Big Data Ecommerce Smarts for Small Businesses

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted May 20, 2014

Small businesses needn't fear Big Data, according to Kevin North, CEO of Terapeak, an ecommerce analytics company. In today's hyper-competitive marketplaces, large corporations have quickly realized the promise Big Data offers. Business insights that can improve profitability lay hidden within files, databases and data streams.

Big Data also poses a problem. Typically, only well-heeled companies need apply. The IT resources and skills required to store, manage and analyze Big Data would bankrupt the average small business. Just the term "Big Data" is daunting.

You'll find more information on the benefits and challenges in this free Big Data executive brief (registration required), which includes results from a survey of 540 business decision makers—including small business owners with fewer than 100 employees.

Big Data Within Reach of Small Business

How can small businesses hope to compete with the cards so decidedly stacked against them?

"The Big Data problem is becoming a bigger problem for anyone that wants to tackle it," North told Small Business Computing. Enter cloud computing, which has already rewritten the rules of IT for small businesses.

And now it is doing the same for Big Data.

North, whose company provides analytics services for eBay and Amazon merchants, says that the cloud levels the playing field for small businesses. Terapeak's SaaS-based (software-as-a-service), mobile-friendly platform, offers sellers "visibility into pricing, supply and demand, trends and competitors," capabilities once reserved for analytics powerhouses.

On the ecommerce front, Big Data can encompass a staggering amount of information. For an accurate picture of the market and buyer behavior, organizations must account for "more and more transactions, more and more cross-border transactions," said North.

Deriving actionable business intelligence on such a scale is a challenge for any organization, never mind a small merchant.

Big Data, Bigger Opportunities

Terapeak allows eBay and Amazon sellers to gather information on hot-selling products and to price them accordingly, all the while keeping an eye on the competition. The platform, enriched by 18 billion data points, contains pricing data on more than 100 million products and intelligence on more than 5 million merchants.

Customizable dashboards and reporting options help users spot and track pricing trends. At-a-glance charts and graphs show which product categories are on the upswing, along with pricing and sales volume changes.

Proving that Big Data needn't break the bank, Terapeak was designed for small business budgets in mind, asserted North. Plans start at $29.95 per month.

Big Data can also help small businesses solve the thorny problem of expanding into new markets.

When it comes to ecommerce, "both borders and margins are eroding," said North in a phenomenon he terms the "China factor." Low manufacturing costs and distribution networks that span the globe have given Chinese merchants an edge.

"You have to sell everywhere, and you need a competitive edge," added North. Armed with rich, Big Data-driven analytics to guide their pricing and marketing strategies, online sellers can also get in the game, he encouraged.

Online merchants aren't the only ones to benefit. Terapeak enjoys a cozy partnership with eBay, revealed North. By opening up its massive trove of valuable data, eBay helps itself as much as Terapeak's merchants.

"EBay needs successful merchants," said North. EBay aims not only to "increase the number of sellers, but also to increase the volume of sales." The more product sellers move, the more successful eBay becomes.

"That is the ideal end goal," said North.

Want more information on Big Data? Download this free executive brief (registration required): 2014 Big Data Outlook: Big Data is Transformative—Where is Your Company?

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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