Category Archives: Retail

Happy Holidays, Happy HoliData.

Happy Holidays, Happy HoliData

In case you have missed our #HappyHoliData series on Twitter and LinkedIn, I decided to provide a short summary of best practices which are unleashing information potential. Simply scroll and click on the case study which is relevant for you and your business. The series touches on different industries and use cases. But all have one thing in common: All consider information quality as key value to their business to deliver the right services or products to the right customer.

HappyHoliData_01 HappyHoliData_02 HappyHoliData_03 HappyHoliData_04 HappyHoliData_05 HappyHoliData_06 HappyHoliData_07 HappyHoliData_08 HappyHoliData_09 HappyHoliData_10 HappyHoliData_11 HappyHoliData_12 HappyHoliData_13 HappyHoliData_14 HappyHoliData_15 HappyHoliData_16 HappyHoliData_17 HappyHoliData_18 HappyHoliData_19 HappyHoliData_20 HappyHoliData_21 HappyHoliData_22 HappyHoliData_23 HappyHoliData_24

Thanks a lot to all my great teammates, who made this series happen.

Happy Holidays, Happy HoliData.

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Posted in B2B, B2B Data Exchange, Banking & Capital Markets, Big Data, CIO, CMO, Customers, Data Governance, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Financial Services, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Manufacturing, Master Data Management, PaaS, PiM, Product Information Management, Retail, SaaS | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Virtual Reality – Bringing the Customer Experience to new Levels

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality and Customer Experience

Did you know that a large quantity of Ikea’s catalog images do not showcase actual products? In fact, a large portion of the catalog’s images are computer generated. Technological advancements have come a long way in a very short time. It’s important to note that catalogs aren’t alone in benefiting from a computer-generated face-lift. Product commercials, such as this one, can be 100% computer made. While computers have come a long way in what they can let us do, there are devices which leverage this content and provide us with a level of immersion rarely seen before. I’m taking about Virtual reality.

While virtual reality isn’t new, the technology has recently been picking up speed in the tech world. With Facebook’s purchase virtual reality company Oculus earlier this year, the momentum behind the technology hasn’t ceased to increase. With the commercialization of a consumer ready virtual reality product next year, what does it mean beyond the realm of gaming? Is it significant for brand manufacturers and retailers? Will VR be a trend, or reserved solely to gaming or will it reshape how consumers all over the world interact with brands and products?

I was only recently made aware of those new technologies, by my colleague Nicholas Goupil. He introduced me to products such as the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR, which are products poised to participate in revolutionizing the gaming industry. While not a “gamer” myself, it was nearly impossible not to think about the commercial possibilities.

Gaming aside, what does it mean for brands and retailers? Could this new wave of VR products provide customers with experiences that will redefine product merchandising?

Some thoughts on use cases for Virtual Reality 

  • Travel and Hospitality – Become a globetrotter from the comfort of your home. (Japan example)
  • Real Estate – Walk thought a house as if you were there.
  • Test drive a new car’s interior from the comfort of your home
  • Movies: forget 4K resolution, how about full 360 degrees 4K real time recording and playback?
  • Sport events: experience replays or the game in full 360 degrees motion
  • Concerts: Have the best seat in the house (no pun intended)

Clearly, VR products like the Oculus Rift are still in development, with consumer products promised for 2015. With the company’s recent acquisition of Nimbus AR, a company focused on making the VR experience a more natural and interactive one, the future of such a product seem endless.

What are your thoughts and expectations with VR? Do you think it will be life changing for consumers and businesses? Rendering large volume digital assets is no longer a issue today. For me Virtual Reality will open total new ways to envision customer experience in 2015 and beyond.

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Posted in Master Data Management, PiM, Product Information Management, Retail | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Would Retail Peak Season Be Like Without Address Data Quality?

Address Data Quality

Why You NEED Address Data Quality

Reliable shipping is something customers take for granted, and never more so than during the holidays.

