Why the Best Prime Day Deal was Actually a Data Quality Disaster

By Kerry Young on Jul 29, 2019

Amazon Prime Day (now a 48-hour event) has practically reached national holiday status for online shoppers. Other retailers like Target and Walmart have even hopped on the bandwagon to offer their own sales during these ‘prime’ online selling dates.

With lightning deals flying by and thousands of items marked down, the data on product listings needs to be spot on. A story recently came out that shows how a single Amazon Prime Day accident is a stark lesson for anyone responsible for product data quality.

Unbelievable Deal or Product Data Pricing Accident?

Photographers were shocked when they discovered a Canon lens that normally retails for around $13,000 marked down to the jaw-dropping low price of $94.48. Shortly after the deal was posted on Slickdeals.net, Amazon rushed to correct the price. But that wasn’t before many opportunistic shoppers purchased the lens, and posted photos (at times mockingly) of their Prime Day steal.

Some speculated that the deal was purposefully placed to generate buzz for Prime Day, however, that theory was debunked by ecommerce experts. As it turns out, it was just an old-fashioned mistake.

This gaffe, though quickly corrected, is a high-profile example of a common problem companies face in the modern age of retail, where the volume and variety of product data is vast and the stakes are high.

Data Quality in the Digital Age

Though data quality may not seem as exciting as digital transformation and emerging technology initiatives, it is the baseline for everything that a company aims to do now and in the future. As the Amazon Prime Day snafu shows, when data quality is lacking, it creates expensive (and embarrassing) consequences.

A focus on data quality is no longer a “nice to have” initiative, but an essential aspect of doing business in our digital landscape.

Why Other Product Data Systems Fail

When companies manage information for a vast number of products over multiple channels, spreadsheet-driven data management and manual processes fall short. Solely using ERP systems to store and distribute product data often leads to incomplete product information and attributes, which creates inconsistencies across channels. It also makes agile syndication of accurate product information extremely difficult.

Data inconsistencies result in a competitive disadvantage in a market where consumers are hungry for complete and curated information on the products they’re selecting. In the era of product research, accurate and thorough product data and digital assets are essential to answer consumer questions and drive sales. When that data is missing or full of discrepancies, then returns, lost revenue, and diminished consumer trust will follow.

Solving Data Quality Problems with PIM

The list of marketing channels and platforms to promote your products is rapidly expanding. In order to have more control over data quality, organizations need a central repository to store and syndicate all product data. This can be accomplished with a Product Information Management (PIM) solution.

A PIM platform creates a “single view” for all your product data, so customers view the exact data you want them to see. A PIM solution with automated workflow also helps streamline coordination between operational teams, allowing them to better manage product updates, pricing changes, and new item introductions – plus seamlessly share the up-to-date product details and specifications across your website, social media, email, third-party merchants, and all other external and internal touchpoints.

For example, one of EnterWorks’ retail clients, a leading tool retailer, leverages the Enable™ PIM solution for effective price positioning. In lower margin retail categories like hardware and tools, staying competitive on price is critical. Pricing on individual SKUs must remain fluid. However, without a central repository, the tool retailer found that it was difficult to make agile pricing updates. Now, with Enable PIM, the retailer is able to optimize price positioning and promptly publish changes to their ecommerce site to adjust to seasonal and competitive fluctuations.

Ultimately, with the “single view” of product information that comes with a PIM solution, retailers and other businesses can:

  • Establish complete data quality along with data governance rules for consistent, accurate, and up-to-date product information across channels
  • Scale their product assortment with greater ease and efficiency
  • Ensure timely distribution of product data to trading partners
  • Boost speed to market for product launches
  • Streamline the process of creating, approving, publishing, and syndicating content
  • Present curated content including photos, videos, product manuals, and more
  • Link relationships and hierarchies for products for upselling, cross-selling, product recommendations, and bundles
  • Create and update catalogs with ease
  • And so much more

To learn more about starting a PIM or Product MDM project at your company, download our free eBook resource, Preparing for PIM.

About the author

Kerry Young

Kerry Young joined EnterWorks in 2006 when Ennovative, Inc., the multi-channel publishing software company he co-founded, was acquired by EnterWorks. He directs EnterWorks’ operations and leads EnterWorks’ professional services and consulting organization, ensuring effective customer implementations and ongoing success. Mr. Young brings more than 25 years of technology and business management experience to EnterWorks, having served as CTO for a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, and earlier as VP, Information Technology for Marshall Industries, a $1.7 billion industrial electronics distributor. He previously managed information systems for a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Mr. Young holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an M.B.A. from California State University Fullerton.

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