Driving operational efficiency in Brands & Manufacturers
Given that manufacturers are highly dependent on data, it’s essential they are leveraging data as an asset in their day-to-day operations. This article looks at how managing data helps not only to integrate with the range of technology-driven systems keeping business going, but also uses modern machine learning capabilities to syndicate product data to marketplaces and business partners and drive revenue.
A survey from The Manufacturer in 2020 asked senior management teams what the biggest issues they were facing in UK manufacturing. The biggest by far is time. A lot of very large and sophisticated UK manufacturing organisations run on a very lean basis and so there are huge time constraints.
Historically, product-oriented businesses have stored and managed product data using spreadsheets to extract and enter information piecemeal and manually. This has made it practically impossible for all business user-stakeholders to get access to and manage data efficiently, thus reducing their effectiveness as departmental teams; again, we see the same problems arise regarding competitiveness and credibility for the customer;
- Time to market is not fast enough to beat competitors to the digital shelf. Speed is of the essence nowadays.
- Manual processing – onboarding and normalising product data from suppliers, to enriching those data to become channel-ready product information. For the majority of manufacturers, inaccurate, inconsistent, outdated, or incomplete product data causes the potential customer simply not to trust the brand. A sale lost to that problem can easily mean a customer lost for a lifetime.
There is a generalised trend away from manual processes in product data management, but it is a slow trend. Time and again, we hear and see how legacy technology is an enormous obstacle to progress. Slow progress means looking for the easy, quick wins, but the problem with that is information ends up in a kind of ‘silo purgatory,’ where businesses are constantly finding it hard to roll out new tech across the wider organisation.
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Delivering consistent, high-quality and trustable data
Mastery of product data allows businesses to establish robust data governance for users who work with data daily – that means parameters and quality thresholds for types of data, structures and normalised lists of values required.
Master product data also integrates smoothly with content management systems, making it far more straightforward than previously to publish the best possible content, media (video, image galleries) and pinpoint the keywords needed for customers to search for and easily find products. Those businesses which are leveraging this power are managing data effectively and efficiently across for multiple business lines, websites, sales channels. They are managing tens of millions of products and have potential markets of millions of customers.
PIM solutions are scalable and structured solutions which eliminate the problem of inconsistent data stored in various environments. They can initiate, cleanse, and integrate data with ERP, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Product Lifecycle management systems (PLM), CRM, eCommerce, and marketing systems, to name a few, to drive measurable operational improvements
An end-to-end focus on the value chain
If you aim to function on a D2C model ( highly advantageous if done well), your value chain bears close analysis. Your suppliers deliver materials, ingredients, or components, from which to build products and services. You rely on good, accurate and reliable data along that value chain, so why rely on data accessed from different systems and locations? Product Information Management becomes the single, central storage point for compiling and integrating product information from suppliers alongside crucial internal data. With a master data management system businesses can connect inventory and warehouse systems and guarantee that data discrepancies are practically eliminated. They can also reduce the time-consuming need for data maintenance and confide in data accuracy and timeliness.
As you travel towards genuine competitiveness in digitally driven commerce, these fundamental changes require organisational recalibration in terms of delivering on business aims. The mission and practices behind full-scale digital transformation can only be embedded and acted on by analysing and finding the pain points in the organisational culture – this means entrenched attitudes, assumptions, and activities. Our expert business consultants, with extensive experience with brands, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are perfectly equipped to work with you to create a digital transformation roadmap to approach this seismic change with confidence.
A single-source solution to product data
MDM and PIM deliver a single solution for end-to-end management of the value chain.
Start with product design and assembly, from the computer chip that goes into a device to the water used in cleaning products, to the end product, packaging, labelling and delivery to the sales channel. The big gain is in time to market, because by managing product information effectively as it flows around the organisation and external channels, your business can be more agile in response to market changes and opportunities, and it can gain a competitive advantage by making it to market first and being easy to find.
Seamless data syndication
In the days of manual data-processing, it used to be a daunting and arduous task for manufacturers to share data with multiple partners, distributors, retailers, and vendors. The data flow is bi-directional with business partners – data receivers demand that you tailor content to their needs, while data senders largely deliver content according to their in-house systems. The varied product data – such as attributes, packaging hierarchies, product classification and protocols – are far more efficiently managed and maintained by using product data management to address the potential complications of diverse partners using diverse data standards to varying degrees of quality.
So, even when suppliers have unique definitions, requirements, and standards a suitably configured PIM platform will deliver easy, manageable, and sustainable content syndication with far less need for constant maintenance. You can share relevant product data easily, rapidly, and efficiently when you are sure that your content aligns with predefined, governed, data standards, which conform with the requirements of every receiver and publisher.
Think strategic with operational data
Quality data drives operational success and keeps revenue growing. However, master product data management isn’t just to oil the wheels now. From the premise that everything begins with quality data, your business can use insights to develop new processes and models for assembling, processing, building, managing, and shipping products. From machinery to washing powder to packaged food ingredients, what you need is accurate, single-source, timely and consistently reliable product data which feeds into all systems, be it inventory management, warehouse management, logistics, marketing, packaging, or shipping.
For example, knowing the exact dimensions determines the number of boxes that can be stacked on a pallet, the precise number of products which fit on a pallet and the number of trucks needed to ship to the correct number of outlets to ensure products reach the shelves and the customer in the right quantity to satisfy demand at any given moment.
Digitisation of B2B (as well as B2C) is a double-edged sword – get it right and revenues grow. Get it wrong, and ‘digital fatigue’ will quickly set in. That means a disenchantment with the brand, due to occurrences like too many data duplicates, or getting multiple emails from the same businesses and individuals. That is what master product data management can eliminate – mixed branding messages, an air of carelessness, and ultimately, a jump from you to your competitor.
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Act local, think global
Whether its B2C, B2B or D2C, shopping online, even buying globally, has never been easier. Tremendous opportunities abound for manufacturers, but that means ensuring your data works for you when it comes to multi-lingual sales languages, and different currencies, measurement systems, or regulatory and logistics requirements.
Data management done right means gaining access to new customers across national boundaries. Businesses have the capacity to localise product data for multiple markets and use language translation functionalities, enabling business users to manage relevant assets far more easily across multiple markets and territories.
Start with Data - your partner for operational efficiency
Start with Data is an industry-leading boutique consultancy whose experience and expertise delivers excellent results. We can provide manufacturers and brands with services in the following areas:
Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to have a more in-depth conversation about how our services can identify improvements to your existing product data management processes, get your product data into shape or implement a PIM solution.