3 Major Problems with Having Data Silos — and How to Address Them

The popular line, “data is the new oil” has been circulating in the tech world for quite some now, and for good reason: there is a lot of truth to it. Data can certainly be incredibly valuable — but there’s a catch. 

Raw data by itself isn’t useful. To extract true value out of all that information, you need the ability to analyze your data and generate insights. 

One of the biggest hurdles preventing retailers from doing just that is having siloed data. When information such as sales data, stock levels, and customer details all live on separate platforms, it’s much harder to make sense out of all the information at your fingertips. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to address and overcome data silos. And to shed light on how you can do it, we caught up with Mike Canevaro, senior vice president of business development at Fobi, a global leader in providing real-time data analytics through artificial intelligence. 

Mike manages all of the company’s relationships worldwide, and he’s worked with a number of retailers struggling with data silos. 

Have a look at what he has to say. 

Why data silos happen: outdated tech and lack of integrations

First things first. How do you end up with data silos to begin with? According to Mike, some of the common reasons include using outdated technology or leveraging apps that don’t integrate with each other. 

“One reason why retailers have siloed data is when they use legacy platforms for their point of sale, which either collect very little or very limited amount of data.”

He continues, “You’ve also got silos around your CRM, as there’s inherent data that comes with building a customer base and staying in touch with them.” 

“Then the third — yet probably biggest data silo — is around ecommerce, when retailers have a separate ecommerce platform from their POS.” 

“What you end up with are silos where data all have different formats, and there’s no real way to unify the online and offline information.”

The challenges with data silos

Having siloed data leads to a host of challenges that curb your retail success. Let’s look at them in more detail below. 

You can’t fully get to know your customers

Data silos prevent you from fully understanding your customers. 

“One of the challenges of disconnected data is you don’t have good insight into shopper behaviors, such as their likes and dislikes. When you have disparate sets of data or data silos around from various sources and in different formatting, it’s hard to really get a true visual or a true understanding of consumer behaviors.”

All that curbs your ability to figure out how effective your marketing is and what you can do to connect better with shoppers. 

Inability to go omnichannel

You can’t go omnichannel when retail and customer information are scattered all over the place. This is primarily because being there for shoppers across multiple channels requires real-time data. 

As Mike puts it, “true omnichannel is delivered with real time data. If you don’t have up-to-the-minute information, you can’t unify those data silos that we talked about, then what you’re stuck with is only part of a picture.”

He adds, “This is where Fobi comes in because we collect data at the point of sale and we’re collecting transaction data in the moment, as the sale is happening.” 

“This allows us to do in the moment engagement and omnichannel marketing with our own platforms. And it allows our customers to take that live real-time in the moment data and make the decisions in their other external marketing channels.”

Inefficient operations

Finally, data silos prevent you from making well-informed operational decisions. 

“The operational efficiencies that drive from understanding what’s happening at the point of sale is critical to running any retail business,” says Mike. 

When you don’t have a system that tracks point of sale transactions, inventory, pricing, discounts, and other metrics, it’s much more difficult to forecast demand, price your products, or iron out in-store promotions.

Addressing data silos

There’s no one best way to fix data silos, as the right course of action depends on the retailer. That being said, the end goal is to get to “a place of unifying commerce points.”

According to Mike, retailers need “the ability to take ecommerce transactions that are occurring on one platform, retail transactions that are occurring in-store, and unify that information.”

“For the larger format retailers and even big enterprise retailers, there’s still no true kind of unification of the data that’s coming from the transactions, the CRM, and the marketing pieces,” he adds. 

Mike says that once you can bring together all those commerce points, you’ll be much more informed in the actions that you take. 

Overcoming data silos also enables you to get to know your customers better. 

“One of the things that we talk about at Fobi is helping retailers move from unknown customers to known customers.”

“By collecting all of that data and matching that information back to loyalty programs, or known users, you can target your marketing more efficiently. You can target what’s on your store shelves more effectively. You can build up a better and more robust pricing model within your stores of products that are selling and not selling and so forth.”

Solving data silos in multi-store retail and franchises

The benefits of unified data are even more pronounced for multi-store retailers and franchises. 

According to Mike, a lot of these retailers — specifically franchisors and those working at the corporate office — lack visibility down the supply chain. 

“They don’t always see how much product has been sold or how much product is sitting on shelves in the back,” he explains.

“With Fobi, that information is reported back up to the franchise owner. What we do is we provide insights all the way downstream in the franchise model. So you’ve got individual stores or store groups that actually report into our platform. And then we aggregate all of that data up to the franchisor level.”

In doing so, franchisors have real-time data on what’s selling and what isn’t, which gives them the ability to ensure that items sold in stores are priced correctly and resonate with the local market. 

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Fobi makes managing and analyzing your business performance easier by consolidating data across multiple Vend accounts alongside relevant external and historical data. Your teams can spend less time exporting and merging data, and more time scaling and growing the business.

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How one retailer overcame data silos

Fobi is used by a number of multi-store retailers that have transformed how they handle their data. 

One example is The Wild Bird Center, which runs a number of stores across the United States. 

According to Mike, Wild Bird used Fobi to match information in their legacy systems and improved the categorization of their data to unlock more visibility into their inventory and customers.

“We’ve been able to get them in there through Vend. We plugged their system together and brought new capabilities from a data reporting perspective. Wild Bird has new insights into the performance of different categories as well as the loyalty and membership side of things. Then, they matched those transactions back to loyalty, to get a 360-degree view of their business and customers.”

Getting started with Vend and Fobi

If you’re struggling with siloed data in your retail business, Vend and Fobi can help you unify all your commerce points. 

The good news? The process is incredibly simple. 

“We actually showcase our product in the Vend marketplace,” says Mike. 

“You select our application within the marketplace, and we handle it from there. Fobi and Vend are linked together, and the process runs in the background so you can just go about running your business.”

“We’re also the first company to integrate with Vend’s automated billing API. So, it all bills through Vend and you won’t have to worry about juggling multiple technology vendors.”

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Ready to get started with Fobi? Get in touch with the team below.

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About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.