Why collecting big data is crucial in the holiday season

The period around the end of November and the start of December is set to be the busiest period of the year for retailers, as they will have to cope with a huge spike in demand.

It all kicks off on November 28th – known as Black Friday – which is when stores in the US traditionally slash prices for their post-Thanksgiving promotions. However, this is no longer just a US phenomenon, as it is increasingly popular in Europe, after being introduced to the UK market in 2010. 

Then, the following week, the ecommerce sector gets its chance to shine, as December 1st – or Cyber Monday, as it's known – will mark the biggest day for online shopping. Last year, Amazon UK saw 4.12 million items orders, at a rate of 47 per second, and this year's event is set to eclipse this record.

But this will pose immense challenges to all parts of a retail business, and one area that's set to come under particularly close scrutiny is the marketing department.

As well as the need to deliver relevant, targeted promotions to the right customers, the events will be brands' biggest opportunity of the year for data collection, Forbes contributor H O Maycotte noted – so it will be vital professionals are able to take full advantage of this.

He explained that it is during the holiday season when customers feel most inclined to share information with brands in exchange for a more convenient, engaging online experience, and businesses need to be ready for this.

"Between the stress, the need to research new products and make purchases and the giving back within it all, now is the time to capture some of the richest customer data you can truly use to propel your brand forward in 2015," Mr Maycotte said.

However, in order to make the most of it, marketers will need the right tools available, particularly as they are expected to do so much more than in the past to support their companies' operations.

Today's marketers are not only required to be a creative force for a business, but also act as "data gurus", analysing and interpreting information order to guide their thinking, Mr Maycotte stated. But they will also be expected to demonstrate they can get results. While actual numbers of sales will still be the domain of the finance department, metrics such as leads generated, impressions made and social shares remain with marketers.

With this part of a business in the middle of a technology revolution due to the impact of developments such as data, automation and social, professionals will need to be alert to the latest innovations and which platforms will bring the most benefit to their firm.

"They say marketing has changed more in the past two years than it has in the past 50, which means that chief marketing officers need to be ahead of the curve, with their finger on the pulse, 24/7, all while performing their day job," Mr Maycotte said.