Gary Brookshaw, Product Director at Intact, discusses the new ways for merchants to access product data in a digital world and how to leverage product data in your ERP system.
Managing the product data in your business software is a challenge. Even if you start with a clean, robust product data repository it can be a challenge to continually cleanse and maintain this data to ensure it is always up-to-date and accurate.
Merchants often rely on suppliers to provide them with product data, including specs and images, so when this falls short the integrity of the merchant’s product database gets compromised. The end result is that merchants are often left with product files containing huge variations in terms of the quality of the data.
Impact of poor quality data
Given the vast quantity of product lines merchants have access to, the complexity and effort required to manage a clean, robust product database has, in the past, been significant. Where merchants ignore the integrity of their product database it causes significant negative knock-on effects for their e-commerce, sales and trade counter operation as the lack of good quality images, poor product descriptions, the appearance of deleted product lines etc. all leads to confusion and a general lack of professionalism, which ultimately impacts customer relations.
However, for those working to avoid these issues by ensuring their product database is clean and up to date, there are huge levels of manual effort involved. Your commercial team may be spending a lot of their time updating your ERP software, e-commerce site and so on, and this is an exercise repeated by merchants all over the country.
In our opinion your team’s time could and should be better spent elsewhere. The manual, repetitive nature of this work lends itself to applying technology to address the issue.
A better way?
With a centrally maintained product data source in situ for merchants, the duplication of effort we are currently seeing across merchants up and down the country could be greatly reduced. The onus would shift towards suppliers to feed product data into a central database in a standardised format that can then be used to feed the product data file in your ERP software, your website and can also be readily used in marketing & print collateral.
Initiatives such as NMBS OnePlace highlight that easier access to centrally maintained, readily accessible merchant product data is a requirement.
The role of your ERP provider?
Merchant ERP providers, like Intact iQ, are working to ensure merchants can easily access trusted product data sources like NMBS OnePlace or other Product Information Management (PIM) solutions. By leveraging new technology, we can give merchants access to view live product catalogue information from within their ERP system.
That can include product specifications, images, links to the manufacturer’s website and more. This data doesn’t need to be synchronised so you can have ready access to vast quantities of supplier product data. It is easily searchable, always on and always up to date. In addition, you could easily create a new product for your ERP product file from the data sources you have access to.
Trade counter experience
With this level of data access, searching beyond your standard company product file can easily be facilitated in Intact iQ, with live links to relevant industry data sources just a click away. Products in the data sources can be immediately entered into a sales order as a back to back order ensuring your business doesn’t lose out on the sales opportunity and your customer doesn’t have to look elsewhere.
Accessing this data is as easy as shopping online for your sales team and effectively extends out your product range far beyond the capacity of your warehouse.
The business benefits
- One click access to extended product data and rich product data attributes for your sales operations;
- Expands your product range with minimal effort thus creating an endless aisle of choice;
- Eliminates the manual effort of syncing data files;
- Reduces the manual effort of maintaining product files;
- Easier for suppliers — update one source in an agreed standardised format;
- Easier for merchants;
- Easier for your end users;
- Result: increased customer satisfaction!
For more information on Intact and its range of services for merchants, go to: https://www.intactsoftware.com/