Peak season is here, and delivery companies have plans in place to successfully deliver every last package:

  • The USPS added delivery on Sunday and Christmas Day this year, after last year’s double-digit rise in package volumes during peak season.
  • In December alone, the United Parcel Service (UPS) forecasts it will deliver 585 million packages, an increase of 11% over last year.
  • UPS is also investing $175 million for its peak season preparedness plan, and will add 95,000 season workers (which is nearly 10 times the number of Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, employees in 2013).
  • According to the National Retail Federation, 44% of consumers will do their shopping on the web, which translates to a lot of deliveries.

For retailers, that means a lot of addresses in your company’s database. This will lead to a copious amount of deliveries.

The big rise in deliveries this year got me thinking: What would the holidays be like if there were no such thing as a postal address?

It’s safe to say, the holidays would be a lot less cheery. With our current reliance on mapping applications, it would be tough to get from home to the new toy store and back. Sadly, a lot of holiday greeting cards would get stamped “return to sender.” And without mapping applications or GPS, it would take a little more effort to get to grandmother’s house this year.

I think the only person who would be successfully delivering any gifts this year would be Santa (since he has his own rooftop-to-rooftop accuracy built in with his magical sleigh.)

Of course, one of the biggest places impacted would be the retail industry. The peak season at the end of the year is the time for retail businesses to make or break their reputations.

With the increased volume of deliverability, what mistakes might occur if all address data suddenly disappeared?

In a season without address data quality, your reputation and company could suffer in a number of ways:

  • Faulty addresses mean a weak customer database
  • Erroneous shipping means you’ll paying for delivery, returns, and re-delivery
  • Loss of customers and hurt reputations during peak sales time

A truly data-centric company treats address data as the foundation for customer information, and this would be more challenging to do without quality address verification.

In a peak season without address verification, I imagine companies would have to turn to alternative means to estimate locations and distances such as the geocoding process from Google Maps, which would leave them at a few disadvantages as delivery trucks navigate the icy roads during wintertime.

Informatica’s Address Validation offers these benefits that Google Maps’ geocoding does not, including:

  • Address validation and corrections
  • Availability as an on-premise solution for customer security and privacy
  • User-friendly experience as a leader in lookup and cleansing for 20+ years
  • Exact geocoding for properties (not estimates or approximations)
  • Partnership with the Universal Postal Union and all five existing global postal certifications

Approximate locations and uncertified data won’t cut it when customers expect on-time delivery, every time. Along with these benefits that make it invaluable for customer shipping and other postal mail uses, Informatica’s Address Validation sets the standard in 240 countries and territories.

Luckily, we do not live in a world without address quality. It is possible to ensure every last package and parcel makes it to its destination on time, while making it to grandmother’s house on time, sending greeting cards to our whole list, and bringing home lovingly selected gifts from the store to wrap and tuck under the tree.

How do you measure how your company is rating with its customer address quality? You can get started with this ebook from Informatica, “Three Ways to Measure Address Quality.”

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Why Retailers Forfeit the 30% Omni-Channel Premium

Why Retailers Forfeit the 30% Omni-Channel Shopper Premium

The Omni-Channel Shopper Premium

Omni-channel retailing has attracted a lot of attention in recent years – but many retailers still don’t realize its full potential. After countless man-hours and endless expense, they develop a multi-channel strategy across a range of sales and marketing platforms that is – well – pretty good. But is “pretty good” good enough? When sales and marketing platforms include ecommerce, social media, and mobile apps alongside more traditional methods like brick & mortar store, catalogues and kiosks, why do businesses leave their channel to market incomplete?

Maybe the problem lies in the widespread confusion about omni- vs. multi-channel initiatives. An omni-channel system takes a connected approach to multiple channels, seamlessly integrating customer activities into a single conversation, even when the customer decides, for whatever reason, to switch channel. In omni-channel retailing, the customer can select and change channels in any way that suits them – and the retailer can respond instantly to deliver the experience that the customer needs. Each time the customer interacts with the brand, they generate data that the retailer can use to better anticipate and serve the customer during the next conversation.

