“Hindsight is 20/20” went from cliche to a very real experience as the retail sector began to learn the harsh lessons taught by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The quickly shifting realities exacerbated retailers’ challenges with the customer experience and supply chain optimization, forcing the sector into a new paradigm much sooner than expected. To adapt to “remote everything” and maintain viability, leaders had to accelerate digital transformation by relying entirely on e-commerce platforms. But without a firm handle on their data, retailers can’t see the future of retail and are doomed to repeat the errors of the hasty digital transition.
Worldwide e-commerce accounted for 17.9 percent of total retail sales in 2020, grew to 19 percent in 2021, and is expected to grow to 20.3 percent by the end of 2022. Likewise, the average share of internet users who made a purchase online increased from 53 percent pre-pandemic (2019) to 60 percent post-pandemic (2020-21). The data is clear: we aren’t going back. We are full-speed ahead on the asteroid reshaping retail—both digital and traditional, and how they intertwine. Now is the time for leaders to capitalize on the constructive lessons their data from the last few years has been trying to give them. And the best way to do that is through a unified data platform.
At Semarchy, we call this a “single source of truth.” Retailers use master data management to establish a data foundation that allows them to capitalize on their data. Chipotle did this by first mastering each of its locations across North America and Europe. Supply and demand challenges were impairing the relationship between Chipotle and its hungry customers. We worked with the food service brand to implement our unified data platform, aligning their communication channels and ordering platforms in real-time—increasing digital and store traffic within weeks.
Chipotle Business Intelligence Manager Hogan Le said it best: “The value of being able to see the ins and outs of your operations is priceless.”
There is no replacement for clear, accurate, and current data. Many leaders know this is true but aren’t sure how to begin collecting or synchronizing the data they have already collected. This leads to messy data, which can have unclear insights. Prioritizing your data collection and storage is key to building a quality, reliable, and safe database. That’s why Le began by mastering Chipotle’s location data. Now, Le uses architecture from our Master Data Management platform to pull in location information from retail stores around the U.S. and internationally to study demographics.
“We shifted from mastering locations towards mastering our menu items, and how we can more quickly deploy and enable our menu items to our customers…from here we are looking at mastering our supply chain ecosystem using Semarchy,” he said. Evolving in its digital transformation journey, Chipotle has mastered data across 45 business functions to build a strong, integrated data foundation in real time. Now, Le looks ahead to mastering financial data and data from other business units.
Chipotle is, of course, a large-scale example. But unified data platforms allow all retail and e-commerce players to read the trends of their industry, manage inventory and pricing, and even become trendsetters by predicting what their consumers will want next (because, you know, they will have the data for a roadmap). Ultimately, unified data platforms improve customer experience because they allow brands to easily access valuable customer behavior insights, which can be used for product development, marketing messaging and branding, and even personalized recommendations.
There is no perfect or correct path to mastering your data in a scalable unified data platform. The only wrong move you can make is inaction. Leaders must embrace our increasingly digital world and gather, interpret, and act on data-backed insights. Your business may just depend on it.
The author, Brett Hansen Chief Growth Officer at Semarchy.