Tesco.com cuts down on data cleansing

Case study: Online retailer implements product info tool

Case study: Online retailer implements product info tool

Tesco.com is rolling out software which will make it easier to manage the thousands of products in its database.

The online arm of the retail giant is using product information management technology from IVIS Group, which it installed to manage the electrical product data stream in the run-up to Christmas last year, and is planning to extend further.

Technical specialist at Tesco.com Nick Langley said selling products such as TVs and books online was different to selling food.

"[With groceries] we could get feeds from our own mainframe and we knew what the attributes were - like weight and price."

But with electrical goods sold on the 'extra' part of the Tesco.com site, there are a large number of other attributes that have to be taken into account - such as screen size for TVs - with the data coming from suppliers in different formats, making it more difficult to manage.

The Sonetto software from IVIS can be trained to automatically correct errors in new and existing product data coming in from suppliers, and add information to product records, which means that each product listing can give customers the same types of information, helping them to compare products more easily.

Tesco.com said that instead of having one person cleaning data full time, the job is now done in one hour per week, because changes made using Sonetto are replicated across all similar data, cutting the need for manual intervention.

"The main saving is IT time. We in IT don't have to create new database columns for every product as it could be done by the users," Langley said.

The software can also suggest categories - such as colour - after searching the data feeds for groups, and then Tesco.com managers can look through them and decide what is suitable.

The system can also create virtual categories much faster than Tesco.com could do previously, linking products from different areas of the site.

"The nice thing is we could start cross selling - it would be great to have a virtual category like "Harry Potter" with books and DVD and other related products under the category," he said.

Langley said Tesco.com had pencilled in a return on investment in two to three years for the software, and is already looking at moving more categories of the Tesco.com extra store, in addition to electrical goods, over to the system.