Retailers should be taking notes from big companies like Woolworths and Australia Post, which are using data storage clouds and analytics to improve collaboration between departments and enhance customer experience.

Retailers generate huge amounts of data, but most of it lives siloed away in unstructured formats such as PDFs, images, voice and video files, where it’s hard to analyse. Bringing that data together allows companies to improve efficiency and better understand customers.

Woolworths’ data was preciously stored in data warehouses across different parts of its business, such as finance, supply chain and retail, before the supermarket giant brought it together into a Google cloud platform, where it can be analysed. Woolworths hopes to use its data to localise in-store products, personalise offers to customers and optimise the efficiency of its supply chain.

Australia Post has also started housing its data on a Google platform – the BigQuery cloud service – which is allowing employees greater visibility into every stage of mail delivery and helping teams make faster decisions. The company hopes the move will translate into greater choice, control and convenience for customers.

Scott Leader, vice president at data storage provider Box for Australia and New Zealand, said retailers should be paying close attention to how Woolworths and Australia Post are leveraging their data power.

“Modern data infrastructures allow businesses to easily access and analyse the data they have,” he told retailbiz. “With the right infrastructure … employees across the business can collaborate, analyse and make informed decisions that improve outcomes for customers.”

Box customer OzForex, a foreign exchange firm, is using data storage to better collaborate directly with customers.

“Their data infrastructure allows customers to share key documents like passports and driver licences in a secure way online, to cut down the time and process involved in registration,” said Leader. “As a result, customers can register and begin exchanging quickly and easily, while OzForex can securely store and manage key customer data.”

Cloud-based data infrastructures can also help retailers whose workforce are spread out, or whose sales teams are often on the road. “They need to be able to share data to collaborate internally and externally, quickly and securely from wherever they are,” said Leader.

For retailers who receive lots of customer service calls, technologies such as speech-to-text transcription and natural language understanding can allow them to evaluate the content of voice files. They can analyse customers’ tone of voice to determine recurring issues, for example, or ascertain the words associated with increased customer frustration.

“Companies can use this data to actively address the consistent concerns or pain points of customers to make their experience better,” said Leader.

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