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Predicting online product sales via online reviews, sentiments, and promotion strategies: A big data architecture and neural network approach

Alain Yee Loong Chong (Nottingham University Business School China, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China)
Boying Li (Nottingham University Business School China, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China)
Eric W.T. Ngai (Management & Marketing Department, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China)
Eugene Ch'ng (Big Data and Visual Analytics Lab, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China)
Filbert Lee (International Studies Department, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Ningbo, China)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 4 April 2016

8568

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate if online reviews (e.g. valence and volume), online promotional strategies (e.g. free delivery and discounts) and sentiments from user reviews can help predict product sales.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors designed a big data architecture and deployed Node.js agents for scraping the Amazon.com pages using asynchronous input/output calls. The completed web crawling and scraping data sets were then preprocessed for sentimental and neural network analysis. The neural network was employed to examine which variables in the study are important predictors of product sales.

Findings

This study found that although online reviews, online promotional strategies and online sentiments can all predict product sales, some variables are more important predictors than others. The authors found that the interplay effects of these variables become more important variables than the individual variables themselves. For example, online volume interactions with sentiments and discounts are more important than the individual predictors of discounts, sentiments or online volume.

Originality/value

This study designed big data architecture, in combination with sentimental and neural network analysis that can facilitate future business research for predicting product sales in an online environment. This study also employed a predictive analytic approach (e.g. neural network) to examine the variables, and this approach is useful for future data analysis in a big data environment where prediction can have more practical implications than significance testing. This study also examined the interplay between online reviews, sentiments and promotional strategies, which up to now have mostly been examined individually in previous studies.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

“The authors acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), International Doctoral Innovation Centre, Ningbo Education Bureau, Ningbo Science and Technology Bureau, China’s MoST and The University of Nottingham. The project is partially supported by NSFC No. 71402076 and NBSTB Project 2012B10055.”

Citation

Chong, A.Y.L., Li, B., Ngai, E.W.T., Ch'ng, E. and Lee, F. (2016), "Predicting online product sales via online reviews, sentiments, and promotion strategies: A big data architecture and neural network approach", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 358-383. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-03-2015-0151

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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