So as a competitive Retailer, you have realised that you have to implement Master Data Management (MDM) to take control of your enterprise information and remain competitive. You are also possibly aware that a robust MDM solution will help you in diversified business areas including:

  • Customer Centric  areas – Managing customers sales and service
  • Enterprise Centric areas – Driving efficiencies and reducing cost
  • Supply Centric areas – Managing suppliers and supply chain

The trend which most of the Fortune 500 retailers have started adopting is towards a Multi-Entity MDM solution. Retailers have started understanding that focusing on a single entity will not provide coverage to diversified business initiatives. As a Retailer, you definitely may want to sequence the implementation of the master data entities based on your business priorities:

  • Customer MDM (CDI) -  If you would want to improve Campaign Management and Customer Service, provide Cross sell and Upsell opportunities, identify and provide differentiated services to your customer via their household relationship and hierarchy information then your first priority should be implementing a Customer MDM.
  • Product MDM (PIM) - Incase there are delays introducing new products, unified product hierarchies don’t exist or are incorrectly set up, there is disparity between the product information in store and online channels resulting in issues with multi-channel integration, lack of Global Data Synchronisation capability, and urging need for Digital Asset management capability and enriching the Ecommerce experience, then you need to prioritise a PIM solution (Product Master).
  • Supplier MDM -  If as a retailer, you have not been able to manage your suppliers well and your supply chain and procurement processes have issues and you need to improve managing your supplier contracts and sourcing process, you should then prioritize having a Supplier MDM.
  • Location MDM - Location MDM is more applicable for you if you have a wide number of stores, return centers and warehouse and find it difficult to track each of these sites uniquely including the need to understand the relationship between the sites, have geo coding capabilities and improve planning operations.  

Majority of the retailers would either prioritise a Customer MDM or PIM implementation depending on the priority of their business needs. Supplier MDM or Location MDM is not as common as Customer and Product entities, however there are quite a few top retailers who have implemented them. Employee MDM and Asset MDM are yet other Master Data, though not very commonly used in Retail Industry.  Employee MDM provides single view of the employee information which enables accurate talent management, recruiting, time and attendance, benefits administration and compensation planning. Asset MDM consists of managing asset master data including fixed and intangible assets.
A combination of multiple MDM domains will help you as a retailer in presenting multiple views to accommodate the wide range of processes, data consumption needs and managing multiple roles that exist across an enterprise. Multi Entity MDM helps centralising the most critical master data to an unified trusted source and provides flexible business process integration across multiple data domains. For example, a combination of Customer and Product master data will help a retailer for better targeting customers across Omni-channel commerce. Similarly an amalgamation of Product and Supplier data will help you improve your supply chain processes including intelligent fulfillment, reduced supplier risk and improving bulk discounts from the supplier.

To ensure that you have got your sequence of MDM implementation accurately aligned, it is quite imperative to perform a MDM strategy and roadmap assessment exercise before embarking on the implementation. This assessment provides a roadmap of the correct sequence of MDM deployment as per your business criticality and enterprise needs.  Implementing the solution in the correct order will help Multi-entity MDM solutions deliver complex and collaborative business processes such as targeting the most valuable customers, introducing new products speedily, creating new product bundles accurately, managing global supply chain and your supplier relationship effectively.

(About the author: Arunabha Dey Sarkar is an analyst at Capgemini)

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