Ace Hardware Corporation Standardized Product Attribute Information to Improve Online Product Search
 
 

Ace Hardware Corporation Standardized Product Attribute Information to Improve Online Product Search

Ace Hardware is known as the The Helpful Place ® by both customers and communities. For its first 50 years in business, Ace was privately held. In 1976, it became a retailer-owned cooperative. Each store is independently owned and operated by local entrepreneurs who often live in the communities they serve. With 4,600 stores in all 50 states and more than 60 countries, Ace is the largest retailer-owned cooperative and a clear leader in the convenience segment of the hardware industry. 

With a strong focus on customer satisfaction, Ace needed to arm its retailers and associates with information at the click of a button to help customers find the right products to meet their needs. The company’s ACENET solution—a portal for Ace Retailers to look up and search for products—maintains information on 90,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs) and receives approximately 129,000 hits each day. The company had an excellent search engine with Oracle Endeca Guided Search, but it needed to standardize and organize its product content to make product identification and location more effective. Ace worked with Oracle partner ByteManagers, Inc. to implement Oracle Enterprise Data Quality Product Data Parsing and Standardization to optimize product data and drive search effectiveness in its ACENET search.

 
 

 
 

Challenges

A word from Ace Hardware

  • "With Oracle Enterprise Data Quality, we standardized product attributes for much simpler product classification and more effective search. This makes it much easier for staff to find product information at the click of a button—helping us to increase store manager and customer satisfaction, grow sales, and reduce costs." – Scott Heyer, Manager of Store Systems, Ace Hardware

  • Keep pace with more than 129,000 daily ACENET hits, including 80,000 product search item detail hits, across 4,600 stores and manage product item information for 90,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) that are constantly changing
  • Ensure each product entry in ACENET includes properly standardized product and key search attributes based on a standard product data definition
  • Provide Ace retailers and associates with up-to-date, accurate product information, and enable staff to perform product comparisons on demand, particularly helpful if a customer requests a product that is not available
  • Reduce expensive drop shipments from manufacturers to meet customer needs
  • Improve ACENET adoption rates

Solutions

  • Implemented Oracle Enterprise Data Quality Product Data Parsing and Standardization to streamline new product entry to the ACENET system—standardizing manufacturer names, brands, and item attributes to greatly improve search effectiveness
  • Implemented a connector between Oracle Enterprise Data Quality and Oracle Endeca to automate dimension management and load item facets to enable guided navigation
  • Improved product organization and “findability” to increase customer, in-store sales
  • Applied more than 109,000 daily standardizations, verifying or updating more than 10,000 product data attributes covering more than 900 categories of hardware merchandise to improve system navigation
  • Improved retailer confidence and increased user uptake on ACENET by 300% in the first project phase
  • Avoided unnecessary drop shipment costs by enabling in-store staff to provide customers with product alternatives or information on product availability at near-by stores
  • Enabled Ace to identify specific items for product lists, such as hurricane preparation lists, allowing stores to more easily order items from one list
  • Set the foundation to enable vendors to on board new products into ACENET—ensuring that all products follow description standards before receiving approval
  • Helped Ace run reports on new items that do not have a brand or product type association—immediately flagging holes in the data and reducing potential lost sales

Why Oracle

Ace selected Oracle Enterprise Data Quality Product Data Parsing and Standardization due to its tight integration with Oracle Endeca Guided Search and ability to optimize product data for searchability within Oracle Endeca. The company was also impressed with the Oracle solution’s ability to examine every product category.

“With Oracle Enterprise Data Quality, we were able to identify holes in our data and be more proactive in meeting our customers’ needs,” said Scott Heyer, manager of store systems, Ace Hardware.

Implementation Process

Ace Hardware implemented Oracle Enterprise Data Quality Product Data Parsing and Standardization in three phases. First, the company conducted an exercise where it evaluated attributes every item should have. It first identified brand and product type as two classifications that would provide quick wins and an immediate return on investment. Second, the team worked on navigation and product description standardization. Finally, in the third phase, Ace created user friendly expanded descriptions, introducing subcategory product-specific attributes, such as units of measure, material types, and finish/colors.

Partner

Ace Hardware worked with Oracle partner ByteManagers to specify required product attributes. ByteManagers then configured the system to identify, extract, and standardize these attributes for improved search and navigation. The partner had two team members onsite at Ace and a team of three analysts offsite.