5 Applications of Big Data in E-commerce

Big data, one of the big buzzwords related to anything technology. It’s thrown around as something to both respect and fear, but what is it exactly? How can we use it to boost our E-commerce business? Or, can we even use it all?

And we’re not alone in our confusion...


Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really
knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it,
so everyone claims they are doing it.

Dan Ariely, 2013      

Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University      


We have come some way in the past five years in understanding big data better, being able to use it for information management and web-marketing. So let’s delve.


Check out more e-commerce blog posts here. 

What is big data?

In essence, it is mountains of unstructured data collected from across your e-commerce site. Without interpretation, it can seem senseless and daunting but it contains important information about - amongst other things - click-history, page visits and frequency of visits. So with some untangling, big data is your customers’ interests, both individually and collectively.


Big data is usually collected by a data management platform (DMP) and
filtered and processed through a demand-side platform (DSP). 


There are currently 3.9 billion people online, and the number is growing by the second. That’s a lot of data, but a lot of data means a lot of insights - so let’s see how we can apply it to grow your e-commerce site.




Whilst it is a no brainer that Christmas season means increased sales, big data can be used to predict the scale of the increase, as well as other upcoming peaks and troughs. This can help to make sure that you are prepared for seasonal sales, as well as predicting when it may be time to put some products into clearance.




In old style brick-and-mortar shops, prices of products and sales projections would be catalogued and sent out to staff every six weeks. It was a long and labourious process and would become more redundant with each passing day. Now, these insights can be accessed online and are updated in real-time with every purchase, without subjectivity.




When putting out a hard copy of an advert (billboard, magazine advert…), you have no way of knowing who it has reached or the effect it has had. Success of e-commerce campaigns on the other hand, can be measured in hours. With the right software, you can see who it has reached, if they responded positively or negatively and if they went on to visit your store or even convert. 




The chances of a broad advert reaching a target audience are slim. Using personalisation on the other hand, allows you to reach more people. Big data analytics can be used to see what a customer may be interested in based on their customer history with you, without subjectivity.


Lost sales


When a customer leaves an item in their basket without checking out, it can be for a number of reasons. If you knew that a customer was also looking at out-of-stock items or looking at many similar items before leaving, you can interpret why they didn’t convert and take measures to bring them back to your site.


So, what’s the big idea about not using Big Data?

Even with these benefits, there is still some hesitation to use big data, topping these reasons are:


  • Lack of knowledge or understanding - 47% chalk their hesitation down to this, but with the right software you don’t need to be Alan Turing to decipher your big data. Good software will provide you with a good user interface that makes your data easy to understand
  • Lack of technology - it's close to impossible to decipher big data without a DMP and DSP. As with lack of knowledge however, this isn't something you have to worry about directly. External providers don’t just offer the technical know-how but also the right software
  • Security - with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into effect soon, security is a hot, unavoidable issue. Even with the best technology, a security breach is unforgivable. A trustworthy software provider will always make their data handling protocol clear to their clients and comply to the proper guidelines


Whilst it’s true that there is a high throughput of data, lack of technology and lack of knowledge needn’t hinder you in getting the most out of your data. Outsourcing is a great way to get the help you need, without spreading yourself even thinner than you already are. The data already exists, so why not use it to your advantage!



Did you find this article useful? If you want to try a free trial with Clerk.io click below:
Free 7-day trial