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A.S. Watson hosts Big Data Hackathon to encourage retail-related solutions

A.S. Watson Group has hosted the first ever retail-themed Big Data Hackathon in Hong Kong, attracting over 110 participants in technology and data science to solve real-life business problems in retail, or enhance customer experiences.

During the two-day Hackathon, the group offered many gigabytes of business data for use. The 110 participants were grouped into 16 teams, and challenged to solve different real-life business problems, including how to detect certain imminent health incidences, develop algorithms for prediction, assortment planning, pricing and personalisation of offers to customers. The winners were decided based on three judging criteria, including innovation of the technical solution, business impact and quality of the pitch.

Malina Ngai, ASW group chief operating officer said big data is a game-changer for retailers, and that the group organised the Hackathon to encourage the local startup communities, data scientists and programmers to provide smart and efficient retail-related solutions.

She said that in Hong Kong, the academic subject of data science and big data technology is relatively new and awareness is still low, which is why it’s important that this profession be urgently promoted in order to advance Hong Kong retail to the next level.

“Data and analytics will never replace the experience and judgment in running a retail business, but it can definitely provide us the tools to perform better. Big data will play a major role in shaping the future of retail industry,” she added.

The academic subject of data science and big data technology is relatively new and awareness is still low, which is important that this profession be urgently promoted in order to advance Hong Kong retail to the next level.

As for the group, Ngai said it is adopting “a data-first strategy towards understanding customer shopping behaviour, mapping them to our selection of products, shop floor space planning, marketing strategy and selection of store locations”.

Here are the winners of the Hackathon:

Champion – Dr. Watson

Winning team members: Jeffrey Leung, Amy Lau, Eugene Choi, Justin Yek and Jaclyn Tsui

Project description:

The champion of the A.S. Watson Hackathon Dr. Watson is a concept that uses machine learning algorithm and integrates weather, search keywords and product information, and translates that to better customer experience. The health & beauty module can be used on the Watsons mobile app to recommend health tips and content utilising a collaborative filtering logic to provide personalised information and product recommendations. The AI engine correlates product sales against season and temperature, and seasonal products are recommended to customers based on an individual’s profile.

1st Runner-up – Trendmate

Winning ream members: Larry Wong, Will Chiu, Winnie Yueng, Chris Kam, Annie Chan and Mandy So

Project description:

“Trendmate” is an innovative module enhancement to the current Watsons mobile app to enhance the in-store experience of customers by providing personalised and targeted product recommendations, as well as in-app content related to both the interests of the customers and the latest hot topics in the market, right at the moment when they enter the store.

Trendmate potentially increases the average transaction frequency of loyal customers and also attracts more customers to sign up for the membership programme.

2nd Runner-up – 10 Fold Cross Validator

Winning team members: Hamilton Le, Aaron Chan, Tom Li, Xiangdong Gu, Leo Xie and Duncan Mak

Project description:

The team has come up with an app feature called “Scan as You Go” which enables customers to scan items in-store and get comprehensive product information as well as personalised offers and discounts immediately. This app feature can help Watsons understand customer behaviour and figure out the optimal discount it can offer.

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