April 26, 2004, 12:00 AM

Back-end product data systems are being pulled to do front-end duty

Product information management systems, which were launched to support communication between trading partners on the back end, now also support front-end applications such as store kiosks.


Global data synchronization, as mandated for its major suppliers by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., has been a key driver in large retailers’ adoption of product information management systems that allow them to centrally gather, manipulate, store and send product information electronically to trading partners. But the Trigo Technologies PIM systems in place at retailers such as Albertson`s Inc. and Staples Inc. are also finding increasing use in customer-facing applications, says Dan Druker, vice president of marketing at product information management system provider Trigo Technologies. Trigo was in March acquired by IBM Corp.

“We are seeing a lot of interest in kiosks and information stations,” says Druker. Delivering information from the PIM to an in-store outlet such as a kiosk not only can allow store associates or shoppers to compare items in inventory, but also lets retailers provide access to everything in their inventory – even what’s not in the store.

“The typical grocery store or large retailer will carry 100,000 items per store. A really big store will carry 250,000 items per store. But their overall catalog, including products and services, might be 3 million to 5 million items,” says Druker. By using a kiosk to make available items that the retailer carries but are not in stock at a given store, retailers can increase sales per square foot at stores, Druker says.

Once a PIM is in place, it becomes “virtually free” for a retailer to offer its entire product catalog through the web site instead of the limited number of products that otherwise must be manually added to the site, item by item, without a central system, he adds.


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