Simplifying the Complex Process of Data Integration, Part 4
This week in the fourth and final part of our coverage of the recent All About ROI webinar, Good Data is Good Business!, sponsored by Stibo Systems, we conclude our recap of the presentation from Simon Rodrigue, associate vice president of e-commerce for Sears Canada. Specifically, we offer up steps four and five of Rodrigue's five critical steps to data integration.
(For part 1 of our multipart coverage of this webinar, and a recap of the presentation given by Timothy Holody, COO of Seta Corp., the parent company of multichannel jewelry marketer Palm Beach Jewelry, click here. For part 2, and a look at the first two critical steps to data integration from Rodrigue, click here. And for part 3 and a look at step three to effective data integration, click here. To access this webinar on-demand, click here.)
4. Simplify your tools to enable partner adoption. “Just like when you're developing a website, when you're developing a product collection tool, provide an incredibly easy-to-use user experience for those inputting the data, namely suppliers,” Rodrigue said. He went on to list the benefits of supplier integration with data:
- reduce time to market from weeks to days by orchestrating and making the on-boarding process transparent;
- increase on-boarding capacity by a factor of 10 by providing instant feedback to suppliers upon data submission;
- reduce supplier touchpoints from 10-plus to two (initiate item data collection and capture category-specific customer-facing information); and
- collect for multiple channels to increase consistency and avoid duplicate item on-boarding.
To make a tool that's easy to evaluate the data, change the data and manage the data, reduce supplier touchpoints as much as possible, Rodrigue said. When done right, suppliers are more willing to make that investment with your brand. And it doesn't matter whether the tool is web-based, Excel-based, email-based, feed-based, etc., as long it's as easy as possible to import data.
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.