Duplicate product data refers to the existence of multiple product records for the same item in a company’s database or on an online marketplace. This seemingly innocuous issue can have severe repercussions on a company’s efficiency, reputation and overall customer experience.
In this article, we will explore the causes of duplicate product data, the consequences it can entail, and the strategies to tackle this persistent problem.
Causes of Duplicate Product Data
Manual Data Entry Errors
Human error remains a leading cause of duplicate product data. When employees manually enter product information, they might inadvertently create duplicates by misspelling product names, inputting varying product codes, or using inconsistent naming conventions.
System Integration Issues
In larger organisations, data can be dispersed across multiple systems and databases. Poorly integrated systems can lead to synchronisation problems, resulting in duplicate records when data is merged from different sources.
During the process of data migration, if not handled carefully, product information from legacy systems can be duplicated in the new database, leading to data redundancies.
Third-Party Data Feeds
Retailers often rely on data feeds from suppliers or other partners. These feeds may contain duplicate entries, especially when multiple suppliers provide similar products or when updates are not effectively managed.
Consequences of Duplicate Product Data
Inconsistent Product Information
Duplicate product data leads to discrepancies in product descriptions, pricing, and specifications. This can confuse customers and undermine their trust in the company.
Lost Sales Opportunities
When customers encounter multiple listings for the same product, they may hesitate to make a purchase or abandon their shopping altogether due to confusion or suspicion.
Decline in SEO Performance
Duplicate product data affects search engine rankings as search algorithms penalise websites with duplicate content. This can lower a company’s visibility and reduce organic traffic.
Maintaining duplicate product data incurs unnecessary costs, such as storage expenses, data management efforts and the risk of purchasing redundant inventory.
Strategies to Address Duplicate Product Data
Data Governance Policies
Implementing robust data governance policies is fundamental to prevent the occurrence of duplicate product data. This includes defining data entry standards, naming conventions, and establishing clear ownership of data maintenance tasks.
Automated Data Validation
Utilise automated data validation tools to identify and eliminate duplicate records during the data entry process. These tools can flag potential duplicates and offer suggestions for merging or removing redundant entries.
Unique Product Identifiers
Assigning unique product identifiers, such as Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) or Universal Product Codes (UPCs), can help identify and eliminate duplicate products, especially when dealing with multiple suppliers.
Regular Data Audits
Conduct regular data audits to proactively identify and address any instances of duplicate product data. This involves employing data quality checks and performing periodic reviews of product databases.
System Integration and Data Migration Best Practices
When integrating systems or migrating data, follow industry best practices to ensure data consistency and eliminate duplicates. This may involve data mapping, data cleansing and thorough testing.