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Walmart Pilots Product Content System for a More Connected Supply Chain

Walmart is working to create a more connected supply chain with a product content system designed to provide descriptive data about its products to suppliers and offer comprehensive product information to consumers.

With consumers constantly connected and using online mediums for answers to pressing product questions and to determine whether to purchase something, Walmart sought to simplify that process.

“Traditional media, social media and the Internet are the new knowledge gatekeepers and increasingly influence consumer-purchasing behaviors,” the company noted in a post on its technology laboratory, WalmartLabs’ website. “However influential they may be, social product ratings are clearly subjective, and online product information is not always accurate and lacks consistency from site to site.”

So in answer, Walmart implemented a pilot program called the Product Content Collection System (PCCS), which is expected to make comparison shopping easier by putting “consistent,” “credible” information at consumers’ fingertips. With PCCS suppliers will be able to send their catalogs directly to Walmart.

“The crux of the PCCS program is a specification (a set of instructions including the list of attributes, requirement level, data transfer protocol) that will be provided to the supplier to use as a framework for sharing this data with Walmart. We are encouraging suppliers to provide us with product content for their entire catalog, whether or not it is currently carried within the Walmart retail eco-system. We also welcome content from suppliers who currently don’t sell on Walmart,” the company noted in the post.

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Walmart said the aim is to provide accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive product information to customers, no matter how they shop, in order to improve the buying experience.

“We are not reinventing the wheel here,” Walmart said noting that many of its suppliers are already part of the B2B-centric Global Data Sync Network (GDSN) spearheaded by GS1, an organization that develops and maintains standards for global supply and demand chains, and a number of retailers and suppliers.

The new system is designed to make it as simple as possible for suppliers to upload their catalogs to Walmart either through GDSN or any third-party content service providers companies might already be working with. Provided the data comes in through the right channel and the supplier approves it, Walmart said it can import it and customers can start tapping into the info right away.

“Having the full product catalog ensures we have great content for the customer experience, and also allows for rapid set up of items if and when Walmart decides to carry them,” the company noted.