Retail Data Governance: The Secret to Beating Amazon

Retail Data Governance

Every retailer in the world is trying to beat, follow, or at least catch up to Amazon. Having the world’s biggest selection makes Amazon a giant. But it’s the superior shopping experience that’s keeping them miles ahead of any competitor. And the reason they excel at this experience is because they built their business on data from the start. It’s not an afterthought, as it is for many organizations today. And because their business is built on data, retail data governance is a natural part of their “business as usual.”

The first problem many traditional retailers have is that they need to switch from brick and mortar stores to a cloud business. With that comes a range of problems, but the one I want to zoom in on is, you guessed it, metadata.

In a classic retail business, suppliers deliver goods and that’s it. To sell on-line however, it’s all about how well you describe your products. Can I see all the info I would see on the box? And what about info that’s not on the box, but on the product itself, like how much voltage a power adaptor can handle? Can I see related items? Reviews by other customers? Can I preview what I’m buying? Can I look inside the box?

Suppliers that deliver goods to a cloud retailer don’t only deliver the products, but also deliver metadata as well. And the better this data – the more accurate, complete, and timely – the better they can position the product and sell it online.

It’s easy to track and reprimand suppliers that have issues delivering goods, like late deliveries or broken items. But how do you handle the metadata that gets delivered with the products?

This is where good retail data governance, master data management (MDM), and data quality comes into play.

3 steps to build your online data strategy

  1. Install data sharing agreements that detail the SLA around each delivery of data. For example, create an agreement outlining the expected metadata and quality standards coming in with data delivered from supplier x to business unit z of your online business. The data sharing agreement will be the contract between the two parties, and you will link it to the metadata and quality metrics once you profile them.
  2. Describe what data you need per product and per product category. It’s important to make sure this is complete because it will drive everything else you do. With this, you should create data standard as well.
  3. When the data and metadata comes in, you’ll need to check the quality vs the expected standards as outlined by the business, per supplier. This way you can report, let’s say per product category, how each supplier scores. You can use this to create a ranking for suppliers of similar goods and data.

A supplier that is informed, but ranks lowest when it comes to data quality, is keeping you from beating Amazon. You should remind him of the expectations as outlined and agreed in the data sharing agreement. And if he doesn’t comply, replace him. Because to win in the cloud, you’ll need to perfect your data (governance) game.

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