The Supply Side: WhyteSpyder launches tool to help suppliers meet Wal-Mart mandate

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,114 views 

With more sales moving online and new services emerging like Wal-Mart Stores’ grocery pickup, the onus is on suppliers to ensure online product listings include relevant content and specific information for consumers shopping online and in stores.

Fayetteville-based WhyteSpyder said Tuesday (Jan. 30) the company is launching SKU Ninja, a new software tool to help suppliers manage, monitor and publish content to improve and scale e-commerce sales.

“Keeping up with online shopper demands for content is a daunting task when retailers and suppliers are also organizing, managing, and monitoring that content,” said WhyteSpyder CEO Eric Howerton. “The content race is a full-sprint marathon, and staying ahead of the competition is critical. SKU Ninja will help users respond effectively to the rapidly changing dynamics and scale of e-commerce.”

The software will enable retailers and suppliers to create custom reports for product detail page assessments on major e-commerce websites, help users enhance opportunities in item page traffic, shopper conversions, and monitor item pages. Howerton said SKU Ninja sends daily reports notifying the user when products are out of stock, or when changes are made to competitors’ product pages. The software also provides content publishing on behalf of the user.

WhyteSpyder developed the technology to match specific needs and concerns it has encountered while working with large retailers in the e-commerce industry. The software uses proprietary technology to automatically monitor online product pages.

“We’ve been working with Walmart for years as an approved content service provider,” said Alex Ahmad, COO and co-founder at WhyteSpyder. “We recognized the need for manufacturers and retailers to have a tool with an easy-to-navigate interface. A single dashboard that gives daily diagnostics on product item pages that states what’s working with your product and what’s not.”

SKU Ninja was originally developed by WhyteSpyder to automate and optimize its e-commerce human-based services. Recognizing retailer and supplier market demands, Ahmad and Howerton believe offering SKU Ninja as an independent software tool would help users improve the online shopping experience.

WhyteSpyder will continue to roll-out additional functionalities within SKU Ninja based on user demand and market needs, some of which are now in beta testing.The WhyteSpyder launch of SKU Ninja comes just ahead of Wal-Mart’s Supplier Growth Forum which will is being held in Bentonville this week.

Wal-Mart continues to urge suppliers toward content compliance. At last year’s forum held in mid-February Jane Ewing, senior vice president of digital acceleration at Walmart U.S, talked at length with suppliers about the need for them to provide better product content by April 2017.

Ewing said the retailer expects suppliers to “top it off” recognizing that many products had only the bare minimum online content. She explained that providing additional online content was being written into the retailer’s protocol for store items that are also sold online.

At the very minimum, Ewing said good content includes: a powerful, concise title; multiple images and videos; full product attributes; and substantive reviews as well as questions and answers.

J.P De Villiers, director of content acquisition at Walmart, told Talk Business & Politics in September, the retailer has about 100,000 items in its store that are not yet available online. He said some of that is seasonal but having a complete catalog of items is becoming more crucial because around 76% of purchases in-stores begin online.

De Villiers said his biggest mandate from Wal-Mart is to get as many of supplier items as possible uploaded online and that has to start with complete, unique and accurate content. He said Wal-Mart is making big investments in e-commerce and suppliers must also step up.

“We pay a lot of money to advertise products online but it’s futile if Google doesn’t recognize it because of faulty content. Then shoppers will not be able to find it,” he added.
Editor’s note: The Supply Side section of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the companies, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Propak Logistics.