3 key steps for retailers to create a single source of truth

19 Dec, 2022

Retail in turbulent times

These are turbulent times for retailers, with the rapidly changing environment prompting many to expand their physical presence and diversify into new channels. The explosion of online portals and mobile apps is the most obvious example, yet brands have also looked to strengthen their licensing and wholesale offerings. The shift from bricks to clicks is far from new, but recent events have clearly accelerated the trend. The move brings many advantages, such as offering a much more comprehensive product range and serving a broader, potentially global, customer base.

Key issues for retailers

Retailers face an entirely new set of issues from what they’re used to. These challenges pose an even greater challenge for brands who have introduced or expanded their digital presence alongside maintaining their physical stores.

  • Cybersecurity and data privacy
  • Converting online traffic into paying customers
  • Shipping and product returns
  • Cross border sales
  • Customer support
  • Finding the right tech partner(s)

We know every company must contend with:

  • Skyrocketing container costs and record lead times
  • Disrupted supply chains
  • High staff turnover and wage increases
  • Rising inflation
  • Market uncertainty and increased competition
  • A growing need to become more sustainable

Retailers spend 70% of their time on data collection and only 30% on data analysis

1. A single source of truth

Effective decision-making is swift, decisive and informed by accurate, real-time data. Extracting this information from a unified, central source enables leaders to see a complete view of business performance and analyse how individual business units perform. This makes it far easier to set and track targets and identify trends and growth opportunities.

Take stock control as an example. Retailers are prioritising accurate demand forecasting and planning, warehouse management, cross-stocking and rapid stock turnover to operate more efficiently. Doing so requires a high level of supply chain visibility, transparency and traceability that is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve without live, consolidated data combined with historical insights.

2. Discover the power and functionality of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail

  • 1

    Unifying sales, inventory and customer data in one place removes the need for creating and synching copies of data across multiple systems, a leading cause of information silos. It also eliminates inconsistent and contradictory information and instead provides clarity and efficiency.

  • 2

    Streamlined workflows and intuitive portals provide workers with easy access to the same information at the right time, regardless of location. It also enables teams to understand better the company’s strategic goals and how their role contributes and empowers everyone to pull in the same direction.

  • 3

    Powerful analytics and reporting tools allow staff to manage by exception and focus on tasks that truly add business value. It also provides a firm foundation to build and scale for the future, whatever the next step in your digital journey may be.

  • 4

    Laying a foundation that enables – ideally, accelerates – future growth is a crucial but often overlooked factor. We’ve all been guilty of focusing on immediate obstacles or priorities without considering longer-term goals.

Person working at a desk and using technology

3. Using technology as a Growth Accelerator

Scalability is a word that crops up in every customer conversation we have. The majority of implementations typically begin by going back to the start and getting the basics right. It This involves modernising, simplifying and connecting existing business systems and embedding a data strategy which centres on a single version of the truth.

From this foundation, we can introduce more intelligent business applications such as analytics, automation and reporting tools to connect data, processes and teams further.

In search of one version of the truth

One factor makes overcoming these challenges infinitely more difficult: fragmented views, siloed information and competing versions of the truth. Retailers typically employ multiple IT systems, which often don’t, can’t or won’t share data. Many retail companies also grow through mergers and acquisitions, which see additional software systems being bolted on.

Consequently, IT architectures are chaotic and confusing; nothing is consolidated, every department speaks a different language, and systems contain multiple versions of the same customer and stock levels.  There is a better way, and though it may sound simple, it’s a request we receive all the time from retail customers: Can you help us achieve a single source of truth?

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