The importance of good and uniform article data has increased rapidly within the do-it-yourself sector in recent years. Due to the enormous online growth during the corona crisis, suppliers and retailers have experienced that they cannot live without it. They, therefore, work closely together within the GS1 data pool on the continuous improvement and updating of the article data. Trade magazine MIX interviewed our customers AkzoNobel Decorative Coatings, Calodar, and Intergamma, among others.
Collaboration in the field of article data between retailers and suppliers initially meant a complete change in the do-it-yourself industry. “Just the idea of sitting around the table with competitors to talk openly about the use of article data took some getting used to for some. But everyone was convinced of the usefulness and necessity”, says Marc Henkens, e-commerce manager at Hubo Belgium and vice president of the business council, and vice president of GS1 Belgium and Luxembourg.
Better sales and fewer returns
Calodar has been distributing sanitary ware for more than 60 years and is affiliated with GS1 as a supplier. “We supply a wide range, from complete bathroom furnishings to individual components. Technical products require a lot of knowledge to be able to sell them well. If we inform the retail sector extensively with how-to videos, photos, technical information, and data about, for example, packaging and weight, this results in better sales and fewer returns”, says Caroline van der Voort, commercial director of Calodar and vice chair of the business council of Calodar. GS1.
To ensure that item data reaches resellers as uniformly as possible, AkzoNobel Decorative Coatings is also affiliated with GS1. “That makes it possible for us to offer data as cost-efficiently as possible because many different retailers use the same standard. As a result, we do not have to supply data for each partner separately, but they can draw on the GS1 data pool. Moreover, this makes our products easy to find online for consumers,” says Iwar de Caluwe, manager of commercial operations Benelux and vice-chairman of the business council of GS1.
Intergamma sees the excellent advantage for retailers of working with the GS1 data pool in having immediate access to all relevant article data the moment a product is included in the range. “Not only can the product be put online quickly, but our internal departments also immediately have the information they need. This way, packaging sizes are immediately transparent and we immediately have the necessary information for the planograms”, says Laurie Huurdeman, head of data management at Intergamma and a member of the maintenance group of GS1. “That immediately shows how important data quality is. It is especially an essential process because it affects the entire organization for both suppliers and retailers. Data management is now the spider in the web.”
By using the GS1 and 2BA data pool, every link in the construction and installation chain benefits from better product information.
This way, your product will come out perfectly both at the installer and at the hardware store. This webinar was conducted in Dutch.
Sustainability important theme
Sustainability, environmental legislation, and safety are themes that have resulted in many adjustments to the GS1 data model in recent years. De Caluwe: “Our ranges must meet strict standards and regulations, and we must also share that data with consumers and our trading partners. The description on the back of a can of paint is no longer sufficient to be compliant with regulations. We can share that extensive data easily, quickly, and completely via GS1.”
According to Henkens, this is more complicated when it comes to packaging. “The types of cardboard and plastic used differ per country. And because European legislation is implemented differently at the national level, it is a major challenge to make article data compatible for every country. The advantage of GS1 in cases like this is the joining of forces of the suppliers and the retail partners. We sit down together and look for solutions for the entire chain because we know that good article data is essential for a successful business.”
The suppliers are responsible for the input of data. Van der Voort: “It makes sense because they know all the details of the products and how they should be applied or installed. It is then up to the retail sector to import the available data into the correct structure within their back office. They must ensure that the information for internal use and the consumer can be easily found.”
A vision that is shared within Intergamma: “The worst thing we as a retailer can do is give consumers wrong information. This means that we must be able to rely on the data supplied. That information must be the most reliable source in the market. Being the owner of that information, suppliers are responsible,” says Huurdeman. In addition, the retail sector is responsible for the clear request for the desired data, Henkens believes.
Optional fields are a challenge
The GS1 data model contains many fields in which text must be entered. Filling in these fields properly is often a challenge. “If a product name is written slightly differently in one field than in another field, a mismatch arises that can lead to you not appearing in the search filters,” says Henkens. Different color names are also a challenge.
Broad support needed
Working towards a data model based on ‘first time right’ is extremely important in the eyes of Intergamma. “It happens that aluminum is described in more than ten different ways as the material from which a product is made. Our filters don’t know what to do with that. And the color turquoise is interpreted by one supplier as green and another as blue. This has a major impact on the path from an article to the consumer.” That is why it is important that the entered data is entered correctly and consistently immediately and that it also complies with all standards and conditions. This requires the broadest possible support in the market.” Calodar has the same goal in mind. “Good article data should be a theme during the annual talks between suppliers and retail partners. It’s a necessary condition in the collaboration because it will provide us both with major advantages in sales,” says Van der Voort.
De Caluwe also actively encourages suppliers and retailers to contribute to the further refinement of the data pool. “Five years ago we received a request from five parties for digital article data, now there are 50. And if you look at the online sale of paint, we were at half a percent before corona, ten to fifteen percent of consumers have already bought paint online. So it can go fast. Prepare for that, otherwise, you will be sidelined for a while.”
Henkens also emphasizes that the current data model of GS1 contains all the necessary data. “The B2B data for retail itself, such as order data and the B2C information for the flow to the consumer. But that model is subject to the continuous adjustment, which is why the widest possible collaboration between suppliers and retail is important.
CUSTOMER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: MARTENS KUNSTSTOFFEN
From one central PIM system, Martens kunststoffen now validates and publishes to both the DIY and installation industry, to the GDSN and 2BA data pools.
Martens is a family business with a rich history since 1881, and a leader in several sectors: they are active in plastic, concrete, and ceramic building materials. Innovation, sustainability, and customer focus are values that are central to Martens. Their main customers are the infrastructure sector, but also the (DIY) retail and construction installation companies are a large target group for Martens.