This is how products become desirable objects
BY ANDREW SIMPSON
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2015)
Jewelry Television (JTV) is one of the largest multi-channel retailers of jewellery and gemstones in the world. To more effectively sell and manage over 1.6 million products and 50,000 new product introductions per year, JTV is implementing Riversand’s PIM solution.
As the largest retailer of loose gemstones in the world and one of the top four electronic jewellery retailers in the United States, Jewelry Television’s goal is to offer their customers a large assortment of products across a variety of channels including the web and television. The company prides itself on offering the best selection to its clients. This has led to significant growth and overall business success throughout its history.
JTV has evolved from the small enterprise known in the early 1990s as America’s Collectibles Network into one of the leading retailers of gemstones and fine jewellery. JTV broadcast its first live show on October 15, 1993, from a small studio located in Greeneville, Tennessee. Originally, JTV offered collectible items such as coins, knives, quilts and skincare products. After a decade of successful broadcast and online sales, the company decided to focus the business on what it does best - offering fine jewellery, gemstones and gemstone-related products at reasonable prices. In 2002, the company relaunched and has since focused on selling gemstones, jewellery and jewellery-making kits. The company now has sales of over $350 million per year and over 1,000 employees.
The company is a selling machine. Jewelry Television airs 24 hours a day. The network also offers online streaming of its network through its website, JTV.com. It has been ranked as the third largest jewellery website according to Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. However, in order to manage its online product assortment growth, increase sales and improve operational efficiency, JTV realised that a Product Information Management (PIM) system was needed to replace or augment their legacy systems.
As the company continued to grow, it began realizing some issues and pain points related to Product Information Management, Digital Asset Management and E-Commerce processes. The company wanted to continue to grow its SKU count, develop drop-shipping relationships with their vendors, increase SKU creation efficiency and improve the Digital Asset Management for example for photos, videos, PDFs, etc. of products. Furthermore, they want to better collaborate with vendors to allow them to contribute and manage content in a centralized Product Information Management solution. Additionally, with the introduction of a PIM system, JTV wanted to expand its product taxonomy to include more detailed product selling features (dimensional attributes, use & care, etc.) and product groupings like ensembles, kits and other product relationships. Finally, the company would like to expand product attributes by linking product taxonomy to managed media assets like optical properties, product videos, appraisals, sales videos, certifications and others.
A PIM system serves as a central product repository, a source of product master information. PIM systems handle Product Data Management requirements that go way beyond what a traditional E-Commerce or ERP system can handle. By implementing a PIM solution, an enterprise ensures that master data is rich, accurate and efficiently managed. Only a PIM system can ensure that there is data consistency across channels. Master information can then be managed in the PIM system and channel-specific information can be managed in the PIM system or in channel-specific software such as an E-Commerce platform. E-Commerce platforms can be used to manage web promotions and web-specific information. Any enterprise that is focused on multi-channel retailing would benefit greatly from a PIM solution.
Retailers usually have a single master catalogue that acts as the repository for all their products. But often, they would like to create multiple custom catalogues to better target a particular customer segment, channel or geography. Product hierarchies might be different on the web as opposed to in the print media. There might be different web hierarchies and catalogues depending on the customer segment such as students, government agencies, hospitals etc. There is a tremendous need to keep all the subset catalogues ‘in sync’ with the master catalogue. Most PIM systems are designed to handle master and subset catalogues and all the synchronisation needs across these catalogues.
The case for a PIM system becomes even stronger as the number and complexity of content sources increase. Retailers have to deal with multiple content sources and multiple transport and data formats. In the landscape of constantly changing GDSN data pools, data feeds and suppliers, a PIM system can provide much-needed stability of architecture to deal with these changes. And there is a big difference between catalogue management and Product Information Management. Catalogues are end products of Product Information Management processes.
A PIM system provides the ability to handle core Product Information Management processes such as New Part Introductions, Master Schema Management, Bulk Product Updates, Internal Synchronization (keeping other enterprise systems ‘in sync’) etc. The end result of these processes is the creating of catalogues that can be then synchronised to downstream systems such as E-Commerce or ERP systems. Internal synchronisation means keeping all internal systems synchronised with the latest, most accurate product information. PIM systems manage this complexity pretty well as this is one of the core foundations of any well-designed PIM system. ERP and E-Commerce applications are not well-suited for this task as they are both consumers of product information.
Retailers looking to manage product information should look strongly towards implementing a PIM solution as opposed to customizing their ERP or E-Commerce system or developing a solution themselves. A commercial PIM solution will definitely lead to mid to long-term benefits that will far outweigh any costs of the PIM implementation.
To realize these benefits, JTV partnered with Riversand to implement Riversand’s PIM solution from high-level design analysis to deployment. To meet the company’s requirements, Riversand has deployed its PIM solution, MDMCenter, with added optional modules for Media Asset Management and a Vendor Portal. The PIM solution will manage syndication of product data to JTV’s E-Commerce platform and other enterprise systems. The JTV product dataset consisted of approximately 1.6 Million products, around 37 digital assets for each product and 20,000 to 50,000 new products per year from vendors. JTV is leveraging the native ability of Riversand’s PIM system to combine data into a comprehensive data feed to a variety of enterprise applications. The PIM system has been implemented and Jewelry Television is currently quantifying the financial benefits and ROI of its investment.
As C. Chris Meystrik, CTO of JTV, observed, “somewhat recently we have stated a desire to become the world’s leader in gemstone content. Being the world’s largest supplier of semi-precious gemstones, it is natural that our customers should count on us for the best information on the product. Having such quality, dependable content would raise our awareness in the market, impact our reputation, and likely have a positive impact on our internal culture. Riversand’s PIM solution is expected to help us deliver on this vision quickly and without the cost of an internal application development effort.”
Andrew Simpson is VP of Business Development for Riversand. He has over 21 years of sales, marketing and business development experience at innovative companies that provide significant value to clients.
Riversand Technologies, Inc.
C. Chris Meystrik
Picture credit © Level1studio/Getty Images