Findel and IBM to single-source master data

Home shopping retailer Findel Direct is working with IBM to create a single source of master data for all of its products, following businesses such as John Lewis and Heinz.

Findel's brands include Confetti, Kitbag, Letterbox, IWOOT and the The Cotswold Company. The implementation, which started in January and goes live in August, plans to consolidate e-commerce, merchandising and supply systems of all the companies into a centralised application architecture.

"We've got a lot of different products within the group. Letterbox sells children's toys, and personalisation is a complexity there with different sizes, different colours and so on," said Findel Direct IT director Tim Broughton.

"One thing we wanted to do was sell some of our children's nursery ranges in some of our furniture catalogues and the only way to do that was to set them up as direct dispatch suppliers for each other."

"Actually setting up the whole thing up twice and sending a message to the other company saying this company wanted to buy that. It's patently ridiculous."

Broughton said it would cost more in shipping as there would be needless deliveries as well as increase the costs of data setup with more chance of getting anything wrong.

With the IBM solution the situation would be avoided as Findel Direct would be able to provide a single version of product information across the whole enterprise.

Broughton said it would improve the discipline of the work process for employees: "When buyers go out to fairs to look for new products they will traditionally make notes to populate spreadsheets with products they quite like."

"Being able to give them spreadsheet templates and know they can directly import information into a tool saves them considerably a lot of work."

Findel also said that the project would enhance merchandising capabilities, speed the introduction of new products, plan and forecast accurately, improve promotion planning and pricing as well as increase visibility and collaboration across the supply chain.