Success factor: Master data

When you think of data maintenance and data entry, you immediately think of a windowless room, where IT people are doing boring and administrative typing of data in the system. Correct and structured data provides the basis for process optimisation, business intelligence and innovation leading to sales increases and customer loyalty – in a sense, a basis for business success. Andrea Schlossarek is globally responsible for the subject of master data management at METRO. In our interview, she discusses the potential it holds for the company’s business.

Andrea Schlossarek

Andrea, what is master data all about?

When we talk about master data, we’re talking about different domains, for example the core data on customers, suppliers or products. Master data management defines what data are needed for a company, its customers or third parties, how to collect, store and share these data. Once you master that as a company, you can run extensive analytics and address your customers’ needs even more effectively.

What role does Master Data play in the retail industry?

A very crucial one. This industry has changed dramatically over the last 20 to 30 years with digitalisation. Master data is a key enabler for the business and an integral part of every process and system. If you have good data as an input, your result will be excellent.

Master data: is it pure IT, or a business issue too?

In the past, master data didn’t play such a prominent role for companies. Data were basically parked in their systems. Master data were mainly driven from the IT side. Today, with the digital and technical advancements and the huge amount of information available, it is clearly a business topic. It’s the business that needs to define what data it needs for its operation. IT plays a key enablement role though.

What is METRO’s objective in the area of master data?

The quality of our customer and product master data will be a crucial success factor going forward. Especially if we want to digitalise the HoReCa sector and become an integrated provider of solutions and services. It’s essential to have clean and reliable data. The MenuKit, for example, makes a restaurant’s menu transparent to us. We know what items are most critical to our customers. With structured, correct data, we can use analytics and draw up amazing business cases for our sales force managers. In turn, they can better advise the customer on profitability. For instance, optimising the menus, or using certain own-brand products of METRO instead of brand products that have the same ingredients but a higher price.

Let's focus on customer master data for the moment. We're talking about 16 million METRO customers (companies) and around 21 million cardholders. Which customer data do we already collect, at which touchpoints and how?

First of all we collect identification data: first name, surname, address, contact channels. It starts to get complicated already with the address. Which addresses do we record? There are several address types for one company: address of the legal registration, address of the restaurant, address of the warehouse, etc. If we mix them up, the customer cannot be satisfied. After the basic identifiers we collect information about the business and about the person who has a METRO card. We collect as much information as possible at the first customer registration. After that we collect customer data through our sales force managers, at the customer reception in our stores or via call centers.

With regard to customer master data: Where is METRO already good at and where does it need to improve?

We are in a process of transformation from a pure customer/cardholder concept to a concept where we focus more on the person with their needs and wishes. What we need to develop is a new omnichannel customer strategy. We need to define the benefits our customers will have if they provide us with their data. The objective is to provide a better tailor-made offering and services that are truly relevant to them.

On the subject of quality: how does METRO ensure that customer data are correct and regularly updated?

This is a challenge associated with the fact that our offer and our communication must be relevant to our customers. If they are, the customer, who is the only one who knows when something changes, will keep their data updated and share them with us. New channels, such as the METRO Companion, offer us with further great opportunities. It allows us to communicate directly with customers, ask them for information and make relevant and personalised offers in a new way.

METRO’s Sales Force Managers are the reason why customers stay with METRO long term, because of the personal relationship and the trust they have built up with each other.

Andrea Schlossarek

Speaking of communication, METRO’s Sales Force Managers also have a central role in this…

Absolutely. They are the reason why customers stay with METRO long term, because of the personal relationship and the trust they have built up with each other. In the past, our sales force managers had no easy-to-use way of capturing customer data. We are currently working with the SAM team, which supports the sales force with an app, to create a data collection module. This way they could validate and enrich their part of the customer base.

Is Master Data also a cultural topic?

Yes, it requires a cultural change within the company. In the past, data was not seen as important, but as an administrative effort, something boring that an IT person had to enter into a system for a product to go through the checkout process. I think Master Data is a very sexy business topic today. It is sexy, because no Value Creation Plan (VCPs) at METRO will achieve its goals without the right data as an input. Last but not least, true master data management attacks silos between different teams and departments. The correct way to collect master data is really consolidated. It requires a team that monitors the data from start to finish.

Last but not least, let's take a look at the product master data. There are several GS1 initiatives dealing with this topic. What are they all about?

There are three initiatives of the global standardisation organization GS1 that have been triggered by Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and METRO was one of the companies leading them. The CEOs, that participate on CGF agreed that there has to be a dramatic change in the way suppliers and retailers exchange data. The first project demands that each product should carry a unique global ID, the so-called Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN). The second verifies this GTIN with six further attributes of products (name, image, brand, global product category, net weight/net content, country of sale) to ensure uniqueness. And the last project deals with attributes which would be mandatory for each product category and would be globally called the same – so called global data model. Attributes vary from product to product. An orange has different attributes than a t-shirt or can of tuna. Through this global standardisation, we will make product information exchange simpler, faster and cheaper.


Andrea Schlossarek, responsible for Master Data at METRO

About ... Andrea Schlossarek

Since 2015 Andrea Schlossarek is globally responsible for Master Data at METRO. Andrea is a lawyer by background, coming from Czech Republic. She had a short involvement on the European tax integration of CZ with EU at the Ministry of Finance of CZ, before she started her career in internal audit (mainly electricity and gas industry). She was 5 years with Ernst and Young performing business risk advisory. Andrea was member of the board of the Czech institute of internal auditors. She is with METRO since 2010 and before taking over the master data management she was leading departments in internal audit and performance improvement. Andrea is married and has three children.

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