Powering distributor success with master data management


Wholesale distributors are masters of product inventory management and an important link in the global supply chain. But in today’s digital age, success also depends on whether distributors can take charge of another type of inventory – the vast volume of critical data they have about their suppliers, customers, products, and other business entities.

The difficulty is that this data often resides across multiple systems with varying degrees of accuracy, consistency, and availability. When data is siloed in this way, it can become overwhelming to manage and significantly impacts the efficiency and reliability of business processes and decision-making.

A robust data integrity strategy helps provide the ability to manage a central repository of reliable, up-to-date master data consolidated across all enterprise applications, supported by data quality and governance. Without an effective plan in place, distributors will often face chaos instead of commerce. But when high-integrity data is well-harnessed, it can be the lifeblood of the organisation – flowing throughout the enterprise to drive intelligence, innovation, and growth.

Why multi-domain master data management (MDM) is important for distributors

With commerce becoming more digitised than ever before, there is a new level of urgency in wholesale distribution. Digital commerce has rapidly become the norm and the preferred way to complete business-to-business (B2B) purchases. The convenience of e-commerce often has manufacturers and retailers bypassing the distribution channel and doing business directly with consumers, meaning customers expect the suppliers they purchase from to understand their individual preferences and needs.

To meet the changing needs of the market, savvy distributors are focusing on cleaning, organising, and centralising their master files of dates, names, addresses, and other attributes. This builds a comprehensive view of master data that can be leveraged across different departments and processes. Multi-domain MDM is an essential element of data integrity, empowering organisations with opportunities for cross-domain intelligence, and the ability to identify trends or gaps more easily.

The benefits of multi-domain MDM

The past few years have tested the grit of distributors, with shipping backlogs, supply shortages, and ground transportation delays. In addition, geopolitical tensions, tariffs, and natural disasters, have caused further challenges amongst distributors when it comes to effectively managing inventory.

This has led to many attempting to build resilient operations by implementing business process management capabilities that not only help mitigate risks, but also allow products to move across the world more sustainably. There are three important ways in which multi-domain MDM can help organisations to better adapt to unprecedented changes in supply and demand:

1. Enhanced supplier collaboration

The supplier data domain helps distributors manage data related to the suppliers themselves, which improves supplier scorecards, performance monitoring, and product availability. By improving collaboration, distributors are better positioned to support suppliers that do not have their own large marketing teams. Distributors can quickly pivot to help a supplier that may need to sell excess products or create a bespoke, go-to-market strategy for a new product.

2. Improved insights with location data

 In real estate, as the expression goes, three things matter: location, location, location. Location is also fundamental in supply chain management. Keeping track of data by location is crucial for distributors to continue meeting customer demand. What customers want more than anything is visibility into when they’ll get their orders. Location data can also help suppliers to navigate supply chain challenges and respond quickly to product recalls.

3. A proactive approach with asset data

Distributors can benefit from an asset data domain to manage information around physical assets, such as equipment and delivery trucks, as well as intangible assets, such as building leases. Maintaining asset data makes it easier to stay on top of time-based renewals and maintenance requirements, while ensuring safety standards are prioritised. Only distributors with a robust logistics network, including transportation and warehousing, can ensure uninterrupted product availability.

Driving success with multi-domain MDM

Effective multi-domain MDM is a key factor across many digital initiatives and ensures distributor success across a variety of industries. For example, in the food and beverage sector, distributors can stay compliant with food safety standards by maintaining accurate records for multiple processes, including hazard analyses, as well as recall management policies. In consumer goods, trusted data can be leveraged to create personalised offers, brand messaging, and omnichannel experiences.

With a unified view of customer data, distributors can be confident that their data is up to date across all touchpoints. These examples demonstrate that multi-domain MDM helps wholesale distributors organise around customers, anticipate their needs in the future, and manage against external forces and pressures.

Essentially, harnessing the power of data can make supply chains more efficient and agile. While some may struggle to keep up with manual processes and outdated back-office systems, others will leap ahead of the competition by adopting multi-domain MDM as part of their overall data integrity strategy. By cleverly combining products, customers, assets, and location-specific information, organisations can leverage contextual data for success.