So, if omni-channel initiatives are so powerful, why are retailers not taking the next step?

Current Concerns

In a multi-channel system, a retailer grows from a single channel to multiple channels with each channel essentially operating as a separate business unit. Each has its own pricing, promotions, inventories, and back office systems. The omni-channel system integrates all of these channels and their accumulated data into one cohesive view of the business and customer. But many retailers wrongly believe that their organizational structure and systems don’t lend themselves to the new environment.

Many feel that a fundamental redesign of the corporate retail organization – from a single P&L regardless of channel, to “rip and replace” of IT systems – would need to occur at the most basic levels. And many organizations are unsure if the extra time, money and risk to reorganize is worth the advantages promised by an omni-channel strategy. In short, many retailers have adopted a wait-and-see stance before they invest.

However, these retailers can take comfort and guidance from the conclusions of the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Retail 2015 Predictions conference. Based on a survey of top retailers, the conference predicts that “In 2015, CIOs will invest in omni-channel integration technologies as a top priority to support growth in the omni-channel shopper sales premium of 30%.“

The Future is Now

When retailers invest in omni-channel integration, they essentially design an entirely new supply chain of unified capabilities that can simultaneously handle the demands of their “brick and mortar” stores, their ecommerce sites, and any other channel that they have in place. The retailers that have already done so are already seeing the benefits:

  • Corporations that have invested in omni-channel services are already witnessing an average of 30% increase in sales.
  • The IT departments of these corporations are spending far less time performing the redundant or duplicate tasks required by a multi-channel system.
  • Both structured and unstructured data are more successfully and easily integrated across the company than with a multichannel operation.
  • IT departments can retire older technologies that are no longer performing at their previous levels of efficiency.
  • Consumer impacts on individual channels can now be identified almost immediately and the channels adjusted accordingly.

While many businesses may be cautious about taking the next step, the shopping characteristics of today’s consumer are rapidly changing. Customers are moving into an omni-channel world, whether the retailer is ready or not. This means that the business might be forced to play catch-up to their customers, and perhaps sooner than they might like. Omni-channel initiatives simply reflect, improve and realize the value of this customer behavior. Omni-channel initiatives are about making the individual consumer the main focal point of the business model.

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Posted in Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customer Services, Customers, Data Integration, Retail | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Is Thanksgiving the Most Data-Driven Holiday?

Is Thanksgiving the Most Data-Driven Holiday?

Thanksgiving: The Most Data-Driven Holiday?

Turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie… and lots and lots of data on the side. Thanksgiving has to be the most data-driven holiday we have. After Black Friday, we will see a slew of reports and headlines describing how the retail industry’s sales performed.

What are retailers all abuzz about right now as we get closer to the Black Friday / Cyber Monday dates?

This year, retailers are using between 31-50% of their online marketing budget on holiday-related efforts alone, according to the National Retail Federation.

The NRF also projects that almost 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales will come from the holiday period.

This sounds like so much pressure, any retail marketer would crack like a chestnut under it. What’s a marketer to do? Here are some tactics and results around peak season holiday marketing.

Segmentation is a great way to see a big lift in sales. If you have the data to understand your customers and identify emerging segments in your market, you can find new business and directly target it with specific messaging. One recent case reported by Target Marketing Magazine showed a 40% year-over-year sales increase from a new segment that was identified and targeted with tailored messaging. Learn more about getting the most from your customer data in this white paper, “Data Quality Management: Beyond the Basics.”

Know your email sender reputation. You spend so much effort getting the right message out via email marketing with the right timing over different days leading up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday into December. But a poor email sender reputation can lead to those efforts being blocked or sent to the junk folder instead of to your customers. Global retailer BCBG proactively avoided this, using data validation and cleansing techniques to send their sender reputation sky-high (which you can read more about here.) Don’t let a bad sender reputation limit you during the holidays — especially when it can take up to 15 days to fix a major issue like this. Find out more in this short informative video, “Email Sender Reputation: What Does it Mean to Marketers?”

