Why good data is the key to success in e-business

In this fast-paced, digitized age, your customer wants, more than ever, to be put first. Whether B2C or B2B, your customer expects a seamless experience across all channels. The key to it is high-quality master data.

The “modern” consumer expects you to know him – his preferences, his purchase history. He expects you to know exactly what suits him. Whether it be an attachment to his machine or trousers that match his shirt. But in one respect consumer behaviour has not changed, despite digital transformation. Before buying, customers want questions to be answered. They expect, whether online or offline, informative pictures or graphics, detailed descriptions, comprehensive information about the quality of products and preferably some videos, reviews and references. How many questions your customer may have and what is, in his opinion, “comprehensive” and “detailed”, depends on the individual, but also, strongly, on the product itself. However, except for low-cost items, the following is true for all products: if the customer notices missing or incorrect product information, he will not purchase them.

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Poor data quality is not only a nuisance; it also has a considerable negative financial impact on businesses. Marketing campaigns that miss their target, high rate of returns, low conversion rates in e-commerce or time-consuming data maintenance processes are just a few of the unnecessary cost drivers. In times when potential buyers are only one click away from moving to the next store with better product information, high-quality product data are the key to success.

5 reasons why high-quality master data can improve your business

1) Conversion rate
Whether a potential customer decides to buy or not depends on the information that is provided. “Missing information about the product” is one of the most common causes for a potential buyer to cancel a transaction. This applies to both B2B and B2C: the higher the price of the goods, the higher the need for information. The lower the price of the goods, the faster the decision whether to buy or not – or to look elsewhere. All the worse, then, if an image on the online shop, the dimensions of the wardrobe, information about the compatibility with other systems or simply the price tag on the shelf are missing.

Technical aspects should also be considered. A user-friendly navigation and an efficient search function require a structured and reliable database. Also, strategies that aim to increase sales such as cross-selling, up-selling or targeting can only be effectively implemented with appropriate data.

2) Traffic
Whereas in the past you would go to your favourite store or turn to your usual supplier, with which you had a framework agreement, today people tend to use Google, BING and yahoo. People no longer choose their products in physical stores. They first search for information about the desired product and then choose a retailer. They often start by looking online. At this stage of the customer journey, you should already be able to attract potential buyers and provide them with the information they require, regardless of whether they are buying online, from a sales representative or in a physical shop. High-quality information attracts information seekers, increases traffic and builds trust.

It’s not only your customers who love information. Search engines and online market places crave for it too. Interesting product descriptions including visual information, 360-degree views and videos will improve your ranking in the search engines.

3) Saving costs
Particularly retailers tackle high rates of customer returns. Often, customers are unsure of what they actually want and thus order several versions of an article or else the product doesn’t meet the customers’ expectations once they see it in person. High shipping, handling and restocking costs quickly cut into your margins, putting them at risk. High quality product information will provide your customers with the additional confidence they require to assess whether an article will match their requirements.

Data management itself is also a considerable cost factor, especially if data has to be entered twice or has to be modified later. Correcting data that are already in use may cost the business up to a hundred times more than entering accurate data straight away. With a centralized data-management approach, data maintenance is more efficient, minimizing any redundancy and time-consuming corrections and their associated costs.

Another cost benefit: Many processes can be automated if high-quality product data is available centrally. Distributing data to your online shop, online market place or to your authorized dealer, as well as using the available product information for print media such as catalogues, price lists or product packaging could be done automatically. Resources previously devoted to manual data management can be redirected back to core business needs, e.g. improving your sales channels.

4) Image and loyalty

A customer can’t find any information about whether the spare part fits to his machine, there is no visual information about the product, the ordered goods are not in line with expectations – there are a hundred different ways of creating a negative impression. Sometimes, depending on the “seriousness of the offence”, the damage to your reputation will be irreversible.

On the other hand, reliable product information will increase the customers’ trust and loyalty. You won’t only sell your product, you will also encourage your customer to come back. Data quality plays a significant role in developing customer loyalty.

5) Omnichannel Commerce
Nowadays, traditional, brick-and-mortar retail is hardly conceivable without e-commerce – be it in order to attract the potential customer’s attention when searching online, or to support the staff working in stores, e.g. to order items that are not available in-store. On the other hand, pure-players such as Amazon and Zalando are taking the plunge into “new” sales channels. In this age of digital transformation, retailers will likely have no choice but to integrate their sales channels into an omnichannel approach in order to be successful.

High-quality product data as well as the appropriate technical equipment are essential: only consistent, up-to-date and reliable data should be sent to the different sales channels. Linking all channels requires a high degree of automation. Otherwise, the effort needed to synchronize all channels would hardly be manageable and a seamless and positive customer experience be hardly possible.

Measuring ROI of “good” data
Therefore, it seems clear that good product information is the key to success. No data, no sales. But what is the real impact? Data management requires effort. In order to improve data quality, you need resources and the right budget. Is it really worth it? As is so often the case, there is no easy answer. First, you will have to answer the following question: How good is your current data? In order to find out, you will have to analyse your data and identify potential problem areas.

The good news is: It is possible to measure the ROI of product data quality. Enhancing data quality will increase your sales and have other positive impacts on your business, such as an improved customer loyalty. While these aspects are rather qualitative assessments, it is also possible to identify KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in order to evaluate the quantitative impact of improved data quality. parsionate has developed a method to assess both quantitative and qualitative factors and therefore calculate the ROI of product data quality.

Christoph Koch has already defined the term DQ (Data Quality) and described how to measure the ROI of product data quality in one of his previous articles.

Would you like to learn more about it? If so, please contact Miriam Ambrosinow, sales@parsionate.com, +49 711 / 75886-634