Posts written by Michael Cutler

Big Data in Retail: Understanding your Customers

Last week we were interviewed by the Financial Times about the recent work we’ve been doing with Made.com. Since October 2012 we’ve been trialling our technology on Made.com’s website. We collect and analyse anonymous activity data from shopper user journeys and our algorithms learn what each visitor is interested in, where they are in the ‘buying cycle’ and what other products they may like to consider.

Big Data is just a useless buzzword unless you use it as the impetus to solve a specific challenge, discover new insights or begin making data-driven decisions. While large corporations and institutions are struggling to get to grips with these new ideas and technologies some sectors more than others have embraced it with open arms and are already reaping the benefits.

The retail sector has been hit particularly badly by this continued widespread economic downturn. As a result many household names have gone out of business, as well as hundreds – if not thousands – of small retail businesses. This is one of the direct consequences of having such a close relationship with consumers, if the consumers are feeling the financial pinch – so do the retailers.

Customer loyalty and repeat business is the lifeblood of any retailer. In these tough economic times it is vital for any business to be far more efficient at customer acquisition and retention. To achieve these goals you need to be far smarter about your business and this is where data can help. It is hardly surprising that the internet-scale e-retailers like Amazon have been doing this for years.

However, Amazon et. al did not achieve this feat overnight, they invested heavily in building the platforms and technology to do all this – giving them a huge competitive advantage and allowing them to rapidly grow. Thankfully, the advent of ‘Big Data’ and the huge array of open-source software available mean you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and invest in decades of developer time to achieve your goals.

There is a catch, just like a toolbox stocked with a tool for just about every job – this in itself will not solve your challenges. It is up to you to pick the right tools for a particular job, and then use those tools effectively to build a solution. The “roll your own” strategy is not an approach to be taken lightly, it is still very costly and difficult to find the right talent.

There is another way, many startups are in the (for want of a better word) ‘Big Data’ niche – and we are one of them. We use our background and expertise in the Big Data ecosystem and know which parts can be applied to solve different problems. Crucially we also know what these open-source components cannot do, and we’ve bridged those gaps with our own unique proprietary technology to build something far greater than the sum of its parts.

The technology we developed to solve these challenges is being productised and brought to the market, it’s called TUMRA Optimize and we’re already rolling it out to our next clients. We optimize your e-commerce site and marketing campaigns in real-time to maximise the likelihood of turning your website visitors and newsletter subscribers into loyal repeat customers.

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Real-time London 2012 in Pictures (part 2)

Yesterday we launched our little web app which shows a real-time feed of pictures shared on social media about the London 2012 Olympics. To date we’ve collected 190,000 pictures including everything from family photos outside venues to backstage pictures from volunteers for the Opening Ceremony. Here at TUMRA we’ve built a data processing platform that’s… Read more »

Real-time London 2012 in Pictures (part 1)

The London 2012 Olympic Games have already been dubbed the ‘Social Olympics’. Social Media networks like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ have allowed athletes and fans to interact like never before. Whether it’s harsh criticisms from passionate fans, or overjoyed athletes tweeting pictures of their medals – social media has been central to London 2012. We’ve been keeping an eye on social… Read more »

What is Data Science?

The recent surge of hype around the buzzword ‘Big Data’ has largely overshadowed the rise of ‘Data Science’ – which in my humble opinion is a far more important field of innovation and research. So what is data science and where did it come from?   Brief history of data science The term ‘data science’… Read more »