Can A Super-Computer Improve Your Holiday Shopping?

With the holidays now upon us, it’s time for everyone to gear up for a busy shopping season. Such a time can be full of hassles and headaches. After all, going out to shop can be a real pain at times, and online shopping can be difficult when you’re not quite sure what to get your friends and family. These are the challenges we’ve simply learned to live with, especially in a world where nearly everything is at our fingertips but we’re often confronted with indecision.


But what if there were a way to make your holiday shopping a whole lot easier? The answer may lie in the world of big data. Now big data analytics may seem like an overly confusing concept best left for genius programmers and the greatest statisticians, but you don’t necessarily have to fully understand it to reap the benefits that come from it. Big data has the ability to drastically improve your shopping this holiday season; all you have to do is use the right tools.


One tool in particular is making headlines in the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, one driven by a technology you might have heard of before. It’s the IBM Watson Trend App, powered by the Watson supercomputer that first gained popularity after its appearance on Jeopardy. The app is available free for your iPhone in the Apple App Store and you can also check it out online by clicking here.


The Watson Trend App is a revolutionary new tool that could transform how people go about planning their holiday shopping. The app uses big data analytics and other related technologies to target and measure certain patterns within data it collects from thousands of different sources. Based off of these patterns, it can determine which items are the hottest trending items during the busy shopping season. All of this data is processed and analyzed in real-time, giving you the most up to date information on what other people are buying for Christmas.


This isn’t some collection of rankings from online shopping websites either, though those do play a factor in what ends up trending on the app. Other sources are taken into account as well, such as what people are talking about on social media, how products are being reviewed, what’s mentioned on the most popular blogs, and more. In essence, the app takes a snapshot of the attitudes, viewpoints, and shopping statistics for millions of different items, presenting them in a clear, understandable manner that you can use to pick that perfect gift.


So the app determines what is trending, but it goes even further than that. Through big data and BI analytics, the Watson Trend App can figure out why those items are trending in the first place, while also providing a guide for when you should buy certain products. For example, perhaps a hot holiday item is one of the top trending gifts with lots of demand from many different consumers. The app may recommend you pick it up as soon as possible since it will likely be hard to buy the closer to Christmas we get. As you can see, this can be an extremely useful tool when planning your holiday shopping routine, getting certain gifts quickly, while possibly waiting later for other items when better sales are available. Big data makes this possible, giving you more control and information than ever before.


Big data can also improve your holiday shopping in other, more indirect ways. Many e-commerce sites have deployed big data solutions to make the online shopping experience smoother and more user friendly. Much of it is being used to prevent cart abandonment, a major problem when considering that 85 percent of online shoppers have simply left their shopping carts at one point or another. By using big data to reduce loading times, optimize shipping costs, and simplify registration, shoppers will be more likely to see their online purchases through to the very end. An easier time shopping online will result in fewer headaches for shoppers no matter who they are.

The shopping scene may be getting easier for consumers as more people realize the benefits that can be gained from using big data. With apps and businesses using big data and related tools like Hadoop Spark to make these improvements, the days of searching for that last parking spot, waiting in long lines, or painfully navigating through cluttered websites may soon be a thing of the past. Big data is already being used to make vast improvements in many other industries and for many other purposes, so why shouldn’t we see some of those advantages when we do our holiday shopping?

~ Rick Delgado

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