Everyone, positively everyone, is talking about mobile. Practically every article you come across on the subject of retail industry sales around the peak season holiday mentions mobile in some respect – for very good reason. Shoppers take their phones and tablets shopping with them to compare prices, look for deals, and research their purchases beforehand. The NRF reports that 7 out of 10 retailers they surveyed are putting major investments into their mobile-friendly websites. A well-timed SMS message to your customers with a special deal just for them could work wonders. You can take advantage of the huge popularity of SMS mobile messaging in just a few steps. See how in this SMS Quick-Start Guide created for marketers like you.

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Optimizing Supply Chain with Data Governance

Optimizing Supply Chain with Data Governance

Optimizing Supply Chain with Data Governance

Last week I met with a customer who recently completed a few data fueled supply chain projects. Informatica data integration and master data management are part of the solution architecture. I’m not going to name the client at this early stage but want to share highlights from our Q&A.

Q: What was the driver for this project?

A: The initiative fell out of a procure-to-pay (P2P) initiative.  We engaged a consulting firm to help centralize Accounts Payable operations.  One required deliverable was an executive P2P dashboard. This dashboard would provide enterprise insights by relying on the enterprise data warehousing and business intelligence platform.

Q: What did the dashboard illustrate?

The dashboard integrated data from many sources to provide a single view of information about all of our suppliers. By visualizing this information in one place, we were able to rapidly gain operational insights. There are approximately 30,000 suppliers in the supplier master who either manufacture, or distribute, or both over 150,000 unique products.

Q: From which sources is Informatica consuming data to power the P2P dashboard?

A: There are 8 sources of data:

3 ERP Systems:

  1. Lawson
  2. HBOC STAR
  3. Meditech

4 Enrichment Sources:

  1. Dun & Bradstreet – for associating suppliers together from disparate sources.
  2. GDSN – Global Data Pool for helping to cleanse healthcare products.
  3. McKesson Pharmacy Spend – spend file from third party pharmaceutical distributor Helps capture detailed pharmacy spend which we procure from this third party.
  4. Office Depot Spend – spend file from third party office supply distributor.  Helps capture detailed pharmacy spend.
  5. MedAssets – third party group purchasing organization (GPO) who provides detailed contract pricing.

Q: Did you tackle clinical scenarios first?

A: No, well we certainly have many clinical scenarios we want to explore like cost per procedure per patient we knew that we should establish a few quick, operational wins to gain traction and credibility.

Q: Great idea – capturing quick wins is certainly the way we are seeing customers have the most success in these transformative projects. Where did you start?

A: We started with supply chain cost containment; increasing pressures on healthcare organizations to reduce cost made this low hanging fruit the right place to start. There may be as much as 20% waste to be eliminated through strategic and actionable analytics.

Q: What did you discover?

A: Through the P2P dashboard, insights were gained into days to pay on invoices as well as early payment discounts and late payment penalties. With the visualization we quickly saw that we were paying a large amount of late fees. With this awareness, we dug into why the late fees were so high. What was discovered is that, with one large supplier, the original payment terms were net 30 but that in later negotiations terms were changed to 20 days. Late fees were accruing after 20 days. Through this complete view we were able to rapidly hone in on the issue and change operations — avoiding costly late fees.

Q: That’s a great example of straight forward analytics powered by an integrated view of data, thank you. What’s a more complex use case you plan to tackle?

A: Now that we have the systems in place along with data stewardship, we will start to focus on clinical supply chain scenarios like cost per procedure per patient. We have all of the data in one data warehouse to answer questions like – which procedures are costing the most, do procedure costs vary by clinician? By location? By supply? – and what is the outcome of each of these procedures? We always want to take the right and best action for the patient.

