#NRF2020: Clean data is absolutely vital to gaining insights

All retailers have masses of data and are increasingly using it for gaining insights but they can often overlook the value of investing in the infrastructure that ensures they are using clean data.

Speaking at Retail’s Big Show, organised by the National Retail Federation (NRF), Jeff Weiser, chief marketing officer at Shopify, said it is paramount both that the quality of the data is good and that it is in a clean format: “People overstate the analysis element with data and underestimate the plumbing. The data plumbing is just as important. Connecting the pipes can be harder than writing the algorithms.”

For Becky Gebhardt, chief marketing officer at PopSockets, her time in a former role at Lands’ End involved investment in data cleaning, which was part of a culture change within the company that also involved recruiting data scientists. This was very different to her work at new retail brand PopSockets, which is struggling to understand exactly who its customer is.

This highlights how data is used in fundamentally different ways by each retailer. For Scott Kelliher, head of brand advertising and partnerships at eBay, there are even changes in how it is used across each of eBay’s stakeholders - the end-consumers, the buyers, and also the seller community.

“The data signals [for actions] are very different for each group,” he says, while also adding that none of this would have any value without the data being built on a solid infrastructure: “You have to build foundations of data in a form that can be scaled. The ability to make sure you can get to the data and that it is also scaleable is vital.”