Is your company considering ecommerce replatforming? There are several common pitfalls you can easily avoid if you are prepared. Read our blog series and take control.
The marketing team had been planning the product launch for months. Ad campaigns, email blasts, magazine and television spots had primed an audience who were ready for the “next big thing”. But when launch date finally arrived, retail stores had no stock to fulfill customer demand. Online shopping was unable to process orders and delays in parts meant that the supplier was still weeks away from shipping.
While the retailer frantically tried to correct the problem, social media complained, talk show hosts lampooned and their closest competitor capitalized by grabbing market share.
It all came down to the quality of information that each of the individual departments had been working with. Garbage in. Garbage out. In today’s data-driven world, not paying close attention to information sources or establishing rigorous data quality governance, and eventually unifying data in a single platform accessible to all business actors, can have disastrous results.
Data doubling every two years
The numbers are dramatic. Data is growing at 40% a year, and doubling in size nearly every two years according to a study recently released by IDC. Organizations have been hit hard trying to harness massive volumes of information that now come in both structured and unstructured formats, is generated by internal and external sources, and, by both people and machines. The internet of things is driving terabytes of data from multiple entities for enterprises to grapple with.
There’s customer data of course, at the heart of every transaction and personal experience which ultimately drive sales and loyalty. But it all starts with the product offering, and the vast amount of SKUs and product details the average enterprise is trying to manage across physical and digital challenges. Product data that is coming in from multiple systems in various geographies, in structured and unstructured format, that needs to be cleansed, organized, unified, globalized and localized to ensure the right customer is receiving the right product availability in the right language at the right price and currency.
Attempting to open new markets and launch new products without this governance is a recipe for disaster in a digital world.
What does this mean for e-commerce replatforming projects?
Keeping data clean has a big impact on a corporation’s bottom line. Research from Experian Data Quality about the cost of bad data reports that the average company loses 12% of their revenues annually as a result of bad data, experience a 28% increase in customer service issues and are 21% more likely to suffer a damaged reputation.
It is critical to pay attention to your data and to make the consolidation, cleansing and on-going validation of your data a project priority.
Target made a $7 billion dollar mistake in Canada when openings were delayed, shelves left unfilled, prices too high and online shopping unavailable. Breaks in their data chain led to poor decisions which ultimately became their downfall.
Make data Integration and product data management a priority
In our experience, we have seen greater success with clients who make data integrity a project priority, using established data cleansing methods to scrub, reduce duplication and increase currency/accuracy while incorporating data retention or governance policies. It is important. The ultimate success of your e-commerce replatforming initiative will be impacted by the quality of your product data. With data, it is quality, not quantity that counts.
Some of the ways that poor data quality will be realized include:
- Customer dissatisfaction – erosion of customer satisfaction and loyalty will impact revenues and profits;
- Inaccurate reporting – dashboards, KPI’s and business intelligence will deliver false information to management. Decisions will be made based on misinformation leading to lack of confidence in leadership;
- Excess inventory or stock-outs – warehousing too much product or being unable to meet demand because forecasts are off will have a short and long-term impact on revenues, profits and operations;
- Inaccurate billing and invoicing – charging customers, suppliers and distributors incorrectly costs time and money to resolve;
- Inaccurate margins on products – reduces profitability or reduces accuracy at point of sale;
- Incorrect commission payments – over or underpayments impact staff morale and cash flow;
- Delays in product launches – an inability to meet deadlines or demand creates customer dis-satisfaction, impacts marketing spend and revenues from lost sales.
What to do to avoid the data pitfall?
Until recently, many data management tools have been largely separate and siloed from ecommerce and other legacy data systems, often working independently to satisfy needs based on roles or regions; however, in order to implement and manage data across a true global e-commerce initiative, many factors and business rules need to be taken into account. Rules such as what data should be driving localized product offerings, content, pricing structure, currencies and promotions need to be understood and managed at both a macro and a micro level.
Continuing to treat these as separate instances of data will vastly undermine the power and potential of your e-commerce strategy. Cloud technologies have introduced the possibility of new overlay data management tools that enable functional tasks to operate such as rapid replication and taxonomy management. These new tools allow for products to be easily customized and data enriched to reflect brand and market nuances while ensuring accuracy and proper controls for mobile, web, kiosks, apps or any other digital channel.
- Complete a thorough data analysis with internal teams and your e-commerce supplier.
- Allocate enough budget to manage the data management aspects of the project.
- Ensure integration across multiple systems is clearly understood. A platform that orchestrates data is a modern solution built to simplify this.
- Consider using cloud technology to help as it offers an elastic, on demand storage and staging environment where your data cleansing activities can take place.
- Assign a Master Data owner or steering committee.
While your data will never be 100% accurate, by paying attention, prioritizing and ensuring that all of the systems across your e-commerce chain are able to communicate effectively, the success of your e-commerce replatforming initiative will increase significantly. Something that both you and your customers want.