Implementing a single source of truth in your retail business


Author: Laura Jones

We all like simplicity. And it’s no different when it comes to data. While data itself can feel complex and vast, creating systems to better manage your data can streamline your processes making things that little bit less complicated.

As businesses have scaled consumer behaviour has continuously evolved, we have more tools and platforms than we know what to do with and in turn, our data has become disconnected. Often scattered across your business, it can seem like there is no easy way of managing the wealth of information you have.

This is where single source of truth comes in.

In this article, we discuss what a single source of truth is and why it’s so important for modern retailers.

What is a single source of truth?

A single source of truth (SSOT) is exactly what it sounds like. In a world where our data is often misplaced or spread out across numerous platforms, a SSOT is the concept of creating one location for cleansed and standardised data. All your data should exist together in this centralised hub and be easily accessible for your team, no matter where they are.

By creating this one-stop shop you’re allowing your business to all sing from the same hymn sheet. Removing any silos, you’re now able to move forward as one unified team with all your data at your fingertips. With the right structure in place, a single source of truth allows brands to focus on the big picture stuff, confident that they’re making decisions backed by consistent data.

Why should retailers care about a single source of truth?

Having consistent, clear and easily understood data has untold benefits for your business. Improving productivity, teams are no longer bogged down in the grunt work. With data readily available, decision-makers can be left to do what they do best – help their business excel, making decisions backed by accurate information.

For retailers in particular, the sheer volume of information needed to help things run smoothly can be vast and overwhelming. From customer data to product data and transactional data too, retailers have an abundance of information they must not only wade through but then effectively utilise. Through harnessing a single source of truth, brands can cut out the noise and be confident in the figures they’re working with.

Alongside creating a standardised approach to data and enabling smarter business decisions, a SSOT has a multitude of other benefits for retailers…

1) Creating that perfect user experience

Ultimately, all retailers are striving to create the best user experience and thus encourage their audience to spend more money with them. A single source of truth allows brands to tap into the power of personalisation more, providing their end user with a more enjoyable experience. And with personalisation increasing revenues by up to 15 percent, the proof really is in the data. Through an accurate understanding of your data, retailers can create more targeted ads relevant to specific audiences.

As well as engaging with users through more targeted messaging, a single source of truth provides your audience with consistency. Whether they’re engaging with you via mobile or POS device, you want to ensure they see the same information across all channels. For instance, stock levels, product information, delivery times and costs should look the same to a user, no matter what platform they are on. Failing to deliver this consistent experience across different channels can leave users feeling disillusioned with your brand, creating a sense of mistrust between them and your products.

2) Making the most of your marketing

Marketing can often feel like a dark art for those observing from the outside. However good marketing can often be boiled down to a good understanding of data. If your data processes aren’t quite up to scratch, your marketing team is starting from the backfoot before they’ve even launched a campaign.

A single source of truth allows marketers to access accurate, up-to-date information. Armed with this data, they can go on to deliver highly effective campaigns that are more likely to engage with the right audience at the right time. And we don’t need to tell you that when marketing is done right in retail, the benefits can be out of this world…

3) Pricing

The bread and butter of your retail store – your prices and your products. Without these two very crucial things, you don’t have a business. Implementing a single source of truth means that your two most valuable assets are accurate across the board. This information feeds into everything you then do, your eCommerce systems and later down the line, your reporting. With a SSOT you can be confident that this key data is right from the get-go.

Achieving a single source of truth

So, we understand the importance of a single source of truth but the million-dollar question on your lips is, ‘where do I start?’
Data is always different. Businesses use varying platforms or process things in their own way, so there’s no specific formula for creating a single source of truth. But there are set principles to follow to enable you to pool your data.

Initially, all your data sources need to be gathered. This could look like:

  • Spreadsheets
  • CRM systems
  • Loyalty data
  • Hard copies i.e. paper invoices
  • API integrations
  • Trading systems

Once you've collated all your information, you must capture and cleanse it. It’s vital to consider how you want your this to be used in the future, ensuring that each data set is specific enough to support your operational decisions further down the line.

While there is no doubt there’s some upfront work needed, once the foundations are in place this process can be automated. With some short-term work, the long-term benefits to your business can’t be understated.

Hold up, what’s the catch? The challenges with a SSOT

As with everything worth having in life achieving a single source of truth can have a few bumps in the road, with overlapping and poor-quality data likely to throw a few spanners in the works during the process. For a SSOT to work efficiently, your data must be high-quality and reliable. This requires a level of technical expertise to ensure that you’re selecting the most valuable material to move forward with.

Acquiring team buy-in sometimes requires a careful approach, as employees need to see the value of the exercise and not feel threatened by the change. Before beginning the process, take the time to talk to your team and discuss the benefits of creating a SSOT, focusing on how this will make work easier across the business. Employee buy-in is imperative for long-term success.

How we support your journey to a SSOT

Embracing a single source of truth is a no-brainer for retailers looking to supercharge their success online. But knowing you want to make a change and having the tools to do so are two different things. At idhl, we work with our partners at HyperFinity to help clients on their journey to achieving a single source of truth.

Using smart middleware, we help connect all your data sources and pull everything into one centralised location. Leaning on the power of automation and the correct implementation of data science, we help retailers make the most of your wealth of information, leading to smarter and more impactful decision making.

Want to understand more about harnessing your data? Get in touch and let us help.

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