Military Exchanges Tap PIM Solution to Ease Supply Chain Data Exchange Woes

Using GXS' Product Information Management to integrate inbound data from suppliers into customer-facing systems

Using GXS' Product Information Management to integrate inbound data from suppliers into customer-facing systems

Gaithersburg, MD — April 13, 2005 — The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has selected a product information management solution from B2B connectivity specialist GXS to integrate inbound product information from its suppliers into its customer-facing systems.

GXS said that its Product Information Manager (PIM) Retailer Edition will allow AAFES, which operates 12,000 facilities in more than 35 countries and in all 50 states, to create a more efficient and standardized platform for streamlining product information management, a critical step to improving supply chain operations and decreasing operating costs.

AAFES, which recently implemented a new merchandising system, needed to perform internal data cleansing and information additions to feed its new system. With more than 1.5 million active stock-keeping units (SKUs), and more than 9,000 vendors, automating this process was a necessity.

Aligning Vendor, Product Data

By implementing GXS' PIM Retailer application, AAFES is able to perform internal data alignment, ensuring that its vendor and product information can be efficiently maintained in the future. These capabilities should ultimately help AAFES lower operating costs, GXS said.

In addition, the PIM solution establishes a single source for product data, creating consistency across departments and disciplines, according to the solution provider. For AAFES, PIM Retailer Edition will be the foundation for price and promotion synchronization, scan-based trading and radio frequency identification (RFID). The U.S. Department of Defense now requires that RFID be implemented by all military vendors.

AAFES' mission is to provide merchandise and services to authorized customers at competitive prices and to generate reasonable earnings to supplement appropriated funds for the Army and Air Force Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs. By streamlining its supply chain and decreasing operating costs, AAFES will be able to positively affect quality of life programs for soldiers, airmen and their families, GXS said.

"In this day and age, wasted time clearing up supply chain errors equals lost revenue, an expense no retailer can afford if they are to remain competitive," said Jack Leavitt, systems support branch manager at AAFES. This implementation will not only serve as a foundation for further initiatives, including scan-based trading and RFID, but also will help AAFES enforce efficiencies across all aspects of information exchange and management, Leavitt added.

Optimizing Promotional Execution

PIM Retailer Edition is a centralized repository of product information designed to help companies configure complex, conditional workflows that automate cross-departmental processes such as new product introductions or product updates. GXS said that the solution can increase speed-to-market for new products by automating the process of synchronizing new product introductions through standards-compliant practices. "This ensures that price, promotion and product information are consistent across multiple channels and also arms sales staff with broader, higher quality product data enabling them to make competitive comparisons of product information," the solution provider said.

GXS added that PIM Retailer Edition allows retailers to realize business improvement from reduced operating costs and increased sales through more timely and accurate product information. In a GXS sponsored study by The Yankee Group, companies that had implemented a PIM solution yielded a 27 percent improvement in optimized promotional execution. Additionally, the same companies realized an average 24 percent reduction in operating costs related to product data management as well as inventory management.

GXS said that AAFES chose the provider's solution to automate its supply chain, in part, because the solution is interoperable with various industry data pools, allowing AAFES to synchronize data with multiple supplier communities.

Maximizing Supplier Participation

In addition, GXS Community Link, designed to accelerate the community on-boarding process, complements the PIM Retailer Edition by providing a customized environment to meet the retailer's specific goals to maximize participation with trading partners through supplier education, consulting, implementation, measurement, testing and on-going support, according to GXS.

AAFES has selected PIM Retailer Edition's hosted deployment option, which allows the company to leverage the benefits of the solution without incurring the additional infrastructure expense of managing this environment itself.

Alex Schumacher, director of retail and consumer products at GXS, said that as retailers and suppliers face increasing pressure to complete business transactions in real-time, retailers in all industries are turning to solution providers like GXS to automate the processing of inbound product information, cut operating costs and increase speed to shelf. "By dramatically decreasing the number of inefficiencies in manual processing, and keeping product information accurate and consistent across all channels, PIM Retailer Edition can save thousands of hours in labor costs and merchandising time," Schumacher said.

Supplier, SME Solutions Also Available

GXS offers both the PIM Retailer Edition and the PIM Supplier Edition, which together comprise an end-to-end data synchronization solution in the retail industry, according to the solution provider. Both services are available as hosted solutions or through licensed software.

GXS also offers a variety of PIM solution capabilities for midsize and small businesses, including GPC, PIM Express, and GXS Community Link. All of the PIM solutions are linked to the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), a GXS-certified data pool that serves as a key enabler for the synchronized exchange of product information between trading partners around the world.

Additional Articles of Interest

The focus in the retail sector has shifted from managing the movement of goods to managing the information about goods. Read more in "Ramping Up the Retail Supply Chain," in the February/March 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

For more information on U.S. government efforts to transform its civilian and military supply chains, see the article "e-Pluribus Unum: Uncle Sam Wants 'e'...Or Does He?," in the June/July 2002 issue of iSource Business (now Supply & Demand Chain Executive) magazine.