Delivering Exceptional Product Content: Solving a Universal Problem

Written by Ram Rampalli, global head of content acquisition

The Internet and social media have reshaped the retail landscape, transforming it from a static, linear world to a dynamic, networked world. Whereas local brick & mortar stores were once the center of the retail universe, more and more of today’s consumers enjoy the convenience of shopping anytime, anywhere in stores, online or via mobile devices. Traditional media, social media and the Internet are the new knowledge gatekeepers and increasingly influence consumer-purchasing behaviors. 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.

Since today’s connected consumers are more likely to comparison shop, this lack of consistent and credible information often leads to a frustrating and perhaps more lengthy shopping experience than desired. We’ve all been there! This is why Walmart has implemented a pilot program called the Product Content Collection System (PCCS) that will facilitate the supplier sending their catalog directly to us. 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.

Our goal is to provide the most accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive product information to our customers – regardless of how they shop – to improve the shopping experience for our customers. We are not reinventing the wheel here. Many of our large suppliers are already part of the B2B centric Global Data Sync Network (GDSN) spearheaded by GS1 and a number of retailers and suppliers. At the same time, the explosive growth of our Marketplace program has introduced smaller and mid-sized suppliers, sellers and DSVs to the Walmart ecosystem that are not part of the GDSN program. We want to make it as easy as possible for suppliers to upload their catalog to us — either through the GDSN, the PCCS or both. If the supplier already works with third-party content service providers like Salsify, Shotfarm, ARS, 1WorldSync, Hubba, SPS Commerce, Gladson and Kwikee, we are agnostic to the approach. As long as the data comes to us through the right channel, and is approved by the supplier, we can import it, and customers can use it/will benefit from it. 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.

We are expecting this program to be launched later this calendar year. In the meantime, if you would like to join the dozens of suppliers currently participating in the pilot and submitting their product catalogs to us, or get a sneak preview of the PCCS specification, please feel free to send us an email at contentacq@walmart.com.