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The Approach to Product Matching

How Sniffie handles product matches, as well as what product matches and match groups are.

Elina Kotamäki avatar
Written by Elina Kotamäki
Updated over a week ago

Article overview

This article teaches you how Sniffie handles product matches and covers following topics:

What is a Sniffie product match?

To make sure you compare apples to apples we need to first distinguish what a comparable product is. Let’s use iPhones as an example. If you are matching an Apple iPhone 8 to another, similar iPhone 8, Sniffie will offer you two possibilities for product matching: Exact Match and Substitute Match

You can decide whether the match is an Exact match or whether it is a Substitute Match. To better understand the detailed difference between a Substitute Match and an Exact match let's continue with the example involving iPhones:

  1. Apple iPhone 8 vs. Apple iPhone 7 = not a match

  2. Apple iPhone 8 vs. Apple iPhone 8 = might be Exact Match, but more likely to be a Substitute Match

  3. Apple iPhone 8, 64 Gt, Gold vs. Apple iPhone 8, 64 Gt, Gold = Exact match, because the product is exactly the same

As the above picture shows, the match level always starts from the smallest combining factor to make sure we are comparing similar products. In this example that would be the product code: 87987987879.

Common examples of product codes include:

  • European Article Numbers (EAN)

  • Universal Product Code, a common barcode used to identify packaged products (UPC)

  • Electronic Product Code, an RFID code mainly applied as a packaging code for packaged products

  • Product key, a number used to verify the authenticity of a software as a license code

  • Serial number, a number identifying an item per instance

If a similar product shares a common product code with your product, but the two are not exactly the same (i.e. color variation) then the similar product is given a substitute level. However, if it is enough for you that the product model, size, etc.. are the same you can elect to have them categorized as Exact Matches.

It is important to know that while this example utilizes product codes as a combining factor, there are other factors which may be utilized for product matching. With Sniffie you have the ability to decide what constitutes an exact match so that you can customize the service to your specific needs.

How product match information is stored

Sniffie stores information about similar products in product groups (technically product graphs). That is, each product which has been matched with other similar products has a direct, two-way relationship to all other products in that product group.

Exact product matches belong to a certain product group. Substitute matches can link to different product groups and be substitutes to different kind of products.

How Sniffie suggests matches

In many cases matching is done automatically, but sometimes you may want to do it manually. In such cases Sniffie will suggest the right matches for your products. Here is how it works: Sniffie uses all the available data you have extracted from the websites for each product and makes comparisons to all other products you have in your catalog. It starts by looking for exact matches amongst similar products and shows you the best match suggestions based on the data in the system. If there are no exact products to be shown, Sniffie will suggest Substitute matches for similar products based on the similarity of the product information.

Note that Sniffie’s matches are suggestions based on your whole data set. You can always override Sniffie’s match suggestions with your own preferences or needs.

For optimal match suggestions, make sure you collect and provide us enough data

Collecting enough data is important for Sniffie to be able to make distinctions between two similar products. The more information you can provide to us about a product, such as all of its existing codes (EAN, Product code, Manufacturer code, SKU code etc.) and characteristic information (Size, Colour, Brand etc.), the more reliable and full your data will be.

What happens when you confirm or override matches

When you make changes to product matches by either adding or removing matches that Sniffie has made for you, the relationship between the items changes. Here is how it works:

1. Confirming a product match

If you confirm exact product matches, all two-way relationships between the products are generated automatically. That means all products are linked to each and everyone in that product group.

2. Removing a product match

If you remove any product matches, all two-way relationships between the affected product and its peers are removed. That means all products which are removed will no longer have any links to that product group or any of its products.

3. Combining product match groups
If you combine a product match group with another, it generates one group where all products are linked to each and everyone in that product group.

Question: can I match all products automatically?

Sniffie’s automatic product matcher sensitivity and specificity is over 95% in cases where there's plenty of data extracted for each product. This means that Sniffie is able to provide automatic matches with high accuracy and high probability. If you are uncertain whether Sniffie’s automatic matches are correct (e.g. exactly the same product code between products), just contact Sniffie support. Sniffie data experts will help you to do the automatic matching whenever needed.

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