I was recently interviewed by RIS News for a Q&A on how effective data management is critical to managing seamless customer experiences. I explained to RIS that information and data is becoming more critical in driving consumer buying patterns. Retailers need to adapt to this landscape and focus on creating an organization that can meet this need, as well as adopt more collaborative processes across key stakeholders for effective management of data that drives consumer behavior.
Following is a transcript of our discussion. The interview was also published as part of a larger white paper in this month’s issue of RIS News. If you’d like more information, email us. Click here to read the white paper.
RIS News: As retailers move into a “post-omnichannel” operating environment, how important are centralized, enterprise-wide databases in creating a seamless customer experience?
Upen Varanasi, Riversand Technologies: To provide a seamless customer experience, all enterprise systems need to follow a consistent definition of the key data elements such as Customer, Product, Inventory, etc. Having a consistent understanding of who you sell to and what you are selling is the basis for better business intelligence. While it is important to customize certain marketing elements of product data for each channel, most of the data regarding products needs to be consistent across channels.
These challenges mean that retailers struggle to create the most accurate, rich and relevant information for seamless customer experiences. It is quite important for retailers to visualize not only product information supply and demand chains but also ways to optimize the flow and management of product information across these chains. PIM systems play a critical role in the enablement and management of Product Information across the supply and demand chains. They are very critical for providing the customer with rich, relevant, consistent information across the various channels, thus enabling a seamless customer experience.
Upen Varanasi, Riversand Technologies: Lack of a PIM system can create many challenges for multi-channel retailers, such as:
- Inconsistent information across channels leading to customer dissatisfaction, errors in orders, etc.
- Lack of rich information leading to poor SEO and conversion in online channels
- Challenges establishing a consistent brand voice across channels
- Increased time to market for introducing new products
- Challenges with quickly expanding product assortments
- Inefficiencies in Vendor Direct to Consumer Models
RIS News: What are some key best practices retailers can use to move more quickly into a “post-omnichannel” operating model?
Upen Varanasi, Riversand Technologies: In the new world, information and data is becoming more critical in driving consumer buying patterns. Retailers need to adapt to this landscape and focus on creating an organization that can meet this need, as well as adopt more collaborative processes across key stakeholders for effective management of data that drives consumer behavior. Retailers would be well served to create a Data Management Organization (DMO) for the governance and stewardship issues relating to Data Management.
Given this landscape, it is quite important to have centralized, enterprise-wide databases. It is also important to have consolidated business processes and not have channel specific silos. Master Data Management systems are key drivers for enabling this centralization of data.
RIS News: What are some of the key benefits an enterprise-wide Product Information Management or “PIM” system brings to the creation of a truly seamless customer experience?
Upen Varanasi, Riversand Technologies: Many enterprises still handle product data-related processes in silos across various channels. In many retail organizations, there is a distinct lack of collaboration between buyers, merchandisers and marketing folks in the management of product information. A lack of coordination across various channels such as print and Web can also be seen quite often. It is also important to align IT and business to meet the objectives of the retail organization. From a technology landscape, implementing a master data management philosophy will be a key first step in managing the data.