Several years ago The Kroger Company launched Program Mercury, a data synchronization initiative that requires suppliers to provide information about products sold in Kroger stores. Now called the Item MDM/VIP, the program continues to utilize the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) and the Kroger Vendor Item Portal (VIP) to collect product item data that is used internally and as part of Kroger’s sales process.
According to the 1WorldSync website, the program has enabled Kroger to:
- Leverage the value of GDSN by adopting global data standards
- Instantly update the Kroger team of item modifications
- Improve data accuracy, as all item information will originate with and be owned by the supplier
- Enhance communication of relevant item data to our suppliers
- Look at items like their customers do so both sell more product
The current process
Kroger has an extensive list of attributes they require based on the type of products a supplier provides. This proprietary classification system is called Kroger Class, and the VIP requires the additional Kroger Class attributes with all item submissions. At regular intervals, Kroger publishes a list of attributes needed for each Kroger Class. This list often includes GDSN attributes if they are available and meets Kroger’s business needs. In other instances, Kroger has Kroger-specific attributes that must be supplied directly to the VIP.
The process for gathering and entering the Kroger specific attributes into the Kroger VIP can be very cumbersome. Suppliers will either…
- Publish their item data to Kroger via the GDSN, with the associated GDSN attributes, and then log into the Kroger VIP to provide only the additional attributes Kroger requires for the Kroger Class of items. The benefit of using the GDSN to provide a portion of the item data to Kroger is the same data can be made available to other data recipients at the same time.
- Enter item data exclusively through the Kroger VIP because they do not participate in the GDSN.
With either method, the gathering and entry of item data into the VIP can be labor intensive and time consuming, and like many manual data entry processes, prone to error.
automate the process
LANSA recommends aggregating all product data, including data sent through the GDSN and trading partner specific attributes like Kroger’s, into a common repository. Many customers use a Product Information Management (PIM) solution specifically for this purpose. As supplier data may reside in many different systems across an organization, a PIM serves as a single source of the truth for product data.
Workflows can be enabled within an PIM system so data can be reviewed and approved prior to synchronization via the GDSN and publication to trading partners like Kroger. In this case, the Kroger specific attribute data would be extracted from the PIM and uploaded into the VIP.
LANSA Data Sync Direct is a PIM solution that provides the ability for users to extract their Kroger-specific data into a proprietary spreadsheet format used by Kroger VIP. After generation, this extract is uploaded into the VIP. Kroger will soon be able to receive this information in direct submission via machine-to-machine at which time LANSA will leverage this process. This approach reduces the redundant entry of data attributes, minimizes manual data entry and eliminates the potential of errors frequently associated with manual data entry. An additional benefit is these attributes can be shared with internal and external sources in a consistent format.
Make technology work for you
If you have invested in a PIM solution as your single source of product truth, it is time to leverage the application for Kroger and other customer-specific data attribute requests. The upfront work associated with identifying how to store customer-specific data in your PIM will produce a increasing return on investment over time as downstream attribute demands grow.
Additional PIM solution benefits:
- By aggregating product information into a single solution, your data management team has visibility into the data and can use [data] extracts from that system to streamline and automate your processes.
- Assigning data owners to help populate customer-specific data will reduce the time it takes to locate, collect, and aggregate the information.
- Storing data in the PIM will make maintenance for existing products and new product launches easier and more efficient.
- Utilizing workflows can ensure that the right teams have seen, and signed off on, the product data at the right time so that the information presented to your customers, and ultimately to the consumer, is accurate and consistent.
- When done correctly, utilizing a PIM for customer-specific data can reduce the costs associated with maintaining product data, and improve how quickly quality data can be delivered to trading partners.
If you have not yet invested in a PIM solution, now may be the time to reconsider. A PIM solution can help you manage the extensive list of attributes being requested by Kroger and other trading partners inside and outside of the GDSN.