During the fourth quarter of 2021, Orgill reached a significant milestone in its efforts to help independent retailers enhance their e-commerce capabilities as the number of individual items within its shareable product information database grew to more than 1 million.
“Nearly a decade ago, we realized that independent retailers would need access to all of the product data, images and information for the products they carry in order to populate their e-commerce engines. And, if they were going to properly represent their store brands, this would also include products that Orgill may not supply,” says Boyden Moore, Orgill president and CEO. “Today, with the help of our customers and industry partners, the enriched product data that we make available to our customers has grown to exceed 1 million unique items and continues to grow.”
To make this amount of data easily accessible to retailers who subscribe to the service, Orgill houses the information in what is called a product information management (PIM) system. Referred to as the “Orgill Industry PIM,” this software makes it easy for users to find and access the information they need.
At its core, the Orgill Industry PIM is a database of enriched product data that its customers can use to populate their e-commerce websites, point-of-sale (POS) systems or in a variety of other functions. But what truly makes Orgill’s Industry PIM unique is the products it contains go far beyond what Orgill stocks in its warehouses, according to Marc Hamer, Orgill’s executive vice president, chief information and technology officer.
“What’s often overlooked is that this collection of products, data and images is truly unique because we are supporting our customers by providing them with all the enriched product data they need, not just the products that we sell them,” Hamer says.
Because this data has been “enriched,” it includes most everything a retailer would need to populate an e-commerce website such as high-quality images, long (text) descriptions, specifications, filterable attributes and links to supporting documents.
Not only does Orgill’s product database include enriched items outside of the distributor’s stocking inventory such as Benjamin Moore paint and Big Green Egg items, it also includes commodity wood products, sheet goods and more.
“What you traditionally see with some of the e-commerce databases available in the industry is that they are fairly limited to either products stocked in a distributor’s warehouse or perhaps available through dropship by that distributor, but that can be very limiting for retailers who offer assortments customized to their markets,” says Grant Morrow, Orgill’s e-commerce program manager.
In all, Orgill’s Industry PIM has product data, images and information across four different types of items: Orgill warehouse products, Orgill dropship products, products not sold through Orgill and commodity wood products.
“When you look at the breakdown of the more than 1 million items in the database, only about 12 percent are items that are stocked in Orgill’s warehouse,” Morrow says. “This allows retailers to create an e-commerce offering that truly represents the unique assortment they want to present to their customers.”
While reaching the 1-million-item milestone is an important evolution of Orgill’s Industry PIM, what is equally compelling is how Orgill was able to build such a robust collection of product data.
“This was truly a team effort,” Hamer says. “When we started out, all we had was Orgill-stocked product data, but that didn’t do much good for our customers who wanted to sell from their website. Had we stopped there, this would have placed the burden on them to source and clean up data for other items they stock and sell.”
To overcome this challenge, Orgill worked together with its industry partner, Unilog, and retailers who signed on to participate in Orgill’s Product Data Program.
As retailers subscribe to the Orgill program, Orgill’s product data team analyzes the customers’ item lists to identify gaps in the distributor’s database and then collect what data was available for those items. Where data is missing, Orgill and Unilog reach out and gather the assets necessary to enrich the item information.
“There is no way around it, it was a long and tedious process and that’s why we are so excited to see it grow to the level it has,” Morrow says. “But collecting the data is only part of the process, you also have to have the systems in place to keep the data updated and offer it to retailers in a way that makes it easy for them to use the vast collection of information available to them.”
To help retailers with this process, Orgill has a system built in to streamline the effort.
“What we do is map their SKUs to our master item ID,” Morrow says. “Our initial match rate has increased to an average of 70 percent, which means that many of our dealers can go live as soon as their websites are ready.”
And for retailers who are looking to build a website or e-commerce engine from the ground up, Orgill has solutions for that as well.
“If there is one thing we have seen since we started this project, it’s that e-commerce is becoming more and more important for retailers of all sizes,” Hamer says. “The ability to offer customers a true omnichannel experience is more important than it ever has been and we will continue to work on ways to improve our offerings.”