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Pride, Not Prejudice: Building A Data Validation Tool For Vendors

Our data processing pipeline flagged problems with the data before an import was attempted. We wanted our vendors to have access to similar support before they even submitted their data.

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Part of our pre-show ramp up involved answering emails, clarifying details about the vendor listings spreadsheet. This ranged from further explaining what we needed from vendors, to explaining why a listings submission wouldn’t work with the import process.

While we certainly didn’t want to remove the human interaction element from the show, we also wanted to provide better resources for vendors to get quick feedback and support while they prepared their listings.

I had already made a data processing pipeline that focused on the integrity of the vendor listings. I then had an idea, what if I brought this technology to the vendors? And thus, Mock Shop was conceived.

Mock Shop initial screen, prompting the user to load their vendor listings Excel document.
Mock Shop initial screen

My vision was a web-based tool that accepted a vendor listings Excel spreadsheet and analyzed the data. It would then either display an annotated version of the spreadsheet explaining what is incorrectly done and how to resolve the matter, or display a minimalist version of the Pride, Not Prejudice online shop with those vendor listings for user experience testing.

These two views allowed vendors to either catch data mistakes early on, or gauge whether their products would be displayed as intended.

I didn’t have many hoops to jump through with displaying vendor listing in a shop catalogue simulator; the real challenge here was in developing an algorithm for catching incorrect data and attempting to explain why it was incorrect from the vendor’s perspective. Some of the mistakes were straightforward, while some stemmed from substantial confusion with what we were asking for with regard to the vendor listings spreadsheet.

I took a heuristics approach here, coming up with a checklist of issues that I had already encountered while working with our vendors. Moving forward, I added new cases for the data checker to evaluate as they arose.

Mock Shop was a huge operational success! We found that it saved us and our vendors a lot of time while working with vendor listings data. Our vendors were able to get assistance on demand and catch accidental mistakes, or get guided in the right direction when unclear on how to complete their vendor listings spreadsheet. Vendors even noticed and updated typos and awkward wording.

Self help was a clear benefit to Pride, Not Prejudice. Following Mock Shop, we determined that we could save time and answer questions quickly by offering data dashboards. The next improvement, a data portal for vendors and admins.

Next in the series, Dashboards For All