We were also able to identify where negotiated payment discounts were not being taken advantage of or where there were opportunities to negotiate discounts.

These insights were revealed through the dashboard and immediate value was realized the first day.

Fueling knowledge with data is helping procurement negotiate the right discounts, i.e. they can seek discounts on the most used supplies vs discounts on supplies rarely used. Think of it this way… you don’t want to get a discount on OJ and if you are buying milk.

Q: Excellent example and metaphor. Let’s talk more about stewardship, you have a data governance organization within IT that is governing supply chain?

A: No, we have a data governance team within supply chain… Supply chain staff that used to be called “content managers” now “data stewards”. They were doing the stewardship work of defining data, its use, its source, its quality before but it wasn’t a formally recognized part of their jobs… now it is. Armed with Informatica Data Director they are managing the quality of supply chain data across four domains including suppliers/vendors, locations, contracts and items. Data from each of these domains resides in our EMR, our ERP applications and in our ambulatory EMR/Practice Management application creating redundancy and manual reconciliation effort.

By adding Master Data Management (MDM) to the architecture, we were able to centralize management of master data about suppliers/vendors, items, contracts and locations, augment this data with enrichment data like that from D&B, reduce redundancy and reduce manual effort.

MDM shares this complete and accurate information with the enterprise data warehouse and we can use it to run analytics against. Having a confident, complete view of master data allows us to trust analytical insights revealed through the P2P dashboard.

Q: What lessons learned would you offer?

A: Having recognized operational value, I’d encourage health systems to focus on data driven supply chain because there are savings opportunities through easier identification of unmanaged spend.

I really enjoyed learning more about this project with valuable, tangible and nearly immediate results. I will keep you posted as the customer moves onto the next phase. If you have comments or questions, leave them here.

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Can Big Data Live Up To Its Promise For Retailers?

Can Big Data Live Up To Its Promise For Retailers?

Can Big Data Live Up To Its Promise For Retailers?

Can Big Data Live Up To Its Promise For Retailers? [/caption]Was Sam Walton, founder of Walmart talking about Big Data and Analytic in the 90’s when he said, “People think we got big by putting big stores in small towns. Really, we got big by replacing inventory with information.”  Walmart clearly understood the value of the large volumes of data they had access to and turned it into competitive advantage.

As retailers move from looking in the rear view mirror (what happened) to the road ahead (what will happen) they have turned to Big Data and Analytics for answers. While, Big Data holds great promise for retailers, many are skeptical. Retailers are already drinking from the data fire hose, whether its transaction data, recording every product sold to every customer across all channels or research data, covering detailed consumer profiles or web log and social data. The questions retailers are asking; will the investment drive more revenues, increase customer loyalty and create a more rewarding customer experience? Will I gain a deeper insight into customer transactions and interactions across the organization? Can we use existing resources and infrastructure?

The answer is Yes, Big Data presents the opportunity to better analyse everything from customer shopping behaviors at each stage of purchase journey, to inventory planning to delivering relevant and personalized offers. By analyzing how shoppers found your products, how long they spend browsing product pages and which products they added to their basket provides greater insight into what decision process they went through before purchase and helps retailers quickly identify cross sell and up-sell opportunities in real-time. In addition, combining transaction data and what your customers are saying on social channels (ratings, likes, dislikes, what’s trending etc.) can feed into the decisions you make on placing the right product, in the right store at the right price and ultimately deliver very personalize and contextual offers to the customers.

Data Driven Decisions Getting value from Big Data

Turning Big Data into actionable insight is not just about dumping data in to a “Data Lake” and pointing an analytics tool at it and saying job done!  Retailers need to take a number of steps to profit from Big Data and Analytics.

