Big brother has nothing on big retailers.
Thanks to big data, merchants are learning how to accurately predict their customers' behaviors, wants and needs. And they are getting eerily good at it.
In fact, in less than 20 years, it's possible that by using predictive analytics, a retailer may know exactly what a customer wants before they even realize it.
"Retailers will be able to predict what we need when we need it," said Chris Donnelly, managing director for retail at Accenture Strategy. "And their predictions will continue to get more refined until eventually they will be able to predict what skirt or shirt you are going to buy."
It's all about making the shopping experience more personalized and delivering things in context for consumers, said Brendan Witcher, an analyst at Forrester Research. And that means studying their customers more closely in new ways.
"Yesterday retailers inferred what drove customer behavior, but today they are thinking differently because of big data," explained Witcher. "Tomorrow retailers will be utilizing big data solutions to understand the customer from beginning to end."
But just how far will they go?