Few industries reach out to and impact the lives of more consumers every day than the Consumer and Retail Industries. Yet the industry’s transformation from Mass Marketing to 1:1 Marketing is mostly all hype with dramatically negative bottom line results. Let’s begin by considering the current state of the Consumer and Retail industries:
In the past direct consumer interactions were mostly restricted to calls or complaints into the call center. Most retail and consumer companies were surprised when consumers began to reach out and communicate to them directly via digital and social media. Responding to individual consumers was not their expertise. In fact, consumer conversations were unheard of beyond regimented settings such as facilitated focus groups and primary research interviews.
Today’s digital consumer is much more vocal and diverse. What do they expect from their favorite brands? The four most common needs include:
1. Personalization: Investing in providing products and associated services and information that are specifically relevant to them as individuals. Practically speaking, this could mean a shift from what’s good for the company i.e. “Packaged and Processed” to what’s good for me “Fresh and Wholesome.”
2. Two way dialogues: Communicating with them on their terms, be that time, channel platform or message. Consumers seek a thoughtful dialogue with brands, where consumer opinions are solicited and their responses are acted upon
3. Omnichannel: Clear and transparent access, via multiple channels, with a single and consistent proposition and treatment strategy be it online or in-store
4. Permission-based marketing: Consumers dislike general and unsolicited push marketing, particularly through personal devices such as phones and tablets. They are also much less likely to respond to generic messages or mass media
Call it what you may – but ultimately the industry shift from mass marketing to 1:1 (or personalized, individual) marketing calls for a major transformation in how business is done today. There are three major challenges to address:
Challenge 1: How do you manage the volume, variability and ownership of data?
Challenge 2: Who responds to the consumer?
Challenge 3: Existing IT systems just weren’t built to respond to a billion consumers live!
Ultimately consumer and retail companies need to listen, analyze, and engage with consumers 1:1 and live at the point of the transaction whether that’s online or in-store. We call that Consumer 360. Clearly traditional mainframe or RDBMSs lack the flexibility and scalability to support Consumer 360.
NoSQL Represents a Revolutionary Solution for Consumer 360NoSQL (Not Only Structured Query Language) technology represents a transformational change in perspective. Instead of getting the schema just right before doing anything else, NoSQL advocates loading up the data first and then seeing where the problems lie. This problem-oriented approach focuses on how the data will be used (queried) rather than how the data must be structured to fit within a traditional RDBMS. For Consumer 360, this shift means you would not have to spend a year trying to figure out the right data model and perfect schema to analyze and store data on a billion consumers. Instead, you can load the data, have it indexed automatically, and then search and query it for emerging trends and demand signals.
Why MarkLogic is the leading NoSQL Database for Consumer 360 In a nutshell, there are four key value differentiators MarkLogic brings to retail and consumer companies, including:
1. Enterprise Grade PerformanceFirstly, and perhaps most critically, we’re talking about consumer data in your database. This is all about handling huge volumes of data while ensuring transaction integrity and security. Most open-source vendors fail at just this crucial requirement. MarkLogic’s platform was designed to be enterprise-ready from day one – which means that you have all of government-grade security, high availability, disaster recovery and transactional consistency you need for your mission-critical consumer applications.
2. A Superior Operational Data WarehouseA Consumer 360 calls for real-time, operational capabilities. You need to recognize and respond correctly and accurately to Jen Dough the moment she enters your store or online. Making the right product and promotional recommendations to her is what will close the deal. Simply put, your data warehouse must be transactional and operational to enable websites, e-commerce and other applications in-store while at the same time enabling analytics and storage of terabytes and potentially petabytes of data.MarkLogic was the only NoSQL database appointed to Gartner Leaders Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems. Also, in the 2014 Gartner Report: Critical Capabilities for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems, MarkLogic came out ahead of all other vendors in the customer rating for Operational Data Warehouses.
3. Search and Query CapabilitiesMarkLogic has a built-in search engine that no other database has. You can fine-tune search across structured or unstructured data—including full text, large binary and geospatial data—getting lightning fast results and advanced features such as alerting. From a consumer or business user’s perspective this makes your website and e-commerce business much more appealing because they can finally find the products they seek. MarkLogic’s semantic capabilities also enable storage and search for logical product linkages (e.g., ingredient linkages for dinner recipes or the right toner for my HP Printer). With semantics you can store and query billions of facts and relationships, and infer new facts – making your data and your database much more intelligent.
4. Application Services for Consumer AnalyticsFor a Consumer 360 to work you want to build the right applications on top of the data. MarkLogic’s integrated HTTP Server has full-featured Java and REST APIs, among many others, to make managing data and building two and three-tiered applications easy, giving your developers faster access in the language they’re most comfortable with using.
The consumer and retail industry are at a critical crossroads when it comes to listening, analyzing, and responding to consumer needs. Sure, part of the problem has been internal organizational structure and change management issues. But the biggest issue has been the lack of credible technology solutions to deal with the problem. MarkLogic represents a transformational approach to this technology challenge – and the business case has never been clearer.
Please be sure to read my other articles in this series:
3. Consumer 360: Reaching Each Consumer With a One-in-a-Billion Message
View all posts from Donald Soares on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.
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