With consumers in charge, Walmart needed a way to bring more convenience to its
shopping experience to stay in front of the
competition. Armed with mobile phones,
shoppers have competitive offers and alternative retail experiences at their fingertips
Rampalli joined @WalmartLabs, the technology arm that supports e-commerce growth
and innovation for Walmart, in 2011 to help
address this problem. He took a hard look at
its web presence and saw the opportunity
to grow product assortment online to serve
1 MAKING THE ENTIRE CATALOG BROWS-ABLE ONLINE. That means
getting content for products
sold only in-store today so
they can be found online,
an initiative they call Store
Assortment Only (SAO).
2 COLLECTING A COM- PLETE CATALOG FROM
ALL SUPPLIERS. To truly
meet consumer demands, it’s
not just about listing all the
products Walmart has today, it’s
also about making sure every
product a consumer might want
can be found on its dot-com
3 EXPANDING THE QUALITY AND COMPLETENESS OF PRODUCT
CONTENT. By providing
customers more detail
about each of the products
Walmart sells, it hopes
to improve the shopping
experience, no matter the
COMPONENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT CONTENT STRATEGY
For Walmart, getting a complete product catalog and all of the content that goes along with it breaks down
into three core components:
customers. Getting product content online for
every product, no matter where the point of
sale, became a companywide initiative.
“Our goal is to build a good digital product
catalog — so customers can discover the real
range of products we sell,” says Rampalli.
Getting product information for millions
of SKUs and hosting it on Walmart.com is
an enormous undertaking. For Rampalli and
team, there were two initial challenges to
solve. First, source quality product content
for so many products across thousands of
suppliers. Second, organize, standardize
and optimize all that data to go live rapidly
on the site.
Initially, Walmart had been sourcing product data from wherever it could — brands
themselves, third-party catalog vendors,
content pools and content service providers.
It was a costly and time-consuming process
that lacked the ability to scale.
“To be honest with you, product content
is in its infancy. There are clearly some lead-ers…and there are clearly some laggards.
Most of them are in the belly,” says Rampalli.
To change that, Walmart partnered with
Salsify ( www.salsify.com) to develop the
systems it needed. “We developed a seamless API [application program interface] that
connects us to the supplier. Then Salsify gets