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The product data onboarding challenge for FMCG manufacturers

In November 2020, internet food sales increased 107.8 percent compared with the same month in 2019. The big players (and, in fact, most companies) in the FMCG industry are having to re-evaluate their digital strategies and inventory management. They will need to be more digitally agile and equipped to leverage these online opportunities by having full control over ingestion, treatment, and deployment of digital product content.


Scalability requires a solution for an infinite number of product descriptions and visuals, thousands of SKUs and enormous varieties of attributes from multiple suppliers. Nowadays, PIMs can deliver product data across a wide range of distribution channels and because all product data is concentrated in one location, it is much easier than previously to validate supplier data using automated processes.

Volume of offer

In the last decade, FMCGs companies have mainly focused on developing user-friendly eCommerce customer interfaces. From now on, they must focus on digital integration of the entire value chain as an operational and strategic priority. The interconnectivity of products, business models, and value chains will affect how these businesses can:

Differentiation of customer experience

eCommerce adoption has been particularly notable in FMCGs. At the end of 2020, over 8 million UK households did their grocery shopping online – up from just over 5.5. million in 2019. To take grocery retailing as an example, there has been an exponential rise in online ordering. This trend has repeat orders built into the equation but that is only contingent on satisfaction of demands regarding prompt delivery, stock availability and the capacity to alter orders in an instant. Add the variety of channels, devices, and locations which consumers use to access product information, and the importance of the response to that diversity is clear. 

Data quality and data governance

FMCG companies can connect supply, logistics, and distribution platforms using high-quality product data powered by PIM systems. Quality itself is determined by organisation-wide criteria established using a role-based structure for data governance – the champions, sponsors, owners and stewards of data entities, domains and fields ensure that all data is trustworthy, reliable, up to date, validated ‘clean’ and unique. That governance framework delineates policies, procedures, and practices established through stakeholder collaboration and consensus across the company. Thus, it enables a FMCG business to use product data in different contexts with confidence that it is ‘good’ data – the ‘single source of truth’. 

Volume of suppliers

Food manufacturers are leveraging industry 4.0 technology to time to market for their products. They can connect supply chains to production facilities using interoperable and integrated product data management solutions. In response to the increase in eCommerce (as well as to changing consumer behaviour), FMCG companies are re-evaluating their product portfolios with a view to expanding into new categories and channels.

With innovations emerging in the convenience market, the rise of D2C as a viable option and the need to design packaging, products, and content for online channels, it is inevitable that the number and range of suppliers will grow in tandem. Once again, this creates the challenge of ensuring fast, simplified, and reliable onboarding.

How can consultancy and technology solve these challenges?

‘Agility’ has been the buzzword for quite some time now. It is apt for describing the technological attributes providing FMCG companies with the speed, efficiency, and responsiveness they need in this brutally competitive environment. Manufacturers are spoilt for choice regarding technology solutions. Nevertheless, they need to consider carefully exactly what the best solution to their product information problems is.

 Start with Data’s experience dealing with all kinds of organisations reveals that the root of the problem (and the seed of the solution) frequently lies in people, processes, and performance, not simply in the ‘wrong’ software.

We discover how your organisation ticks when it comes to product data and lay out a clear roadmap to the solution. That solution lies in optimised workflows driven by process efficiency and a truly data-driven organisational culture. By embedding the ‘data mindset’ required, all stakeholders (from project owners down to the humblest of users) are engaged, empowering them to leverage the technology solution   specifically configured for their organisational needs.

Thinking holistically

FMCG manufacturers need to consider whether to simply continue to eliminate weaknesses on a piecemeal basis and continue with outdated practices or to implement a digital transformation to future-proof themselves. Doing little or nothing no longer seems to be an option when there are solutions which make integrated transformation entirely feasible. A robust, fully integrated, and cloud-based product data management framework will exploit the capabilities of the manufacturing technology available, which will in turn underpin the effectiveness of the onboarding process, thus fulfilling the FMCG manufacturers’ omnichannel sales strategies.

Find out more about the ways we offer expert advice and support for your product data onboarding solutions