February 13, 2015
One of the most difficult elements for new entrepreneurs and their fledgling companies is finding a way to compete against the big budgets and established brands of major corporations. This is particularly true for those looking to carve out a piece of the pie in the E-commerce market, where they have to go against some very big players, like eBay and Amazon.
Fortunately, there’s hope. Within the last few years, there have been a number of tech developments – accessible to companies both big and small – that help level the playing field for eCommerce startups.
The answer? Big Data. Before you roll your eyes and mumble something about another article on Big Data, remember that most small companies aren’t making use of this trend. Sure, Big Data is a term thrown around a lot in IT spheres, but it’s very important for and very underutilized by small companies. Too often, small business and startups falsely associate big data with big companies.
That doesn’t have to be the case. Big Data doesn’t mean sifting through oceans of data in order to find a few pearls; instead, Big Data means there is an ocean of information available, but you can thrive by only focusing on specific areas. Data is almost always a question of quality over quantity.
Where to Find This Big Data
Social media provides businesses with in-depth insights into how consumers feel and how they interact with companies. In fact, there’s no other means better suited for gauging consumer sentiment than social media. For E-Commerce startups, this is a great resource to see what kinds of products people are talking about, which industries are the most active on social media, and how people are contacting their retailers of choice. There is plenty of information to be gathered from sources like Facebook or Twitter, but many small businesses ignore it or take it lightly, casting aside valuable insights. Smaller E-Commerce companies should be actively involved in monitoring the negative views on their competitors, then crafting a strategy to address these pain points.
Furthermore, there are a number of new technologies on the market expanding data sources even further. One of the more popular new trends is called the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT refers to a network of interconnected objects, which can provide in-depth insights into how people use everyday devices, like smartphones or even home appliances. Companies looking for this type of information will need to remain creative. For example, Amazon is releasing an interactive speaker called Echo. However, this device wasn’t just designed for music and checking the weather; don’t be surprised if soon you’ll be able to use Echo to order things right from Amazon, making online purchases even easier.
It doesn’t matter if smaller E-commerce sites don’t have the same capabilities as Amazon. They can still think outside of the box and learn how to use emerging technology to gain new information on customers.
Any E-commerce business, whether big or small, has many different data sources to consider when making decisions. These different data sources vary in type, which makes them very difficult to integrate. Fortunately, new analytical and platform management tools, such as Hadoop as a Service, allow companies to manage and integrate all relevant data, such as competitor offers, product costs, ad campaigns, and customer sentiment. Small E-commerce startups will benefit from data driven solutions, and find the right insights to establish themselves.
By combining the right tools and looking for new ways to glean quality information, there’s no reason why a small E-commerce startup can’t carve out its own niche and compete with major online retailers. Big Data could help it find its silver bullet, the perfect stone and sling to fight the E-commerce goliaths.
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