Why did my Consumer Shop? Learning an Efficient Distance Metric for Retailer Transaction Data

Abstract

Transaction analysis is an important part in studies aiming to understand consumer behaviour. The first step is defining a proper measure of similarity, or more specifically a distance metric, between transactions. Existing distance metrics on transactional data are built on retailer specificc information, such as extensive product hierarchies or a large product catalog. In this paper we propose a new distance metric that is retailer independent by design, allowing cross-retailer and cross-country analysis. The metric comes with a novel method of finding the importance of categories of products, alternating between unsupervised learning techniques and importance calibration. We test our methodology on a real-world dataset and show that we can identify clusters of consumer behaviour.

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