Supply Chain Commentary: Customer Loyalty Hinges on Quality of Product Information
Knowledge is power, and today, consumers are demanding to know more about products they buy before making a purchasing decision. The internet and online shopping have helped fuel their appetites for more product details, driving big changes across all industries.
In the food industry, for example, new legislation like the GMO labeling law and Nutrition Facts Panel changes have been introduced to empower consumers with more information about the food they eat.
Exactly what the consumer wants to know may vary from one product and industry sector to another, but one principle transcends those distinctions: The information had better be reliable, or the brand’s reputation will be damaged, and customer loyalty will suffer.
Brands and retailers can win or lose long-term customers on the quality of their product and supply-chain data. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of poor data still in use, causing errors, out-of-stocks, and consumer disappointment. When product descriptions, sizes, materials, ingredients, and other attributes are inaccurate, sales and consumer satisfaction suffer.
First things first
Providing consumers with accurate product information begins with suppliers continuously safeguarding their data as product specifications change and users’ information needs evolve. Establishing and maintaining complete, consistent information that can be understood and utilized throughout the supply chain requires diligent data governance.
Data managers responsible for supply chain product information look to the GS1 US National Data Quality Program to create or fine-tune their data governance protocols for business growth. The program helps companies across various industries ensure accurate and timely product information. Companies leveraging program guidance for their internal data quality initiatives acquire data governance processes to support continual, effective product data management.
Standards promote interoperability
Initiating a data quality program can be a complex process. It helps to be systematic, start small, and maintain a standards-based environment. GS1 Standards help meet supply chain visibility needs across all retail categories and provide a foundation with three layers: identification for products and locations, data carriers like barcodes that capture essential product information, and data exchange to share through an electronic network.
Each layer plays an important role in efficiently moving products from source to consumer.
Uniform adoption of industry standards creates significant benefits powering automatic data capture so companies can share product information as it moves through the supply chain.
Barcodes containing Global Trade Item Numbers® (GTINs®) add efficiency, information consistency, and ability to track and trace a product—which is crucial in the event of a recall or if product quality comes into question.
Product identification with GTINs and barcodes for global uniqueness enable exchange of standardized product information, with the ability to link internal systems to an external system that all trading partners can utilize and understand.
Standards provide this critical bridge, improving data for the consumer and helping retailers improve inventory management. Leveraging standards to their fullest potential, retailers and brands can forecast trends more accurately and decrease out-of-stocks.
Data Quality Best Practices
Best practices begin with a thorough self-assessment to evaluate problem areas and root causes. Start with one business process or category; do not try to change the entire enterprise and update all product data at once. Prove success incrementally, and be sure you have strong data governance in place to achieve a sustainable program with optimal benefits.
When all stakeholders share standardized data in an interconnected network, the supply chain runs more efficiently and smoothly. Traceability, ordering, and fulfillment are streamlined; supply and demand are synchronized, helping build lasting relationships between brands and consumers.