Fresh, quality data at Iceland Foods

To support the roll out of its loyalty card, Iceland needed to improve data quality in its single customer view. By implementing a new solution, it has been able to improve business and marketing performance and enhance customer service.

Iceland Foods is one of the top 10 grocery chains in the UK. Focusing on frozen foods, it offers quality products at low prices as well as strong customer service. It has more than 700 stores and a recent history of delivering double-digit growth and a turnover exceeding £1.8 billion.

For many years, Iceland has collected customer data at multiple touch-points. Stores collect data locally to enable home deliveries, while a contact centre gathers customer data for correspondence. Telesales and an online home shopping site – channels which have both since closed – also collected large volumes of customer data that is still available to Iceland today.

“We collect customer data in localised repositories which we merge, mostly for home delivery and direct marketing purposes, to our central customer data warehouse,” says Mark Pearson, information systems director at Iceland. “From 1999 until mid-2008, we applied basic, but vital data cleansing processes to handle simple postcode verification and de-duplication.”

Iceland Bonus Card
In October 2008, as a key component of its enhanced customer relationship strategy, the company planned to go nationwide with the Iceland Bonus Card, offering shoppers its “Win, Save and Deliver” benefits. In return for the Bonus Card benefits, customers allow Iceland to capture data about their store transactions and to conduct automated basket analysis.

Trials of the card had shown that its introduction increased store performance, check-out interaction and customer experience ratings. Executive sponsorship for the card was strong and a launch planned nationally.

Introducing the card would lead to a significant increase in customer data volumes and data processing. Iceland would need to capture customer data, cleanse it and match it with records in the customer data warehouse. It would then need to update those records to create a clean, current and accurate Single Customer View (SCV).

“We recognised that our existing and relatively simple data quality process needed to be improved to maximise the value of Iceland Bonus Card data,” says Pearson. “We were predicting a significant uplift in weekly Bonus Card registrations following on from the national launch. We determined that strong, smooth data quality processes were an absolute necessity.”

Selecting and implementing a solution
“Prior to launching the Bonus Card, we reviewed several of the leading data quality solutions as defined by Gartner Group,” says Laura Vost, a business systems manager at Iceland. “After extensive trials, we selected the Trillium Software System for its flexibility to use across our multiple data sets and technologies. We were also persuaded of the software’s suitability by its extensive functionality and ease-of-use and by the clear expertise of Trillium Software’s professional services consultants.”

Iceland particularly valued the extensive data quality rules already built into the solution allowing it to implement swiftly. The retailer noted the ease with which it could develop custom rules and apply them across the business through a single toolset, regardless of data sets, systems and database technologies. In addition, Trillium facilitated its model of collaboration between IT and the business on data quality.

“The data visualisation features within the data discovery and profiling tools support understanding and enable a consensus to be reached on the meaning of data, data fields, issues, rule definition changes and process improvements and the like,” says Pearson. “The system supports joint ownership and interest in data quality success.”

Since the launch, business and IT representatives have continued to meet regularly, using the tool to help them review data quality performance, processes and rules.

Increased matching, reduced duplicates
Going live in 2008, the PAF match rate increased initially by 9 per cent. Multiple instances of duplicates were also spotted and resolved. Within six months, further rule refinement delivered an additional 4 per cent match to PAF.

Iceland mails one of two types of Bonus Card welcome packs to all new applicants: one targeting existing home delivery customers and the other aimed at those who appear not to have used the service, a process requiring accurate identification of existing home delivery users.

In the four weeks following the launch of the Iceland Bonus Card, the company received a huge spike in registrations from stores which has since stabilised. More than 70 per cent of customers on Iceland’s customer database now hold a Bonus Card.

“In fact, the card has proven so popular, the level has surpassed the forecast and is climbing,” says Vost.

The card has been very effective in providing information not only about home delivery customers, but also on “shop and go” customers who take their shopping with them and were previously anonymous to the retailer’s marketing systems.

“Senior management, including our finance and marketing directors, receive a regular update of our current and targeted data quality rates from the business,” says Pearson. “The Board recognises that at Iceland Foods, good customer data improves business performance and they take an interest in data quality as a part of their overall governance duties.”

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