The Dead End in Product Information Management: Your Supplier Portal

There is a tendency when deploying Product Information Management (PIM) solutions, that you may want to add a portal for your trading partners:

  • Manufacturers may have a customer portal where their downstream re-sellers can fetch the nicely arranged product information that is the result of their PIM implementation.
  • As a merchant, you could have a supplier portal where your upstream suppliers can deliver their information nicely arranged according to your product information standards in your PIM implementation.

Dead End SignHowever, this is a dead end for both manufacturers and merchants, because:

  • Manufacturers and you as a merchant probably follow different standards, so one must obey to the other. The result is that one side will have a lot of manual and costly work to do to obey the strongest trading partner. Only a few will be the strongest all time.
  • If all manufacturers have a customer portal and all merchants have a supplier portal everyone will be waiting for the other and no product information will flow in the supply chains.

This topic was discussed in the post PIM Supplier Portals: Are They Good or Bad?

If you want to learn about the better solution than – or supplement to – a supplier portal, please get in contact here:

How Wholesalers and Dealers of Building Materials can Improve Product Information Efficiency

MaterialsBuilding materials is a very diverse product group. As a wholesaler or dealer, you will have to manage many different attributes and digital assets depending on which product classification we are talking about.

Getting these data from a diverse crowd of suppliers is a hard job. You may have a spreadsheet for each product group where you require data from your suppliers, but this means a lot of follow up and work in putting the data into your system. You may have a supplier portal, but suppliers are probably reluctant to use it, because they cannot deal with hundreds of different supplier portals from you and all the other wholesalers and dealers possibly across many countries. In the same way that you are not happy about if you must fetch data from hundreds of different customer portals provided by manufacturers and other brand owners.

This also means that even if you can handle the logistics, you must limit your regular assortment of products and therefore often deal with special ad hoc products when they are needed to form a complete range of products asked for by your customers for a given building project. Handling of “specials” is a huge burden and the data gathering must usually be repeated if the product turns up again.

At Product Data Lake we have developed a solution to these challenges. It is a cloud service where your suppliers can provide product information in their way and you can pull the information in the way that fits your taxonomy, structure and format.

 

How Merchants Can Sell More and Reduce Costs

In a data driven world being the best at receiving product information from your suppliers is a winning formula.

You will sell more if you have the most complete, accurate and timely product information in front of your online customers when they make self-service buying decisions.

You will reduce costs if  you can pull product information in one uniform way and let your suppliers push it in their many ways. Hereby you can automate the processes,  avoid errors and reduce product returns.

You will also be able to manage a broader product range by turning ad hoc products into a regular product in your assortment with minimal extra costs.

Our solution using emerging technologies within Product Data Lake will make you be easy to do business with in the eyes of your suppliers and make your product information transform into a powerful weapon in the quest for winning more online market share.

The people who may buy your product range deserves to know all about it and wants to get that information when making the buying decision. Remember: 81 % of visitors will leave a web-shop with incomplete product information.

Downstream sell more reduce costs

 

How to end the standoff with your suppliers

Who should have the burden of lifting product information as your suppliers have it to the way it is presented at the digital point-of-sales provided by you? Often this seems to be stalled in a standoff as described in the post Passive vs Active Product Information Exchange.

Using spreadsheets

Most companies participating in cross company supply chains use spreadsheets for exchanging product data. Doing that is very cumbersome, error-prone and does in most cases not provide the needed data quality for getting self-service ready product data from your suppliers.

The most common way of using spreadsheets for this is that you as a merchant gives each of your suppliers a spreadsheet with columns of attributes based on your taxonomy to be filled out. As a supplier, they will typically be tasked with filling in a different spreadsheet from each of their re-sellers. This is very inefficient seen from a supplier perspective.

Deploying customer (and supplier) portals for product information

There is a tendency when deploying Product Information Management (PIM) solutions, that you may want to add a portal for your trading partners:

  • If you are a manufacturer, you could have a customer portal where your downstream re-sellers can fetch the nicely arranged product information that is the result of your PIM implementation.
  • If you are a merchant, you could have a supplier portal where your upstream suppliers can deliver their information nicely arranged according to your product information standards in your PIM implementation.

This is a death trap for both manufacturers and merchants, because:

  • As a trading manufacturer and merchant, you probably follow different standards, so one must obey to the other. The result is that one side will have a lot of manual and costly work to do to obey the strongest trading partner. Only a few will be the strongest all time.
  • If all manufacturers have a customer portal and all merchants have a supplier portal everyone will be waiting for the other and no product information will flow in the supply chains.

Standoff downstream

At Product Data Lake we offer merchants and suppliers an honorable way out of this standoff by offering Product Data Syndication Freedom.

 

A Different End-to-End Solution for Product Information Management (PIM)

The term End-to-End is used a lot in marketing jargon. Now, I will jump on that wagon too.

In reality, no solution will be an End-to-End solution for all your business needs. Therefore, my take will merely be to cast some light on an End-to-End need for which there are only very scattered solutions today.

If we look at Product Information Management (PIM) there are many good solutions for taking care of the End-to-End needs within your organisation. The aim is to gather the product information that exist within your organisation in various silos, have one trusted place for all this information and being able to publish this information in a consistent way across all channels – the omnichannel theme.

However, product information does in many cases not live just within your organization. In most cases, it lives in a business ecosystem of manufacturers, distributors, retailers and large end users.

Therefore we need an End-to-End solution for product information that encompasses the path from manufacturers over distributors to retailers and large end users and in some cases the way back.

If you are a distributor or retailer, you can use the Product Data Pull service to achieve tangible business outcomes through:

  • Having complete, accurate and timely product information in front of your customers. You will sell more.
  • Having a fast and seamless flow of product information from your upstream trading partners. You will reduce costs.

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