfound success.

The following highlights and insights from the article make a strong case for the adoption of big data analytics as a business strategy.

Treating customers as people

“For Expedia,” the author begins, “the big change came when it began to listen to what its customers wanted instead of treating them as just another sale.”
Thanks to the power of analytics, Expedia’s chief marketing and strategy officer, David Doctorow, says that the company has made the move from treating customers as transactions to treating them as people. “It sounds simple,” Doctorow explains, “but there’s a combination of science and art to get that correct.”

Turning Big Data into Smarter Data

The travel industry is bursting with data. “With more than 5 billion flight searches per year Expedia has always been a Big Data company,” Carrel explains. “However,” he continues, “to understand its customers better, Expedia became a ‘smart data’ company.” Being smarter with data means recognizing customers on multiple platforms such as personal computers, tablets and smartphones. As Carrel points out, “It also means remembering what the customer searched for previously, even on a different device.”

Expedia’s Doctorow refers to this part of the strategy as “test and learn”. By doing thousands of tests, Expedia is able to better discover what works and doesn’t work with its customers, who let the company know what they like and don’t like through their behavior and feedback. “The company quickly and seriously follows up on customer complaints,” says Carrel, “using technology to analyze and fix issues as they arise.”

One very smart tool Expedia created from all of these tests is “Scratchpad”, a consumer-friendly app that keeps a record of a person’s searches all in one place while simultaneously updating pricing—regardless of what device(s) the consumer is using.

Recognizing patterns in customer data

“Customers tend to shop in patterns, and this gives insight to help serve them better in the future,” says Doctorow in the article. He goes on to explain that Expedia uses these data insights “24/7” to make offers to customers that are relevant to them and lower in price. “The customers appreciate that we recognize what they are shopping for and care about,” he adds.

Creating loyalty and trust

According to Doctorow, “Actions that provide value and savings to the customer show Expedia’s loyalty to the consumer, who then begins to trust the company and return its loyalty.” The Expedia Plus program is an example of this loyalty- creating strategy. Customers who enroll in the program earn points that they can trade in to get automatic upgrades at 1,400 hotels around the world.

Increasing market share and profitability

Big data, done correctly, can seriously boost business growth and revenues. Carrel tells us that in the third quarter of 2014, Expedia’s domestic bookings of hotel rooms grew by 24 percent over the same quarter the previous year, while International hotel room bookings jumped 31 percent. Contributing greatly to the rise in those numbers was Expedia’s purchase of a majority-stake in the fast-growing European travel site Trivago in 2013. In that same year, Expedia also contracted with the popular travel site Travelocity to run all of the latter company’s content, inventory, customer service and technology on Expedia’s big data analytics platform. In return, Expedia receives a majority of Travelocity’s revenues.

Clearly, the adoption of big data and analytics has become a powerful strategy for Expedia and other E-commerce companies. By enabling organizations to leverage large volumes of rich customer data for actionable insights and competitive advantage, big data analytics is fast becoming an essential, cost-effective business tool for companies in all industries.

Rick Delgado
Freelance Writer
I've been blessed to have a successful career and have recently taken a step back to pursue my passion of writing. I've started doing freelance writing and I love to write about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet. I also occasionally write for tech companies like Dell.


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