A series of interviews with companies that have implemented Lazuli PDP, asking about the deciding factors, actual cases of operation, and issues that were resolved. Beisia Co., Ltd.(hereinafter referred to as "Basia"), is a shopping center chain that operates a network of 136 stores and an e-commerce business in Gunma and 14 other prefectures in Japan.
Required registration of tens of thousands of items of product information on an e-commerce site. Even when the information was collected, the details of the information varied.
They have been able to cover more than 80% of the product descriptions of the products that they handle. They were able to create an area with more sales than a real store.
Three pillars of EC business at the core of OMO policy
– Beisia has been implementing Lazuli PDP since July 2022. Could you tell us about the strategy for the e-commerce business of Beisia, which you are in charge of?
Mr. Toeda: At Beisia, we launched our point program in December 2020 with both an app and a card. While other supermarket companies are implementing point programs, I believe that Beisia was the last to do so. Hence, we have put a lot of effort into getting app members, which makes it easy to launch a variety of digital measures.
Among its various digital initiatives, the EC business plays a central role in OMO initiatives. Specifically, the following:
- “Pre-order e-commerce”, where customers can pre-order seasonal event products such as Christmas cakes and Osechi (New Year’s dishes) from the Basia app and pick them up at a real store
- “Mall store” openings on Rakuten Ichiba, Yahoo! Shopping, etc.
- “Internet grocery store business”, the first store in Japan to be opened on Rakuten Zenkoku Super
– – What are your goals in the EC business and where do you want to go with this kind of thing?What are your goals in the EC business and where do you see these things going?
Mr. Toeda: About the first “Pre-order e-commerce,” for example, reservations for Christmas cakes and Osechi (New Year’s dishes) were made in person at a store and exchanged on paper. Customers had to handwrite their orders on paper, and we had to input the data and tally it. Now, paper orders can be fulfilled via the app, which has the advantage of reducing the workload for both the customers and our employees.
In addition, “Pre-order e-commerce” allows customers to purchase products that are in high demand close to the event without running out of stock, and also improves the accuracy of production volume as reservations increase. As a result, waste loss is reduced, and we are also focusing on this from the perspective of the SDGs. We will continue to emphasize this initiative because “reservations = visits to our stores”.
Regarding “Mall store” in 2, we are currently selling mainly national brand products that are top sellers. On the other hand, we are also developing original products, mainly food products, and intend to further strengthen these efforts in the future. One of our goals is to deliver these original products and our carefully selected products to customers outside of the areas where we have opened Beisia stores.
In the “Internet grocery store business” of 3, our goal is not to acquire new customers. Although the “supercenters” are the large-scale stores that are the best at what we do, we believe that some customers may find them inconvenient when viewed as a place to do a little daily shopping. This is one of the issues that we are seeing from the analysis of the Beisia app.
If it is difficult for them to come to the store, we conceived the idea that we could bring the products to them, and we are developing a service to deliver them. Therefore, it is positioned as an additional service to our loyal customers, not as an acquisition of new customers.
Pet goods, a priority area for the EC business, ranked first in sales with the introduction of Lazuli PDP
– What issues did you introduce Lazuli PDP to solve?
Mr. Toeda: In the past, the e-commerce business handled only blockbuster products from major manufacturers in each category, and product descriptions were virtually unnecessary. Product registration was easy, but there was nothing to appeal to customers except the selling price.
Therefore, in 2022, we decided to narrow down the range of products we handled and strategically promote our e-commerce. Although the number of items handled before 2022 was several hundred to 1,000, this strategy has increased the number of items that need to be handled to several tens of thousands to improve the product lineup. The problem was to register information on these tens of thousands of products in the EC.
Also, when we started the online supermarket, we first tried to create product master data by gathering files scattered around the company, but it did not go well. In particular, even if we had data on product descriptions, it was only for real stores, and the data was not suitable for product descriptions for e-commerce. We asked our business partners to input information, but it was unrealistic to expect the same granularity of information to be input by the vast number of people involved.
In this situation, we found out Lazuli PDP and decided to take advantage of it.
– You mentioned challenges related to the product master data. Can you give us an example of one case that led to the decision to implement Lazuli PDP?
Mr. Toeda: When Rakuten Zenkoku Super was first launched, there was a problem: the number of repeat customers was lower than we had expected. Our analysis showed that although we had created an e-commerce screen and launched the service, it lacked necessary information for customers and listed products that were no longer available. Because of these bitter experiences, we felt the need to carefully create each product screen.
Our group company, Cain’s, was the first to use Lazuli PDP, and we had heard positive things about it. We had several other solutions and tried them, but we still decided to go with Lazuli PDP.
Lazuli PDP also sometimes produces incorrect information, but the AI learns by correcting these errors, and the accuracy of the data improves. We decided that Lazuli PDP was the best solution at this point. We also thought that it matched our corporate culture of “keep making small improvements to get better results.
– Is there anything you have been able to solve so far?
Mr. Toeda: We have a lot of data scattered throughout the company, but the number of product descriptions for each product was next to zero. With the introduction of Lazuli PDP, we believe we have covered more than 80% of the product descriptions for the products handled at Basia. This is a great achievement.
One of the priority areas of the EC business is pet supplies. In the ranking including real stores at the end of the previous fiscal year, pet supplies in EC was ranked 18th, but by September 2022, it was ranked 1st. In other words, it is the EC business, not the real stores, that sells the most pet supplies. I believe this was made possible in just a few months thanks to Lazuli PDP.
– Lastly, please tell us about the future that you hope to achieve for Basia.
Mr. Toeda: Until now, supermarkets have focused on appealing to mass customers, but we believe that from now on it will be necessary to address each customer individually. In such a case, shopping in real stores alone will not be enough. We believe that the key will be to merge shopping with online shopping, conduct analysis, and offer coupons and services that match the preferences of each customer.
I think Beisia is probably the only one, but in anticipation of this future, we ask customers to enter their Beisia ID in addition to their Rakuten ID before purchasing Rakuten Zenkoku Super. This could be a barrier to purchase, but we want to closely analyze both real-store and online shopping together.
Tagging of purchased products will also be important for this analysis. Eventually, we would like to tag all products in real stores so that we can understand the demographics of our customers based on the products they purchase at Basia. We expect that Lazuli PDP will be the best solution in this regard.
*The information on this page is current as of September 2022.
Photo by Mari Otsuka
WHAT IS LAZULI PDP?
Lazuli Product Data Platform (Lazuli PDP) is a platform designed to seamlessly aggregate, process, and enhance product information. Its primary purpose revolves around streamlining product data management dispersed across various external databases. The goal is to organize, enrich, and present product data in a user-friendly manner.
Using advanced AI algorithms, the platform combines product master data from various sources like manufacturers, retailers, and pharmaceutical companies. It then improves these datasets by adding relevant meta tags and associations based on specific product details. Users access this information through Lazuli PDP.
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