Philadelphia The AHMA's Hardlines Technology Forum featured a pair of back-to-back sessions from Lowe's and Home Depot -- and two very different strategies when it comes to data management.
Home Depot made by far the biggest waves by announcing that it intends to move away from third-party data providers and the global data synchronization network (GDSN) and move toward its own "proprietary supply chain solution," said Chris Raabe, manager of merchandising operations.
During a presentation on April 21 called "Getting Product Data Right at The Home Depot," Raabe pointed to the company's new direction with data management, which will go under the name "HomeDepotLink," and is described as a Web-based data-collection portal that serves as an Item Master Repository, or a "single source of truth for item data."
Home Depot plans to begin moving to HomeDepotLink in third quarter 2009. The company said it will inform suppliers of specific transition plans as the date gets closer.
Under the plan, suppliers will provide product data directly to Home Depot, which will no longer accept data from GDSN. Another change under the plan: Suppliers will not have to pay a fee to provide item data.
Also at the Hardlines Conference, a team from Lowe's shared information about enhancements to LowesLink, which will continue to accept data through the GDSN.
On April 27, Lowe's launched enhancements to its LowesLink portal.
"Data quality is going to be a big focus for Lowe's. And we'll start probably mid year putting a lot of attention toward it and start getting our data as accurate as possible," said Kristy Hart, manager of product content management. She stressed to vendors that it's important for them to cleanse their data. The company will soon begin performing audits on the accuracy of the data supplied, she said.
One area of data quality Lowe's hopes to improve is consistencies in brand information -- the spelling, punctuation and capitalization (or not) of various brands.
"Brand is a big issue," said Karen Hall, senior product information analyst for Lowe's. "We launched a Data Brand Enhancement initiative to provide consistency across all of our selling tools -- marketing advertising or Lowes.com. We want consistency of what we've done."
The AHMA Hardlines Technology conference concluded April 22.