Simplifying the Complex Process of Data Integration, Part 4
5. Product information must be accessible by the whole organization. It can't be, “This is something the IT group needs,” “This is something the supply chain group needs,” “This is something the e-com or catalog marketing teams need.” Rodrigue cited two instances within fulfillment that are prime examples of this:
- a wrong shipping estimation on your e-commerce website caused by incorrect packing information leading to either lost sales or increased costs; and
- increased automation in the physical supply chain raising the impact and cost of bad product packaging information.
“Why worry about your product information supply chain," Rodrigue asked. "It's not about winning customers on the back end, [because] this is where you lose your customers. If a customer returns a product because the information isn't correct, it's not shipped correctly, or you charged too much or too little for freight, this is where your business can really bleed.”
Product returns often are penalties of poor product information. This is significant because returns are costly — not only are they paid for by the retailer, but they also trap a lot of inventory. That's inventory not making any money for the retailer, Rodrigue said.
Sears Canada has a flash messaging-type system that's sent when the company is seeing a high return rate or a number of customers complaining about a product. It takes the information from product reviews and questions and answers that are asked on the site and brings that data back to its on-boarding team to incorporate very quick, agile changes to product data going forward.
Rodrigue listed several reasons for excessive returns to help retailers avoid these mistakes in the future:
- products sold without required attachments or accessories;
- buying of multiple sizes or styles to try on or for testing;
- incorrect product specifications;
- wrong product depicted;
- unfounded product claims; and
- damages during shipping.