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    How to use data 'outside' the store

    The buzz in retailing is about capturing unstructured data to learn more about consumers, says William Gillispie, the retail & CPG leader for IBP Global Business Services

    By Lawrence Aylward
    William Gillispie says it's vital to embrace change and create it.

    Retailers have been using transactional data for many years to not only learn what customers are purchasing but to analyze trends in the buying habits of customers. But William Gillispie, the retail and CPG leader for IBM Global Business Services, says it’s time for retailers to move on from transactional data.

    The buzz in retailing today surrounds capturing “unstructured data,” Gillispie said.

    “Unstructured data is everything that is happening outside the store,” he explained.

    Gillispie gave a talk — “Are You Ready for Tomorrow’s Marketplace?” — at the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s annual Meeting & Leadership Conference in March. He urged retailers and manufacturers of store brands to scour social media to gain unstructured data so they can learn even more about consumers’ distinctive wants and needs.

    “Unstructured data is understanding that lavender has just been posted more than 3 million times on social media, and is a new flavor we should go after,” Gillispie said.

    Walmart is one retailer that has embraced unstructured data. It is collecting 2.5 petabytes of unstructured data from one million customers every hour, Gillispie said.

    A petabyte, by the way, is a million gigabytes.

    Gillispie has nothing against transactional data, but it is being left in the dust by unstructured data. His point to retailers and manufacturers is to stay ahead or risk falling behind quickly.

    “Companies that are succeeding today are the ones that embrace change, help predict the change and actually make change,” Gillispie said.

    Now there's a saying to post on the company bulletin board.

     

    By Lawrence Aylward
    • About Lawrence Aylward Aylward is editor in chief of Store Brands.

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