Naturally, as a Product Information Management company, we are good at improving product data. We have worked with companies for over 25 years to consolidate, clean, and improve their product data, and enhance their product information management processes. We thought we would share some simple tips on how to get started with cleaning and improving product data because we know better than anyone that it can be a daunting task.
Work on validation/standardisation
One of the biggest mistakes with product data is the lack of a standard way of entering the data. For example, height might be displayed in centimetres for some products in a range while others in the same range might be in inches. This can easily lead to mistakes in the data or confusion/wasted time amongst employees.
Take a holistic view when creating attributes
Taking a step back from seeing products on an individual level, or even on a range/category level is necessary when defining what information you want your products to have. Common attributes exist across different product families like selling price and dimensions. It is therefore important to consider all products when creating these common attributes, as it makes it easier to standardise the data and avoids duplication of attributes.
Work on removing duplication of content
We often see cases where there is a lot of product information repeated, perhaps in different ways. For example, several marketing descriptions or product titles/codes that are the same thing. This can make it confusing to know which is the most up-to-date and accurate content. We also see cases where several departments input the same information, which causes duplication of efforts and means more room for errors. For example, if each department works on their own spreadsheet then they each have to put in the SKU on their own sheet and if one department makes a small mistake, it can lead to huge consequences.
Collate information into one location
Following on from the last point, it is beneficial to store all of your product data in one central location within the business. This means your team knows where to go to find product data and reduces the time wasted asking other employees and departments. If everyone is working in a common location, it means that the location will always contain the most accurate and up-to-date data that the business has. From this central location, the product data can be distributed to other locations where it needs to go, for example, the website. Of course, we recommend a PIM system for this!
Identify missing information
Once the data has been collated into a central source, be it a PIM system or even an Excel spreadsheet, it will make it easier to identify gaps in the product data. The team can then work to fill in these bits of missing product information. OneTimePIM allows you to define certain attributes as being necessary for the “Completion” of a product. This means you can easily identify gaps in data that are deemed important.
Clearer product data processes
With or without a PIM system in place, it is important to work on internal product data processes if you are serious about improving your product information. This means defining clearly who is in charge of which points of data so that everyone within the business is aware. It also means having a clear pathway for the data, for example, ERP>PIM>Website. A PIM system helps with this management of the product information process as it allows you to define user and teams permissions which control who can view and edit different pieces of data. It can also automatically import and/or distribute data which removes the repetitive tasks and the chance of human error from these processes.