Product info platform helps Marbles onboard items quickly

To provide merchandise intelligence across its organization and speed items to shelves and its online storefront, Marbles: The Brain Store has started including product data in its product information management platform.

Marbles is using the cloud-based solution from Salsify to highlight specific product fields, simplifying the listing of products on its new e-commerce site, Chain Store Age reported. The company has 28 physical stores.

"In spring 2014, we decided to replatform our e-commerce site and needed to move all the content out of the old site, as well as add new content which the old platform didn't allow," said Hallie Steube, director of marketing at Marbles. "We selected Salsify and synced it to our new ShopVisible platform in time for the 2014 holiday season."

The marketing department created targeted, online gift catalogs of 10 specific items and sent them to various media outlets, she said. "Store associates could be directed to follow specific product placement fields to guide store display set-up."

This year, Marbles extended its use of Salsify by syncing the solution with a SAP inventory distribution management system. This allowed a real-time view across the enterprise of product inventory in specific stores.

"The biggest appeal of Salisfy is that it's a blank slate," Steube said. "It replaces spreadsheets and online documents. Today, it's how we onboard products for the site and stores."

The platform can deliver store-specific product catalogs to inform associates and managers of products that should be stocked or phased out, or those that will be arriving soon. Salsify can also create media-like product training videos. Additional uses of the solution include the creation of store-specific product cards with pricing information and other data that are printable at store level, tracking of store assets like fixtures and TVs, the location of mall-based stores within their shopping centers, and total store square footage.

As new items are created in the SAP inventory distribution system, workflow alerts are generated with data like price, department, description and digital assets in Salsify. Marbles saved weeks of time in gathering and inputting information when it first used Salsify to populate product information on its new e-commerce site. The retailer collected two-thirds of the data it needed from suppliers within 48 hours.

Recently, Marbles used Salsify in the creation of a mobile Trade Show App to help simplify tasks for the retailer's chief merchant, like attending trade shows and collecting information on potential new products, and then in assortment planning. By having better product information earlier in the assortment planning process, the retailer speeds up the process of getting products into stores and listed on its website.

"Our chief merchant formerly used spreadsheets," Steube said. "Now with the app, he takes a picture and creates an item with basic product information. He can also record verbal commitments from vendors. Later on, he completes the entries to present proposed new merchandise to the product management group."

Using Salsify, Marbles is able to master item management from discovery to onboarding, and from in-store education to e-commerce launch, according to a case study. "To maintain its hard-won category leadership and stay fresh, the Marbles team turns over a significant percentage of their catalog every season," the case study reported. "They are constantly on the lookout for the latest products that will resonate with their loyal and growing customer base, and are always testing new products in a handful of locations before rolling them out company-wide."

Angie Seaman, e-commerce director at Marbles, appreciates Salsify's combination of features and versatility. The solution allowed the retailer to get started quickly, with a relatively small up-front investment, and can accommodate significant expansion over time, she said. "What I love about this is that it's a blank canvas. Other systems were very opinionated and wanted us to work in a specific way, but with Salsify we can work any way that fits our specific business needs. We have the data all in one place, and can turn it into what we need it to be instead of having to dig it up every time."

For more:
-See this Chain Store Age article
-See the Salsify/Marbles case study

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