Using data for personalization and recommendations at scale in retail

By Data Science Salon

Data collected in the retail and e-commerce industry is growing at an unprecedented rate. When blended with data analytics and machine learning, it is able to generate actionable insights for organizations to increase sales and save costs.

What is behavioral data and why does it matter?

Behavioral data is any data that is generated by users when they engage or interact with a particular platform, such as an e-commerce store or social media channel. Understanding the data provides a huge opportunity for retailers as it reveals insights about users’ demographics, engagement rate, conversion rates and opinion with regards to particular products or services.

Based on the analysis of behavioral data, organizations can understand users' needs, the demand/supply gap, and can accordingly provide them with more accurate product recommendations and offers.

Thus, behavioral analytics helps organizations provide better customer satisfaction and improve their revenue streams in the long run.

Recapping the DSS Mini Salon on The Future of Retail with Behavioral Data

The Mini Data Science Salon on The Future of Retail with Behavioral Data took place virtually on October 21st 2021 and featured insightful talks from leading data scientists in the retail and e-commerce space. The focus of the event was the rise in behavioral data and how data analytics can be leveraged on the same to generate actionable insights.

The event kicked off with Stephen Bowie, Senior Data Scientist at Reverb, who explained how Reverb is using personalization and recommendations with the help of machine learning-based classification algorithms that analyze customer patterns and accordingly suggests specific products to a particular customer.

In the next talk, Linda Liu, Director, Data Analytics & Data Science at Hyrecar, talked about different challenges in retaining customers and how those challenges can be solved with the power of data. She explained why customer retention is important for any business and how behavioral insights can help to increase customer loyalty.

The audience also heard Saumya Srivastava, Senior Manager, Decision Sciences at Sam’s Club - Walmart, talking about marketing as one of the primary aspects for any business to flourish and how one can take advantage of behavioral data to achieve better marketing results. With behavioral data, personalized marketing campaigns can be designed that cater specifically to users’ needs and ultimately help generate revenue.

Babak Dastmalchi, Senior Data Scientist at Zulily, focused on building and creating a one-to-one personalization system for their users. In his talk, Babak highlighted some serious facts on how user personalization challenges can be addressed with the help of data and growing interactions/engagement from the user.

The last talk of the event featured Alexander Dean, CEO & Co-Founder at Snowplow Analytics, who talked about how Amazon is leveraging AI and behavioral data. According to his presentations, the right approach towards data (especially behavioral data) can do wonders for businesses as well as for customers and end users.

As its major challenge when using behavioral data Alexander mentions the collecting of relevant data from the end-user and mapping it with relevant attributes to structure the same. Cleaning and processing the data before analyzing it is very important and is one of the major challenges faced by many. Another difficulty includes deploying a model in production as well as monitoring and tracking the model performance.


The idea behind behavioral data is to focus on customer needs and understand their likes/dislikes, preferences, psychology, and much more towards a particular product, service or platform. Personalization is the future of retail and by implementing behavioral data analytics, it is possible to achieve the same.

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