Reining in the Chaos of Product Data Management

Why and how is Product Data Management (PDM) a problem?

It seems simple enough; if a retailer wants to sell online they need a vendor’s product data. They use this data to showcase relevant information to consumers on their website, which helps shoppers make a buying decision. But what happens when retailers receive these data files? They are often:

  • In different formats
    • In one spreadsheet you might have size, color, and name in separate columns, while in another you have all of the descriptions together bunched in one column.
  • Unstandardized
    • For the same round rug, some vendors put size in this format (6’ round), some in this format (6 foot round) and some in this format (6ft round)
  • Missing data or images
    • We’ve seen entire columns of product data come to us blank! Or product data sheets will be missing the SKU’s corresponding images because they’re hiding somewhere in another dropbox folder.
  • Unusable
    • Some data sheets can be so rough that e-commerce platforms can’t process them without serious data transformation.
  • Just flat-out wrong
    • Mismatched data points, incorrect content, wrong numbers, the list can go on and on.


bad product data
Hundreds of rows, hundreds of potential for error. Just look at all the different material types, some are the same thing just spelled differently!
PDM is a Widespread Headache

This product data problem plagues many industries. It’s certainly prolific in the Home Furnishings category where products require a large array of data points and highly detailed information. And even if the data files received from vendors do have all the required data points and fields included (and in the right format), that doesn’t mean the information is correct.

In fact, some sources estimate that 20-30% of typical product data master files consist of duplicate entries or information that is inaccurate. Showcasing error-ridden product information is a major problem. It can lead to issues like expensive shipping mistakes, wasted time correcting errors, increased returns, and unsatisfied customers who feel cheated by inaccurate content. It can also drive away new sales, as Kimberly Struyk (SVP from QualQuant Signals)  states that, “product information is the single most influential content to raising purchasing intentions.” Last, let’s not forget the risk of overselling (also known as making customers really unhappy when offering something that is actually out of stock because your inventory data was wrong).

If you’re an online retailer or manufacturer who deals with a large volume of products, this is probably not news to you. But as the dominance of online selling grows, we’re coming to realize that the trickle-down effect is hurting smaller retailers as well. Larger companies may have the resources to hire someone to fix their product data… But a local retailer who wants to step into the world of online selling does not have this luxury. Instead, they’re stuck trying to standardize data files to upload into their web platform, or consistently contacting vendors for answers. This is not sustainable. It’s just a major hurdle for the “little guy” who wants to compete in his local market.

What’s the Answer?

Many probably think that there is no better answer. They may assume that the only way to fix the data problem is to spend hours combing through excel files, or paying someone else to do it. Well, we won’t settle for that! To combat these hurdles, we’ve built technology that makes sense out of the chaos that is PDM. With Datalink, we collect data from vendors, standardize it, and then stream it directly into our retailer’s e-commerce sites. Our job is to take the maintenance out of this timely, tedious process for retailers, which means we combat these data woes head on. Our team works tirelessly to standardize hundreds of thousands of SKUs to ensure our retailers get the best, cleanest, and most accurate data to show their customers.

PDM product data management

So, if you’re a retailer we’re here to help make running an e-commerce store easy. It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming, never-ending data headache. It can be simple; let us manage the product data, you focus on selling more. Click here to learn more or request a free demo on how our platform works from one of our e-commerce specialists.