  • Firstly, you need to gather data from all available sources in batch or real-time, from internal and external, and from an ever increasing number of devices (beacons, mobile devices). Once you have gathered the data, it needs to be connected, validated, cleansed and a governance process put in place before integrating with analytic tools and systems.
  • Secondly, put clean and trusted data in the hands of data scientists who can distill the relevant from irrelevant and formulate commercial insights that the business can action and profit from it.
  • Lastly, plan and organize for success. IT and business need to align behind the same agenda, regularly reviewing business priorities and adjusting as needed. Maximize existing scare IT resources by leveraging existing technologies, Cloud platforms and forming alliances with 3rd party vendors to fill skills gap. Secure quick wins for your Big Data initiatives; maybe start with integrating historical transaction data with real-time purchase data to make personalized offers at point of sale. Look outside your organization and to other industries like retail banking or telecommunications and learn from their successes and failures.

With the right approach, Big Data will deliver the return on investment for retailers.

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How Email Marketers Can Keep Up With Changes to Their Industry

Keep Up With Changes

Keep Up With Changes

Email has come a long way since its beginning. Two years after the U.S. launched a rocket to the moon, programmer Raymond Tomlinson launched the first email, a message that read “QWERTYUIOP” in 1971.

In 1991, when the World Wide Web was created, email then had the opportunity to evolve into the mainstream form of communication it is today.

The statistics for modern day email are staggering. Worldwide, there are 2.2 billion email users as of 2012, according to MarketingProfs.

With all these messages flying about, you know there’s going to be some email overload. Google’s Gmail alone has 425 million users worldwide. ESPs know people have too much email to deal with, and there’s a lot of noise out there. More than 75% of the world’s email is spam.

Gmail is one of the applications that recently responded to this problem, and all email marketers need to be aware.

On October 22, Google announced Inbox.

Google’s Inbox takes several steps to bring structure to the abundant world of email with these features:

  • Categorizes and bundles emails.
  • Highlights important content within the body of the email.
  • Allows users to customize messages by adding their own reminders.

This latest update to Gmail is just one small way that the landscape of email marketing and audience preferences is changing all the time.

As we integrate more technology into our daily lives, it only makes sense that we use digital messages as a means of communication more often. What will this mean for email in the future? How will marketers adjust to the new challenges email marketing will present at larger volumes, with audiences wanting more segmentation and personalization?

All About eMail Virtual Conference

All About eMail Virtual Conference

One easy way to stay on top of these and other changes to the e-mail landscape is talking to your peers and experts in the industry. Luckily, an opportunity is coming up — and it’s free.

Make sure you check out the All About eMail Virtual Conference & Expo on November 13. It’s a virtual event, which means you can attend without leaving your desk!

It’s a one-day event with the busy email marketer in mind. Register for free and be sure to join us for our presentation, “Maximizing Email Campaign Performance Through Data Quality.”

Other strategic sessions include email marketing innovations presented by Forrester Research, mobile email, ROI, content tips, email sending frequency, and much more. (See the agenda here.)

This conference is just one indication that email marketing is still relevant, but only if email marketers adjust to changing audience preferences. With humble beginnings in 1971 email has come a long way. Email marketing has the best ROI in the business, and will continue to have value long into the future.

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6 Building Blocks of Commerce Relevancy

The digital industry is increasingly discussing the topic of Commerce Relevancy. Commerce Relevancy makes information relevant to consumers at the right time and place. Specifically, it ensures sales and marketing offers and materials are personalized at the highest level and consistent across all customer touch points. This post will talk about how much Commerce Relevancy matters and will explain the six building blocks that comprise it.

Commerce Relevancy in Fashion

I am a runner. For motivation, I track the majority of my runs on my iPhone. I use an arm band from a leading sports apparel company to carry my iPhone. I’m a great supporter of this apparel brand in general. I love their style so I shop from them frequently. Sometimes, when I travel the US, I shop in their outlet stores. Primarily, however, I shop on their official web-store using my iPad or mobile phone. Since I am a “fashion victim”, it is not easy for me to remember all the channels, shops and websites I have used to buy this brand’s products.

Why am I telling you all this?

