The boom in retail business intelligence

by SteveBayle on January 3, 2010

In today’s New York Times business section, Steve Lohr’s article “A Data Explosion Remakes Retailing” largely focuses on data warehousing and online analytics. However, he highlights several interesting mobile social applications:

 Companies also track online visitors to Web commerce sites, members of social networks like Facebook and browsers using smartphones. 

In October, Wet Seal created its own iPhone application, called iRunway. With it, a customer in a store can tap in an item’s ticket number — bar code recognition comes later this year — and see how it has been used in outfits that other customers have created online.

The user-generated product selections and recommendations, combined with mobile phone access, build a community of customers that should increase sales, Mr. Thomas predicts. “We’re at the very initial stages, but that will be the wave of the future in fashion retailing,” he said.


At, Christopher G. McCann, the president, agrees that “social mobile” retailing will be a major venue for sales and marketing. The company also has apps for the iPhone, the BlackBerry and phones using Android software.

As Lori J. Shafer a retail expert at SAS Institute says “…the more you can get into customers’ heads, the better of you are.” Knowing how they are using their smartphones to make shopping choices is one way to do that.

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