Who should have the burden of lifting product information as you as a manufacturer have it to the way it is presented at the digital point-of-sales provided by your merchants? Often this seems to be stalled in a standoff as described in the post Passive vs Active Product Information Exchange.
Most companies participating in cross company supply chains use spreadsheets for exchanging product data. Doing that is very cumbersome, error-prone and does in most cases not provide the needed data quality for providing self-service ready product data to your re-sellers.
The most common way of using spreadsheets for this is that a merchant gives each of his suppliers a spreadsheet with columns of attributes based on the merchants taxonomy to be filled out. As a supplier, you will typically be tasked with filling in a different spreadsheet from each of your downstream re-seller. This is very inefficient seen from a supplier perspective.
Deploying customer (and supplier) portals for product information
There is a tendency when deploying Product Information Management (PIM) solutions, that you may want to add a portal for your trading partners:
- If you are a manufacturer, you could have a customer portal where your downstream re-sellers can fetch the nicely arranged product information that is the result of your PIM implementation.
- If you are a merchant, you could have a supplier portal where your upstream suppliers can deliver their information nicely arranged according to your product information standards in your PIM implementation.
This is a death trap for both manufacturers and merchants, because:
- As a trading manufacturer and merchant, you probably follow different standards, so one must obey to the other. The result is that one side will have a lot of manual and costly work to do to obey the strongest trading partner. Only a few will be the strongest all time.
- If all manufacturers have a customer portal and all merchants have a supplier portal everyone will be waiting for the other and no product information will flow in the supply chains.