Choosing the right PIM solution for your business isn’t the end, you also have to choose the right PIM implementation partner. When it comes to PIM integrations, selecting the right partner is crucial. It’s Important to consider a PIM consultant soon after you decide to explore the benefits of PIM – this is ideal in the initial stages in order to ensure a smooth, efficient and cost effective project that ensures long term results. A PIM expert implementation partner like StrikeTru offers the right expertise and focus to implement a PIM solution best suited to your needs. Here’s why:
Proven expertise on the Riversand platform: A partner like StrikeTru has years of experience working with Riversand solutions since their 6x platform version. 30+ years of combined experience; this includes some of StrikeTru’s team members’ experience as part of the Riversand professional services team. A dedicated team of solution and technical experts who know what it takes to successfully implement Riversand Ascend PIM solution.
Cross-industry/cross-domain experience: Partners bring their experience working across multiple verticals working on various use cases. They know how to model /personalize the solution based on your specific needs. They bring industry best practices. Riversand Ascend PIM implementation partners have years of experience working in the SMB segment and this itself is a big value-add given the cost sensitivity of SMB customers. They want quality implementations in a fast and very cost-effective manner.
End to end product data expertise: Riversand Ascend PIM partners are familiar with the PIM landscape in an end-to-end fashion. Whether it’s the partner portal, ERP, eCommerce, Print, Feed Management tool or the sales apps, Riversand Ascend PIM partners have a deep know-how of the entire product data landscape. This helps in doing the integrations the right way and in the right order.
Accelerators/Connected Apps: With their deep Riversand expertise they bring the implementation accelerators to speed up the implementation and to provide value-add connectors/modules as needed. Infact, with StrikeTru customers can get access to affordable “Sourcing + PIM + Syndication” solution packages that are needed for high performing eCommerce.
Win-win implementation models: StrikeTru works with the win-win philosophy and can set up implementation contracts based on the needs of customers. Fixed cost with milestones vs. customers have the option to choose between Time and Materials (T&M) with milestones vs. a pure staffing-based model.
Lower implementation cost: With StrikeTru, you get expert Riversand deployments and best practices at an affordable cost.
Support models: Riversand Ascend PIM implementation partners are flexible and nimble and work with customers to setup the right support model post the implementation phase. This includes setting up of global support teams with continuous support and delivery model.
It’s essentially a true partnership model between customer, implementation partner and Riversand. Riversand is focused on product innovation and vision, implementation partners are focused on the best implementation experience for the customer. Customers can leverage StrikeTr’s Riversand partnership to solve product content challenges end-to-end .
The implementation approach to Riversand Ascend PIM is fundamentally a game changer with an emphasis on speed and quick value realization via a “lightweight” model.
Rather than emphasizing deadlines to get projects started, it focuses on bringing the right players into the room to get the solution personalized in a few weeks. It’s about identifying the first set of products or items you need to onboard so you can syndicate to your sales channels quickly. Fundamentally, it is allowing customers to focus on growing the business without getting stuck in lengthy and costly implementations.
Launch – The system comes ready-to-use in 1-2 weeks. Customers can log in and start to review the default data structure, workflows, business rules, import/export profiles, user roles & security etc. This is the “launch” phase.
Personalize – After the launch comes the “personalize” phase. This is where the Riversand Ascend PIM solution is customized as per the needs of the customer. Again, rather than implementing from scratch, it involves tweaking or changing the out-of-the-box configuration to tailor it to the customer’s needs.
Integrate – Once the “personalize” phase is done, additional tasks can be started – integrations, onboarding of additional users, additional data migrations, additional business rules, UI personalization etc.
Here are a few more details about the personalize phase:
Personalize, as the name suggests, is about personalizing the Riversand Ascend PIM solution to your specific business needs. The section below gives an idea about the level of customization possible with the Riversand Ascend PIM solution.
Disable/Enable workflows: Let’s say you only need the new product introduction, Item update and Item Discontinue workflows. In this personalization phase you can disable the other workflows and keep only the ones that you need. In case you need the other workflows in future you can simply enable those.
Change the step label: You can change the display label of the workflow step.
Change the roles configuration: You may want to have an additional role participate in a workflow step; you can do it.
Workflow task sequence: You can alter the task sequence as you see fit based on your business process.
Change attributes groups
Remove/Disable certain entities
Disable contexts not applicable
Disable the rules not needed
Add specific governance rules
Change the help text of rules
User security and role permissions:
Change the labels of roles
Change the role permissions
Here are a few more details about the Integrate/Extend phase:
This is an optional phase based on the client’s readiness and goals.
A PIM system is not much use unless it’s integrated to at least one of your channels and maybe at least one internal system. By integrating the PIM system to other applications /tools you truly realize the return on your investments.
We typically recommend connecting your ERP system to get the base product information into PIM. On the syndication /outbound side we recommend that customers integrate PIM with their eCommerce system. Integrations are discussed – data attributes, transformations needed, frequency etc. Based on the customer needs solution assessment is done and presented. In some cases, a ready-made connector solution is utilized.
Do you have questions about which PIM solution is the right one for your business?
Why is a PIM solution integral to your growth story:
A significant sentiment that has emerged recently among consumers is the realization of an ‘always shopping’ experience. Today’s consumers are more demanding of rich product information and are not shy about shopping around till they get the information they need.
The expectation of online ordering and seamless omnichannel experiences is the very basic that consumers expect from retailers today, in fact it is valued so much that 86% of shoppers say they are willing to pay more for a positive shopping experience, i.e. price transparency, detailed product information, personalization, free return, etc. They also engage much more deeply with brands and with so many choices available to them, the differentiator for their final choice is based on the product experience.
To keep up with evolving consumers, it is a strategic imperative to provide enriched, trusted and insightful product data to stay ahead in the marketplace. Since consumers rely on superior product content and detailed product information to make purchase decisions, business leaders depend on PIM solutions to provide rich, complete and accurate data to take key data-driven decisions on how to procure, sell and market products.
Product Information Management (PIM) is an application that provides trusted product content for unified commerce, relevant product information for micro-segments and product insights for improved customer loyalty. A PIM solution aligns the digital transformation imperatives of an enterprise by improving operational excellence and engaging with the customer throughout their purchase lifecycle.
Selecting the right Riversand solution for your needs:
Riversand’s solutions are offered as three distinct flavors – Ascend, Exclusive and Infinity.
Ascend is an offering that is designed as an out-of-the-box preconfigured solution for customers in a variety of industry verticals. It is meant for customers to be able to use right away, with minimal IT intervention.
Exclusive, in contrast, is a more configurable solution for businesses that want a solution customized according to their needs.
Infinity is similar to Exclusive, but it offers customers more control over their costs and gives them the freedom to scale up their usage and costs as needed.
What is Ascend PIM?
Riversand Ascend PIM solution is an out-of-the-box PIM solution for retailers, distributors, brands and manufacturers. Ascend is a ready-to-go offering configured on the next-generation cloud-native Riversand platform.
Ascend enables brands that are in high-growth phases to accelerate their growth by providing access to an affordable, cloud-native solution with quick deployment and minimal IT intervention. Companies obtain a solution that provides quick data onboarding, product enrichment and data syndication to third-party marketplaces and connectors. Ascend PIM means deployment in days as opposed to months/years.
This is made possible due to Riversand Ascend PIM being a pre-configured PIM solution with all key solutions elements i.e. data model /data structures (attributes, drop/downs, taxonomies, relationships, entities/objects, workflows, business rules, import and export profiles, roles and permissions). All these solution elements are pre-configured based on industry best practices and decades of learning by product data solution and industry experts.
The biggest benefit of the solution is that companies can start small and grow their PIM use case without ever switching to a different software. Since the same software stack and foundation is used, it makes it easy for a customer who wants to switch from Ascend to Exclusive or Infinity.
Features of Ascend PIM
A native cloud-based SaaS PIM solution built on best-of-the-breed open-source technologies like Apache, Linux etc. However, it is not an open-source software product.
Very cost effective and competitive for the price you pay.
Built on the same software stack as Riversand Exclusive and Riversand Infinity multi-domain MDM.
A cloud-native solution as opposed to an on-prem solution or just a cloud hosting of a traditional on-prem solution.
It doesn’t lock you into a particular cloud provider. Though Microsoft Azure is the default, customers can choose others, like AWS.
A SaaS subscription with superior product support built into the license.
Who can benefit from Ascend PIM?
Businesses seeking a quick implementation with minimal modifications
Businesses with small IT organizations that don’t have resources to contribute to customization
Businesses that want to start with a more affordable solution
Businesses that don’t want to re-engage with a new solution provider at a crucial growth phase
Anyone who wants to get a much quicker return from their PIM investments will benefit from Ascend. This includes not only the small and medium (SMB) companies struggling with product content challenges but also bigger enterprise customers.
Custom uses of Ascend PIM
Riversand Ascend PIM solution has a couple of variations/flavors. The difference is mainly in an additional feature set for retailers and distributors.
To better understand the Ascend PIM flavors it’s important to understand the flow of product data as explained in the picture below:
PIM DATA FLOW
Onboard & Ingest: This refers to the capabilities which allow the product data onboarding from suppliers or vendors. This includes use cases – supplier collaboration, dynamic data governance, integrated data and digital assets onboarding – all a part of the integrated supplier portal in the solution.
Enrich, Contextualize & Govern: This refers to the capabilities which allow Internal collaboration for enrichment and information updates, contextual data management – Seasons, Channels, Countries. Data governance extensibility, managing data in multiple locales and data visualization.
Publish: This refers to an ability to easily and seamlessly integrate with applications (upstream or downstream) within the customer’s ecosystem as well as data sources or endpoints and channels external to them. Default channels – Blob Store, Event Hub, SFTP. Multiple formats (JSON, CSV/DSV), REST API for data extraction, connectors for eCommerce, Marketplaces, e-tailers.
Variations of Ascend PIM
Ascend PIM solution for retailers/distributors: This variation of the Ascend solution covers use cases in all the steps of the data journey i.e. Onboard & Ingest, Enrich, Contextualize & Govern and Publish.
Ascend PIM solution for manufacturers/brands: This variation of the Ascend solution covers use cases in all the steps of the data journey except the Onboard & Ingest i.e. It covers use cases in the Enrich, Contextualize & Govern and Publish steps of the data flow.
Most companies are embracing the digital agenda today – there is a clear shift in retailer focus from supply chain to customer value chain. But what is the right path to digital transformation? The right path to transformation is one that results in long term operational efficiency, capturing new growth opportunities, increased revenue and assured delivery on business goals. Weighing cost & complexity as barriers to digital transformation against benefits like agility, flexibility, and speed is a no brainer in today’s fast-changing environment.
Riversand Ascend PIM is an out-of-the-box PIM solution that can help you adapt your IT strategy to get the benefits of a cloud-based solution; solve business challenges, meet consumer expectations & thrive in a digital-first, always online economy.
A modern PIM solution like this one helps you manage the complete information lifecycle of a product. It is a data management solution that optimizes your digital shelf with technology that creates new ways to deliver customer outcomes across a range of touchpoints.
If you are looking for a solution that is affordable and gives you the choice to pay only for your current needs, with minimal IT intervention, immediate time to value, and default configurations that enable you to go live in days, with the freedom to grow and expand as your business grows – the Riversand Ascend PIM solution will help you achieve this rapidly with easy implementation.
What are the features of Riversand Ascend PIM ?
Digital Asset Management
DAM capabilities allow users to manage the digital content in the system like product images, product safety data sheets (PSDS) PDF, engineering specs documents, videos, audio files etc.
You get access to features like Digital Asset Linking, Auto-download, Integrated Digital Asset library that allows you to search by Digital asset by type, manage meta-data, system-generated image renditions and upload images in bulk by dropping the images to a cloud location.
Data Onboarding, Enrichment & Governance
Data can be onboarded into the tool in multiple ways.
Entity quick create – Manual entry in the UI one by one
Riversand Smart Excel (RSEXCEL) – Category specific excel template which a user can download from the system. RSEXCEL comes pre-populated with the attribute group headers, attribute headers. Provides a list of valid values for drop/down type attributes.
CSV/DSV bulk imports – These are plain comma or any other delimited separated flat file formats. Users can also map the file columns to the PIM attributes.
API based integration from external systems like ERP, PLM, DAM etc.
Ascend PIM provides an advanced feature set for enriching the product data in the system. Within the entity editor page (also known as entity dashboard) users can see the summary of actions that they need to perform. This is populated based on business conditions.
