When working with products and managing product data and information, classification standards are an important aspect to take into account. But what are they, and why are they so important? As it happens, we have been assisting our customers with classification standards for years, so we know our way around them. Let’s dive in!

Product classification standards have been developed to help companies classify and share product information. In other words, they enable companies to speak the same language when they are talking about their products, in order to prevent miscommunications. Imagine a world where a table manufacturer produces and sells a certain type of table, with the following attributes:

  • Product name: Dinner table
  • Material: Oak wood
  • Size: 200 x 100 CM

However, one of their retailers has a different way of describing the exact same product:

  • Product: Large table
  • Wood type: Oak
  • Dimension: 2 x 1 Meter

Imagine the things that can go wrong when the retailer requests to be supplied with more ‘large tables’ with their corresponding attributes, only to have the manufacturer be very confused as to which exact product the retailer is referring to. 

This is where classification standards come in. They standardize naming conventions and product attributes across the entire value chain, making sure that everyone speaks the exact same language when it comes to product data and information. Miscommunications are now a thing of the past! Well… miscommunication around product data at least…

Besides the communication efficiency benefits, there are many more advantages to using a classification standard:

  • Your customers are better able to find the products they are looking for
  • Your analytics and the insights you gather will enable you to make much better business decisions
  • Failure costs are reduced, by a lot
  • Your marketing automation machine will become much more efficient
  • Consistency and coherence between your various platforms (e.g., online and offline) 

Over the years, different classification standards have been developed, and they typically focus on a specific vertical where they aim to standardize the product data throughout the entire value chain. Some examples are:

  • ETIM, which was developed to classify (electro-) technical products
  • AOC focusses on products in the healthcare industry
  • GS1 has developed the barcode system that is used worldwide to this day

“Why isn’t everyone using this?”

The big challenge around classification standards

Now that we’ve gone over the basics and benefits of classification standards, you might be wondering: “why isn’t everyone using this?” We’re glad you asked.

Although the benefits are obvious, the time and effort it takes to transform your product data and to apply a classification standard is a big investment. Estimates vary, but on average companies report that it takes them around 2 minutes per product to clean up the product data and information, and to apply a classification standard. That time starts to add up….

Thankfully, and not entirely coincidentally, this is where we can make a big impact! As mentioned, we have been working with classification standards for years, and we have used that experience to develop a platform that makes use of machine learning and AI to automatically clean up and transform your data, enabling you to apply any classification standard to your product data.

Interested to find out more? Don’t hesitate to reach out!

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