Data Matters Part 2: Making Data Actionable with Salesforce for Retail & Consumer Goods

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Cloud Insights and Innovation

Collecting business data without a way to act on it is like having fuel without an engine; you know it has the potential to be powerful, but you need a system to channel it.

According to Alteryx, only 16% of retail organizations consider themselves experts in harnessing their own data. The good news is, this means there’s ample opportunity for your business to get an edge in the competitive landscape by taking steps to make your data more actionable.

In Part I of this blog series, I explained how to set a strong foundation by unifying your various sources of data, prioritizing the data to focus on, and implementing tools to capture data reliably over time.

Once you have a foundation, how do you capitalize on all of this to make your data actionable? In short, you need to establish a reliable and consistent system to keep your data clean and organized in a logical structure.

When it comes to making any decision based on data, the golden rule is: “garbage in, garbage out.” If you are working with duplicate data, or an incomplete picture of true CLV (customer lifetime value), you will end up with an inefficient marketing program that’s unable to target your audience successfully.

Before acting on data, you must ensure the data you’re working with is clean, relevant, and organized in a way that makes it useful. Here’s what you need to consider to set up a reliable system to keep your business data clean and ready to act on.

Identify a System of Ownership for All Data

When data is coming from different sources and being fed into different systems for multiple teams to use, it’s easy to become uncertain of which data is the most up-to-date or accurate. If you can’t trust your data, you can’t act on it with confidence. To ensure you can rely on your data, it’s essential to choose a single source of truth for all of your business data. 

This goes beyond declaring that the master system for “Accounts” will be Salesforce or your ERP. Identifying a source of truth goes all the way down to the field level. Salesforce may own the account hierarchy, while your ERP is the owner of Address data and unique keys. 

Without mapping this in detail ahead of time, you’ll quickly end up back at square one as you attempt to identify the most up-to-date information for your business needs.

Integrate Your Systems 

In order to make your data actionable, you must take into account cross-departmental uses and context. That means integrating your systems is a must, and it’s very achievable with modern technology. Keeping siloed systems will prevent your business from being able to act on relevant, timely data with the big picture in mind.

Thanks to the best in class architecture that Salesforce provides, you can simplify integration by leveraging the standard out-of-the-box (OOB) connectors.  

As you can see in the diagram above, although Commerce, Service Cloud, and Marketing Cloud are all part of the Salesforce “Cloud” they exist in different ‘stacks’.  Salesforce, however has standardized how these systems talk together through native connectors — alleviating the need for custom integration and simplifying the implementation process.  

In cases where integration is required, such as connecting Salesforce to your Business Intelligence (BI) software or ERP, look for a best-in-class middleware tool like Mulesoft, Informatica Cloud, or Dell Boomi to facilitate the connection. These tools make it easier to maintain integrations, create ETL or Web Service flows through a UI, and to properly log errors or handle retries.

The end state of your system architecture can look something like this: 

Commerce Cloud 
a) StoreFronts
b) Order Management System (OMS) → Integration with AppExchange providers for shipping workflow integration

Sales Cloud → B2B business accounts and person accounts (Consumers)

Service Cloud → Case Management, Service Cloud Voice, Einstein Bots, Chat, WeChat

Platform → Community for store employees integrated with Point of Sale (POS)

Marketing Cloud → Marketing Cloud Connector → Effectively leveraging the connector goes beyond the initial setup. It’s imperative that data is organized in a way that simplify and support engagement. That’s why we work with clients to enable them to segment and execute targeted messages to each audience via proper data modeling and automation.
a) Transactional Emails
b) Email Studio, Mobile Studio, Ad Studio, Interaction Studio, Social Studio, and CDP
c) Pardot

Clean Up Your Data To Pave the Way to Success

Keep in mind that in order to get your data to a place where you can act on it with confidence, some amount of cleanup may be necessary to make amends for the past. You cannot make progress in solving data problems if you aren’t willing to address the state of your existing data. 

Data cleanup may sound daunting, but by leveraging big data technology with third-party services and libraries, it can actually be done very quickly from a technology standpoint.

Often, defining the business requirements for scenarios — such as determining which record wins or when to merge data elements (like multiple emails for the same customer) — can take more time than the actual execution of data cleanup. 

Capitalize on Salesforce’s Strengths to Maximize Your ROI

With your architecture established, your data cleaned up, and data governance rules enforced, how do you realize the actual ROI on your investment? 

The biggest mistake a business can make is to spend the time and resources to implement Salesforce only to use it at a surface level, sitting on many of the features that Salesforce has designed to drive business results. 

With your data foundation in place, use all that Salesforce offers to help your teams save time, increase efficiency and improve the success of marketing, sales and service efforts.

Here are just a handful of ways retail and consumer goods business should capitalize on Salesforce’s robust capabilities:

  • Leverage Salesforce as the system of engagement for your end-users. This allows you to collect and act on user data in one centralized place, making your outreach more effective toward generating deeper engagement.
  • Use Salesforce’s standard layouts to create a concise and efficient way to execute tasks. For many business uses, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel by creating a layout from scratch. If you can serve the purpose at hand with a standard layout, it frees up time to spend on more valuable tasks.
  • Automate workflows whenever possible, by using scheduled jobs to generate recurring tasks. Automating any recurring work saves manual effort and helps to reduce redundancy. For example, within Service Cloud you can leverage Macros to complete repetitive tasks like selecting an email template, sending an email to a customer, or updating a case status — all in a single click.  
  • Generate more engagement from your salespeople. Salesforce lives “outside” the area where Salespeople engage constantly.  Thus by using a tool like, you can push or collect important data directly through Slack or Teams. This can help encourage and motivate your sales team, by making it easier and faster for them to complete tasks, stay on track, and pursue each opportunity.  


The scenarios are endless, but the key is that by leveraging Salesforce as your system of engagement, you can capture the data you need to become a predictive company. With connected systems, clean data and a user interface (UI) built for end-users, your business users no longer face as many roadblocks to getting their jobs done.

Now, your organization can collect reliable activity data and use that data to inform broader decisions and models.

Turn Your Data Into Your Strength

Organizations across retail and consumer goods are struggling with the same data challenge, and are stuck at square one of planning. If you can harness the power of your data by giving it an engine, you can gain miles on the competition.

As technology is no longer a barrier to leveraging data to power business insights, there’s no more reason to leave your valuable data sitting there. It’s time to rev the engine and pull it out of the garage to drive your business forward. With the tips and guidance in this post series, you can achieve a realistic plan to set the foundation and execute on a data-driven architecture that closes the loop on activity data. 

The key to executing a flawless marketing and engagement program is implementing a scalable tool like Marketing Cloud and finding the right partner that puts data first to help you clean, organize, and act on the full potential of your business data. 

At AllCloud, we pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of not only Salesforce Core, but also Marketing Cloud and data management. With the combined expertise of our team, we deliver solutions for our customers that unlock all the potential for data-driven marketing programs, helping you reach and engage with your audiences in more ways than ever.  

Missed Part I of this series? Find it here to read about building a foundation for leveraging your data. To learn more about how we can help your retail and consumer goods business make your data actionable, contact our expert team.

Peter Nebel

CTO, Applications

Read more posts by Peter Nebel