Data governance is inherently built in the solution in various ways. First and foremost, many governance controls can be handled via the data model driven constructs/constraints. Examples include a valid list of values (drop/down values), required attribute, default value, UOM type, Allowed UOMs, Default UOM, Path type attributes, Precision, Min length, Max length, Regular expressions.
On top of the data structure/data model driven governance system provides a way to do more complex governance in the form of business rules.
Additionally, you have workflows in the system. Workflow mimics business processes related to product content operations – example New Product Introduction (NPI), Product Edit/Enrichment, Product deactivation etc.
Workflows include sequential or parallel steps across various user roles and system actions to achieve a certain business goal.
Attribute Management & Taxonomy
What are product attributes? They are data elements that define the details of a product and categorization.
Data attributes can be organized in the form of groupings called attribute groups, these are logical groupings like Descriptions, Logistics, Pricing, Classification and Hierarchy etc. Various attribute data types supported – example: String, Date, List of values, Nested etc.
No limit to the number of categories, no limit to the depth/level of the categories.
Assign a product to one or more product classification structures, for example you want to assign an item to one internal merchandising taxonomy or want to assign to multiple web taxonomies or multiple paths. Mapping between two taxonomies (example merchandising taxonomy & web taxonomy) to automatically classify web based on selected merchandising hierarchy.
Contexts & Languages
What is a context?
Think of context as something which when applied to the data changes its meaning. Think of context as a sauce when applied to the base food item it changes its flavor. Your food will taste different when a different sauce is applied. It’s exactly like this. Context changes the meaning of data. Few examples will help illustrate this concept.
Product description is different for eCommerce vs. mobile channels. Why? Because you want a bigger description on eCommerce vs. a smaller description for mobile. Here channel is the context.
There are few common contexts that already come out of the box with Ascend PIM solution. Examples – Country (or Geography), Channels and Seasons & Events.
What is locale or language concept?
Locale concept allows you to manage the data at a particular language in a particular region.
System comes prebuilt with approximately 140 plus data locales that you can manage your data in. Example – You can have French description, copy and other attributes for your French eCommerce site vs. US English data for US eCommerce sites.
A context and language combination system allows you to have an almost unlimited combination to manage your data for all of your needs, whether it’s by channel, by region, by brand, by season, by language.
Visual Analytics is an inbuilt app in the Ascend solution which provides data insights so that users know the state of data and perform actions.
Currently, there are three types of analytics and they are:
Entity Summary – You can draw various insights from this, including count and distribution of data by entity type, by product categories, by users.
Workflow SLA – Provides how many total workflows, how many items in each activity/step of the flow, which users are loaded more in terms of number of items etc.
Data Quality – Gives you a snapshot of what kind of issues exist in your data. It gives you a complete report on what all kinds of issues exist in the data, examples – required attributes not filled in, drop/down attributes that are empty.
Riversand Ascend PIM comes with optional add-on apps and connectors plus a fully functional set of APIs and a variety of integration options.
Onboard & Ingest – Out of the box (OOTB) formats: Out of the box, Riversand Ascend PIM comes with CSV, DSV, JSON and RSEXCEL options to import the data. Data export profiles can be set based on various filters and inputs can be stored on SFTP, Azure Event Hub, Azure Blob Store etc.
Publish/Syndication – Well defined REST APIs are available to perform various operations on the data. These APIs can be used to extract the data and syndicate based on the customer’s custom needs.
Add-on apps can also be used; examples include Print App for the print catalog automation. Other apps include syndication to eCommerce platforms like Magento, Big Commerce and data pools like GDSN/1WS.
One of the key challenges of a BigCommerce merchant or agency is how to collect and setup product data in BigCommerce product catalogs. This is not a one-time exercise, rather an ongoing operation and is core part of your eCommerce content operations.
PIM is the solution for all of your product content challenges but the key challenge for BigCommerce store owners is how to integrate Akeneo PIM tool with BigCommerce online store. This exact challenge is solved by our ‘end-to-end product content solutions for eCommerce’ offering. Made possible using the Akeneo PIM connector for BigCommerce by StrikeTru.
The integration process is simple and intuitive. All you need to do is import your product data into PIM, sync the data in a few clicks and you’re all set with a configured product data command center; ready to shine on the digital shelf!
The Akeneo PIM Connector for BigCommerce is a key part of the affordable PIM for eCommerce solution package by StrikeTru. It solves your product content challenges and accelerates sales, including “Product Sourcing + Cloud PIM + BigCommerce Syndication” and is especially designed for the mid-market businesses.
StrikeTru provides end-to-end PIM consulting services (hosted PIM Community Edition + various proprietary and 3rd party automations + BigCommerce connector). StrikeTru is also a key product content partner for Vesta to solve product data sourcing challenges. Vesta to cloud PIM integration is also available via Vesta Akeneo connector by StrikeTru.
Why use StrikeTru’s Akeneo PIM Connector for BigCommerce?
It’s compatible with all Akeneo editions including Akeneo’s Serenity cloud Edition offering
The connector is deployed as a true multi-tenant SaaS tool. It is built as a true middleware architecture as opposed to installing on top of the BigCommerce or Akeneo, though it’s also available as a native BigCommerce native one-click app.
Support for BigCommerce V3 stores.
Support for product and product variations sync
Support for Brand sync
Support for PIM Enterprise PAM module i.e. syncs Asset collections type attributes from Akeneo to BigCommerce
Support for publishing to multiple BigCommerce stores from one Akeneo instance.
Support for price list sync (we work with distributors and wholesalers also)
Better performance (esp. for large catalogs or multi-site integrations)
Product roadmap investments
SaaS licensing with regular support and availability of SLA based support
Discover how to unlock rapid omnichannel growth with BigCommerce & PIM here.
BigCommerce is one of the world’s leading cloud eCommerce platforms for established and rapidly-growing businesses. However, efficiently managing product data that creates real-time sync between sales channels and internal systems is challenging without an innovative eCommerce integration solution.
If your product data is managed manually or on a legacy system, chances are you are not meeting your customer’s demands due to inconsistent and error-prone product data managed very inefficiently across different departments. It’s cumbersome to deal with and can poorly affect overall business performance and ability to scale. BigCommerce product catalogs serve as a great destination for your product data – but what happens when you want to make changes to the product data, onboard new vendors, upload product data stored in different formats, make bulk-edits or manage digital assets? This is why a PIM solution is a must-have for online stores.
We built this configurable PIM integration for BigCommerce to make it easy and affordable for retailers to take full advantage of their product data from Akeneo PIM. With the Akeneo PIM Connector for BigCommerce, you can syndicate your product data in a few clicks and get your products to market quicker and more accurately.
The module enables Akeneo PIM to BigCommerce integration by seamlessly onboarding product data from Akeneo PIM platform to your BigCommerce store. With the help of this connector, you can manage your entire product catalog in Akeneo PIM and then sync the data to your eCommerce platform. This allows store owners to sync all product data and product meta-data i.e. products, product variations, categories, options, attributes, custom fields, images and videos from PIM to BigCommerce.
True SaaS – True multi-tenant SaaS connector. This means all customers get the latest version and no need to deploy any software by customers
Native BigCommerce App –The connector is available as native BigCommerce one-click app in the BigCommerce marketplace. This allows a one-click install and no need to enter your store credentials again
Detailed configuration –You can configure every aspect of your connector
Test connection – You can test connectivity to your Akeneo and BigCommerce instances before you start to configure
Product and product variations mapping (Product Model and Product) –The connector allows you to map product and product variations. This saves time and money by setting all of your variations (example – products that can vary by color and size) in Akeneo and then sync to BigCommerce.
Attributes mapping –Map all of your BigCommerce attributes mappings from a user-friendly interface. Map BigCommerce normal attributes, map custom attributes. Specify the fixed value (default value) for any BigCommerce attribute
Category mapping –You can sync any portion of the Akeneo category tree to BigCommerce categories. You can also merge multiple Akeneo category trees to one BigCommerce category tree
Options mapping – Map any Akeneo option attribute (drop/down) to BigCommerce options
Image Mapping –The connector supports all types of image upload options. You can specify Akeneo image type attributes or Akeneo Asset Collection attributes or even a normal text attribute containing URLs to sync images from Akeneo to BigCommerce
Data Filtering –Store owners are in control of what data they want to sync. They can indicate each part of the product catalog to sync or not to sync. Example – Indicate if you want to sync just product or product and meta-data (categories, options, etc.). For product data sync you can also indicate which data you want to sync. There are all possible combinations to indicate what data you want, examples – Akeneo channel, family, categories, attribute-based filters, enabled/disabled etc.
Data sync scheduling –Store owners can run the sync on-demand via the user interface or can schedule to run at a predefined frequency
Logging & notifications –The connector allows you to capture all types of log messages – info, warning, error and also allows you to setup email notifications
Support for all Akeneo editions –Compatible with all Akeneo editions- Community, Serenity, Flexibility
Support for Akeneo versions – Compatible with Akeneo Serenity, and versions 4.0, 3.2, 3.1, 3.0, 2.3, 2.2, 2.1, 2.0, 1.7.
Default currency mapping – Specify which currency is the default currency from the configuration API
Merge multiple category trees from Akeneo PIM into one BigCommerce category tree.
Map specific attributes from Akeneo PIM as custom attributes in BigCommerce.
Sync multiple images for products.
Indicate product tax code
Mention SEO information – page title, meta description, meta keywords
Maintain and sync inventory information – current stock level and low stock level
Sync detailed pricing information – price, cost price, retail price, sale price
You can sync product dimensional information – height, width, depth
Indicate shipping flags like free shipping and specify fixed shipping price
Akeneo PIM SKU mapping to BigCommerce product SKU field.
Sync other details like brand name, product UPC/EAN number, bin picking number
Mention search keywords for the SEO optimization
Control product storefront visibility – feature, visible
Mention sorting order of products
Maintain and sync purchase quantity limits – minimum and maximum
Sync updated products from Akeneo PIM again to gain efficiency for your web sync process.
Choose which products to export using various filters- category, family, completeness, time conditions, locale, currency.
Use identifier (SKU) for exporting specific products to BigCommerce store.
Native BigCommerce one-click app
Our goal is to create maximum value for our customers. StrikeTru’s Akeneo PIM connector for BigCommerce streamlines your business by unlocking the potential of product data and helps you quickly meet consumer demand and deliver exceptional product experiences. This connector includes Product Sourcing + Cloud PIM + BigCommerce Syndication; and is a key part of our affordable PIM package for SMBs.
Mid-market firms in a growth phase find themselves struggling to scale their businesses when they’re confronted with complicated product data management requirements. Those that are still managing a large number of SKUs on legacy systems (“manual” PIM) and have to revise their product catalog at a rapid pace end up being the most counterproductive. This fuels further costs and complexities like inefficient workflows, siloed information, missing digital assets, overlapping operations, inconsistent formats and more. Needless to say, this has a bigger impact on overall business performance such as:
Drop in conversion rate
Delayed time to market
Increase in rate of returns and cart abandonment
Increase in order and delivery errors
Bad customer experience and brand reputation
Inefficient internal workforce
With eCommerce outpacing overall retail growth and a sea of competition, even a small hiccup in operations can be a big setback. A modern PIM tool working together with an eCommerce platform will result in streamlined operations in the back-end and create engaging user experiences in the front-end.
Let’s examine the reasons why an innovative eCommerce integration like this one gets you results:
the drawbacks of setting up a product catalog on BigCommerce
the benefits of BigCommerce and PIM working together
At a high-level BigCommerce has a fixed number of product attributes, with an option to add custom (name/value) type attributes. It offers a fairly standard product category concept. It allows you to have a custom price list and a special attribute for brand management. There is a concept of configurable products (products which vary by color or size).
From a product catalog perspective, BigCommerce consists of the following.
Product Options aka shared variant options
The following sections explain each of these at a high level:
BigCommerce offers a fixed set of out of the box attributes in various logical groups as you can see in the below screenshot. Attribute groups are – Basic Information, Description, Images and Videos, Product Identifiers, Pricing, Inventory, Variations, Customizations, Inventory, Storefront Details, Custom Fields, Related Products, Dimensions & Weight, Shipping Details, Purchasability, Gift Wrapping, SEO and Open Graph Sharing.
Merchants can create categories and category trees. This is a pretty standard feature with actions available. The challenge is that you cannot create multiple category trees or multiple catalogs, for example you want to create a sales catalog and a master catalog. You cannot have two base category nodes; all categories need to be part of one root.
A product can be assigned to one or more categories.
Variations are used for products that are available in different colors, sizes, or styles. A common use case for variations is for clothing that comes in several colors and sizes. Variants can have their own image, price, and weight, and they typically have their own SKU and track stock.
Variations are created via adding a variant option or a shared variant option to the product.
Stock keeping units, or SKUs, are codes that are used to tell variants apart and track inventory. When you create a new variant option, SKUs are automatically created for all your new possible variants. You may edit the automatically generated SKUs if you want to assign your own identifiers. The variant can have their own image (example – blue color shirt image). By default, variants will use the product’s main product image. Only one image can be assigned to a variant.
Product Options aka shared variant options
If you have several products that use the same variant options and values, you can save time by using shared variant options to set up the option once and reuse it across multiple products.
Shared variant options cannot be edited or customized on the product-level.
Editing a shared variant option will update every product to which it is applied; variants with unique SKUs will be automatically regenerated.
Shared variant options cannot be deleted if they are currently associated with a product.
Why should BigCommerce & Akeneo PIM work together?
Though BigCommerce is a very flexible and popular eCommerce platform, it’s not a proper PIM tool when it comes to the product catalog part of the platform. Its product catalog is a destination for the product data and not a place to manage the product data. Today’s eCommerce needs are much more sophisticated and cannot be handled in BigCommerce backend.
Here are the key reasons why BigCommerce merchants need a proper PIM solution :
Product data collection challenges
First and foremost, there is a need to centralize all product content in one core central repository. Data collection step of the product data journey has its own set of challenges – data volume, data variety, data velocity, data quality, data onboarding.
Your product data is sourced from your suppliers and other internal and external systems and needs a proper product information management (PIM) tool which allows all kinds of data attributes, images, documents, etc. to be stored in the PIM tool. PIM allows you to tackle all these challenges and is a scalable system designed for this very purpose.
Product Information management challenges
In this digital age, your product information is your product, as today’s customers are searching and shopping for products all the time on a variety of devices and pods. Before they actually decide to buy the product, they want to see rich, informative, compelling product data on all of your digital channels.
This requires an intentional and dedicated effort to manage product data. Key challenges are data centralization, flexible data modeling, multi-channel and multi-locale data, data quality rules, data enrichment rules, bulk edit, searchability, workflow automation, language translations, data access controls, SEO data management, pricing and promotions management.
PIM is a flexible tool to manage your product data, repair and prepare data, approve the data and then integrate it to the BigCommerce Product Catalog. PIM features tackle the challenges listed in the above example – business rules, bulk edit, completeness, channel and language level data enrichment, data security, meta-data management, etc.
Product data syndication challenges
Multiple product data destinations
Though your BigCommerce store is one of the key destination systems for your product data, the product data is needed by all of your digital channels like mobile, print, marketplaces, data pools, and others (Agencies, internal tools etc.). PIM is the central tool that is best suited for syndicating your product data to all these target systems. Your BigCommerce store is one of the destination systems, rather a central repository of the product data.
eCommerce web sync issues
Your current legacy tool is having sync issues, there is no predictability on when your eCommerce product data load will be updated. In many cases, this sync process is a legacy tool and no one knows how to change or make modifications and you are stuck.
Your BigCommerce store rich meta-data in addition to the core product record. This includes product categories, product options (drop/down), brand data, custom attributes, custom price lists, etc.
StrikeTru’s Akeneo PIM Connector for BigCommerce gives you a solid eCommerce technology stack at an affordable price. It puts your product content center stage in the eCommerce ecosystem and redirects your brand’s focus on creating omnichannel shopping experiences that drive sales. Find out what makes StrikeTru’s PIM integration for BigCommerce unique.
A potential client wants an eCommerce site, your agency wins the pitch, you set the estimated scope and budget for the project and the client agrees. At this point, you discover their product data horror story. Typically digital agencies are not system integration specialists nor have platform-based capabilities to manage complex product data.
Delivering eCommerce projects can be challenging in themselves, combine that with mining fragmented product data, cleansing it, discovering inconsistencies, removing corrupt records and optimizing it to create a successful online sales model – in the absence of a structured framework, smooth operations and cost-efficient delivery these projects can quickly become unprofitable.
Rich product data is a competitive differentiator for retailers today. So it’s obvious that an integral part of delivering a successful eCommerce project involves addressing and solving product data challenges systematically with best-practice solutions. But when agencies are not able to undertake this task efficiently it can put them in a bad light, making them look unprofessional & unreliable. In such instances, it is not uncommon for clients to replace the agency altogether. Often times agencies are in charge of broader high-cost digital projects including eCommerce and omnichannel initiatives and by not solving product data management challenges in the early stages, they risk jeopardizing bigger deals.
On the other hand, when clients are ignorant of the impact bad data can have on sales and the overall profitability of business they look for shortcuts like outsourcing the task of cleaning up their messy data to hasten the eCommerce project. This means data quality issues are resolved by ill-equipped agencies using manual and semi-automated ways – leaving the data at best; invalid and inaccurate. Many times agencies themselves don’t understand the complexity and cost involved in product data management and project low budgets in order to avoid losing the client, ending up hurting their margins. The flipside is that charging the true cost of a PIM project to a client who isn’t convinced about product data management will likely put them off and lead them to contend with bad product data. Even if the agency absorbs the bulk of the cost, the project becomes low margin or unprofitable from their perspective. All these scenarios will lead to unsustainable projects in the long run or even failure to launch.
Think of a PIM solution as the bedrock of an agency-client relationship. We champion the tremendous impact high-quality product data has on productivity, agility, reduced costs, improved efficiency and the ability to compete with early adopters of PIM technology. By creating a combined offering with StrikeTru that includes deep domain and PIM deployment expertise you can deliver exceptional product content and commerce solutions that can transform your client’s product data quickly, help your client grow their business, accelerate sales and give you measurable results.
Read more to find out how we solve product data challenges for digital agencies.
If you’re a digital agency looking to solve your clients’ product data management challenges or complement your e-commerce service offerings, we can help.
Contact us for more information on how we can partner.
Are you a digital agency that provides eCommerce solutions but are often faced with complex product data challenges? Turning your client’s messy data into rich high-quality product information that is market-ready doesn’t have to be a lengthy and expensive process.
Do you understand product data?
The first step is to get a thorough understanding of the current state of your client’s product data and how this information is stored. Usually the client is getting the job done by manually managing multiple versions and formats of product data across different systems and departments over hundreds of spreadsheets. In some cases they may be clueless about this and will not understand the impact of an extensive product data cleanup on the scope and budget of the project.
The challenge is to develop a product data implementation roadmap by accurately identifying the time and efforts required to cleanse the data, import and enrich it and finally publish the data to different marketplaces – having a clear understanding of the work that needs to be done can avoid gross underestimation of budget requirements that can lead to unpleasant shocks for your client. This is where partnering a PIM implementation expert can help.
How can a PIM solution help your client stand out on the digital shelf?
Modern PIM platforms can ensure product content directly supports the KPIs that drive success across all sales channels and has an impact on increasing conversion rates, average order value, stickiness, SEO, & profitability while decreasing return and cart abandonment rates.
StrikeTru makes cloud-based product data solutions affordable for clients. We specialize in end-to-end product data solutions for eCommerce using Akeneo open-source PIM and Riversand Ascend PIM, both of which are ideal for small and mid-sized businesses and cost less than traditional industry benchmarks for PIM solutions.
We understand how setting budget expectations with your client for eCommerce projects can be a nightmare. Add to that asking them for additional investment in the form of a separate PIM project budget –this can mean the loss of an important client. PIM is a relatively expensive solution to implement, and making the business case and securing a budget for it might require time. Industry benchmarks peg a PIM solution cost of ownership at 2% of annual sales.
Small and mid-sized companies may have a hard time justifying this spend, and that is another reason why agencies may not actively promote a product information management (PIM) platform even if they understand its importance. Alternatively, the client may end up outsourcing the task to a competitor agency (at a cheaper cost) that don’t have deep understanding of PIM tools, workflow integration, product taxonomy, product data modeling and syndication capabilities.
StrikeTru routinely partners with eCommerce digital agencies to deploy modern PIM and DAM capabilities to boost eCommerce and digital transformation programs. Click here to find out more about the benefits of PIM and how we can add value to your service offering.
Read more to find out how we solve product data challenges for digital agencies.
If you’re a digital agency looking to solve your clients’ product data management challenges or complement your e-commerce service offerings, we can help.
Contact us for more information on how we can partner.
If your business involves working with a retailer, it’s safe to say that eCommerce solutions are a big part of your service offering. With changing consumer preferences, traditional brick-n-mortar players are quickly embracing the industry shift and looking for quick and affordable ways to leverage the potential of online sales. Not just this, they want to think and act like their digital native competitors that have made this model a huge success with omnichannel, mobile commerce and heavy focus on delivering great customer experiences. In fact, the online share of total retail sales in the US has steadily been on the rise—with e-commerce penetration hitting 16.0% in 2019, according to Digital Commerce. In order to thrive today companies must furnish an ever-growing number of touchpoints with optimized product information at every stage of the customer journey.
The expectation from digital agencies today has got a broader implication involving eCommerce solutions that complement branding and marketing strategy. The primary factor that determines the success of an eCommerce project is undoubtedly a high-quality, centralized product information database that translates into a wide range of tangible benefits like:
1. Increase in traffic to the online store
2. Meaningful customer experiences that positively impact customer
3. Increased conversion rate
4. Streamlined internal operations and automated processes
5. Faster time to market
6. Increased product searchability
7. Up-skilled employees and increased productivity
Most digital agencies recognize the importance of an optimized product database but are hesitant to advocate this solution to their clients due to various factors; heavy cost & complexity, project timelines or as in majority of cases; due to insufficient in-house skills to support such projects. The biggest reason is the lack of the right business & technical skills that require careful planning and great execution.
Consider this scenario, where even your client understands the sales benefits of a well-managed product database and requires a PIM deployment as part of their eCommerce strategy – how do you ensure a successful PIM implementation? Without core system integration skills and proven implementation expertise developing a clear and actionable roadmap could prove to be frustrating and costly for both parties involved. Even a few missteps can be painful to deal with & cause duplication of efforts. On the other hand building in-house skills may not be profitable for agencies unless there are multiple PIM projects in the pipeline ensuring a steady revenue stream to offset the investments.
Implementing PIM for eCommerce smoothly needs a deep understanding of product data and proven implementation expertise that represent complex legwork and big investment for agencies whose core service offering are focused on front-facing creative & strategic marketing services. Partnering with a digital services firm like StrikeTru in such cases is a good way to move forward
StrikeTru is a digital services company helping small and mid-sized businesses drive their eCommerce sales. From product data collection, to product information management, to product data syndication, StrikeTru is a one-stop-shop for affordable cloud-based product data solutions.
Read more to find out how we solve product data challenges for digital agencies.
If you’re a digital agency looking to solve your clients’ product data management challenges or complement your e-commerce service offerings, we can help.
Contact us for more information on how we can partner.
Retailers are looking for agencies that can help them move fast; to stay ahead in an age where Amazon is transforming eCommerce at an incredible pace. Hiring digital agencies for end-to-end eCommerce solutions has become a trend as they combine strategic, creative & technology services to help retailers grow their online business.
But what goes into creating a successful eCommerce model for these retailers? Consumers are driving the advancement in technology through their evolving behavior & expectations from brands. How they prefer to consume information, interact with eCommerce sites, shift seamlessly between interconnected devices and purchase products and services over what period of time, is essentially defining the way retailers approach their physical and online eCommerce strategy. There’s no denying the ground shift from trying to sell the ‘best product’ to selling the best ‘product experience’. According to a report by PWC the ROI on ‘great experiences are tangible: up to a 16% price premium on products and services, plus increased loyalty.’ There is 0 room for error with consumers having no tolerance for less than 100% accurate, consistent results, ‘one in three consumers (32%) say they will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.’
So what does it really take to make a retailer stay one step ahead of competition and make the most of their online store in the current marketplace?
What happens when as a digital e-commerce agency you are faced with questions such as:
1. Why is my full inventory not showing up on the site?
2. Why are the product listings not optimized with high-quality images?
3. Why is my eCommerce site not achieving the conversions it should?
4. Why is my eCommerce site not getting enough traffic?
5. Why is my online store flagging?
Worst case scenario – you have a stalled eCommerce project on your hands.
The answer lies at the very root of eCommerce – lack of a modern product content management platform.
Digital eCommerce agencies often work with clients that don’t have a product information management system (PIM) in place – they manage their product data manually on ERP and messy spreadsheets that exist on different systems, sometimes in different formats. This bad product data situation is discovered by the agency themselves at the start of the project resulting in unpleasant surprises for the client in terms of 1) extended timelines to complete the project and 2) big investment required to put product data integration systems into place.
Trying to manage huge volumes of fragmented product data manually is bound to lead to errors that can not only harm the clients brand but your relationship with them as well. Clients are most concerned with how fast and easily they can get what they want from their vendors – agility and personalization is crucial – a situation like this means bad customer experiences and lost market share.
Challenges like messy product data, delays in onboarding supplier product data, inability to centralize and manage product data at scale, inability to syndicate product data to sales channels efficiently and limitations in eCommerce platform data management capabilities that lead to delayed eCommerce projects can all be addressed by implementing a PIM solution that streamlines your product content operations quickly and ultimately leads to conversions.
By collaborating with a partner like StrikeTru you are prepared for situations exactly like this and can tackle the problem head-on with end-to-end PIM solutions for eCommerce, get your client to market fast in a quick and affordable way with no unwelcome surprises or budgeting issues for the client.
Read more to find out how we solve product data challenges for digital agencies.
If you’re a digital agency looking to solve your clients’ product data management challenges or complement your e-commerce service offerings, we can help.
Contact us for more information on how we can partner.
This is the most commonly asked question when it comes to eCommerce players considering implementing PIM for digital shelf success and transformation. We decided to unpack this question in the simplest way possible. By working backwards from your business goals, we can get a clearer understanding of what it takes to achieve those goals in a multi-channel, always connected, SaaS PIM environment.
If these are your top 5 business goals for 2020, implementing PIM is the only way to stay competitive in the coming years.
Manage and distribute product content for thousands of SKUs
Offer your products across channels in multiple languages
Have a low rate of product returns
Value add to strategic areas of business especially employee productivity
Raise the ante on customer experience
Manage and distribute product content for thousands of SKUs
Handling 500 – 1000 SKUs is an easily managed task with a detailed excel carrying product information and associated digital asset references. But what happens when you have to manage thousands of products with their descriptions and rich media with an aim to offer extensive product depth & breadth to end customers? A traditional ERP is simply not designed to manage the pace and complexity of consumer demand for data today. Inflexibility is only one of the reasons why an ERP model can prove crippling to your brand. Digital commerce in 2020 demands flexible and transparent workflow capabilities, rich digital assets, the agility to add an ever increasing number of data attributes and consumer facing data that is dynamic. On an ERP, this is impossible – due to lack of flexibility and extensibility, audit and digital asset management capabilities; teams inevitably end up with disparate databases of product data that don’t speak to each other leading to inconsistencies and additional costs. A lot of the marketing data ends up living on spreadsheets, so the lack of visibility into a growing number of SKUs can blindside product managers and turn off buyers. This means lost sales and bad reviews. That’s where a modern PIM comes in. A cloud based PIM lets you centralize all your product information in a single repository, making sure your brand tells consistent product stories across every channel.
“A few years ago, it could take weeks for us to onboard a new SKU. Now, thanks to Akeneo PIM it typically takes a day.”- Petra Industries
Offer your products across channels in multiple languages
The modern day shopper is channel agnostic, they want to be able to shift from one channel/device to another seamlessly and get access to current, accurate information on every search. Studies show that omnichannel campaigns earned a 250% higher purchase rate than single-channel campaigns. Meaning that customers were not only more receptive to engagement through multiple digital & offline touch-points but it also impacted their purchase decision positively. Similarly, when it comes to international expansion – localization & translation is key to making sure your customers are able to find, evaluate and purchase your product very easily. An ERP does not allow management of multi lingual data. Managing and enriching product information can be a pain every time you are entering a new market. With Akeneo2GlobalLink, a translation connector tool by StrikeTru that connects Akeneo PIM users to Translations.com’s GlobalLink, this process is highly simplified. From organized workflows to integrated translation tools, your business is equipped to grow quickly and capture larger market share in every location.
“Our people are spending an enormous amount of time translating product data and managing that data in multiple spreadsheets. Leveraging the Akeneo2GlobalLink solution will drive significant value for our content and commerce teams, and for our customers.” – Pierce Global
Lower rate of product returns
Have you ever had a situation where your eCommerce platform displayed an image that caused a return because warehouse repeatedly shipped the wrong product as they were looking at an older image on another product lookup tool? You can only imagine how damaging this can be to your brand image. 57% of retailers said that dealing with returns has a negative impact on the day-to-day running of their business. When working with inflexible legacy tools including an ERP, 20-25 people and 8 different systems are involved in servicing a retailer or customer request for product data – the total time this would take and high chances of manual error is mind boggling. With a good PIM, you can dramatically enhance your data quality. Excellent data quality means customers searching for your products get intelligent results every single time on any device.This is crucial to product searchability, conversions and customer satisfaction.You gain content control, visibility, flexibility, and dissemination capabilities that result in personalized customer experiences leading to higher satisfaction levels making them come back for repeated purchases.
“PIM users have reported a 40% decrease in product returns, thanks to features such as automated enrichment rules, product completeness monitoring, and validation, which each work to ensure that shoppers are more informed prior to purchase.” – Akeneo
Value add to strategic areas of business especially employee productivity
Increased employee productivity is a top priority for management. In the above points we examined how a modern PIM solution can significantly enhance business and customer oriented goals. However, internal employee-productivity related goals can also be addressed by gaining control over and centralizing your product data by automating 30-50% of redundant manual operations, increased efficiency, doing away with silo headaches, transparent workflows, more focus on customer innovation, greater collaboration between teams, easier goal mapping and performance measurement and streamlined operations resulting in next generation CX.
“Updating product content in Akeneo PIM takes 10 minutes compared with the 30 minutes it took in the old system.” – SHOP.COM
Raise the ante on customer experience
Meaningful customer experiences are everything; it is the leading differentiator today, with customers putting even more emphasis on rich product information. According to a study by Gartner, 89% businesses are expected to compete mainly on customer experience in 2020. On the other hand a bad customer experience can cost you heavily – 95% of customers tell others about a bad experience. To compete with giants like Amazon, you need to raise the ante on customer innovation by implementing a cloud based PIM to anticipate customer needs, understand preferences through buying patterns & seasonality resulting in a highly responsive and seamless experience.
In conclusion, an ERP system may be able to manage small amounts of product data but as your product and attribute counts increase only a PIM solution can create compelling product content for next-gen customer experience.
A PIM solution can help brands & retailers rank their products highly on the digital shelf – going beyond a basic keyword search. It is a great tool in the hands of product managers and merchants to accelerate time-to-market and an asset to always-connected consumers for intuitive shopping.
Brands and retailers often face the consequence of lost revenue thanks to bad product data. In the last decade, there has been a revolution in the way we manage product content. Today, customers look beyond product features & shipping information. They respond to 360-degree immersive narratives that include multiple brand images and video, AR generated lifestyle images and rich product copy. Today, at the heart of a successful ecommerce strategy lays product content that can make or break a sale.
The key is to evolve to meet the demands of today’s connected shoppers. How can you do that? By making the shopper feel empowered with all the information they want, when they want it & on a platform of their choice. With a modern product information management (PIM) solution this is possible. From product discovery to syndication, a PIM solution collects, cleanses, enriches, and adapts your content to meet specific channel requirements for a seamless omnichannel experience. This is even more important in the Amazon-age, with nearly 66% shoppers (2/3 of US shoppers) beginning their search for products here; brands and retailers have to ensure they have the capability of updating their product data quickly to meet the ever changing and ever increasing product content guidelines.
Let’s look at some of the typical challenges faced by ecommerce players that are still managing product information on excel files and shared drives and legacy systems:
Product horror story – companies that don’t have access to a centralized repository of trusted product information struggle with easily finding and publishing content in a timely manner that ultimately lead to higher return rates. Never mind poor customer satisfaction levels.
Manual syndication – manually managing multiple versions of product data across different departments and channels over hundreds of spreadsheets is near impossible for brands that wish to stay competitive by continuously optimizing their products to capture a larger market share. When the customer expectation is to buy anything at any time, the last thing retailers & manufacturers need is to get stuck with troublesome errors and brand and cross-channel inconsistencies that are fully visible to customers.
Zero scalability & delays in launching new products – the ability to list and manage tens or hundreds of thousands of new SKUs is essential to executing an endless aisle strategy to compete with Amazon and other players. Manual methods and legacy systems often fail to accomplish this, hurting a business’s agility in the marketplace.
Damaged brand reputation – all of the above situations negatively impact purchase decisions and lead to an irreversibly damaged brand reputation.
So how can you ensure exceptional product data quality, i.e. completeness, timeliness, conformity, consistency and accuracy in collaboration with suppliers & partners? By integrating a cloud based PIM solution in your marketing technology stack. This core solution software aggregates content (including rich selling content) from all data sources, transforms it, creates a harmonized data set, and synchronizes all content to your eCommerce website and various 3rd party digital marketing and sales channels including search engines, social media, and marketplaces. It supports content syndication both in terms of product mix and completeness and format of data, including multilingual content adaptation, needed by the various digital commerce channels.
New platforms like PIM can ensure product content directly supports the KPIs that drive success across all sales channels and has an impact on increasing conversion rates, average order value, stickiness, SEO, & profitability while decreasing return and cart abandonment rates.
Cloud deployment in eCommerce is a default in 2020. Driven by digitally influenced consumer touch-points like social media, online marketplaces and mobile search, cloud native innovation has become main-stream.
Adapting to a cloud-first approach is not an easy one. Understanding cloud capabilities and the new ways it can transform your business is the first step. That’s where we come in. Here’s how you can adapt your IT strategy to get the benefits of cloud-based solutions – to solve business challenges, meet consumer expectations & thrive in a digital-first, always online economy.
smallPIM – StrikeTru’s cloud based product information management (PIM) solution is an affordable, flexible, fast to deploy SaaS solution powered by Akeneo PIM Community Edition. smallPIM specializes in helping retailers, distributors, and manufacturers visualize & understand how they can acquire, onboard, manage and distribute their product data more efficiently. Product data is the lifeblood for fast growing commerce – now imagine having a product information truth source that puts all your product information in one place streamlining your operations, saving valuable time for employees, increasing collaboration and creating a true omnichannel experience for your customers.
Our belief is that product-selling B2B & B2C companies should spend less time sorting through messy data & managing multiple spreadsheets and more time building capabilities to hold the attention of digitally connected consumers through different stages of their shopping experiences to unlock eCommerce success.
Deliver consistent, high quality product information across channels, get products to market faster, boost product discovery & conversions.
No infrastructure to manage: A traditional on-premise PIM solution is associated with high overhead costs. With Cloud PIM you lease the infrastructure you need and expand as you need.
Scalable: Cloud PIM provides a great deal of scalability to expand in tandem with your growing needs instead of provisioning excessive and unused on-premise infrastructure
Automate manual content and IT processes to eliminate errors and let your team focus on strategic areas like customer innovation.
Instantly available: Cloud PIM gives you the flexibility of easy access from anywhere, anytime and from any device. Give access to partners, suppliers, employees breaking down silos, improving data workflow & making workloads more portable. Perfect for huge volumes of ever-changing data.
Low total cost of ownership: With a pay per use model and turnkey features, there are no expensive investments in on-premise infrastructure and support staff.
The cloud computing market is omnipresent and will reshape the competitive landscape in 2020. This is especially true for eCommerce players who must evolve & embrace the next generation cloud model to stay relevant.
Millennials are changing the way brands are doing business, from catching onto contextual advertising trends to becoming early adopters of latest marketing channels (like Instagram) – it’s no surprise their purchasing power is projected to reach $1.4 trillion in 2020.
In this blog we’ll examine tomorrow’s trillion-dollar demographic and provide insights on how to engage the largest group of category killers across industries.
E-commerce made up nearly 10% of all retail sales in the last quarter of 2018, but that doesn’t necessarily point to the fact that all shopping is happening online. Online shopping statistics are vital for retailers to understand why a large chunk of purchase decisions still happen at the shelf. Other than shopping, digital has a huge influence on how Millennials reach the physical store – digital helps them search and find products in real-time,stay in tune with thousands of product reviews, prices, and best deals both online and offline, and gather updated product information they need to find the best products& shopping experiences.
The key is a seamless shopping transition from smartphone to personal computer to store. This also explains why this generation prefers the BOPIS (Buy Online Pick in Store) experience.
Most millennial shoppers indulge in unplanned shopping – ‘throw extra items in the cart while you’re there’suggesting a demand for instant gratification and convenience over saving money on product price. Marketers have understood this and are developing millennial versions of the in-store ‘SALE’ signage that make the consumer not think twice about making a spontaneous purchase. Like related products, free shipping, or first-time buyer discounts. For example, grocery e-tailers convince shoppers to add items they might have forgotten at checkout based on items in their shopping cart.
Almost three-quarters of consumers say that there has been a direct link between watching a video online and making a purchase. (Source: Adweek).
We live in a sharing economy and ‘Influencers’ have emerged as the game changers in the ecommerce space. “In 2018, 72% of major brands stated that they were outsourcing a significant portion of their marketing resources to online Influencers. Followers feel as though they’re getting a product recommendation from a friend, making them more likely to buy quickly.” (Source: weforum) Successful brands have quickly adapted their marketing strategies to include Influencer collaborations that leverage their massive following resulting in an online buzz about the brand, product information, and updates. From brand discovery to purchase drivers, online mentions and reviews will be paramount to uplifting brand & sales in 2020.
Retailers and brands are redefining their strategies as the digital landscape and shopping behaviors evolve every day. If they are to capture the purchasing power of this segment, some organizations may have to modernize their legacy systems to keep themselves from falling behind. Two things: marketing technology. The right marketing technology, combined with the right data, people, processes & partners can enable retailers and corporate brands to deliver a consistent and elevated customer experience across all sales channels, including eCommerce, mobile, social, print, and retail points of sale.
Check out our Services page for more information to get started with mapping your ideal marketing technology stack.
Americans shop online. A majority of these online customers start their product
search on search engines, market places, and retailer websites. Visibility and
discovery are two of the most critical elements when it comes to competing for
mindshare of potential customers online, hence companies must make the
necessary investments in modern technology to ensure great product content is
continuously fed to the right sales and marketing channels, at the right time.
Effective product feed management involves providing complete, accurate, and
timely product data that meets the individual requirements of various channels.
Channel-specific data requirements keep evolving, companies continue to adopt
more channels to sell through, and enterprise product data is constantly in a
state of flux (i.e. new products are introduced, current ones are updated or
obsoleted). Legacy operations typically used to manage product feeds involve
high cost and complexity and often slow down a company’s ability to provide
relevant product feeds to sales channels. Specialized product feed management
tools and service providers play a key role here helping companies overcome
many of those challenges resulting in a shorter path to purchase – leading to
more conversions. It is also a best-practice for digital winners to leverage a
modern Product Information Management (PIM) tool that helps them master and
share product data efficiently with employees across the company and with feed
management tools and other consumers of product data.
In this whitepaper, we discuss in detail the importance of optimized product feeds, outline common product feed management issues and review how a product feed management tool like Feedonomics helps overcome these challenges. We also review key features of a Product Information Management (PIM) tool that helps create consistently high-quality product data at scale so it can be shared with sales and marketing channels. Finally, we propose a reference solution architecture that combines PIM and Feed Management tools to maximize content and feed management related task automations as well as orchestrate multi-channel order management.
The Importance of
Optimized Product Feeds
Product data feeds are an essential part of eCommerce. It is
the method in which your data is sent to shopping channels and marketplaces
where you want your products listed and found easily by consumers when they
need it. The figure below illustrates just how many consumers look up product data on their devices even when
they’re shopping in a store.
There are many crucial elements that make up a successful
shopping feed. If you have 20 total products, you could of course optimize your
products one by one manually, but what if you have thousands or millions of
products? Therefore, a comprehensive feed management platform is the only way
to truly manage and scale up your eCommerce campaigns.
Optimizing your product feeds is a critical part of
succeeding on Amazon, Google Shopping, Walmart or on an auction site like eBay.
Why? At the highest level, search algorithms often match the keywords users
type into their search against your product attributes, giving extra weight to
your title, category and description. Product feed optimization is key to a
higher CTR, raising the average order value, increasing attachment rates, and
ultimately getting the best performance out of your campaign.
The recipe for online product listing success:
optimized feed – You want to ensure your online ads stand out with clear
understandable wording that ticks all the boxes based on what the person
shopping is searching for. Your ad copy must contain attributes that paint a
picture of what they will be purchasing, such as color, size, material, gender,
price, brand, and more.
friendly – Whether it’s Google, Amazon, Facebook, Walmart, or eBay, all
these large online shopping platforms want to give their shoppers the best
possible user experience. An optimized product feed often comes with huge
rewards for the advertiser such as higher impression share, a lower cost per
click, and a higher conversion rate.
account – If you have ever encountered a Google
Merchant Center disapproval or error, you will understand the frustration this
can cause. Every online marketplace adheres to a strict set of rules. Amazon
uses Order Defect Rate (ODR) to measure a seller’s ability to provide a good
customer experience. Of course, Amazon sellers will want to avoid receiving a
high ODR, which could lead to a suspension or even termination. Being able to
flag, diagnose, and resolve errors quickly helps maintain a consistent revenue
flow. Example – Having an account suspended over Black Friday weekend could be
catastrophic for your company.
An ad campaign will suffer if you do not have an optimized
product feed. A product feed is the cornerstone of any successful campaign.
Without proper feed optimization, it’s unlikely your products will show up at all,
and if they do show up, it’s often at the expense of very high bids, because
your products are not seen to be as relevant.
When you structure your product attributes
similarly to the words and phrases that users are looking for on different
platforms, it increases your ad’s relevancy.
Product title, description, and categorization
are critical here. You’ll want to ensure that your product titles contain
attributes like brand, name, size, and color so that your item surfaces in
Provide high-resolution images and make sure to
use the optimal height and width for the platform where you’re advertising. A
white background to make your images pop is best.
For some products, you’ll want to provide
additional images of the item from a different angle to capture special
Ensure the product specs associated with the
item are described accurately and thoroughly.
Categorization is key. For example, Walmart
assigns products to specific categories, and within each category, there are
sub-categories. Also, attributes for products are required. Make sure that
product categories, sub-categories, and required attributes are set up
correctly so there are no errors or unpublishing issues. Customers who browse
or use filters when shopping won’t be able to find your products if you’ve
Better Return on Ad
An optimized feed allows you to enhance the core component
of a Shopping campaign, which is relevancy. A relevant campaign needs to meet or
exceed the associated platform’s algorithm. This will influence the amount of
impressions share one advertiser will receive over another, as well as the cost
per click and more importantly, the number of clicks the ad will receive.
With regards to Google Shopping, if your campaign “pleases”
the Google algorithm, it can lead to:
Similar to Google Shopping, pleasing the algorithm on
marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay require the following
considerations to get the most out of your marketplace SEO:
Better product data for relevancy
Competitive price point
Quick turnaround on order fulfillment
Low or free shipping
Combining your traditional PPC optimizations with
marketplace best practices, should give you the edge against your competitors.
Faster order management and fulfillment can help with the
above best practices situations. How so? Product prices are updated constantly,
new products will be added in, and old or seasonal products are discontinued.
If you don’t revise your product feed, then you are at risk of receiving feed
errors or disapprovals.
Common Product Feed Issues
Some common product feed issues include:
Titles with missing
Not listing full catalog (e.g. only top sellers listed)
Missing alternate image angles/views
Poor image quality (resolution, size, etc.)
No associated products
When your product data is clean and optimized, there are no
rogue HTML or missing values, and it is correctly mapped to the specifications
of each channel.
The following is a list of common Google Merchant Center
Automatic item disapprovals due to policy violation (e.g.
“Dangerous Products” policy violation where a site sells guns, gun
parts, and explosives)
Product pages cannot be accessed
Invalid price data
Incorrect product identifiers
Missing shipping information
Temporary item disapprovals due to incorrect
Missing required attribute: color
Missing required attribute: size
Multiple sizes for one item
Incorrect shipping costs
and so on…
Unresolved Google Merchant Center (GMC) errors and disapprovals can result in thousands
of dollars of lost revenue per day. For a company that lists and sells hundreds
or thousands of items, it is a daunting amount of work to monitor product
listing errors and warnings on those channels on a daily basis. Furthermore,
those errors due to bad data on Amazon could result in a delisting of products,
fine or even suspension. Updating price, inventory, and other content for those
items routinely also requires a significant amount of work. Another big
challenge is the task of orchestrating orders coming in from multiple sales
channels. Companies often struggle with timely entry of channel specific orders
into internal systems (online store or ERP or OMS) and timely update of order
status on various sales channels – these operations are typically manual and
Even if product feeds are optimized, there are other data
challenges that companies routinely deal with:
Incorrect data: For example, wrong price, availability,
or dimensional data. These will contribute to wrong product shipments,
excessive returns, customer dissatisfaction, and lower profits. Other issues
include poor image quality, insufficient number of product images, etc.
Delayed product introductions: It’s not uncommon for
companies to list only a subset of their catalog online due to data
availability and setup issues. For example, inability to launch new products or
promotions in time for a Black Friday leads to lost sales.
Inconsistent data across channels: Customer expect
omni-channel consistency and will avoid or punish companies that don’t deliver
Inconsistent data across brands or categories: In the
same company, titles and descriptions across brands and/or categories are often
constructed differently. The availability of commonly searched product
specifications and digital assets also varies widely across product categories.
This makes it harder for customers to find and purchase products online.
A lack of visibility into these data issues and control over
what data gets distributed to specific channels is a common issue. These
challenges result in a variety of problems including lost sales, stockouts due
to poor inventory and availability management, and costly operations.
Feed Management Tool to
Tame Cost and Complexity
A product feed management tool like Feedonomics can address many of these problems. The tool streamlines the creation and management of optimized product feeds to help save time and money. It will also sync the latest price and availability data with all channels on a timely basis. With Feedonomics’ proprietary tool (FeedAlerts™), you can receive notifications for Google Merchant Center errors and warnings daily. Feedonomics can also help with automated order management. The platform will automatically pull orders from each marketplace channel and deliver them to your system in one dashboard. Everything is synced to your online store (or another system like ERP or OMS) so that you can efficiently manage Marketplace inventory. This will prevent oversold situations and ensure that product availability is accurate.
Many companies don’t have a centralized repository of
product data. So, preparing product feeds, including via getting the data from
your website, can be tricky. Feedonomics can pull product data from any feed
file, shopping platform, product content platform, or custom site with any kind of schedule. It is a low-cost way to
ensure your products are at the “eye-level” on the digital shelf.
Data Ingestion: We can
pull data into our system in nearly any format – SFTP, FTP, URL, JSON, Google
Sheet, or custom API if needed.
Data Joins and
Mapping: We can join any dataset together with a common key (i.e., ‘product_id’). This allows us to merge data from
disparate systems, like inventory, margin, or performance data, into the main
catalog. We can then map these datasets to any field required by a channel. For
example, we can create rules in the feed to map product categories that map to
channel specific product categories.
FeedTelligence™ is a powerful
keyword recommendation tool. It will automatically compare your Google Shopping
feed to actual converted search terms and allows you to see missing words for
title and description optimization on a per-SKU basis.
FeedAlerts™ is an easy way to receive notifications for both
Amazon and Google Merchant Center (GMC) errors and warnings. Unresolved Amazon
or GMC errors and disapprovals can result in thousands of dollars of lost
revenue per day.
Feedonomics can set up FeedAlerts™ to:
Monitor import/export errors
Automatically check your Google, Amazon, and other accounts
twice a day
Set thresholds on an overall and individual error basis
Send a notification when you exceed an error threshold
FeedAlerts™ is a game-changing tool that will save your
company time and money – fewer errors will result in more active products and
You’ll receive an email with a detailed report listing the
errors with links. If the errors are feed-based, Feedonomics’ 24/7 support team
will fix them.
“Feed Optimization and Order Management helped a retail client achieve a 260% increase in revenue on Amazon and a 290% increase in revenue on eBay.” – Feedonomics
PIM, For High Quality
& Consistent Product Feeds
As discussed earlier, poor quality product data is a huge
problem in the digital world. Data inconsistencies across channels makes the
bad data problem worse. Disparate legacy systems and spreadsheets typically
used to manage product data leads to a variety of product data management challenges.
Centralizing product data in a PIM system can help feed clean and complete data
to sales channels. A modern PIM provides the necessary data visibility,
control, and scalability to create great product feeds that can be leveraged by
multi-channel shopping campaigns to deliver a better ROAS.
A PIM (Product Information Management) is an enterprise data
management solution that:
Centralizes product data
required to support commerce operations
Simplifies generation of
compelling, consistent, and high-quality product data
Synchronizes product data
with internal systems, marketing and sales platforms, customers, and partners
Scales up data acquisition,
enrichment, and publishing efforts
Noted below are some key benefits of a PIM solution:
Single source of trusted data: PIM creates a single source of trusted product data by
aggregating it from multiple sources, and by cleansing, enriching, governing,
and maintaining it consistently.
High-quality and consistent data: Product and variants management, data inheritance, data
validations, quality checks, completeness checks, bulk edit features,
rules-based auto-enrichment, approval workflows, and role-based permissions
ensure you create and deliver consistently high-quality data.
Integrated digital assets: PIM helps you onboard, link, control, and share product
assets with digital channels. PIM simplifies the task of associating imagery,
videos, PDFs, and other digital assets with product data.
Support for product feed management: Great product feeds to search, social media, and retailer
websites will ensure customers find and purchase your products. PIM holds
high-quality and SEO friendly data that can then be fed easily to product feed
management tools to help drive traffic and sales from multiple digital
Manage rich product data systematically to enables navigation and exploration
features critical for conversion on eCommerce sites. These features include
intuitive categories and sub-categories, helpful product names, facet
navigation, cross-sell compatible products, comparison, etc.
Business agility: By
integrating PIM with other enterprise systems, trusted product data can also be
shared efficiently with internal analytical and operational systems, thus
reducing manual and redundant efforts. This will also make the enterprise more
agile and responsive when it comes to implementing new digital initiatives (for
e.g., launching a mobile app).
for Agile Feed Management and Order Orchestration
Product feed management combines the creation of product
feeds, optimizing feeds to meet channel specific requirements, syndicating
feeds to multiple channels, and reporting and recovering from feed listing
errors with the key goals of maximizing online leads and sales. Additional
scenarios include automatically managing inventory levels across channels,
aggregating orders and inputting them into an internal order management system
for processing, and sending out order statuses to various digital sales
A best-practice reference solution architecture combines the
power of a PIM and a feed management tool for optimal product feed management
and multi-channel order orchestration tasks. Although an eCommerce platform is
a convenient option to provide product feeds to a feed management tool, it is
not the best option. Often times, data in an eCommerce site is wrong,
incomplete, or dated. Add to that the fact that not all products may be listed
on the eCommerce site for technical or data quality related issues. An
eCommerce tool (and an ERP system too) is not suitable for proper data
management and this means that product data issues are not fixed in a timely
manner. A PIM is the right tool for product data management, and hence an
integration between the PIM and a product feed management tool like Feedonomics
is a better solution architecture for digital success.
Listed below is a proposed reference solution architecture
for efficient product feed management and order orchestration.
This integrated solution provides many benefits:
delivers high-quality product
feeds consistently to multiple sales channels
feeds latest price and
inventory data sourced from ERP or other system
speeds up creation of product
feeds that contain correct, complete, and SEO friendly data (via completeness,
content automation, bulk edit, workflow, and other features)
provides product data
intelligence (e.g. keyword suggestions, listing errors, catalog level
analytics) and alerts to maximize active product listings, findability, sales,
automates various manual
tasks typically associated with multi-channel order management
provides greater visibility,
control, and agility over product feeds, orders, and channel analytics
“Retailers need to be more aware and responsive than ever
to when and where their potential customers are making decisions throughout
their ‘always on’ shopping journey.”- KPMG
Every industry is getting disrupted, and eCommerce is here
to stay. Digital winners are using technology and integration to improve their
core business and break into new markets and new customers. They’re
streamlining user journeys, telling better product stories, optimizing for
mobile ecommerce, personalizing customer relationships, getting products to
market faster, and driving operating efficiencies across business support
functions. Are you going to be a digital winner?
The Feedonomics and StrikeTru teams have a track record of successfully
implementing Product Feed Management and
PIM solutions across industry verticals. For more
information or to discuss how we can help, please contact Brian Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Vik Gundoju at email@example.com.
Customers need to make informed decisions before they buy any commodity. Before a purchase is made, a customer wants to know how the product will be of benefit to him or her. They want to be sure of the features and they are keen to know if it will truly solve the problem they are purchasing this product for. They also want to be sure the product specifications meet their requirements. Providing rich product information is key to converting sales and keeping loyal customers.
Unfortunately, most companies struggle with managing and providing the right product information that customers demand today. Bad or inadequate data results in poor customer experience and lost sales opportunities. For example, with a shabbily written product description, a company puts its designers, merchants, marketers, sales managers and product managers at risk of misinterpreting the product details. When product information is not properly synchronized across the enterprise, different departments interpret it wrongly and customers might end up buying a product which is not exactly what they wanted or thought they’re getting.
Product Information Management (PIM) is a direct and modern solution to tackling the issues raised above.
Why you should use PIM to organize Product Information
Traditionally, product information has been managed using software like Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in large firms or in excel spreadsheets or home-grown systems in smaller firms. A PIM (Product Information Management) is a more detailed, focused and targeted means of managing product data for company operating efficiency. PIM enables the centralization of product data from internal and external sources to help provide an exceptional experience for the buyer. Legacy systems are inflexible and often prevent a company from creating rich product data experiences for its customers.
Consistency in product information is key to acquire and keep loyal customers. With advancements in internet and stiffer competition, it is easy for customers to go to the next online shop if they observe inconsistencies or gaps in information such as product descriptions and features. Managing product information using PIM is the modern way of organizing business online. PIM provides consistent details, better quality and provides all the answers that will keep the customer glued to you. PIM is best used for when there is a high quantity of products and product data, diverse marketing funnels and sales channels, lots of suppliers and a large volume of product data management needs on an ongoing basis.
PIM also harmonizes the information between different sectors of the business. It keeps team members, stakeholders, partners and customers informed as the status of products and services change. PIM communicates these changes fast so as to increase efficiency, decrease time to market, and increase sales. PIM is easy to use and integrate and eliminates over-reliance on spreadsheets. It is very scalable and centralized at the same time and it helps produce accurate product data that stays consistent over time as it establishes a central source of information which stays true. Also, by using PIM, a company can provide a compelling product and customer experience that can accelerate sales.
PIM is a modern way of doing business efficiently as it helps better manage risks and lower costs. This increase in efficiency makes work a lot more fun, increases worker’s productivity and creates more wealth for the company.
In a world of digital revolution, businesses all over the world are doing more with less. Digital Transformation for your business literally means adopting the use of new digital systems to aid your business processes, and ace your sales! This could be you, only if you knew how. Guess what? You are about to find out.
A system called PIM, which means Product Information Management, is one of the most recent and effective systems used to collect, polish and distribute content (which could be anything related to all kinds of products or services), to various parts of the world using the internet. A unique feature of the Product Information Management system is its compatibility with all kinds of data sources and systems, both online and offline. Deploying it is literally a Digital Transformation for your business.
The Product Information Management system provides centralized data and a general facelift for the buying experience of your customers.
Here’s why you should consider using Product Information Management for your business
The number of sales that happen on the internet every day is on a continuous and swift rise. The best time to take advantage of the rise is now. Most businesses are now operating on a digital platform, but that is not enough to stand you out above competition. Automation is key, so you need to the right systems working for you. With Product Information Management enabled commerce platforms, you will take every prospective buyer that visits your website through a detailed and user-friendly buyer journey, maximizing the chances that the prospects are converted into buyers!
Many of the existing systems used to organize and keep data are not fit for agile business processes. This rigidity and complexity make it very difficult for businesses to use alternatives such as multiple excel spreadsheets and legacy systems, to provide an impeccable customer experience and drive incredible sales. Spreadsheets could be difficult to collate and edit especially when you are preparing your products. However, a Product Information Management system allows you to do mass editing, data validation, and much more through the use of a centralized system that collects and collates all kinds of data from different sources. This digital transformation will definitely lead to Customer Satisfaction, and with ease!
The amount of time it takes to take a prepared product through ERP, sales and marketing systems for approval, before it is considered ready for marketing and selling is always long. Sometimes, it takes weeks! Say hello to PIM, who is going to speed everything up. Product Information Management system reduces your product’s time to market.
PIM can increase your product count, take you global, and even reinforce the credibility of your brand. When the process of preparing your products and giving customers an impeccable, high quality presentation is made easier, you can take on as many products as you want.
The adoption of a modern Product Information Management system in your business will not only make your processes easier, but also put your business in the forefront of companies that are taking advantage of the Digital Transformation wave sweeping the business sector.
An online marketing and web design agency, Astral Web also specializes in Magento commerce implementations. For one of their clients, the agency wanted to customize Akeneo PIM to improve PIM user experience and speed up product setup and maintenance tasks.
The client sold products via B2B and B2C channels and product content needed to be shared with three different sales platforms – B2B, B2C, and CMS websites. Though the total product count was not high, the product attribute count was very high (over 500). The eCommerce website needed most of these attributes, but the B2B site needed a much smaller subset of data.
Products were typically released to the B2B channel first. New product setup and enrichment activities were initially focused on meeting the requirements of the B2B channel. The users wanted the ability to see only B2B specific attributes. However, Akeneo PIM does not provide that feature out of the box, i.e. Akeneo does not allow a user to specify what product attributes are relevant (or not) for a given channel for data management purposes. It was very frustrating for users to have to scroll up and down a long list of product attributes to find and complete the ones relevant to the B2B channel. In addition to user frustration, this also meant there would be delays in launching new products to market.
Astral Web asked StrikeTru to review its requirements and customize Akeneo PIM. Astral Web wanted the ability to leverage the Akeneo user interface to configure product attribute visibility by channel. Out of the box, Akeneo provides a standard screen to configure what attributes are relevant for a given product family and for a given sales channel. StrikeTru extended that existing feature to allow a user to specify (with a click) if an attribute should be hidden when completing product setup for a given channel. The configurations are persisted in the database on a real-time basis, and then retrieved on-demand to hide specific attributes when entering data using Akeneo’s standard Product Edit Form. StrikeTru delivered the custom code and install instructions for Astral Web to self-deploy the customization in its environments. StrikeTru also trained Astral Web users to help ensure they leverage the customized feature effectively.
StrikeTru and Astral Web were able to provide the client a much-needed usability enhancement in a relatively short timeframe. Setting up and maintaining product data for the B2B channel takes much less time than before.
“StrikeTru quickly customized Akeneo to our exact needs, and helped eliminate a significant pain point for our client. We look forward to working with them in future to leverage their domain and Akeneo/Magento platform expertise” — Ori Tzvielli, Astral Web
StrikeTru routinely partners with digital marketing agencies to deploy modern PIM and DAM capabilities to boost eCommerce and digital transformation programs. If you’re a marketing agency looking to solve your clients’ data management challenges or complement your service offerings, we can help. Please contact us for more information on how we can partner.
The webinar “3 Tips for Launching & Enriching Global Product Content” was held on Sept 19th, 2018.
How can companies “right size” their product content localization strategy? How can they provide customers a compelling product experience on the web and other channels? What do companies need to do to accelerate the deployment of localized content globally?
This webinar explores approaches to taking product content global, discusses how PIM and Translation automation platforms can be used to accelerate content localization and deployment across global sales and marketing channels, and provides tips that companies can use in their own content localization projects.
StrikeTru will be co-hosting a webinar “3 Tips for Launching & Enriching Global Product Content” on Sep 19, 2018. Harry Singh will co-present this webinar with our partners Nick Panagopoulos from Translations.com and Frank Verdeja from Akeneo.
Below is a copy of the official webinar abstract.
3 Tips for Launching & Enriching Global Product Content
Nick Panagopoulos, VP Global Strategic Alliances, Translations.com
Harry Singh, Partner, StrikeTru
Frank Verdeja, Customer Success Manager, Akeneo
In today’s global economy, offering product content in multiple languages is a necessity. Simply having and translating product content is not enough. To compete globally successfully, you must have a strategy for your global product content. Join this webinar to learn more about:
– Rightsizing Your Localization Strategy
– Delivering a Compelling Product Experience
– Accelerating Your Global PIM Deployment
This webinar is designed for marketers and product managers who are responsible for authoring, managing, and distributing product content in multiple language for multiple regions across the globe.
StrikeTru markets and sells a Translation Connector (Akeneo2GlobalLink) that links Akeneo PIM to Translations.com’s GlobalLink Technology. This connector helps global manufacturers and retailers accelerate the translation and deployment of high-volume product content stored in a PIM system to multiple regions across the globe.
For more information on the translation connector, click here.
A leading global Internet Retailer that offers branded products across multiple categories, SHOP.COM needed to re-platform their legacy Product Information Management (PIM) software solution to speed up product releases.
A legacy in-house Product Information Management (PIM) system was resulting in longer product setup and release times. To better support its digital strategy for improved customer experience by delivering rich, accurate, and timely product content to customers globally, SHOP.COM needed an intuitive and flexible PIM system. The current PIM software solution, which was a very successful solution developed in-house, was falling behind in its ability to adapt and evolve with the company’s growing product information management needs.
SHOP.COM, owned by MarketAmerica, asked StrikeTru to review its requirements and validate if Akeneo, an open source PIM, would be a good fit. After studying SHOP.COM’s requirements and conducting an Enterprise Akeneo review, StrikeTru recognized and recommended that the Akeneo open source PIM software tool can resolve the company’s product content management challenges very effectively, and also set them up to launch future ecommerce initiatives faster (for example, an effort to provide much more compelling product content to consumers) and manage them with less effort. StrikeTru worked closely with SHOP.COM to deploy a new and improved PIM software system that replaced the legacy PIM software solution.
All legacy data including translated content, some digital assets, and users were migrated to the new Akeneo PIM software solution. It helped global teams collaborate more effectively, and sped up their product content and digital asset workflows. Creating and maintaining rich product content takes significantly less time in Akeneo PIM.
“With Akeneo, we’re seeing much higher quality product content on the website now, and that’s because we’re spending a lot less time managing product setup” — Jon Vivers, SHOP.COM
Digital assets are everywhere on websites; these could range from images, to videos and PDF documents. Nowadays, being able to manage them correctly is critical in an eCommerce world. A perfect way to have control over such important information is through the use of a DAM or Digital Asset Management system. Now you may be asking yourself, what is Digital Asset Management?
What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?
DAM is a system that allows your business to organize, enrich and distribute digital assets from a centralized location by applying metadata. Digital Asset Management solutions come with features such as powerful imports and exports, as well as powerful searches.
When considering a Digital Asset Management system you should consider these questions: Do you typically have images stored on desktop files and struggle to find them? Is it a challenge for you to include them on the website? Is it causing you product launch or sales delays? As a company, you definitely do not want to sell a product online without a picture or video or spec sheet and you want to be able to find digital assets quickly so you can use or reuse them. Within a DAM, you are able to set up folders, filters and permissions that allow different groups in your company to collaborate more efficiently in managing and distributing digital assets. When enriching data, you can decide on different digital asset characteristics that makes them be easily searchable. All in all, a DAM helps make your products more attractive to the customer and provides them the best shopping experience out there.
Benefits of a DAM
A Digital Asset Management system allows you to:
Centralize your assets for easy access
Reduce asset search time
Increase efficiency and team collaboration
Product Information Management and Digital Asset Management
What is a PIM?
A PIM helps a company manage all of its product information and allows them to decide how to present products to the public. PIM can feed hiqh-quality product content to store, eCommerce, mobile, print, and social media channels. PIM systems are an excellent fit for retailers, manufacturers, and distributors that find it hard to extract and combine the right information to present products easier. Lastly, PIM minimizes inaccuracies and gives your customers an easy and trusted purchase experience.
What is a DAM?
A DAM focuses on digital assets and associated data, and not on product data as in the case of PIM. With a well established DAM system, images and operations are easier to manage and control. DAM systems are critical for companies with a lot of digital assets that need to be accessed by multiple groups within the company and also shared with customers and trading partners. It may be typical for your Marketing or eCommerce manager to spend hours looking for the right digital asset; which can cause process delays. With a DAM, you can cut down this time spent searching for assets (or re-creating them) and use it for better purposes.
PIM and DAM Integration
Why should I use both PIM and DAM?
While a PIM and a DAM share some similarities, they differ greatly and are a smart investment for companies that want to improve their business performance. PIM is designed to manage and centralize all product information; DAM manages and centralizes images, logos and videos, PDFs etc. It is important to note that such images, logos and videos are also part of the product information that is useful to customers to help them search, evaluate, and purchase products. The combination of both will dramatically decrease the time it takes to prepare product data for selling across channels. A decrease in such time spent will decrease the time to market your products and increase your marketing ROI.
For best practices and assistance with how best to integrate PIM and DAM systems, feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help! StrikeTru has a history of positive outcomes and customer satisfaction. We look forward to assisting you and helping you take your business to the next level.
PTS is one of the largest suppliers of decorated tableware in the world. PTS America is the brain behind the marketing, design and distribution of its products to large-scale retailers in North America, Canada, and parts of South America. With its highly specialized team of designers, PTS America designs high quality and unique contemporary and classic tableware for its customers. Not only that, it creates and markets its products under its own brands like 222 Fifth, Coventry, and other private labels of a variety of renowned retailers.
Being in the business of decorated tableware, PTS America has amassed a huge collection tens of thousands of designs and graphic files. The PTS America team managed all of their designs in their own workstations and there was little organization as to where all the designs were kept. There was an enormous archive of design work that couldn’t be searched – no one knew where to find a design, who created it, or how to find it again. Literally millions of dollars in assets they were unable to tap into.
PTS America also was in need of a library for basic design tools and building blocks. For example, a dinner plate can have a variety of basic shapes and may come in 5 or 6 different forms from the factory. To decorate it, a graphic on a decal is printed and the decal film is put on the plate which is gloss fired at high temperature (900 – 950 C) causing the pigments printed on the film to be fused with the surface. The company often purchases graph cards from artists who creates textile or wallpaper designs (called purchased art). The purchased art is scanned and digitized so it can be customized to any shape or design that fits the tableware.
“We needed a library of factory shapes, decal templates, purchased art, fonts, logos, schematic drawings, etc. which was easily searchable. We wanted to store the designs in an organized manner so that any designer who wanted to work on them can find their way around the resources easily.” – says Charles Gallagher, Executive Vice President of PTS America.
Another major issue PTS America faced was its reliance upon email and spreadsheets to manage work and exchange large files between its designers, clients, and the factory. The company needed to automate the collaboration and tracking processes between its different departments and global locations. Manually managing this was time consuming, chaotic and left a lot of room for mistakes. This caused PTS America to run the risk of missing product delivery deadlines and inevitably lowering its customer satisfaction metrics.
So, to find a content management system that will handle all these issues, PTS America reached out to its consulting partner, StrikeTru. After a rigorous evaluation of available content management systems, StrikeTru selected Nuxeo and helped PTS America implement a Digital Asset Management Solution with workflow automation using the Nuxeo Platform.
A Digital Asset Management solution was created by setting up a unified repository for easy storage, organization and accessibility of the graphic files. Each file had relevant metadata values added to it enabling users to easily select the search criteria they need. With the Nuxeo Platform search experience powered by Elasticsearch, the time to find and access a design was significantly brought down from a few hours, to just a few seconds. PTS America could now find designs it sometimes couldn’t in the past, and save a lot of time otherwise spent re-creating these designs.
To support working with the factory, workflows were built and PTS America has been able to get away from manually tracking the processes with spreadsheets and emails. One such workflow was built to transfer artwork to PTS’s Indonesian factory. Instead of using FTP to transfer large and bulky files, the artwork is now seamlessly loaded into Nuxeo and both teams have the same version of the files in real time. Workflows have also been designed to track the entire process from loading the artwork into the Nuxeo Platform until the factory receives it. The workflow sends notifications including when the transfer is complete and the factory acknowledges receipt of the artwork. This meant fewer emails and fewer mistakes in communicating between departments, which brought order to where there was once chaos. There are no longer issues that typically arise by two groups being out of sync with regard to file versions.
Results: Tremendous Return on Assets
Apart from saving a huge amount of time searching for designs, the Nuxeo Digital Asset Management solution helped PTS America get more value out of its assets. Designs don’t expire – they just need to wait to be trendy again. Being able to find and refer to the designs already contained in the repository and to modify them slightly to meet new requirements as opposed to having to start the design process all over again a huge time and cost saver. The ability to “not have to start all over again” is terrific.
All of this has made possible a significant cost savings and an increase in productivity. PTS America achieved at least a 20% FTE cost saving by switching to Nuxeo. Designers save around 2 hours per day that was typically spent looking for designs and managing email and spreadsheets, i.e. 10 hours per week per designer allowing PTS America designers to claim back 25% of their productivity.
Nuxeo also serves as a sales tool when it comes to presenting the designs and products to the customers. More than 10000 designs are loaded in Nuxeo so far. PTS sales teams across the organization (Europe, Asia, Americas, etc.) can now easily and quickly access designs that may interest their customers.
PTS America will continue to add assets in the Nuxeo repository and define more workflows. It wants to streamline the designer/buyer interaction by rolling out workflows to collaborate on design and artwork creation. The company has many other product lines, such as home furnishings, furniture, etc. which it plans to manage in Nuxeo as well.
Apart from the design process, PTS plans to roll out workflows for communicating production orders to factories, which are currently tracked using hundreds of spreadsheets. This will help smooth out the collaboration between the sales reps, the buyers, and the PTS team during the ordering process. PTS is also working on automatically feeding product data from the Nuxeo Platform into its ERP system to eliminate re-entering data and save time.
Some quotes from Charles Gallagher, Executive Vice President of PTS America:
“We haven’t found anything we couldn’t do with Nuxeo. There is work for us to do in Nuxeo for at least the next 5 years”
“Designs don’t die. It is terrific to be able to quickly pull up old designs and tweak them slightly to meet new customer requirements, and not have to start all over again”
“Once you realize the advantage of getting rid of the old practices and find this central place for collaboration, it’s irresistible”
A leading American manufacturer of outdoor and athletic footwear, Five Ten implemented PIM to better support its global digital commerce and marketing channels.
In late 2015, Five Ten realized that their product data team was spending an excessive amount of time gathering product content from multiple systems and spreadsheets in order to update content on its e-commerce websites and digital marketing platforms. Centralizing product content in a PIM and integrating PIM with ERP, e-commerce, and digital marketing platforms would deliver multiple benefits for Five Ten. It would save time, help maximize data quality across sales channels, countries and languages, reduce time to launch products to market, and leverage product content across additional sales channels and marketing automation platforms.
Product content resided in multiple databases (including two ERP instances and a local Access database) and spreadsheets that had to be kept in sync continuously. Each time a product feed was needed for the e-commerce website, Google, or another sales or marketing platform, content had to be consolidated and cleaned manually.
Multiple seasonal catalogs and a large number of new product introductions each year meant the product content operations team was constantly spending long hours, including on weekends, preparing, repairing, and distributing content across multiple channels. Acquiring and updating product images and other assets across its multiple channels was also very manual and time-consuming. The lack of a PIM tool prevented the content team from easily listing products on additional sales channels and marketing platforms (including Google search engine and marketing campaign management tools).
In 2016, Five Ten decided to implement a PIM system to resolve its product content management challenges. Several 3rd party solutions were considered and evaluated. Five Ten had various requirements including:
an intuitive user interface
flexible data modeling that facilitated seasonal data management and data inheritance
product relationship and image management
ability to integrate content easily with other systems.
StrikeTru, Akeneo’s leading solution partner in the US, worked closely with the Five Ten evaluation team to demo the Akeneo PIM solution and provide a clear vision of how the fully implemented solution would meet Five Ten’s requirements. Ultimately, the Enterprise Edition of Akeneo PIM was selected as it met all requirements, offered the best price/value tradeoff, and was most closely aligned with the Magento e-commerce platform in terms of technology stack. The availability of a connector (PimGento) that automates product content sync from Akeneo to Magento was also an important factor.
Various Akeneo product features were used to help users easily setup and manage products for a multi-channel, multi-language, and multi-currency market environment. These features included 4-level entities (style/color/season/size in this case), language- and channel-specific attributes, digital asset and price attribute types, and product completeness.
For shoes, which made up the bulk of the SKUs, only 1 product record needed to be setup in PIM for every 20 SKUs in the ERP. Approximately 300 product attributes (master data, costing, pricing, logistics, marketing, media, copy, publishing, SEO, and technical specifications) were managed in the PIM. About half of them were defined and maintained at the style level, a quarter each at the season and color levels, and just a handful at the size level. This eliminated re-keying and data duplication, and greatly reduced time spent on data management and cleanup tasks.
Prior to deploying PIM, product launches for each season required the Five Ten eCommerce team to aggregate data and images from multiple sources manually, and hand them off to an external agency to update the Magento website. With Akeneo deployed, the eCommerce team could easily review, fix, and approve all content in the PIM itself. Updating content on Magento was seamless and automated, eliminating the need to involve the external agency. What once took 3 to 4 weeks took just a few days with PIM. It also provided the eCommerce team better control over content quality, and much easier reporting on product data. PIM also simplified the process of ensuring images were associated with the right products during the product setup process, which was a disconnected process previously. Controlling product channel availability and managing multi-site pricing was also simplified by using PIM.
Once product data was centralized, Five Ten used PIM to synchronize content feeds to multiple regional Magento stores, multiple ERP instances, retail and mobile POS systems, multiple B2B and B2C websites, BI system, marketplaces, and channel partners including wholesalers, distributors, and retailers.
“We saved a lot of time typically spent on gathering product data and updating our eCommerce sites.” — Chris Moylan, Five Ten
StrikeTru implemented Akeneo PIM for a nationally recognized distributor of industrial and other products as part of a digital transformation program. This distributor deployed PIM to streamline product introduction and rich content updates on its eCommerce website, and to have visibility and control over product content management processes. This company also wanted the capability to easily onboard high-volume and richly attributed SKU data from Affiliated Distributors to support sales across eCommerce, Punch Out, and Print channels.
In response to industry trends, this distributor was digitizing its business to create a strong online presence. The digital transformation program had the following key goals:
offer and sell a greater number of products in the market by increasing SKUs counts
improve customer experience by making it easy to search, select, and buy products online
prepare for growth by setting up a scalable product data management infrastructure
This distributor realized a few key challenges were hampering its transformation efforts. The lack of a centralized product data repository that was integrated with the ERP and eCommerce systems meant data quality and trust issues. A largely manual and disconnected process to introduce products to the web was slow and error-prone. It also did not provide users the visibility and control they needed over what product data goes onto the web.
AD is the largest contractor and industrial products wholesale buying group in North America. It provides independent distributors support and resources to accelerate growth. One such resource is the AD eContent Service program that enables its members to compete better in the world of eCommerce. As a member of Affiliated Distributors (AD), the distributor had access to over 1 million SKUs with rich product data, images, and other digital assets. The distributor wanted to enrich existing ERP SKUs with AD eContent and also onboard a significant number of new SKUs to grow its product assortment. It was simply not practical to manage all this content for the web in Excel spreadsheets and file folders, and the eCommerce website launch was getting delayed as a result. This distributor needed a modern PIM tool to manage large volumes of SKU data, and scalable data services to match and merge ERP SKUs with those from AD and other 3rd party sources.
An increasing number of the company’s customers were demanding Punch Out integrations. The lack of trusted product data also meant delays in onboarding Punch Out customers, and hence lost sales.
StrikeTru, the leading Akeneo experts in the US, worked closely with this distributor to discuss a potential PIM solution and associated data services to support the company’s eCommerce efforts. StrikeTru articulated how PIM helps address the various product content challenges the company faced, and how the ultimate solution would satisfy the company’s current and future requirements.
StrikeTru implemented an Akeneo Enterprise PIM solution to help manage product content. As a first step, SKUs from AD eContent Catalog were downloaded and matched with those in the company’s ERP system. Matched SKUs were enriched with rich data, images, and SDS data sheets provided by AD and all this content was stored in the PIM. Product data was further enriched via custom content rules that produced better titles and descriptions to facilitate online searches. The integration of product content from Akeneo PIM to the Magento website was automated and it was setup so that products and their variations were created automatically in Magento based on product grouping data provided by AD. This also provided the distributor an easy way to manage data and meta-data changes in PIM and sync those to the Magento website. Rich and granular product data from AD was used to drive the website navigation and exploration features (i.e. selection menus, facets, and rich product detail pages) to help optimize SEO rankings and online conversion rates. Additional critical data (weights, UOM) was sourced from other feeds (ORS Nasco) to fill in data gaps found in AD eContent. StrikeTru also helped cleanse data (e.g. remove special characters) and prioritize SKUs for enrichment by providing various analytical reports (e.g. top SKUs and customers by sales, SKU distribution across top customers, etc.).
With the PIM solution in place and content flow automated between PIM and Magento website, this distributor is able to execute an effective eCommerce strategy. Products can be setup and released to web faster than before. StrikeTru’s data services helped enrich products with data from AD eContent program and ORS Nasco. Richly attributed SKU data from AD including images and product sheets were deployed to help provide compelling product detail pages online. Rich and granular content will help improve search engine visibility and drive more traffic to the site. The website also delivers an improved customer experience in terms of improved site navigation, product search, selection, and ordering capabilities.
PIM also enabled the on-boarding of several thousand SKUs from a new supplier onto the web relatively faster than before and set the stage for rolling out Punch Out catalogs. In short, the distributor now has a long-term solution to handle bigger product assortments and grow its online leads and sales.
“PIM enables us to place products on our website without the error prone manual processes we have been relying on. It gives us more visibility and control into the product data that goes onto the web.” — eCommerce Team Member
Product Information Management (PIM) refers to collecting and polishing product content and distribution of that content. PIM can be considered a strategy or a solution to several companies. The basic concept of PIM is to store data regardless of where it comes from (Excel spreadsheets, internal systems like ERP and PLM, external systems like 3rd party data pools, digital asset drives, etc.) so that it can be centralized and maintained to provide a better buying experience to the customer.
If you want to sell a product you need to present it well and consistently. Poor quality, missing details and unanswered questions will direct your customer to the competition. Nowadays, with technology all around us, individuals tend to do some prior research of a potential product on their own. In fact, a research made by CEB Marketing demonstrated that an average customer completes at least ½ of purchase decisions before engaging with a sales representative. Due to this, PIM helps you gain competitive advantage with an effective eCommerce platform that your customers will enjoy visiting again.
Expand your product offerings:
It is said that in the business world Excel is extremely critical and helpful when managing data, but how many of you have felt frustrated and overwhelmed with so many spreadsheets to use or manage? Preparing products can become a nightmare when there is too many information to take into account. Thankfully, with Product Information Management (PIM), we are capable of centralizing every aspect and detail of a specific product by importing data from different platforms like Excel or an ERP. Centralized information with PIM allows one to perform actions like bulk edits and data validations that result in a better and richer product presentation to the customer.
Decrease time to market refers to the time it takes for a particular product to be recorded in your company’s ERP and sales and marketing systems so that it is then ready to be marketed and sold. Unfortunately, it can take up to weeks with legacy systems causing you to delay sales. In addition, within an ERP or an Excel spreadsheet it can sometimes be difficult to locate and include every detail in order to have a high quality product. In the business world, it is sometimes said that time is currency; thankfully, PIM speeds the process up.
Build a uniform & high quality product experience across channels:
When dealing with a plethora of products and product characteristics, it is common for businesses to have channel specific teams. For instance, there could be a team that focuses on the website, another team on Amazon and finally another one on Ebay. Such teams are managing the same data but no one really knows which one is right or which one is more important than the other. This can translate into inconsistencies like images and descriptions that can potentially confuse the customer and have him/her walk to the competition. With a Product Information Management (PIM), everyone gets their hands on the same data allowing consistency to take place. Once you establish consistency, then you are capable of enriching that data and turning your customer’s experience into a high quality product experience across channels.
Have you ever thought about expanding globally? Sharing your great business with individuals from other countries? Operating a website or an Amazon store in Germany, Canada or any other country is made easy with PIM. If selling in Europe, you want the right localized information (language, currencies, units of measure, etc) for your target audience; which ties back to building trusted, high quality product data for use across channels and geographies. PIM helps you create, manage, and port localized product content with ease.
Increase your sales:
When tying everything that was previously discussed together you will definitely notice an increase in your sales. Best practices like consistent titles, description and pictures make a big difference. If your customer’s search process is easy and consistent, you will accelerate their path to a sale. In addition to rich data, PIM helps provide relevant recommendations (upsells, cross-sells, etc.) to the customer which increases product attachment rates and average order value. Lastly, a Product Information Management (PIM) will help you to rank well and have good visibility on search engines. As we all know, more visibility equals more traffic, which equals more sales.
We’re proud to announce the availability of “StrikeTru Furniture PIM”, an industry specific product information management solution for furniture companies.
PIM for Furniture
“With StrikeTru Furniture PIM, we provide a great solution for managing digital product content and deploying it across all sales and marketing channels”, said Harry Singh, Partner of StrikeTru. “We built this solution based on inputs from our furniture clients and our experience in the industry. We developed several features designed to help furniture retailers create, manage, and disseminate high quality and consistent product information across all their digital channels”.
Our solution is comprehensive and tackles a range of business requirements including vendor data onboarding, product content aggregation from multiple data sources, flexible product data modeling and data management (variations, packages/bundles, merchandising options like up-sell, cross-sell, etc.), digital asset management, and automatic updates of eCommerce and other sales and marketing applications.
Powered by Akeneo, built-in connectors to commerce and cloud platforms
StrikeTru Furniture PIM is powered by Akeneo PIM. Akeneo is the leading open source PIM product in the market, with over 150 enterprise edition deployments and thousands of community downloads globally. It is a very user friendly and feature-rich PIM software that is a “must-have” tool for modern IT organizations seeking to navigate today’s digital commerce trends in the furniture industry.
Furniture is one of the fastest-growing segments of U.S. online retail. Internet, big-box, and traditional furniture retailers are stepping up online sales. Whether you are a national, regional, local, or online furniture store, or whether you are niche, or high-end luxury, or discount furniture retailer, the StrikeTru PIM solution helps you establish a strong digital presence and align your online and store experiences to drive growth. Key benefits include:
Launch products faster via integrated product content management.
Deliver cross-channel consistency – selection, content, pricing, etc.
Improve site search & selection with high quality, granular content curated in PIM.
Increase efficiency by providing real-time, enterprise-wide visibility into product data flows.
Lower content operations cost and complexity by modernizing IT.
Partners & Prospects Are Excited
“Our partners and prospects are excited about the StrikeTru PIM solution for the furniture industry and what it can do for them. We showed some of the features to a few partners and prospects, and their feedback has been great”, says Harry Singh. “We are excited about StrikeTru Furniture PIM solution and think it’s the most versatile PIM solution to address the product content related pain points of the furniture industry.
As StrikeTru celebrates five years in business, we take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to our success and prosperity. Over the years, we have implemented Product Information Management, Digital Asset Management, Web Content Management, eCommerce, and Identity Data Management solutions and services. We had an opportunity to work with some loyal and supportive clients across retail, manufacturing, and distribution sectors and with some wonderful partners including software companies, cloud-computing providers, eCommerce agencies, and IT consulting firms. We also want to thank our present and former employees, investors, friends, and families. We could not have come this far without their hard work and support.
As we take the time to celebrate our accomplishment, we also look forward to new opportunities and to continue serving our valued customers.
At the 11th MDM & Data Governance Summit held Nov 8-10 in NYC, StrikeTru co-presented a case study on how the Akeneo enterprise-grade open source PIM helped overcome product data management challenges faced by SHOP.com, a global internet retailer. The MDM & Data Governance Summit, organized by SourceMedia (publishers of Information Management), is a leading IT industry event that provides MDM related insights and best practices as well as quality networking opportunities for data management professionals of all levels, software vendors, and consultants. The topic of StrikeTru’s session was “CASE STUDY: Enterprise-Grade Open Source PIM – An Important Option for Modern IT”.
The Open Source PIM Option
The session was opened by Vik Gundoju (a Partner at StrikeTru) who discussed the key business reasons why enterprises must move from complex and costly legacy system driven product information management operations to simple, PIM-driven operations. Vik pointed out the underlying product data management challenges that a modern enterprise PIM solution addresses, and the significant benefits that are available to companies that choose to adopt enterprise-grade open source software solutions like Akeneo PIM. He reviewed why enterprise-grade open source distributions provide modern IT organizations the best chance of helping reduce costs, operate more efficiently, and gain quick access to innovations.
Akeneo PIM Case Study
Kyle Christiansen (an Enterprise Applications Architect at Market America / SHOP.com, a leading global Internet Retailer) presented next on why SHOP.com chose to implement a modern PIM solution and reasons why they chose Akeneo PIM. He reviewed in detail the various use cases implemented by PIM which served to highlight Akeneo’s capabilities including: master, reference and metadata management; digital asset management: data governance: marketplace connectors; and product data synchronization with ERP, PLM, sales, and marketing applications. Kyle also pointed out the big wins that Akeneo delivered to his enterprise and these included much improved enterprise agility, product data consistency and portability, enhanced productivity, and IT system consolidation related cost savings. He concluded his presentation by listing in what specific ways SHOP.com will leverage Akeneo to simplify how they handle their digital commerce and compliance requirements.
Both presentations were received very well by the attendees, who had insightful questions and comments both during and after the presentation. The joint presentation describing why enterprises should consider PIM, benefits of enterprise-grade open source distributions, and details of the Akeneo case study at Market America / SHOP.com can be downloaded here on our Downloads page – be sure to click on OPEN SOURCE PIM.
More information on the 11th MDM & Data Governance Summit can be found here.