For the past few weeks, I’ve repeatedly received email newsletters from this brand, promoting sporting outfits that don’t match my style or size. (Most of the promotion has been products for women, rather than for men, etc.) As a repeat customer, this lack of promotional accuracy has frustrated me. I have purchased many items from this brand. I’ve even shared their logo on twitter and Facebook. Despite my commitment to the brand, the brand still does not know which products I need or which styles I prefer.

Commerce Relevancy in Automotive

I have had a similar experience with my favorite car manufacturer. My wife and I have purchased three of this brand’s cars in the past. We currently lease one of their cars. When I need maintenance, I only visit this brand’s authorized repair garages. I only use official spare parts. Despite my loyalty to the brand, every time I call their stores, I am asked for my phone number. No one from the brand has ever approached me to test a new car, even though my current lease will soon end.

Once, when my current car was being repaired for several days, I requested permission to test drive a particular model, until my current car was ready. I was interested in this new model as a potential next purchase. I was told “it is not possible to test drive the car you’re interested in during the repair process. You may only use the official car rental service.”

Can Relevant Information Make the Difference?

The chapter of “Commerce Relevancy” started in 2013. The eBook on the “Informed Purchase Journey” mentions that consumers use average of 10.4 sources of information before taking a purchasing decision.

Capture_InformationSources10.4

What this means for all companies and business people who sell products and services:
They have to earn every new sale to customer who is demanding more information than ever before.

The Meaning of Commerce Relevancy

In order to enable Commerce Relevancy, companies are now asking themselves how to connect the dots between supplier, location, customer and product information. In this business use cases customer profiles or target group personas get match with product information in sales and marketing. The key challenge his to connect the data but also to provide them to customer facing apps and touch points.

CommerceRelevancy_Graphic_Informatica

6 Building Blocks of Commerce Relevancy

  1. Product powered:  Inside and outside your organization customer and employees have a consistent view of the products you sell, regardless of the touch point.
  2. Customer centric: No matter, where or how a client interacts with your company, you are able to generate a single view of the customer with address, interaction, and relation data.
  3. Relationship driven: The biggest value today and tomorrow lays in “connecting the dots” between different information like the availability of a product, from a supplier or warehouse, to the client who demands it.
  4. Bi-directional: Serving clients with really tailored marketing is only one way –  the other way is the feedback on products and services and how this can be re-used.
  5. Predictive power: With Commerce Relevancy, companies take simple eCommerce recommendations to the next level. This means predicting the next logical action, based in information.  This can empower business users to do the right things, data-driven. This makes the customer spend more, data-driven. Happy to give you examples if you reach out to me @benrund
  6. Real-time data: Customer always want it now. Changes on product offerings, transactions customer make, service centers they call – a service agent always needs to have the complete view with real time data.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of this blog series: “How companies can achieve commerce relevancy step by step.” It impacts, people, processes and technology.

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5 Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing

print publishing

Product Information Management Facilitates Catalog Print Publishing

In his recent article: “The catalog is dead – long live the catalog,” Informatica’s Ben Rund spoke about how printed catalogs are positioned as a piece of the omnichannel puzzle and are a valuable touch point on the connected customer’s informed purchase journey. The overall response was far greater than what we could have hoped for; we would like to thank all those that participated. Seeing how much interest this topic generated, we decided to investigate further, in order to find out which factors can help in making print publishing successful.

5 key Factors for Successful Print Publishing Projects

Today’s digital world impacts every facet of our lives. Deloitte recently reported that approximately 50% of purchases are influenced by our digital environment. Often, companies have no idea how much savings can be generated through the production of printed catalogues that leverage pre-existing data sources. The research at www.pim-roi.com talks of several such examples. After looking back at many successful projects, Michael and his team realized the potential to generate substantial savings when the focus is to
optimize “time to market.” (If, of course, business teams operate asynchronously!)

