Comprehending changes of customer behavior is an essential problem that must be faced for survival in a fast-changing business environment. Particularly in the management of electronic commerce (EC), many companies have developed on-line shopping stores to serve customers and immediately collect buying logs in databases. This trend has led to the development of data-mining applications. Fuzzy time-interval sequential pattern mining is one type of serviceable data-mining technique that discovers customer behavioral patterns over time. To take a shopping example, (Bread, Short, Milk, Long, Jam), means that Bread is bought before Milk in a Short period, and Jam is bought after Milk in a Long period, where Short and Long are predetermined linguistic terms given by managers. This information shown in this example reveals more general and concise knowledge for managers, allowing them to make quick-response decisions, especially in business. However, no studies, to our knowledge, have yet to address the issue of changes in fuzzy time-interval sequential patterns. The fuzzy time-interval sequential pattern, (Bread, Short, Milk, Long, Jam), became available in last year; however, is not a trend this year, and has been substituted by (Bread, Short, Yogurt, Short, Jam). Without updating this knowledge, managers might map out inappropriate marketing plans for products or services and dated inventory strategies with respect to time-intervals. To deal with this problem, we propose a novel change mining model, MineFuzzChange, to detect the change in fuzzy time-interval sequential patterns. Using a brick-and-mortar transactional dataset collected from a retail chain in Taiwan and a B2C EC dataset, experiments are carried out to evaluate the proposed model. We empirically demonstrate how the model helps managers to understand the changing behaviors of their customers and to formulate timely marketing and inventory strategies. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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