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The Role of Master Data Management in Retail Marketing: Boosting Sales and Loyalty

Garments hanging in a clothing store. Some garments have red markdown labels. Photo by Photo by Artem Beliaikin,

By Katie Joll

Retailers are constantly looking for better ways to boost sales and increase customer loyalty. Survey data indicates that 73% of companies rely more on their current customers than pursuing new ones. This makes sense when you consider that increasing customer retention by just 5% can lead to profit increases of 25% to 95%, according to ReSci (2021, March 17).

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The big question for retailers is, what can be done to increase customer retention, boost loyalty, and drive more sales?

There’s an important asset that all retailers have, yet few are utilizing well; customer and market data. In fact, retailers are typically lagging behind other sectors when it comes to using data effectively. Why? The retail companies are often challenged by having many disparate sources of data and no good system for managing that data to get a clear overall picture. The data problem is huge, with one Gartner survey finding that poor data quality costs organizations an average of $15 million per year.

The Importance of Master Data Management for Retail

Master Data Management (MDM) is an information management discipline that seeks to help retailers make sense of their data and gain complete, accurate insights. MDM pulls together data from separate channels and sources to create a “single source of truth.”

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The significance for retail marketing, sales, and customer loyalty is that retailers can manage their data more effectively, getting a broad, reliable view over key datasets. For example, to understand what customers want, you need to know their preferences and behaviors, no matter which touchpoints they use to interact with the company. Many retailers still have disconnects between their brick-and-mortar operations and online stores, impacting the customer experience on each.

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MDM helps retailers to clean up data quality and accuracy. This is vital when you consider that an Experian Data Quality survey revealed that 94% of businesses suspect that their customer and prospect data might be inaccurate in some way. (Source: Experian Data Quality). Additionally, 75% of businesses that improved their data quality in the last year exceeded their annual objectives in some way.

The Impact of MDM on Retail Sales

MDM can impact retail sales in several important ways. Firstly, retailers gain enhanced data quality, allowing them to glean more accurate customer insights. For example, retailers can learn more about the behaviors and preferences of customers, especially in omnichannel environments. Getting rid of data silos to provide a single source of truth helps staff in all areas of the business to see complete information on their customers.

An advantage of better customer insights is that retailers can leverage that information to create accurate customer segments and more effectively target their messaging. This can lead to better optimization of sales opportunities, such as offering cross-sells or upsells that appeal to the customer. In fact, the Aberdeen Group found that companies using MDM are able to achieve a 15% increase in cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

Another key advantage of improved data insights is the ability to better personalize the customer experience. This matters because 33% of consumers will abandon a brand if it lacks personalization. According to Infosys, personalized marketing campaigns result in a 19% increase in sales. Further, an Accenture study found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations.

Red Wing Shoes is an example of a retail brand whose strategy is centered around staying close to their customers and offering a level of service and expertise that is unmatched in the industry. With multiple products, locations, and sales channels, they wanted a 360- degree view of their data so they could offer an even better customer experience. Red Wing Shoes implemented Semarchy xDM as their MDM solution and are now moving forward with more innovative ways to optimize their data use. Some key benefits have included improved customer experience, greater operational efficiency, and ROI in terms of customer loyalty and sales growth.

Building Customer Loyalty with MDM

Customer loyalty is highly prized in the retail sector as repeat business tends to be much easier and cheaper to get than new customers. For retailers wanting to build customer loyalty and reduce churn, improving customer experiences isare at the top of the list.

Fifty percent will switch to a competitor after one bad experience. That figure grows to 80% if they have more than one bad experience. MDM can help retailers to improve the overall customer experience in a few of ways, for example:

  • By understanding customer preferences and behaviors, retailers can better cater to those needs and deliver the products and services customers want.
  • Retailers can improve customer satisfaction by offering more personalized interactions. In fact, 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience, and personalization factors heavily in what people consider to be a great experience.

Another key area retailers can enhance with MDM is their customer loyalty programs. For example, studies have found that customers expect to be rewarded for every purchase when they join a loyalty program, but in practice, this doesn’t always happen across sales channels. Enhanced data insights help brands to identify every opportunity to reward customers and to offer loyalty programs that are meaningful to them.

Best Practices for MDM in Retail Marketing

MDM is a big project for any retailer, but the resulting high-quality data can really pay off. In order to make the most of implementing an MDM program, retailers should follow a few best practices.

Data governance and data quality management

A strong data governance program goes hand in hand with a successful MDM program. Data governance involves the processes, standards, metrics, policies, and roles that ensure compliance and effective data management. The goal is high-quality data, as well as compliance with internal and regulatory requirements for data security and integrity.

Integration of MDM with marketing technologies

Your retail master data management software should integrate with your marketing technologies to consolidate data and present it in a way that directs action by marketing teams. This also allows you to direct your marketing more granularly with better customer targeting and segmentation. For example, your MDM solution can integrate with your CRM and you can set up useful automations based on data analysis.

Ensure compliance and data security

Retailers have tended to have free-reign over the data they collected, although Retailer’s Association best practices suggest that data should only be used where it is beneficial to customers and businesses. Data privacy laws are predicted to reshape retail and it is more and more imperative that retailers prioritize data security and compliance. A good MDM solution helps retailers to ensure they comply with data security laws and industry standards.

Get stakeholder buy-in across the organization

Retailers with legacy systems often have a heavy reliance on IT for their data needs. For successful MDM implementation, it’s important that data is seen as a business-wide priority, not just the domain of IT. Stakeholder buy-in across leadership and different departments should be obtained early so that new data policies and practices are successfully implemented with a collaborative approach.


Master Data Management is the future of retail. It’s an excellent system for helping retailers to gain insights that help to boost sales and customer loyalty.

MDM is also a critical player in future trends and innovations that are emerging in the retail sector. For example, predictive analytics and personalization at-scale are made possible with an MDM solution in place, as well as omni-channel marketing.

MDM can bring significant competitive advantages for retailers. If you’re ready to start your MDM journey, Semarchy has a robust solution for retailers with xDM. To learn more about data management for retail, download our ebook here.