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How PIM supports supply chain traceability and ESG for brands & manufacturers

Low-quality data leads to bad decision-making, which leads to unforeseen and unwelcome outcomes (‘Garbage in, garbage out’). That’s why having product data of unimpeachable validity is becoming a must – not least, it makes for easier investigation of root cause and product recall for manufacturers and brands if unexpected issues occur with products. Conversely, consumers can use information quality as a benchmark when making decisions, without having to worry about issues  like mislabelling or misleading information.

The digitisation of sustainability data collection and reporting including ESG data  management is still in its early days, but the fast rise in demand for investment-grade quality and externally audited ESG information means businesses are compelled to develop watertight ESG data management practices. Stakeholder users have to be able to trust that the company’s ingestion, storage, and use of data is secure, efficient, and cost-effective. Customers and investors also need that confidence that data are fit for purpose, without having to constantly manually align or reconcile them.

Mapping your supply chain

Companies must measure what matters in the supply chain, and ESG matters greatly now. Moving forward, companies will need to map the entire scope of supply chain traceability and identify outcomes to maintain full transparency. This makes it much easier to identify both risks and opportunities.

Traceability allows you to mitigate risks, increase efficiency and have stronger metrics for ESG compliance. That means ‘genealogy’ – mapping not only your suppliers, but your suppliers’ suppliers too, so you can identify any weaknesses in the value chain and, if necessary, diversify your supplier base.

Transparency includes tracking and identifying milestones so as to establish robust metrics against which you can measure your performance to external standards as well as disclosing such information to customers, investors, and employees.

Download our PIM guide for Manufacturers

eCommerce Laws & Data Regulations

Manufacturers face a variety of laws and regulations issued by governments and regulatory authorities, whether selling domestically or internationally. Third-party sales channels also have their sets of rules.

You need to be prepared to provide documentation regarding multiple variables, such as:

  • trademark information, copyrighted content, or patents
  • documentation connected to traceability, materials sourced, health and safety, allergy information, or hazard warnings
  • restrictions  on shipping
  • compliance with payment systems
  • data protection


Again, without suitable product information management, incorrect, inconsistent, and incomplete data risks breaching eCommerce-specific regulations like;

  • EPREL products with an energy label sold into EU
  • GDSN particularly information about complex products
  • Pi-standard similar to GDSN, targeted at all EU manufacturers of electronic appliances
  • ETIM created for global industrial manufacturing companies to exchange product data effectively with retailers

Compliance - risk management, regulation, and sustainability

What’s the purpose of sustainable compliance? Basically, to possess a robust framework to manage risk profile now and into the future. This means adopting an efficient and effective function focusing on key risks and eliminating unnecessary acts.

The most fundamental components include:

  • compliance with data formatting norms
  • regulatory compliance – strictly following local and international laws and
  • regulations pertaining to your operations
  • compliance with health and safety laws for hazardous products or material
  • Fulfilling measurement variables (weights, dimensions, capacity, and so on)
  • Maintaining all the above updated to reflect changes in local and regional laws or regulations

Data standards ruled by governance

Using non-standard and inconsistent product data is like attending a debate at the UN without translators. Without adherence to common industry standards the quality of your product data is severely compromised. If you meet standards, it reduces companies’ product information-related risks or data breaches.

When you hear the phrase “data governance,” what comes to mind? Is it a bunch of people in bad suits huddled around a table in a dark room, cutting off the oxygen supply to anyone who has an opinion different from theirs? Do you picture a strict hierarchy of corporate drones with clipboards and flashlights, marching down hallways with no windows and doors to inspect the contents of file cabinets and desks?

Contrary to popular belief, data governance isn’t about control or bureaucracy. It’s about efficiency and reliability for the people who need to use your data. That is why data governance must play an important role in regulating standards. Governance basically covers the range of processes, rules, and role delegation which ensures privacy, protection, compliance, and conformity in a company’s enterprise data management. Data governance is about making sure that everyone who needs it can get it—and that they can get it quickly, easily, consistently, and correctly. It’s about creating trust between your team and your stakeholders. And that trust is built on a few key things:

1. A consistent overview of all the data that impacts business outcomes

2. An overarching plan which ensures high standards in the quality, correctness, completeness, consistency, and ultimately usability of data

3. Understand the location of all data related to critical entities (like products), helping you make data assets discoverable, usable and easier to connect with business outcomes

4. The ‘single source of truth’

Download our PIM guide for Manufacturers

'Just in case'

Given the world as it is today, supply chain resilience will continue to be stress-tested, which is why companies with foresight are moving from a just in time to a ‘just in case’ strategy, to minimise financial and reputational risks. 

We cannot underestimate the value of advanced technology solutions like a PIM for driving contingency planning and delivering service continuity. Politicians and other influential figures around the world are adopting actions to ensure businesses are operating more responsible and ethical supply chains. Business will need to rethink its paradigm by using digital solutions to transform values on sustainability into concrete operational behaviour. The consumer of tomorrow demands as much, and “them that pay the piper call the tune.”

Start with Data - an experienced, expert, and solution-driven partner

At Start with Data, we can support and advise you on your PIM and MDM project from inception to go-live, so that you can deliver on your ESG policies and ensure both supply chain traceability and internal traceability of your data, wherever it’s coming from or on its way to. Contact us for a more in-depth conversation about how we can help your business.


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