‘The correct product data is essential for customers’
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‘The correct product data is essential for customers’

  • 10 July 2017
  • Door: Jolanda van Heukelom

Dutch grocery chain Albert Heijn is a staunch supporter and advocate of the GS1 DatakwaliTijd 2.0 data quality programme and demands that its suppliers comply with the programme requirements – because only then can retailers and suppliers optimally meet consumers’ needs, according to Marit van Egmond, Commercial Director at Albert Heijn.
“Technology plays a major role in the process and Albert Heijn’s goal of having tasty, healthy, sustainable and affordable products on its shelves every day. At Albert Heijn we’re responding to that development in various ways, including by continuously innovating our product range, with loyalty schemes and also with product data – because the consumer can only make the best decision when the product information is correct.”

One standard, one approach

Van Egmond: “Technology is advancing at breakneck speed and that’s having an impact on our customers. Nowadays, they use their smartphones to look for product information: how sustainable a product is, which allergens it contains, where it has come from.” That’s the main reason why Albert Heijn demands that all of its suppliers comply with the requirements defined in the DatakwaliTijd 2.0 data quality programme. “We’re very keen for our suppliers to participate in DatakwaliTijd 2.0 and we hope that they do so willingly. We realise that it asks a lot of them, but it’s very important – especially because we work with so many different suppliers from around the world. That’s why it’s essential to all use the same standard and the same approach to achieve good-quality data. That creates a faster, easier and more efficient way of working.”

“They simply merge the offline and online worlds into one; there’s no longer any distinction as far as the consumer is concerned.”

Data must be accurate, otherwise the customer loses faith

Marit van Egmond is most concerned about the fact that the data quality is still not up to scratch. “The data provided by suppliers via GS1 Data Source is not always correct. It is sometimes incomplete, out of date or simply wrong. By the way, I blame that mostly on supplier ignorance about the importance of high-quality data. Shoppers are increasingly demanding transparency and dependability, so if a product formulation is changed the data must be amended immediately. And if something changes in terms of allergens, it’s crucial that the data reflects that. It’s hugely important for retailers and also manufacturers that the data is accurate, otherwise the customer loses faith.”

Correcting inaccurate data is very time-consuming

“It’s also important for us at Albert Heijn that suppliers keep their data up to date. For packaging, for example, it’s especially important that the size data is correct. If it isn’t, the product might literally not fit on the shelf and that would cause a problem for us. Besides that, correcting inaccurate data takes up a lot of time and energy. It’s better to get it right first time!’’

Shoppers want good product information

Product data could be called the new ‘P’ in the marketing mix (price, promotion, product & concept innovation, presentation, product data and product quality). Van Egmond agrees with that viewpoint. According to her, shoppers want good product information: “People read product information on packaging much more closely than they used to. They have become more interested and want to be able to read for themselves exactly what a product contains. Incidentally, that’s not just true for Albert Heijn’s products. Shoppers in general look for information and answers to their questions on the internet before going to a store. They simply merge the offline and online worlds into one; there’s no longer any distinction as far as the consumer is concerned.”

Suppliers must embrace the importance of good product data

It is because Albert Heijn considers high-quality product data so important that the retailer is very actively involved in the GS1 quality programme. Van Egmond: “We are ambassadors of the programme and actively work on its setup and development. We’re continually working together with other industry partners to explore how we can further optimise the programme.”
Albert Heijn collaborates closely with suppliers on improving the quality of product information. “We have to keep explaining how important it is and help them to do a better job. Everyone sees the benefit of this, but people often don’t sufficiently grasp how big an impact a data error can have on the information that consumers receive.” Hence, this is the biggest challenge for Van Egmond. “I won’t be satisfied until the quality is a hundred percent good and the data is up to date. I really want suppliers to embrace the importance of good product data even more. And I seriously hope that it will happen one day.”

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Source: © GS1