MEDIA ALERT: Interactions uses Google and Tableau Software on Big Data Analysis for Retailers and CPGs

Initial Test Case Reveals How Severe Weather Events Influence Shopper Behavior and Sales

Publish Date: June 11, 2013 - 3:00am

Interactions Marketing today announced the results of a new analysis that used Google BigQuery and Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA) to rapidly extract insights from point-of-sale data from major retailers and CPGs.

Using Google BigQuery, the cloud solution for large data analysis from Google, and Tableau’s visual analytics software, Interactions completed an initial use case that layered fine-grain transactional-level sales data with multi-source, detailed regional weather data to gain visibility and insight into hidden shopper behavioral patterns. This insight will be used as a predictive tool during and prior to specific weather events to help retailers minimize or eliminate out-of-stock issues, optimize item assortments in (previously unclear) high demand categories, and increase sales in those same high demand categories. Early results suggest that these insights could deliver significant benefits, including boosting the return on investment for marketing and advertising spend and improving targeted and individualized shopper communications resulting in increased basket size and cannibalization of competitors’ shoppers.

This analysis focused on identifying repetitive weather events, classifying them on a severity scale, and measuring the effects major weather events had on sales before, during and after those events. With the analysis, Interactions was able to track new patterns in sales and shopper behavior that can help retailers and CPGs plan successful in-store activities in advance of major weather events.

“Interactive performance of Google BigQuery, combined with Tableau’s intuitive visualization tools enabled our analysts to interactively explore huge quantities of data - hundreds of millions of rows - with incredible efficiency. In some cases taking analysis that would ordinarily require a week down to just hours and minutes. This time-to-insight was previously impossible,” said Giovanni DeMeo, Vice President of Global Marketing and Analytics for Interactions. “It enabled us to visually share that information with our retailer and CPG partners, and use it to enhance in-store activity and increase sales. This is only one of an infinite number of ways that we will now be using big data to improve the revenue and profitability of our partners.”

The total store analysis revealed down to the individual product level which items had the most significant change in sales (both increases and decreases) as well as what varied in shopper behavior for similar weather events when considering time of day, day of the week, geographic location, and even proximity to competitor locations. The data identified 28 categories with significant changes in sales versus the control. The data showed that one day prior to statistically similar weather events the sales in these categories spiked from 20% to 261% over same day previous year, but also noted a drop in sales during the peak of the event and for four days after.

These behaviors were evident in regions that experienced the event, along with regions where the event was predicted but did not actually occur. If weather reports predicted a storm a week ahead, people still waited until the day before the event to do their event-specific shopping. In one scenario, and contrary to every other shopping behavior, this resulted in a huge spike in Monday sales over the preceding weekend for a predicted Tuesday weather event.

“Retailers have access to massive amounts of complex data to help them make good decisions. The trick is to find a way to easily visualize and analyze it effectively,” said Francois Ajenstat, Director of Product Management at Tableau Software. “By combining the flexibility and horsepower of Google BigQuery with Tableau’s visual analytics, Interactions has delivered insights that were not previously revealed. Retailers and CPGs will now be able to make real-time data driven decisions to inform their business.”

Interactions, Google and Tableau will be sharing many more details about this use case during the “2013 Tableau European Customer Conference,” on June 11 in London.

About Interactions
Founded in 1988, Interactions is the global leader in in-store product demonstrations and outdoor experience marketing programs for retailers and brands. With a workforce of more than 45,000 associates around the world, Interactions creates and executes more than 2 million events every year, managing 5,500 events each day for major retailers and brands. Interactions offers integrated sales and marketing programs that engage shoppers in-store and outdoor, and provides insights into shopper behavior and customer service that enable retailers and brands to make smarter business decisions and drive significant sales increases. The company has offices around the globe and operates in North America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. Interactions is a subsidiary of Daymon Worldwide, the world’s leading full-service, global retail branding and sourcing partner for retailers and manufacturers. For more information on Interactions, visit