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Product information management requirement for multi-channel retail to succeed


In the field of retail, being multi-channeled is the current trend. Easy shopping is offered to the customer, whether through e-commerce or in a brick & mortar stores, and service should not end at the cash register. Successful multi-channel is apparent to the customer as a uniform, identifiable look of the store, and a high level of service, regardless of which channel is used for the transaction. So, what is required for multi-channel to succeed? Many things, such as processes which function together, and the right technology, but especially good-quality and correctly managed product information. But what is good and controlled product information?

1. Product information must be correct and encompassing

Customers want more exact product information, to support their purchasing decision. Encompassing product information is considered a part of good customer service. E-commerce offers an opportunity to share detailed product information, but the information must be correct. Conflicting or lacking product information does not build trust with the customer, and wrong information, at worst, can even be dangerous. Product information should even include completing products and product versions, which enable upsell.

In addition to traditional quality and materials information, customers are interested in a dazzling array of varied matters. Some purchase decisions may be finalized, for example, by the ecological feel, carbon footprint or the naturalness of products. In fact, product information should take various consumers interests into account. The Internet also offers alternatives to presenting the information. If a store advertises milk from a free-range cow, could the customer be offered a moving picture of a happy cow?

2. You must be able to combine product information

The store should not create everything themselves, but rather take advantage of information offered by manufacturers. To enable automated enrichment of product data, the information should be directly combinable with the store’s proprietary product information. In retail, unified product codes for the identification of products, such as EAN-13 are often used, with which products can be individualized in a trustworthy manner. When the quality of product information has been tended to, the combination of information is possible, and the successes of technical solutions for the enrichment of information are easier to achieve.

3. Product information must be open

For some reason, open product information has only been taken advantage of in a very limited way. I would personally be interested in seeing some stores courageously publishing their product information, in a manner where another instance could e.g. create a mobile application, to take advantage of the information shared by the store. The store could, of course, do it themselves, combining the physical store products with the broader product information offered online. By scanning the product’s QR code, the application could present its qualities in more detail or direct the customer to the e-commerce store, to be able to order the product to their home. It would also be great if the company would let their customers enrich their product information. One must still remember that not all product information is open: sales margins are something, which stores will most likely want to keep as solely their own information.

So, what is needed?

Multi-channel success requires high-quality product information and management. Complete information management always contains both the exact definition of information content as well as the identification of the processes using the information. In the definition, a decisions must be made of which information is important to company activities as well as what its quality requirements are. Additionally, the location of where the information is created and used is identified. Process recognition is important, to understand how information lives in the organization, and what the information quality-related risks are. Technical information can be managed in several different ways. More important than systems and technology, however, are people, who create and modify the information. They must be acquainted with the information management processes and they must also follow them. After this, all technical solutions are easier to realize.

The more information there is, the more a good and systematic master data management is needed. Wrong or lacking information can be a financial risk to the company. A quick way to begin the capture of information management is to analyze the quality of current data such as e.g. the uniformity of product information between various sales channels. Controlled information does not add to your grief, but rather, it increases your profits.