Where to start with omnichannel?

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Retailer who understands the value of starting omnichannel with a data strategyRetailers have been trying to achieve an omnichannel vision for a long time – and many have not been successful. I’ve spent the last five years watching clients struggle with this initiative and have seen an assortment of reasons why retailers may not achieve their goals. But a consistent issue for the majority of retailers is in the alignment of data for omnichannel.

The reasons why data is a saboteur are numerous. Some of the explanations I’ve heard from retailers as they tackle the data alignment challenge are:

  • Too many people here think omnichannel is just a marketing initiative.
  • We don’t know what data is needed; so once we get data, we're still not sure if it's the right data.
  • We don’t know where the data is across the enterprise.
  • We aren't sure how to build a golden record of the customer.
  • We don’t have visibility into how our customers are interacting with our brands or channels.
  • Every department has their own definition of customer.
  • Each person at the organization views customers differently.

These are just a few examples of why achieving an omnichannel vision is hard. Your organization may have similar challenges, and perhaps others. So, where do you start?

Step 1: Establish a data strategy

As I've discussed before, the first step in this journey is establishing a data strategy for omnichannel. The data strategy program should encompass individuals across the organization, because omnichannel is not a function of a single department – it's a corporate initiative. Until the organization comes together as a whole, omnichannel initiatives will continue to struggle, and the full benefits of the program will not be realized.

Base your strategy on data governance

To be most successful, I believe a data strategy should be founded on data governance. Data governance will enable a retailer to:

  • Clearly state the goals and objectives for omnichannel.
  • Establish decision-making bodies and guiding principles for the effort.
  • Put in place corporate terms and definitions along with the proper tokens for customer data.
  • Define who owns the data.
  • Establish business processes for normalization, alignment and remediation of the data.
  • Determine how to store and provision the data for business use.
  • Secure customer data from theft.
  • Build an effective road map to support a long-term omnichannel vision.

My observation is that when retailers put a data strategy in place that's founded on data governance, they will understand how, what, when and why they are taking certain steps – and they'll see where each step fits in a clearly defined road map toward success. This plan needs to be laid out prior to technology being implemented or deployed. Because it's not technology that fixes data problems around omnichannel – it's having a good data strategy to keep you on the right path.

Are you ready to get started on the journey toward your omnichannel vision? Watch for my next post that will give tips for how to understand and identify the data you need as you develop this vision.

Download The 5 Essential Components of a Data Strategy
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About Author

Kim Kaluba

Data Management Specialist

Kim Kaluba has more than 20 years of successful partnering with companies to identify and resolve data management issues. This involves providing guidance and solutions for data quality, data governance, master data management, data federation, personally identifiable information protection, business intelligence, data visualization and analytics.

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