In a world as fast paced as the one we live in, waiting for anything is becoming increasingly unacceptable. Everyone wants their information to be on hand and in the world of retail this can pose a challenge when it comes to data. Most retailers that I have worked with use many different systems and all face their own challenges in ensuring those systems are all accurate and reflect the correct data regarding products, specifications, artwork and contacts to name but a few.
In an industry as fast moving as retail, it is unrealistic to expect a person or a team to manually update multiple systems with the same information. Let’s face it - we are all only human and that’s how mistakes get made. Mistakes like that can be very costly within the retail industry or any industry for that matter.
Most people that manage data in this way have started to realise the need for systems that are run by less manual processes. For me, the concept of master data management (MDM) is not rocket science but instead a sure-fire way to ensure data integrity and improve efficiency whilst removing the human element. The solutions on the other hand are slightly more complex.
Traditional MDM solutions are relatively simple and have been available for a while but they are no longer cutting it in the new world. MDM solutions work best when they are integrated systems that ensure the source system and its information is kept up to date. A truly effective solution will work collaboratively with all systems under its umbrella and reach the partnered systems within the business.
The key to a really successful solution is one that ensures real time continuity across the business. Put simply, when someone identifies an issue and corrects it in one system, it should instantly be corrected across all systems. It doesn’t take 24 hours for systems to update, it doesn’t take human intervention, it just happens.
The relationship between retailers and engaged suppliers also play a key role in this area. By engaging and working closely with suppliers, retailers can ensure that suppliers are keeping information on the source system as up to date as possible. Whether it’s a new specification that is replacing a previous one, or whether it’s a supplier ensuring that items are made active or inactive as and when appropriate, the right MDM solution enables this information to be updated instantly.
Businesses tend to invest a fair amount of money and resource in to solutions like this therefore the solution must be able to grow and adapt with the business as it does the same. With many MDM solutions out there, it can be hard to decide on the right one for your business needs, but the very first step before the solution is understanding your business needs and the challenges that your team members have with the current systems and processes.