In the last few years, data has become a valuable revenue stream for wholesalers. And yes – data is sold to suppliers to generate additional revenue, but that is only part of the story for the progressive operator. A data strategy should also encompass internal users and be capable of delivering total business improvement with timely, accurate intelligence – across the business. There are several key questions to answer when considering the components of such a data strategy:
- A vision is vital. What is the expectation of making data a key component of the business – more customers, customers spending more, better terms, better profit – or all of them?
- This should translate into achievable targets. The most crucial point is whether the data is going to have any use or impact internally. Is information going to be given to trading, sales, depot management to enable them to do a better job or is this purely for external supplier use and existing systems will continue to be used for all else?
- If the latter is the case – are these systems fit for purpose or will suppliers be seeing more than the trading team for example? In making the data available to suppliers what is the motivation behind it? Generating income is a given, but will it actually change the trading relationship by enabling suppliers to understand the business better.
- Joint business plans and partnership agreements become real and achievable if underpinned by data – but it also places a greater onus on the wholesaler to perform the greater the information available. Are you ready for that? What information will be made available? If suppliers are expected to give category recommendations they need to see the category including their competitors’ information. If it is a Buying Group development, what are the members comfortable with? Will they need to be convinced of the positives in making the data available?
- Quality and accuracy of data is a key element for both internal and external use and should cover customer information as well as product. If this is not in pristine condition it will affect marketability but will also impact internal users in their roles.
- It may be worth considering using an outside agency to cleanse large volumes. There is now a lot of data available in the market, if you force suppliers to buy it you will probably lose this money elsewhere in terms. It should be useful in its own right in helping the supplier build the business and understand the market – this is what gives incremental terms.
- Communicate the data vision to users, explain and show the proposed reports, ask for feedback. Gain buy-in to the vision and strategy, ensure it is embraced and modify reporting requirements based on useful feedback.
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