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Competitor Monitoring: How Shop Direct Use Data Mining To Analyse Shoppers’ Online Habits

June 16, 2012
Written By

Technology is now central to analysing consumers’ online shopping habits. In a recent interview with Marketing Week, Shop Direct explained how the company use such tools to predict the behaviour of its customers.

Online merchants work hard to optimise the performance of the products on an eCommerce site, based on customer behaviour. Offering a variety of products, displaying these products in an attractive way – this all leads to the increased interest of shoppers in actually closing a transaction.

Internet retailer Shop Direct has revealed how it uses computers and people to compile information about shoppers – the customer research involves three key areas of activity: online transactions, market research over the telephone and face-to-face focus groups.

More and more retailers are now using data mining to gather behavioural information on their customers. Shop Direct’s brands includes and Littlewoods, and the company says that its data mining activities centres on customers’ purchasing and online activity.

With yearly sales of around £1.7 billion, the retailer says that 75 per cent of its total sales come from the Internet with mCommerce accounting for 11 per cent of this sales activity.

Effective personalisation is about more than just data and analytical tools, Shop Direct’s online targeting manager Matthew Doubleday told Marketing Week. “Software is a means to an end, but the data is useless without skilled, experienced people to translate it into engaging content.”

He explained how being aware of fashion trends is an integral part of the brand strategy for, whose customers “value the insight” they get from the site’s buyers and style experts. We would never rely on “data alone” to devise recommendations and offers, he said, adding that customers want “real advice” on replicating looks from the catwalk.

Much of the working day of an online merchant is taken up with using tools such as product recommendation software, clever onsite search tools, videos demonstrating the products on offer, product comparisons, high-quality visualisation tools and product reviews.

The data gathered by online competitor price monitoring technology such as Profitero can also be used by online retailers to grow sales and profit margins by:

1. Offering competitor prices to shoppers

2. Planning and monitoring marketing campaigns

3. Negotiating prices with suppliers


The interview with Shop Direct was originally published in Marketing Week. Click here to read the full article in Marketing Week.

© Profitero 2012

About Profitero

Pricing intelligence company Profitero works with retailers and manufacturers to help them increase sales and maximise their profits by using competitor price, promotions and stock information at scale. For more information on Profitero price intelligence and competitor monitoring, visit or email

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