Why Master Data Management Matters in 2014

technologyToday, consumers expect their digital experience to be 100% consistent with a merchant’s physical environment.  In the coming year, retailers will not view this expectation as a demand on the part of the consumer but rather an acknowledgment that digital is now a part of real life; and the two should offer the same experience.

As merchants continue to focus on improving customer loyalty, many are adopting Master Data Management (MDM) technology in order to create a more rich and satisfying shopping experience across all channels.  However, in order to achieve this and capitalize on peak buying seasons, retailers must gain greater control over product information and other master data (such as customer preferences) in order to achieve omnichannel success.  With an MDM solution in place, centralized product and customer data is used to feed consistent and accurate information to a variety of destinations including websites, print catalogs, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.  Cross-sell, up-sell and add-on links can also be created and may be something as simple as offering batteries or another appropriate accessory.

So as we look ahead to 2014, there are several emerging trends that retailers will need to pay attention to in the coming year all of which could benefit from having a solid data management platform in place:

  • The World’s Largest Store in Every Pocket on Any Device, Anytime, Anywhere: The proliferation of mobile devices has changed the shopping engagement paradigm forever. A recent report from Forrester Research predicts that by 2017 the web will influence half of all retail purchases in some way through features like price checks ratings and reviews.  As more shoppers are likely to visit an ecommerce website prior to visiting a store, or will have a smartphone on hand while in a physical store, retailers need to consider the implications for their businesses.  While merchants use to rely on promoting location to create a truly memorable shopping experience, the explosion of smartphones is pushing today’s retailers to place more emphasis on creating a connection and symbiotic experience “anytime, anywhere, and across any device.”
  • The Connected Retail Experience: The store is no longer just about products, but also the brand. Companies that approach ecommerce with an omnichannel mindset are better able to understand their customer’s needs and preferences and how best to communicate with them.  Each time a retailer engages with a customer, regardless of channel, new information can be gathered on product, payment, brand and preferences.  In order to be useful, this information must be centralized, so retailers can deliver a more personalized shopping experience.  This can best be achieved by creating a consistent view of the customer across all channels.
  • Highly Personalized Marketing: According to a recent survey, consumers are more aware of personalized marketing efforts as nearly two-thirds (66%) said they have been offered promotions and merchandise tailored to their past purchasing and browsing behaviors.  More importantly, more than half of the consumers polled said they would be willing to share information about themselves for more personalized shopping.
  • A Distribution Revolution; Fulfillment and Payment: For online retailers, one of the most critical processes is getting your product to customers.  With the growth of ecommerce, order fulfillment is now a critical business function and retailers are challenged to deliver the perfect order every time while providing a consistent brand experience from channel to channel; in store, catalog or online.
  • Showrooming: Like it or love it, the digital era has become front and center with the physical store.  To overcome showrooming behavior, retailers need to provide an in-store experience without actually requiring shoppers to visit a store.  This can be achieved by providing rich product information and media both online and offline.  Omnichannel retailers can also educate and convert shoppers by providing excellent customer service and an even better shopping experience.  Establishing customer loyalty is not so much about the price but more about the entire event; consequently, consumers who have positive shopping experiences are more apt to buy from a retailer even if they could get the same item for less money from another source.

Now more than ever before, the ability to react and execute faster is absolutely critical to both profits and customer loyalty.  Utilizing MDM technology effectively, retailers can use their operational information as a strategic asset and improve ecommerce performance.  Leveraging the valuable insights gained from product, supplier, and customer data, retailers can move toward a unified, omnichannel retail experience that addresses each of these emerging trends while improving both customer loyalty and profits throughout the year.

Christophe Marcant is vice president of Product Strategy for Stibo Systems.



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