Faculty voice:

Anjana Susarla: The big data behind Cyber Monday

Nov. 16, 2016

Anjana Susarla, Broad College of Business’ resident expert of information systems cloud computing, social media and big data analytics in the Accounting and Information Systems department, talks about what data scientists find related to Cyber Monday, which takes place on Nov. 28 this year.

Online retailers have fairly detailed data of purchasing patterns based on prior years and also based on shopping trends in the fall. Most retailers also collect detailed data from November and December and use it for the next year’s shopping season. Now that Cyber Monday sales are much larger than that of Black Friday, retailers use fairly sophisticated real-time tracking to continuously update their understanding of what users want.

They use detailed data about what customers browse online, what sort of promotions and offers are more appealing to customers etc. In addition, some companies also combine data from purchases from brick and mortar stores with online shopping data to create a more holistic view of the customer. Companies also use predictive analytics to understand if something is a quick fad, or will last longer.

Shoppers are not always aware of the privacy issues associated with online shopping. While it may appear that Cyber Monday poses more invasion of privacy, most of the data collected about shoppers is not much different from what is collected on Black Friday. At the same time, there are problems such as identity theft and phishing that consumers may not be aware of. Some resources for customers are StopThinkConnect.org maintained by the Department of Homeland Security as well as StaySafeOnline.org maintained by the National Cyber Security Alliance.

Cyber Monday shows the importance of having a synchronized offline and online strategy. In recent years, this also marks the importance of mobile commerce as customers switch to more mobile devices.

Reprinted with permission from the Broad College of Business