The launch of TWC’s new product WholeView in the last couple of weeks has driven more conversations than usual with suppliers about the data they purchase.  Through these conversations, it has become very apparent that supplier organisations have varying approaches to data strategy.

In the very biggest organisations, it is clear that there is a “new world order” and the corporation is now basically run by a “revenue management” function.  A combination of finance and commercial, which means that any activity is assessed on its commercial viability to drive profit, under-pinned by the primary question “what is the return on investment?”.  This becomes a hybrid of channel management, price strategy, resource deployment, terms and promotion impact.

For these bigger supplier businesses, data underpins the revenue management function – the only way that revenue management can assess ROI is via data – both its own and its customers.  Which means that a few years ago, these companies went on a journey to create a data strategy – identifying what data they had access to, what they needed that data to do, what it cost and who owns it in the business.

It is vital that wholesalers accept this new world order, and how this is impacting the way that they will need to do business going forward – more transparency, increased measurement of results and changes in where suppliers will invest, but that is a blog for another day!

However, surprisingly, what Team TWC has noticed is just how many suppliers have not been on a data journey yet.  There are many organisations that have not stepped back and looked holistically at their data strategy for wholesale and convenience.  The wholesale shipments data they purchase is being managed by each separate account team.  As a result, there is no cross-functional agreement on the role of data or whether it should be used to measure impact and, in some cases, uncertainty on the total organisational spend on wholesale shipments data.

TWC is perfectly placed to bring together data from different wholesalers using our WholeView product, however we understand that these suppliers will be reluctant to invest in such a solution when they don’t necessarily have full sight of what data they are purchasing to put into it.

But therein lies the bigger problem for these suppliers – they are likely funding nearly everything on sales in and not then reviewing how the product is travelling through the channel, how quickly it travels and where it is ending up.  They will also not be comparing different sub channels within wholesale or benchmarking sales performance to identify which operators they are under- or over-trading in.

This lack of oversight from shipments data drives a disconnect between the sales and marketing function in the organisation but also means that the cost of sale into wholesale cannot be accurately measured, it is still a volume game and little else.  Arguably, this may be because all marketing and promotion strategy is assessed on sales through the retail multiples and then copied in wholesale/convenience, but we at TWC would counter that “one size does not fit all”.

The challenge for suppliers that have not embraced revenue management or created a data strategy is that it feels like a huge undertaking, fraught with risk, likely to drive more questions than solutions and, finally, who should own it – the Channel Controller, Finance, Special Projects?  But a good data strategy will give a business clarity on key performance indicators, a single version of the truth for what good performance looks like, potentially a reduction in costs and an increase in revenues and a more nimble approach to performance measurement.  It does not have to be a huge task either.

The first step is to create a vision for reporting – what does the business need to know, who needs to know it and how will it be delivered and managed?

The second step is doing a data audit – looking across the organisation and understanding what data is being purchased, what it costs and identifying any gaps in data provision or, equally, any unnecessary data contracts that can be cancelled.

The third step is implementing this vision – part of this is about “just doing it”, the reporting will evolve, it won’t be right straight away and some of the requirements may change – which is fine.  The bigger part of the implementation is getting organisational buy-in – this is imperative.  Belief that the data is pivotal must run throughout the team, it will need to come from the top down and team performance will need to be measured against what the data is reporting.

The third step, if we are honest, is why many organisations have avoided “grasping the nettle” and developing a data strategy to date.  It often leads to organisational change, which is always perceived as tricky.  However, with the right plan and the genuine belief that it is the right thing for the organisation, surely it is better to get on with it than keep avoiding the inevitable?

TWC has successfully helped supplier organisations to develop a data strategy for wholesale.  We know what good data management looks like so do consider talking to us if you want to take that first step.  We don’t have to help with the whole process, a 15-minute chat might be just enough to kick it off.

If you are interested to find out more about WholeView click here

to find out more about consultancy to support your data strategy click here

or click here to watch our free digital master classes with Salih Sheikh which set out a strategic vision of how to go about creating and implementing an effective digital strategy.