March 22, 2002, 12:00 AM

Retailers struggle to interpret a mountain of customer data, Forrester says

Even with sophisticated analytical tools, retailers are struggling to understand the data they collect, says a report out this month from Forrester Research focusing on metrics retailers should use to determine web and cross-channel selling progress.

Even with sophisticated analytical tools, retailers are struggling to understand the data they collect , says a report out this month from Forrester Research Inc. focusing on metrics retailers should use to determine web and cross-channel selling progress. When asked what the biggest measurement challenges are, retailers cited several obstacles even with the use of software analytics and data-mining tools.

In a survey of 30 retailers, 40% cited customizing reports as a major obstacle; 37% cited integrating data from multiple sources; 37% cited understanding user behavior and 27% cited speed and scalability of data mining tools. Knowing what to measure and usability of data mining tools drew 20% of the respondents, while data accuracy and citing too much data to analyze drew 17%. Respondents could choose more than one answer.

The result of such obstacles, Forrester says, is lackluster sales, especially because e-commerce departments cannot quantify their impact on offline sales. Forrester cites companies like Amazon.com as a retailer that is able to interpret the data it collects successfully and then make improvements based on what it learns. In particular, Amazon continually fine-tunes its checkout process based on the data, Forrester says.

 

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