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From Categorizing to Selling Products


The project aimed to free our client from the time-consuming, manual burden of classifying its products within its intertwined set of internal systems, and instead, focus that time on improving the positioning (from both content and merchandising perspectives) of its products. Given the need for constant product information update, our clients faced a constant uphill climb with the manual burden their systems (with heavy licensing fees) required. Compounding the problem set, the existing technology stack needed a specialized skill set to engage resources from different vendors and partners which increased internal costs. The existing code base demanded significant resource and ongoing code maintenance, and the system was not scalable or able to meet strategic goal.

Coforge found an open-source answer which relieved our client of its manual burden AND its heavy licensing fees and technical debt burdens.

About the Client

The client provides business supplies and services to companies and individuals in 56 countries through a network of 1,800 stores, websites, and B2B structures. The client has a sales turnover of approximately €14 billion and about 56,000 employees.

In Europe, they operate in 13 countries through two main brands, with retail stores in France and Sweden. Their product line includes everything from I.T. equipment to furniture and document services to daily consumables like pens, paper and printer toner.

Through their banner brands, the client offers its customers the tools and resources they need to focus on their passion of starting, running and growing their own businesses.

Business Challenge

The client thrives on providing the best solutions for their customers’ constantly changing workplaces. In 2009, they realized their own workplace was changing at an accelerated pace. Customers were demanding increasingly detailed product information but, because this information came from various departments and third-party suppliers, data lacked consistency. “The departments responsible for our publications and merchandising were spending too long categorizing products,” explained the client’s Manager of Product Data Management. “While we should have been focusing on selling products, sometimes it seemed like we were only processing data.”

The client realized that it had to focus on its core business for competitive advantage, profitability.and growth, and after discussions and being taken by our pragmative, innovative approach, chose to partner with Coforge.

Our Solution

So many staff members spent so long standardizing product data that it affected the time-to-market for new products. Our search for a more streamlined process led their project team to consider our recommended Master Data Management (MDM) system. In particular, Coforge's solution helped the client reduce licensing models and bring the entire solution to an open-source strategic direction.

Starting with one country, one region and one channel, the client identified key data on products, customers and locations. This was stored in a central repository and was used to feed the client’s other systems, such as its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Coforge helped the client drive ERP to enhance current and new distributed channels and customers.

Delivering More Value

By engaging with Coforge, the client can now focus on their core competencies and maintain their leadership position in a highly competitive industry. In addition to providing technology and digital support, Coforge improved the client’s operational efficiencies and digital experiences while removing a significant portion of their technical debt. The client was empowered to provide standardized and consistent business services across their business and results could be seen from the incredible improvement in efficiency.

In the client’s words, “By implementing a digital system that’s fed with data from MDM, we’re able to develop our online catalogue thirty to forty percent faster. Using master data has also improved our online search functions, meaning that our customers can now find products more easily with fewer searches being abandoned prematurely.”

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