Walmart Implements Unified Approach to Supplier Data

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Walmart Implements Unified Approach to Supplier Data

By Tim Denman - 09/08/2015
Walmart sells countless SKUs from thousands of suppliers and is inundated with reams of product data on a constant basis. To same time and energy and to ensure that all of the data that is streaming into its systems is optimized for Walmart's use the retailer refuses to accept product data that is not structured to their specifications.

Every supplier and retailer produces and categories data differently, meaning that many times the product data submitted to a retailer does not match its data requirements. To ensure that their product data is accepted by Walmart, and other retailers, suppliers are turning to content service providers like Shotfarm to format and categorize their product data to retailer's specific qualifications.

"The problem we solve is that manufacturers are managing product information in one way and the retailers want it in a different way," Shotfarm CEO Mike Lapchick says. "Every retailer and every manufacturer is different. All the info is sorted differently. As well as all the media videos photos, etc. Having to convert a set of data for all customers is a daunting task for manufacturers."

Major retailers like Walmart have serious clout and when they speak suppliers listen. When the retailer announced last month that it will no longer be accepting product info not optimized for their specifications effective October 1 the entire industry took notice.  Suppliers are increasingly turning to content service providers to handle the daunting task of data unification, as retailers
require more information for both internal use and customer-facing applications.

"In the past all of the data was coming to us from a one lane highway," Ram Rampalli, global head of content acquisition for Walmart says. "What we wanted was to make it easy for the suppliers and also most importantly make it easy for our consumers.

"Our enterprise Walmart specs has a whole bunch of attributes. For example attributes for descriptions, videos, images, etc. So many different attributes as well as a lot of back-end supply chain attributes that will not be shared to the consumer. It is like a buffet. The supplier basically brings the entire spread of product information and places it on the table and the respective business organization within Walmart will pick up that particular data point."