Can product data help businesses make the world more sustainable?

Being more sustainable and environmentally conscious means that customers invest much more time in product research before an actual purchase decision is made, making environmental product data availability pivotal to both sales and to provide a positive customer experience.

It’s easy to think that product data is just “facts” about a product. Or that these facts are just independent information that is sometimes useful to people. Maybe “John Smith” wants to know how high is that chair or maybe, he is wondering whether a certain parquet is made from sustainable wood or what kind of fabrics are used for that pretty chair, which would look just perfect in his living room.

As sustainability is playing an increasingly important role in everyday life, more and more prospective customers wish to make a conscious and informed buying decision, that will not only be good for their home but also the environment. This means that a lot of time is invested in product research before an actual purchase decision is made, making environmental product data availability pivotal to provide a positive customer experience.

So, the question is: are manufacturers aware that they have an opportunity to actively and positively influence their customers’ buying journey simply by making their environmental product data more accessible?

The scarce availability of environmental product data is not an issue that only concerns customers, but it also impacts consultants, who often have to work through a laborious process to find necessary environmental data related to products and product categories needed for their design projects.

For example, a building consists of many “zones”, where each gets its environmental score. A zone can be as small as an electrical point with an electrical outlet and cord or as large as a room consisting of all the necessary parts for the room to be considered finished.

There must be competition in the market. Therefore, the criteria cannot be so strict that only one supplier satisfies the requirements for, let’s say, concrete. Additionally, there must be a certainty that there are in fact products within the requirements requested.

Can you imagine how advanced are the tools the consultants use to find the necessary environmental data for these products? The answer is that they do not use a tool of their own for this kind of research as there exists simply no optimal tool for this today. It is a thorough, human-driven job to be able to set requirements that both enable competition and are realistic.

Fortunately, much of the necessary environmental data can be found in existing environmental bodies databases such as the Nordic Ecolabel and EPD Norway. The task therefore largely consists of searching for data in these databases, and it's labour intensive to dig into an enormous amount of PDFs. It is almost impossible to understand the extent of how manual and time consuming these tasks still are today.

But why does this have to be a manual job? Well, it doesn’t have to be! To simplify, and make this process both cost and time effective, Xeris has partnered with COWI and EPD Norway, LCA, and the Nordic Ecolabel to enable the automation of larger parts of this process.

The project has so far been through five of six iterations needed to complete the first version of our solution. X-Trade by Xeris, the tool for retrieving environmental data directly from databases, is now being piloted. In parallel with this, Xeris is working to collect all types of data from any source to allow consultants to get as comprehensive a picture of environmental footprints as possible through their design work.

This project is just one of many environmental projects aimed at a more sustainable world, where Xeris will play an important role.

Xeris has committed to a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is working to use the potential of product data to influence the future through innovation and infrastructure (sustainability goal 9), influence sustainable cities and communities (sustainability goal 11), responsible consumption, and production (sustainability goal 12) stop climate change (sustainability goal 13) through collaboration to achieve the goals (sustainability goal 17).

So we ask again: is product data really just “facts” about a product or something more?


August 10, 2021