The mountain of data accumulated by companies – also known as “big data” – is becoming ever larger and more opaque. And across all sectors, the task of evaluating these data is becoming increasingly important. If the facts and figures collected fall into the right hands, they can be used to conduct detailed analyses of current situations and existing processes. Even to accurately predict future developments. In her role as International Business Analyst, Erika Schuh is SPORT 2000’s first port of call with regard to data management, supporting the international sports retailer and all its members when it comes to compiling surveys and evaluating data. Hers is a discipline that the retail sector can no longer do without. She explains: “Every company needs to have functioning data management processes in place. It is not enough to simply collect and possess data. Rather, to be able to put those data to effective use, they need to be structured and prepared – not only logically but also qualitatively.”
Success through data management
To work efficiently, stores (both brick-and-mortar and online) need to use strategic information management because it is the only way of recording customer behaviour in detail and responding quickly to decisions regarding product ranges. Correctly applied, strategic information management can give a company a clear advantage over competitors.
Challenge: Data management in the sports retail sector
Data management in the sports retail sector is different to that in the regular retail sector. The availability of POS data is still an area with many weaknesses. “The sports retail sector uses various different financial systems. This gives rise to the challenge of harmonising the data in such a way as to render them truly comparable and analysable,” explains Schuh, highlighting the difficult environment in the sector. Working together with the sector and with other associations, SPORT 2000 strives to achieve greater harmonisation. “This problem is one that concerns all stakeholders in the sports retail sector. We are therefore working together with others to standardise the data we collect, for example by consistently updating the product classifications in the FEDAS product classification key. We are also collaborating on further developing the PRICAT price and catalogue data register,” says Schuh, drawing attention to the successful collaboration taking place not only internationally, but also nationally:
“Some SPORT 2000 countries engage in direct data exchange with the sector, for example to exchange master data pertaining to products as well as e-commerce content.”
Data: International support for SPORT 2000 countries
As an international umbrella organisation, SPORT 2000 International supports its member countries with data management. In addition to collecting and analysing data, Erika Schuh also compiles reports and provides members with current international studies. The data that the countries share with the association ultimately benefit everyone. “By analysing the available data, we can create a benchmark that all countries can align and compare themselves with. Our big goal for the future is to set up a common Sport 2000 database, in which to consolidate and analyse the POS data of all member countries. This will enable us to recognise trends early, avoid risks and provide the SPORT 2000 countries with timely support,” says Schuh, explaining the benefits of a common database. The current project will also be of great value to the sector in that it is set to provide collective insights into the sale of products on an international level.
Data privacy: Companies hold responsibility
Data privacy is playing an ever more significant role in the collection and processing of data. This has resulted in companies becoming subject to legal regulations pertaining to work with data. “We consider data privacy to be an important topic that must be taken seriously. As a company, we are largely responsible for what happens to the data we collect – especially where personal data is concerned. In this regard, SPORT 2000 International has entered into a data usage agreement with all its members, each of which are all obliged to accept the provisions of the agreement, also taking into account the pertinent country’s own data protection laws,” Schuh explains, underlining the importance that SPORT 2000 attaches to data protection.
Looking into the future
Developments within the data management field are advancing rapidly, with the power of data set to continue growing in the coming years. Erika Schuh believes that, in the future, the focus of data will be on “predictive analytics” and the automation of data: “The goal will be to develop self-learning algorithms that detect abnormal trends and developments as early as possible, facilitating timely responses and countermeasures. The current Covid-19 situation shows us how difficult it is to predict the future. Data management can help us in this regard. By evaluating a broad spectrum of KPIs affecting our business, for example, it enables us to better plan for and respond to such situations in the future.
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