Indian retail market is getting strengthened day by day. Sales volumes are increasing, distribution networks are developing and retailers are trying their best to reach out to customers and give them better assortments and prices. If we compare retail with kirana stores, it gives better merchandise opportunities to customers as retailer negotiates much better with suppliers to get better margins and pass on to customers maximum possible. If we see our festival season and special occasions, all newspapers are filled with lots of promotions. Every retailer gives price discounts & different offers to the customers and encouraging them to come and shop in their stores, you will surely get best prices.
In retail, MDM (Master Data Management) plays a vital role. The products which are moving first from supplier’s manufacturing unit to his warehouse, further transported to retailer’s warehouse and finally to stores where customer buys the product. In MDM, it is required to define all the characters correctly in the system (like product description, barcode, vendor pack qty., warehouse-pack qty., cold chain requirements, replenishment methods, shelf life of the product, size, color, MRP and so on). If it is defined correctly, product can be moved faster and available on the shelf on time for sale. There are different benefits of MDM:
• Increase in Fill Rate and In-stock which is the back born of retail to lead the sale
• Proper storage in warehouse and store
• Faster movement of goods
• Proper transportation (cold chain, etc.)
• Efficiency in distribution channels
• Accurate financial data
• Faster payment for suppliers
• Real-time analytics
• Smarter operations
Now the question comes, what we need to do to have our MDM (Master Data Management) accurate?
1. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange): In today’s high-paced business environment, no one can afford the delays. We need to have faster solutions and processes. Now we have different technology options available to make it faster and accurate. EDI is one of the options which give enormous benefits to the retail business:
• Reduction of employee hours involved in creation and handling of per documents
• Reduction in cost of funds transfer
• Reduction in the cost of storage space
• No mailing cost
Speed: Forwarding of documents through a computer network is faster than mail (purchase orders, goods receipts, invoices, payment receipts and so on).
• EDI minimizes the need for rekeying information
• Communication is direct and easily verifiable
• No mail is lost
Security: Information is less susceptible to interception and falsification.
System Integration: EDI software can be interfaced with internal systems so that incoming data trigger applications and further automation of data processing.
Just-in-time support: Speeding up communication enhances intercompany just-in-time operations, which significantly reduces inventory costs. Only the necessary items are shipped by the vendor and arrive directly.
Better Cash Management: EDI allows more timely and accurate invoicing and purchasing functions.
Customer Satisfaction: EDI allows an order to be received, processed, and shipped almost as quickly as it can be transmitted. Sharing information with customers helps foster better business relationships with trading partners.
2. GDSN (Global Data Synchronization): Global Data Synchronization enables suppliers to publish their item data through a GDSN- certified data pool to a central global location. A retailer data pool receives the data which automatically feeds into the retailer’s internal systems from item creation or maintenance. Data synchronization through the GDSN allows real-time item maintenance for specific fields. They provide accurate, standards-based, synchronized data that reduce inefficiencies in the supply chain. It ensures dimensions are correct and stored at each, vendor pack, warehouse-pack and pallet levels.
Benefits of Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)
Data synchronization provides an automated method to synchronize item information with suppliers, according to global industry standards, by utilizing the same format for all trade items and parties to improve accuracy. Synchronizing data globally, dramatically reduces time spent manually entering and adjusting information, making it possible to focus valuable resources on your core business.
• Simplify corporate reporting
• Expand geographic retailer base
• Eliminate IT system redundancy
• Create an opportunity for shared services
• Maximize retail exposure/product posting
• Reduce time spent on complaints/disputes
• Improve visibility/stock level planning
• Simplify and enhance category reporting
• Reduce product introduction lead time
• Reduce product promotion lead time
Administrative Data Handling:
• Eliminate the need for cross-reference tables for different item creation
• Reduce invoice disputes
• Streamline the accounts receivable process
• Encounter fewer sales order defects
• Simplify order tracking
• Increase percentage of accurate orders
• Reduce return shipments
• Encounter fewer emergency orders
• Improve picking accuracy
• Optimize short-term planning
• Maximize truckloads
3. SOP (Standard Operating Procedures): Standard Operating Procedure makes life easier for everyone in the organization. In retail, it is a must requirement to define step-by-step procedures for all the activities of item creation and maintenance, purchase orders, pricing, receiving, shipments, payments, returns, warehousing, transportation, inventory norms, planning and so on and get it approved by all the stakeholders. Hence, no one can raise any question when conflict arises.
As per my experience working with different organizations and industries (Siemens- Telecom, Amway- FMCG & Walmart India/Canada- Retail), if we define our procedures clear and deep down up to .0001 level, it works by their own. We just need to follow that. Even an employee left from a department/work area- no worries; new employee needs to follow the process. Things will work with very little training.