Customer loyalty: What retailers can learn from dating sites

Retailers are feeling the love

It’s no coincidence that graph databases are growing in popularity faster than any other type of database – by around 250 per cent last year alone. 

Forrester Research estimates that one in four enterprises will be using the technology by 2017, for example. The analysts are watching all of this with keen interest too: Gartner has said that, for data-driven operations and decisions, graph databases are now “possibly the single most effective competitive differentiator”.

And retailers are starting to get the message. Heavyweights such as Walmart are implementing the technology to take information gained from customer purchases at its physical and online stores to the next level.

But why is a graph the best way to do this? It’s one thing to analyse online transactions as a series of tables or isolated business tables – but if you can look at them as a graph, you can start to perform some sophisticated personal recommendations on the fly, remarkably easily. 

The challenge is to use this kind of technology to stay ahead of the game – to anticipate the needs of individuals in ever more creative ways. 

Even Amazon (which taught us early on the value of being able to predict what else customers might want to buy, by analysing online sales data) may need to smell the coffee here, as newer rivals discover the key to more personalised recommendations through multi-layered, graph-driven, analysis.

The future is social

Soon, retailers will need not only to understand a person’s past purchases but combine this knowledge with new interest shown during the customer’s current visit, as well as their social media activity, and parse this data at lightning speed to serve up relevant recommendations.

Graph databases are a fantastic way to help do this, thanks to their ability to effortlessly match historical data with live session data. The benefits to retailers speak for themselves, as a superior experience leads to happier and more loyal customers who will recommend you to their peers and over social networks.

Ultimately, they can also improve the conversion rate of purchasing and enhance customer loyalty, adding money to the bottom line and provide real competitive advantage. All things any retailer is sure to love – it’s almost like the best blind date you ever had, when you think about it.

Emil Eifrem is co-founder and CEO of Neo Technology.

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