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The Importance of Supplier Data Onboarding in the Retail Industry

The retail industry is in flux, as digital commerce beds into a sector previously driven by physical shopping. To keep up with this rapidly changing ecosystem, you need a strong supply chain that can adapt quickly to changes in demand and supply. Part of this requires top-quality data management, still often lacking in even large operations. A PIM software solution is the key to gaining control over all aspects of your product data management, and the efficient onboarding of supplier data falls squarely within its remit.

In our insight article, we will look at onboarding, the pain points involved, how best practices in onboarding ultimately enhance the customer experience, and how supplier data onboarding impacts on your supply chain management.

What is product data onboarding?

Onboarding is a process – that of capturing supplier data from multiple external sources and bringing it together in a single location. Done efficiently, the effect is to improve supply chain management, streamline operations, avoid duplicated effort, and create a high-quality and consistent customer experience across all your channels.

A content onboarding process marks the difference between immediately having the latest and correct information at your disposal, or remaining in a sluggish cycle where supplier data is onboarded manually in a haphazard and time-consuming manner. Using an integrated PIM solution, you no longer need to wrangle data across numerous fragmented systems – everything is in one place, providing visibility and consistency in how you ingest what is to become critical product information for your customers, potential and existing.

Pain points in onboarding

Two major bugbears for businesses which don’t have an integrated product data management strategy are:

The need to manually process incoming supplier and other third-party product data manually. This is frequently an error-strewn exercise which impacts on efficiency of processes and workflow.

 A result of the above is the bottleneck created when ingesting data. Time taken on this processing impacts: 

  • The inability of team members to be doing more creative and useful tasks
  •  The time taken for product data enrichment and syndication to channels, hence a slow and uncompetitive time taken for a newly introduced product to reach market


Retail is a fast-moving sector. Products can come in and out of fashion quickly, so agility is of the essence in standardising and enriching product data to distribute quickly to channels.

Integration with third-party e-commerce platforms retailers improve the customer experience

To improve customer experience, retailers can integrate their data with other e-commerce platforms.

This integration can be done through a data onboarding platform that allows for seamless integration of multiple systems and data sources in a single place, which streamlines the process for both companies and suppliers alike:

  • Source product data from your suppliers with ease by simplifying import and export of product data
  • Enable your suppliers to maintain their digital shelf up to date, using validation and automatic updates
  • Integrate and extend the PIM solution to any source data system using widely available APIs
  • Systems communicate with each other, engendering a more collaborative and fast-moving process (and way of working

Download our Supplier Onboarding guide

What are the benefits of optimised product data onboarding?

They include:

Streamlined operations – When all your data is brought together in one place, it is easier to monitor and identify where inconsistencies and discrepancies arise, also making it easier to adjust earlier in the process. This avoids multiple departments having to work on various aspects of fulfilment without knowing what other departments are doing or whether simultaneous activities are even compatible with each other.

Eliminating duplication of effort – task delineation for separate teams working on distinct parts of the same task (such as marketing campaigns) invariably overlaps. Clear product data onboarding underpinned by rules-based data governance means business operations are aligned across the organisation.

Creating a consistent customer experience across channels

Using a Product Information Management system which is fit for purpose dramatically speeds up these processes;

  • Product data onboarding can be automated, removing concerns about the most efficient formatting and standardisation
  • Product data can instantly be enriched, enhanced, and made channel-ready for syndication
  • Automated rules and data mapping tools make it faster and easier to optimise and customise data feeds to sales channels

Furthermore, using a PIM as the basis of high-quality product data transfers resources (time, effort, and cost) to;  

  • create more efficiency in product data management processes
  • make scaling operations easier, thus exploiting potential for growth
  • develop and adopt accepted product data management processes across the organisation, so data acquisition is seamless and cost effective
  • Implement agile, cloud-based PIM-driven architectures, taxonomies, and data mapping models
  • Leverage the power of AI so that automated tasks and processes take the manual pain out of manually verifying data quality standards

Supplier data onboarding - streamlining supply chain management for retailers

Retailers ingest source data in high volumes and frequently. Good supplier data onboarding protocols allows them to manage their supply chains better. It also streamlines operations and avoid errors which end up costing you – either in terms of lost revenue or longer-term damage to your company’s reputation.

As the first step in product data lifecycle management in your company, a PIM’s capacity to power efficient data onboarding is a powerful tool. Integration of their e-commerce platform with other channels, alongside streamlined operations, creates consistency across all channels, regardless of customer touch point. In addition, supplier data onboarding helps retailers to manage their supply chain more effectively by integrating it with your existing business systems.

 At Start with Data, our expert and experienced team of consultants have a wealth of experience working with all aspects of PIM, and how its functionalities enable fast, efficient, and transparent product data onboarding. Contact us to have a more in-depth conversation about how we can partner with you to implement a new PIM solution or optimise the way you use an existing system.

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