For this new blog entry, we interviewed Michael Giesen, IT Consultancy and Project Management at Laudert to get his thoughts and opinion on the key factors behind the success of print publishing projects. We asked Michael to share his experience and thoughts on the leading factors in running successful print publishing projects. Furthermore, Michael also provides insight on which steps to prioritize and which pitfalls to avoid at all costs, in order to ensure the best results.

1. Publication Analysis

How are objects in print (like products) structured today? What about individual topics and design of creative pages? How is the placement of tables, headings, prices and images organized nowadays? Are there standards? If so, what can be standardized and how? To get an overall picture, you have to thoroughly examine these points. You must do so for all the content elements involved in the layout, ensuring that, in the future, they can be used for Dynamic Publishing. It is conceivable that individual elements, such as titles or pages used in subject areas, could be excluded and reused in separate projects. Gaining the ability to automate catalog creation potentially requires to compromise in certain areas. We shall discuss this later. In the future, product information will probably be presented with very little need to apply changes, 4 instead of 24 table types, for example. Great, now we are on the right path!

2. Data Source Analysis

Where is the data used in today’s printed material being sourced from? If possible or needed, are there several data sources that require to be combined? How is pricing handled? What about product attributes or the structure of product description tables in the case of an individual item? Is all the marketing content and subsequent variations included as well? What about numerous product images or multiple languages? What about seasonally adjusted texts that pull from external sources?

This case requires a very detailed analysis, leading us to the following question:

What is the role and the value of storing product information using a standardized method in print publishing?

The benefits of utilizing such processes should be clear by now: The more standards are in place, the greater the amount of time you will save and the greater your ability to generate positive ROI. Companies that currently operate with complex systems supporting well-structured data are already ahead in the game. Furthermore, yielding positive results doesn’t necessarily require them to start from scratch and rebuild from the ground up. As a matter of fact, companies that have already invested in database systems (E.g. MSSQL) can leverage their existing infrastructures.

3. Process Analysis

In this section of our analysis, we will be getting right down to the details: What does the production process look like, from the initial layout phase to the final release process? Who is responsible for the “how? Who maintains the linear progression? Who has the responsibilities and release rights? Lastly, where are the bottlenecks? Are there safeguards mechanisms in place? Once all these roles and processes have been put in place and have received the right resources we can advance to the next step of our analysis. You are ready to tackle the next key factor: Implementation.

4. Implementation

Here you should be adventurous, creative and open minded, seeing that compromise might be needed. If your existing data sources do not meet the requirements, a solution must be found! A certain technical creative pragmatism may facilitate the short and medium planning (see point 2). You must extract and prepare your data sources for printed medium, such as a catalog, for example. The priint:suite of WERK II has proven itself as a robust all-round solution for Database Publishing and Web2Print. All-inclusive PIM solutions, such as Informatica PIM, already has a standard interface to priint:suite available. Depending on the specific requirements, an important decision must then be made: Is there a need for an InDesign Server? Simply put, it enables the fully automatic production of large-volume objects and offers accurate data preview. While slightly less featured, the use of WERK II PDF renderers offers similar functionalities but at a significantly more affordable price.

Based on the software and interfaces selected, an optimized process which supports your system can be developed and be structured to be fully automated if needed.
For individual groups of goods, templates can be defined, placeholders and page layouts developed. Production can start!

5. Selecting an Implementation Partner

In order to facilitate a smooth transition from day one, the support of a partner to carry out the implementation should be considered from the beginning. Since not only technology, but more importantly practical expertise provides maximum process efficiency, it is recommended that you inquire about a potential partner’s references. Getting insight from existing customers will provide you with feedback about their experience and successes. Any potential partner will be pleased to put you in touch with their existing customers.

What are Your Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing?

I would like to know what your thoughts are on this topic. Has anyone tried PDF renderers other than WERK II, such as Codeware’s XActuell? Furthermore, if there are any other factors you think are important in managing successful print publishing, feel free to mention them in the comments here. I’d be happy to discuss here or on twitter at @nicholasgoupil.

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