Retailers cash in on unstructured data

Chicos analyzes social media, website behavior, customer reviews and more
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Unstructured data is opening up new data analytics opportunities, and the retail industry is taking advantage of it. Like many of its competitors, clothing retailer Chicos is leveraging social media, customer reviews and website activity--in addition to its reams of structured data--to improve the ways in which it interacts with its customers, reports Samuel Greengard at CIO Insight.

Chicos maintains plenty of data on its customers' transactions and preferences in a conventional database, but new, unstructured data sources offer the potential to reveal greater details on customers' behavior and shopping trends. The sources of unstructured data are often external to a company, and the volume is growing exponentially. The ever-expanding amount of unstructured data, and the difficulty in figuring out how to combine it, creates huge challenges.

With 1,350 stores (including those of its sister brands Soma, Boston Proper and White House Black Market), Chicos works hard to offer effective customer loyalty programs. By adding unstructured data, including customer website behavior and social media comments, into the mix, it hopes to get a better sense of the correlation between browsing and buying. New analytics strategies also aim to prompt more personalized promotions and advertising.

For more:
- see Samuel Greengard's article at CIO Insight

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