It is no secret that category managers deal with a seemingly endless stream of new and existing products. Larger store footprints and a growing list of brand extensions and package sizes, particularly in the CPG sector, are making that stream seem more infinite. Throw in the accompanying details for each item and the list of information becomes longer.
Ahold USA plans to automate much of this data by installing what Global CIO Dave McNally labels a "product repository" from GXS. This product information management solution (PIM) provides global data synchronization for product and category managers. The tool, used primarily for center store CPG products, facilitates introduction of all those new products and brand extensions, he adds. The PIM solution centralizes all information about an item. Data can include everything from physical dimensions--which facilitates space planning--to ingredients, country of origin, pricing and safety information.
"Off the shelf, it keeps track of more product characteristics than we need today. It creates a product management repository that is linked to a data pool. A lot of companies work with the suppliers and do this manually. The GXS system creates a clean, industry standard process. More large grocers are working on this. We're working with manufacturers on this industry transformation."