No, this isn’t a dad joke. We’re talking data – specifically how missing, inaccurate or out of date data can change your view of a product depending on how you’re accessing that information.
Thanks to digital, almost every product, sold by every retailer, can now be viewed through multiple channels. In store. Online. Via app. Through stock software. At the checkout. In a catalogue. The list goes on.
In theory, the wonders of data should mean that regardless of what channel we’re using to view that product, we’ll see exactly the same information every time. It’s a jumper. It’s blue. It’s cashmere (classy) and it costs £79.
In reality, this isn’t always the case. Product data can be complicated, with multiple channels meaning multiple opportunities for one product to tell very different data stories. The result? Poor stock control, inaccurate cost analysis and a frustrating customer (not to mention employee) experience.
For example, let’s take that blue jumper. Online, product details say it’s 50% cashmere and machine washable. On the app, it’s marked as 75% cashmere and hand wash only.
It might seem like a small error, but it’s confusing for the customer. Omni-channel shopping is commonplace now: people browse a product in more than one place before they purchase, and with different details on each they lose trust in the item, the app, and the brand. Is it 50% or 75% cashmere? Where is the mistake? Will it shrink after the first wash because the material content labelled is wrong? It damages customer confidence and can cost you a sale
Now multiply that experience by two hundred customers – and this is just one problem, within one data field. Imagine the myriad issues that can stem from incorrect data tags across all of your products. The wrong product showing in the wrong category, the right product failing to show in the appropriate product search, out of stock items appearing as in stock, women’s promotions being sent to people who have opted to receive menswear alerts... the problems range from irritating to loss-making, but they always stack up to create a bad experience for everyone involved.
By making sure you have a single version of the truth.
One, central point where all data is stored, edited and accessed, available to every channel that needs it. Your blue jumper is a blue jumper, whether you’re looking at stock control or customer catalogue data: same price, same stock availability, same search tags and sizing.
Most retailers’ knee-jerk reaction to achieve this unified data experience is to buy in technology and, yes, technology is a big part of solving that problem. With PIM or MDM systems you’re given a framework to manage your data from one place, but it isn’t a complete solution.
Achieving a single version of the truth is a much bigger exercise than software alone can manage. It needs a cultural shift that impacts every single person – from shop floor to c-suite – and puts data at the heart of the retail experience.
Data quality: Your results can only be as good as the data you put in
Data governance: Getting everyone on the same page with data strategy
Technology assessment: What product is right for your needs – and your vision for the future?
Data migration: Making sure that data moves between systems without a hitch
What’s next?: Using data to do things differently and make your business goals a reality