They say, “the devil is in the details.” Part of ensuring the success of the company’s people and the best possible customer experience is providing accurate data and information from which to make decisions. Data is the conduit to valuable information that enables the engagement of the customer, ensures ecommerce sites and physical stores are in sync, and allows for transactions to be successfully accomplished along the various steps—from both customer and inventory data perspectives.
Today’s multichannel retail environment requires a level of systems and data integration that goes well beyond what most companies have in place. In our experience, most retailers’ data is highly fragmented and not cohesively managed. There are various reasons for this: for many brands, online operations were originally established as a separate sales channel; retailers have accumulated a jumble of technologies for the web, merchandising, supply chain management, and so on; and mobile devices and social media create entirely new data streams.
As such, the level of disparate systems continues to rise, along with constant additions of more comprehensive data which has also added complexity and redundancy to business processes. The pace at which technology is moving has forced companies to cobble together new functionalities, causing associates to rely on manual inputs, duplicative efforts, data gathering, and widespread ad hoc report creation.
The good news is that not all systemic integration needs to happen in real-time, which can be needlessly inefficient and expensive. The trick is to know where real-time is essential and where it’s not. The focus should be on integrating the most critical data and as many relevant systems as possible. Let’s consider some key steps: