Improving lives with an integrated approach to standardisation

Véronique Jemli and Lydie Jean on Legrand becoming an ETIM International Global Industry Member

What’s in a name? Global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructures Legrand (which translates as “The great one”) is not just a large company with a total workforce of nearly 38,000 in around 90 countries worldwide, they also have big ambitions and a creed to prove it: Improving lives. Providing simple, innovative and sustainable electrical and digital infrastructures and connected solutions for spaces where people live, work and meet, Legrand is a founding member of ETIM France and recently joined ETIM International as a Global Industry Member. We spoke to Véronique Jemli, responsible for Legrand E-commerce Business Development in Europe , and Lydie Jean, Data Project Manager at Legrand, and asked them about their views on ETIM, its development as a standard and the way Legrand strives to contribute to this process.

Meeting customer requirements

Lydie: In 2017, I became responsible for the installation of the new PIM platform for Legrand. As our customers require the use of ETIM, it was clear from the start that our data must consistently align with the ETIM standard model. A key aspect of my role is ensuring this compliance with ETIM, including the capability to extract all relevant data by means of the FAB-DIS template used by distributors and manufacturers in France, while relying on BME-cat for other countries.

Efficiency by alignment

Véronique: Efficient data handling and management, especially in the context of product information, play a vital role in our e-commerce operations, too. Ideally, we would have the same protocol for all different countries, in which both product description an technical information follow the same standard. When I became responsible for Legrand’s E-commerce Business Development, Lydie was already working on the PIM System for our group. From the start, we have been working closely together, discussing and exchanging ideas about the requirements of our distributors, the way our system fits theirs and how to improve the system to better serve the online and offline needs of both our distributors and the installers in the industry that buy from them.


Lydie: Now that we are a Global Industry Member and are on the ETIM Technical Committee, we can more effectively discuss the future of the technical data model as well as the future of data exchange. Legrand Group is dealing with different distributors, with different templates and different versions. It’s quite a challenge to determine which adjustments and improvements to incorporate and align the exchanges with our customers, improving the integration of the systems of our distributors.

Preparing for the future with a shared strategy

Véronique: Being actively involved in ETIM both locally and internationally is very important to us and for our customers. Prior to our Global Industry Membership, we already frequently consulted with ETIM France’s counterparts in for example the Netherlands and Australia, either to manage particularities or discuss ideas. As a Global Industry Member, we operate on a more strategic level and discuss the global evolution of the standard, with more direct influence as well as better opportunities to exchange ideas to help ETIM forward. Some of our own customers are Global Industry Members themselves, which helps us gain even sharper insights and acquire a more complete awareness where we are and where we want to go as a standard – technically and content-wise.

The ETIM Global Industry Membership allows us to better prepare ourselves for the future from both a technical and a business point of view. Looking out for the interests of our partners, distributors and the installers they serve, we need to discuss opportunities and ideas with them and with our peers to establish how we can increase our appeal and offer a better solution. Green data serves as a noteworthy illustration in this context. Given its pivotal relevance for installers in this day and age, the initiation of PEP Eco Passports marks a commendable beginning, but to move forward, we need to prioritize the harmonization of practices within our industry first. As a Global Industry Member, we can influence the standard in a positive way and go in the direction we all benefit from, and not just in our industry. In the end, we have the same interests at heart.

Navigating global challenges

Lydie: Unlike in most of Europe, the ETIM model is not yet recognized, accepted or needed by all markets worldwide, if only because not all countries are completely digitalized. It all depends on these kinds of market developments, but we can and do see ETIM appear in more and more countries. For Legrand, it would be best if we had the same type of standard everywhere. This would certainly enhance the communication between Legrand and our different websites and distributors in the world. Thanks to our Global Industry Membership we now have an even better view of everything that is happening on a global scale where ETIM is concerned. At the moment, for instance, we monitor the US market closely. We are thrilled about the work Mary Shaw is doing with ETIM North America and our mutual contact has intensified with our membership.

A broad perspective

Véronique: In terms of positioning, Legrand focuses on electro-technical and digital infrastructure. Our fellow Global Industry Members include companies in the building industry, HVAC and lighting. These are all complementary to our industry and as a group, we represent the total ETIM industry, with a global view of the building industry. This allows us a more integrated approach and adds power to our ambitions to provide the best possible solution for our customers. As we experienced at the Mallorca Forum last November, different members approach ETIM and its model in different ways. Sharing and discussing ideas like we did with our main distributors and fellow Global Industry Member Sonepar and Rexel will undoubtedly provide new insights.

Replacing BME-cat with xChange: it’s not all technical

Lydie: The replacement of BME-CAT by a new exchange format xChange (beta version released 1-1-24 red.) is also high on our list, as it is crucial that our customers are satisfied with every aspect of data exchange. I will be participating in an international workshop program to tackle two main challenges in this respect: form and content. These require different kinds of decisions than for example class modifications: there is no discussion about the technical information. The ETIM classification governance is clear. We do, however, need governance with regard to content on one hand form on the other: what rules do we set when it comes to including additional data in the template? How many descriptions do we allow? How long should these descriptions be? It’s not all technical: the content, too, must follow some rules and conventions.

Improving the customer journey

Véronique: Legrand began tracking e-commerce activity from 2018, it exploded during the pandemic and has been growing ever since. Our online presence is ensured by our online partners, the distributors and their web shops, mobile apps and procurement systems like EDI or system-to system. It’s our responsibility to process content creation and reduce data transfer times in coordination with our distributors in order to provide the users of our products with the latest information as quick as possible. But there is more. We want the right solutions for the needs of our customers to appear on their screens, but we are also convinced that all product sheet content should be available to and shared with our industry. Not just the technical data, but also everything regarding regulation, logistics, marketing content, etc. This will allow our distributors to personalize their offer and recommend the best product for our installers. The ETIM standard  and exchange template enable this to be automated. We are confident this is how we can facilitate their customer journey and support an ease of search to our products on any website, mobile app and so on. We strongly believe the further development and acceptance of ETIM as a global standard will help achieve this and we are very excited to help make this happen.