It’s getting late, you’re trying to finish your weekly online food shop, when you come across a product with no image and no description.
What happens next? Two-thirds of us will not risk buying this item. One-third won’t even choose a substitute. And all of us will be dissatisfied, which is bad news for the retailer but also has consequences right the way through the supply chain.
It gets worse. Failure by retailers to display full, correct product details such as nutritional values, price per kilo, and place of origin can lead to considerable fines for non-compliance.
Maintaining accurate product data from one end of the supply chain to the other is complex, with numerous opportunities for errors. In their desire to display the latest brands, compelling offers and promotions, retailers frequently pay insufficient attention to this issue. Every day their websites show thousands of inadequately described or out-of-stock goods, at huge cost to their bottom lines and reputations.
Some retailers have latched on to the importance of good data governance, by introducing data standards and then establishing robust, automated processes for entering and checking data at each exchange point.
Some, for example, have set up self-service portals that enable suppliers to register all pertinent product details in a specified format, thereby ensuring the quality of the data is consistent from the outset. Suppliers are generally happy to comply with these types of solutions, as it makes their task easier and gives their products the best possible chance to sell.
As well as significant cost improvements, streamlined data management affords more speed and flexibility, with the slickest omnichannel retailers able to get new products online within days.
Consumers expect to be presented with a consistent product range, availability, prices and, of course, supporting information regardless of whether they are shopping online or in-store.
By placing a high priority on data quality and integrity, and investing in appropriate systems and controls, retailers can and must make that late-night internet shop or weekend window browse a pleasant and hassle-free experience - or risk losing money and customers.
Liz Claydon is UK head of consumer markets at KPMG