B2B data sharing: opportunities and risks


B2B data sharing: opportunities and risks

A workshop with international retailers and wholesalers

Within the EU, a new wave of data legislation is coming. That wave will include the EU Data Act, which aims to create a legislative framework for B2B and B2G data sharing. On 25 October, Eurocommerce and Deloitte organised a Data Workshop on this topic. During this hybrid event, a group of leading European retailers, wholesalers, and industry associations shared their needs, aspirations, and views regarding data sharing. This article gives a brief summary of the workshop and the key takeaways.

Data in all its forms is a key value driver in retail and wholesale today, with its complex technology-enabled shopping journeys. Data and AI improve consumer reach, enhance the customer journey, and optimise supply chain and fulfilment. On top of that, monetising data and insights is increasingly exploited as a business model. It is not hard to see why data sharing is a hot topic.

The EU Data Act

While companies continue to innovate, the regulatory context in the European Union is evolving. Next to the Open Data Act, a number of other acts apply, including the Digital Markets Act, the Digital Services Act, the Data Governance Act, and the topic of this article: the EU Data Act. The Data Act aims to create a legislative framework for B2B and B2G data sharing. Its goal is to make the EU the most attractive, most secure and most dynamic data-agile economy in the world. The EU is looking to regulate B2B data sharing and to create a number of data spaces for crucial sectors. In conjunction with the Data Act, an EU funding of ~ €4-6 billion has been proposed in infrastructure (interoperability) and tools.

For retailers and wholesalers, whose profitability and business model increasingly depend on data, any regulation regarding data sharing can be highly impactful. On the one hand, wider availability of data may enhance innovation and efficiencies in the value chain. On the other hand, additional regulation may threaten existing business models and limit competitiveness.

Data Workshop

Eurocommerce represents European retail and wholesale companies in its policy work regarding the Data Act. To that end, Eurocommerce and Deloitte (as a leading advisor in retail and distribution) came together and hosted a hybrid workshop. During this event, a group of leading European retailers, wholesalers, and industry associations shared their needs, desires, and views regarding data sharing.

The workshop was opened by Lasse Hamilton Heidemann (Chairman of the Internal Market, Digital, and Consumer Affairs Committee at EuroCommerce), and offered a diverse programme for the more than 40 participants from across Europe.

  • Panel discussions with five subject matter experts drawn from Eurocommerce’s ranks:
        o Frank Maessen (Proposition Manager Data at Bol.com)
        o Olivier Girard (Chief Data Officer at Auchan Retail International)
        o Christian Zaeske (Director Master Data Management at METRO AG)
        o Salla Franzén (Data and analytics area manager at IKEA Digital, Ingka        Group)
        o Farid Illikoud (Group Chief Information Security Officer at Decathlon)
  • A keynote on leading practices in AI, data and data sharing for retail by Pepijn van der Laan (Director Retail&Consumer Industry, and AI Lead at Deloitte Consulting)
  • An interview with Simone Pelkmans (Partner Food Law and Consumer Regulatory at Deloitte Legal) on benefits and risks of data sharing
  • Break-out sessions to discuss the aspirations and concerns of Eurocommerce members regarding data sharing and the Data Act

The workshop was jointly facilitated by Ilya Bruggeman (Director Digital, Single Market & Consumer Policy at Eurocommerce) and Pepijn van der Laan.

The key takeaways from the session are summarized below.

Retailers and wholesalers prioritise investments in data and AI across all aspects of their business

All participants saw data and AI at the core of their business and indicated that investments in data&AI are being made across the entire value chain.

The panelists shared inspiring war stories on topics ranging from syndicated product information to improved footprint traceability in their value chain; and from optimising last mile fulfilment to improved forecasting. Notably, in many cases examples were not just motivated by profit, but included benefits in sustainability and circularity. Also, all participants highlighted the need for high-quality fit-for-purpose data.

Data sharing: risks and opportunities

Naturally, there is already a fair amount of data sharing going on. And for many participants data monetisation is already an important business model - and one that is expanding in scope. As a consequence, participants identified both risks and opportunities.

During the panel discussions, the participants mainly focused on the positive examples, but during the break-outs, we als discussed concerns of members, for instance about competition rules and the role of payment service providers.

Future legislation should facilitate voluntary data sharing with proper safeguards and incentives

  • Participants recognise that standardisation and unification can create major industry-wide benefits. For instance, regulatory (and implementation) differences with respect to product information between countries can lead to significant complexity. Standardisation and unification could offer many opportunities, especially in the field of sustainability. Sufficient incentives would also help.
  • An common denominator was the demand for voluntary rather than mandatory data sharing. There is a keen awareness that data can be competitively sensitive in many different ways, which are not always evident beforehand. The participants were also concerned that mandatory data sharing may expose trade secrets and destroy business value that companies have worked hard for – particularly in innovative propositions.
  • Participants emphasised the need for safeguards with respect to the use of shared data, allowing use only for a limited purpose. They are concerned about potentially losing control as well as ownership over their own data.
  • When it comes to 3rd parties sharing their data with retailers, advertising data and payment data require better access. In these domains, the sentiment is that retailers have an information disadvantage that might damage their competitiveness and innovation.
  • One of the main concerns of the participants was costs: who will pay the costs of data sharing, how should costs be calculated, will sharing only benefit the tech companies who manage the data (vs. the retail sector paying the costs)?

Contact us

If you’d like to explore what the EU Data Act means for your organisation, feel free to connect with us. 

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