Bamboo Rose Blog | Industry Insights

From Chaos to Clarity: The Journey to Centralized Product Information with Item Setup

In the world of general merchandise, discount, and department store retail, characterized by diverse product offerings across multiple categories, item setup holds significant importance. 


What exactly is item setup, and why is it crucial for retailers like Five Below, Burlington, and Family Dollar? 


​​Let’s dive into this intricacy, where the primary objective lies in establishing a centralized hub for product information. The aim? To ensure the timely delivery of precise products to consumers, all while maintaining cost efficiency.


What is Item Setup?


Item setup isn’t just about placing products on shelves; it’s a multifaceted process involving the gathering of product information in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. From crafting Bills of Materials (BOM) to creating RFQs, negotiating sourcing, and managing pre-orders, it encompasses a spectrum of activities vital for streamlined retail supply chain operations. 


If you’ve engaged in discussions about item creation within sourcing or managing products before finalizing purchase orders, you’re likely talking about item setup. 


Generally, item set up pertains to general merchandise or other sectors that don’t use Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). For those “buying” rather than developing, item setup holds significant relevance, guiding crucial decisions in the procurement process.


Scenarios Where It Applies:


The significance of item setup becomes clear in the operations of general merchandise, department stores, and discount retailers like Five Below, Burlington, and Family Dollar. For these players, efficient item setup matters to sourcing, supply chain, product, merchandising, and vendor management teams.

Without proper retail technology in place, the typical process of item setup often involves juggling various sources of information. From Excel spreadsheets to emails to and from vendors, data may be scattered across multiple platforms. Costing data might be extracted from Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems or manually entered into separate costing sheets. While some organizations use home-grown solutions to push information into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, the process still largely relies on manual effort.

The key three challenges that arise include:

Challenge 1: Manual and Cumbersome Processes


Manual processes involving Word documents, Excel files, and email exchanges plague retailers, leading to inefficiencies and errors. From collecting item information to keying it into ERP systems, the entire cycle is cumbersome, duplicative, and prone to mistakes. Any changes downstream require repeating the laborious process, further exacerbating the problem.


Challenge 2: Lack of Centralized Source of Information


Information fragmentation across multiple systems and emails results in a lack of a single source of truth. Retailers struggle to maintain visibility across the item setup process, leading to difficulties in tracking changes and ensuring consistent workflows. Moreover, there’s a dearth of measures to track work in progress and obtain necessary sign-offs, fostering inconsistencies.


Challenge 3: Lack of Internal & External Collaboration


Poor collaboration internally and externally hampers the item setup process. Internal responsibilities are unclear, leading to inefficiencies and delays. Additionally, inadequate collaboration with suppliers and vendors prolongs execution timelines, impacting speed to market and overall efficiency.


All of these challenges culminate in inefficiencies, delayed time to market, inaccuracies, and increased lead times. Retailers struggle to stay competitive in an ever-evolving landscape, facing mounting pressures to streamline processes and enhance collaboration.


Overcoming Challenges: The Path to Multi-Category Success


The implementation of a retail management platform with robust item setup functionality can deliver significant positive business outcomes for general merchandise retailers. By overcoming the challenges associated with getting products to market, retailers can achieve the following positive business outcomes:


1. Streamlined Processes: By automating workflows and eliminating manual inefficiencies, retailers experience smoother operations, resulting in improved efficiency, reduced costs, and improved margins.

2. Centralized Solution: Implementing a single platform for all product information offers enhanced visibility across the entire supply chain, enabling retailers to make well-informed decisions and track performance effectively.

3. Real-time Collaboration: Facilitating seamless communication and data sharing among internal and external stakeholders accelerates decision-making processes, reduces lead times, and fosters innovation and responsiveness.


Addressing the challenges of product launches empowers general merchandise retailers to achieve positive outcomes like improved decision-making, faster time to market, and heightened productivity. Embracing modern solutions that automate and streamline processes, centralize information, and foster collaboration sets the stage for success in today’s competitive retail environment.

Related links:
Navigating General Merchandise Supply Chains: Insights from Josh Curtis, VP of IT Product Management at Five Below
Bamboo Rose for General Merchandise