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3 October 2023

data governance retail

Retail data governance: Best practices

Exceptional customer experiences are a hallmark of successful retailers – It can help ensure stores provide curated recommendations, deliver unique shopping experiences, and protect and secure personal data.

Many retailers know that data is the key to growing revenue, retaining customers, and maintaining a competitive edge. But too often, data challenges impede their efforts and derail the best of intentions. Data silos trap information in disparate systems, making it difficult to gain a holistic view of customer behavior, shopping trends, and inventory levels. Poor data quality leads to ineffective campaigns and low conversion rates, and failure to comply with regulations such as GDPR and CCPA leads to the mismanagement of data privacy and data ownership, or worse, a data breach.

Data governance: The secret to retail success

Successful retailers are taking a different approach to data management by employing data governance to gain value from their data. Not only does it help retailers deliver personalized shopping experiences, but data governance also ensures they are appropriately protecting their data, complying with regulations, and optimizing their inventory and supply chains.

By implementing data governance, retailers can:

  • Improve data quality
  • Make more confident decisions
  • Define and enforce the policies needed for regulatory compliance and data security
  • Manage risks, avoid penalties, and prevent reputational damage
  • Boost operational efficiency and cross-organizational collaboration

Implementing data governance requires retailers to embrace data governance best practices and establish a framework that includes data quality standards, compliance measures, and defined organizational responsibilities. By doing so, retailers have the structure and guidance in place to launch a successful data governance initiative.

Implementing data governance: A step-by-step guide for retailers

We know that “implementing data governance” sounds intimidating, especially for busy retailers juggling competing priorities such as growing their revenue, delivering amazing experiences, and improving customer loyalty and retention.

The good news is that data governance is an enabler for retailers. When retailers implement data governance, they launch personalized campaigns that target the right buyers with the right item at the right time. They gain better visibility into untapped revenue opportunities. And they make better, more informed decisions that drive new strategies and help them maintain a competitive edge.

To get started with data governance, we recommend following these five steps.

1. Assess organizational needs & readiness

Before embarking on a full-scale data governance implementation, it’s important to first determine your organization’s readiness. Start by conducting a thorough assessment of your current data management practices, processes, and culture. Then, identify and document gaps, challenges, and areas that need improvement.

Be candid in your assessment as it will help you to understand where your data management processes are strong – and where they are not. It will also provide insight into the readiness of your stakeholders, and their willingness to embrace the initiative and commit resources to support it.

The outcome of this assessment will also highlight the most critical needs for the organization, which will help you prioritize your implementation plan so you can quickly demonstrate quick wins and ROI. For example, some retailers prioritize data quality so they can improve the effectiveness and conversion of their campaigns, while others focus first on regulatory compliance and the protection of customers’ personal data. There is no right or wrong place to start. What’s important is that you identify the areas of greatest need for your organization and select the one that aligns best with your business goals.

2. Design & develop a data governance framework

A data governance framework defines the roles, responsibilities, decision-making processes, policies, procedures, and standards that ensure organizational consistency and alignment.

Defining the roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes needed across the organization is a good first step when implementing data governance. Appoint data stewards and data owners, and consider establishing a data governance council or committee to oversee the initiative.

Data governance frameworks also define the processes and standards for how the organization classifies, manages, and stores data, as well as the policies and procedures to ensure the organization remains compliant with regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and others. Defining these processes, policies, procedures, and standards is a critical step to ensure consistency and alignment across the organization.

Finally, good data governance frameworks also consider change management, including the communications, training plans, coaching, and support that stakeholders will need for the initiative to be a success.

3. Integrate data governance practices with retail data sources

Once you have your data governance framework in place, the next step is to integrate your governance practices with your retail data sources. Retail data comes from a myriad of sources including point-of-sale systems, online orders, marketing automation, inventory management systems, surveys, referrals, and many more. Many times, this data remains trapped in a data silo, making it difficult for retailers to gain a holistic view of their customers, inventory, and sales.

Data knowledge catalogs are the best way to support the implementation of your retail governance practices – They help retailers take control of their data and accelerate data governance success. Data knowledge catalogs provide a one-stop shop with a customizable repository for storing accurate, up-to-date data that retailers can use to make better decisions and stay one (or more!) steps ahead of the competition. They also include the key capabilities needed to support the initiative such as a Business Glossary, data lineage tracking, data visualization tools, and natural language search.

By integrating governance practices with your data sources using a data knowledge catalog, retailers can improve visibility into all aspects of their business. For example, visualizations make it easy to spot supply chain issues that could negatively impact customer fulfillment and share those insights with others across the organization. Additionally, natural language search capabilities provide easy access to the business’ data library so users can analyze the results of promotional campaigns, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to improve their effectiveness in the future.

Having this level of transparency in all your data and sources within a data knowledge catalog also helps organizations to better manage and protect data to comply with regulations.

4. Train & onboard key stakeholders

It goes without saying that securing buy-in from stakeholders is critical to your success – A surefire way to do that is by thoughtfully training and onboarding them to your initiative and the tools that support it.

Successful onboarding and training require clear and consistent communication across the business. It fosters greater collaboration and trust across the organization and ensures that executives, business leaders, business users, and IT are informed on the initiative and prepared for the policy, process, and technology changes coming their way.

5. Monitor progress & continuous improvement

Data governance is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and evaluation. By taking into account feedback, evolving business needs, and regulatory changes, retailers can assess how best to refine and improve their programs. For example, retailers may discover they need to adapt their data governance framework to include new sources, technologies, or business requirements.

By embracing a culture of continuous improvement, retailers can ensure their data governance initiatives remain relevant and continue to positively impact the business.


Implementing data governance is a transformative strategy for retailers. Not only will it help retailers deliver tailored shopping experiences, increase sales, and boost customer loyalty and retention, but data governance also ensures that retailers remain compliant in the ever-changing, ever-growing environment of increased regulatory pressure. Using a data governance framework supported by a data knowledge catalog, retailers can grow their business and drive increased loyalty with their customers.

Interested in learning even more about using your data as an asset to achieve higher levels of data governance and data quality? Book a demo today to get started on your organization’s journey to complete data lifecycle management with DataGalaxy!

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