Case Study


This Fortune 50 retailer wanted to advance its omnichannel selling by providing a unique customer experience, but concluded that it needed to institutionalize a common business language to realize the goal.  A lack of agreed-upon terminology and consistent organizing principles was causing confusion among departments, inconsistencies in reporting, and a fragmented view of customers, products, and services. Even the definition of “channels” was different, depending on business area viewpoint.  With the expansive size of the organization and the vast number of applications used across the business, evolving to a unified, omnichannel enterprise taxonomy would be a major undertaking.

A concurrent replacement of its legacy product information management system provided the perfect opportunity for the organization to act. Redefining how a new product taxonomy could be leveraged by the enterprise for omnichannel selling, without sacrificing item time-to-market, became a key driver for the business language initiative.


Earley Information Science (EIS) provided expertise throughout the entire process of enterprise taxonomy development, beginning with the definition of a strategy and roadmap.  We identified high-value applications for taxonomy integration, analyzed existing product taxonomies and business vocabularies. In addition, EIS leveraged input from over 200 surveys to help create the new multifaceted enterprise taxonomy, information architecture, and publishing workflow.

EIS addressed the needs of key business process stakeholders for strengthening and streamlining omnichannel content operations and data governance processes. We then created program content to socialize the importance of embracing the common business language. EIS ensured program success by delivering training and knowledge transfer to all personnel who were deploying, governing and sustaining the new unified approach to product and enterprise taxonomies.


The new enterprise business language taxonomy has increased the level of understanding across the organization about what it means to deliver a differentiated customer experience, regardless of channel. It has provided the consistent organizing principles for omnichannel and enterprise content. 

Taking a three-dimensional, top-down view of the product assortment for buying and item onboarding was also new to the retailer: historically, item onboarding had been viewed only from the perspective of item-level data collection. Which products to buy, attributes to collect, categories to assign, services to provide, conversions and revenue to track, etc., had all been considered largely on an item-by-item basis.

Considering product distribution hierarchically and across categories helps highlight product assortment gaps. Groupings of product items can be onboarded and managed more efficiently; attribute definition and maintenance is more efficiently determined, with less duplication. The company is already starting to think more holistically about the range of goods and services making up the product assortment to be offered for sale to its customers. 

In the next phases of the roadmap, the new omnichannel selling viewpoint takes the product assortment (the what), and better curates it for where (which channels), for whom (which customer types) and when (in the shopper journey). Each channel display taxonomy will be freed up to leverage the assortment from the product collection taxonomy. This will allow for more sophisticated, contextually relevant, and cross-channel coordinated customer-facing views as well as new ways to shop

This solid foundation of integrated product and enterprise taxonomies, coupled with streamlined operations and sustainable governance processes, has enabled the company to become more agile in responding to changing business and omnichannel customer needs.