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Is It Time You Adopted a PIM Solution – How To Find Out?

Unlike eCommerce systems that are widely recognized and adopted globally, awareness about product information management solutions (PIM), and how a best-of-breed PIM solution can help small and mid-sized companies was still growing till about a year ago. That gap in awareness has exploded today, with physical channels practically evaporating more and more companies (including small and medium-sized businesses) are looking for affordable PIMs for eCommerce to stay relevant in the market.

According to an AT Kearney study, poorly maintained and synchronized product information can cause companies to lose about 3.5% of their sales each year, spend 25 minutes per SKU per year manually cleansing out-of-sync product information, and spend between $40 to $400 per erroneous invoice to reconcile more than half of the invoices they generate each year. 

The pandemic forced many businesses to slow down or shut operations altogether. On the other hand, digitized retailers were prepared to move fast, from remote working to scaling multichannel efforts they scaled operations quickly. Ecommerce for everything is the new normal and for retail businesses still plagued with bad data and legacy systems, this is nothing short of a rude wakeup call.

B2B manufacturers and B2C brands that relied solely on retail channel partners find themselves with almost no visibility and control over the product life cycle. Businesses that previously did not have their own eCommerce site or direct-to-consumer models are rushing to develop digital shelf capabilities to stay relevant and competitive with their customer base. PepsiCo launched not one but two direct-to-consumer websites in May where shoppers can order an assortment of PepsiCo’s trusted and loved food and beverage brands. The best part? They offer a two-day delivery time. This example is a clear sign of the times; 

  • Investment in technology and data management tools will differentiate brands online
  • Syndication to eCommerce platforms and digital channels is key to immersive commerce and contextual customer experience
  • More and more consumers are using eCommerce, and they need online alternatives to find and purchase the products they love quickly and easily 

To meet rising demand and to put your product in front of the consumer where they shop, companies have to execute a watertight digital commerce strategy. PIM is a solid foundational building block to achieve this future.  Let’s delve deeper into the reasons why successful eCommerce companies are already using PIM: 

Poor product data management 

Manual management of product information is counterproductive for retailers and costs a fortune in internal costs. Between sales, marketing, product management, manufacturing and other stakeholders accessing siloed spreadsheets, collaboration and productivity are far-away dreams. Other problems like high product returns, manual errors, customer complaints, marketplaces not hesitating to pull your entire product catalog from shelves if they aren’t optimized to their custom feed specifications, cart abandonment,  incorrect prices, missing images, wrong dimensions to name a few. Now imagine launching a new product in a new channel using a legacy model. Legacy systems create data chaos within your organization, they make it difficult to create, manage, and distribute product data, especially if the catalog is large and if there are multiple suppliers who provide data. A modern PIM solution is purpose-built to offer you a single source of truth for product data automating time consuming and redundant tasks so you get internal productivity, data accuracy, and high-quality product information. The tangible benefits of these are cost savings and revenue gains.

To achieve an ‘eCommerce everything’ model retailers need to eliminate data inconsistencies and poor data syndication, they should be able to scale SKU assortments, expand digital channels easily and provide exceptional customer experiences, all with low operating costs. A PIM solution does all this and more.  

Delay in time to market

We’re living in a time when online sales are surging, creating a ripe opportunity for businesses to turnaround rapidly to put products in front of a consumer. This is a crucial competitive advantage for eCommerce success today. Relying on manual or custom-built apps to manage high volumes can lead to a quick death. Customers want real-time product information, detailed titles and descriptions, rich media in the form of multiple images and video, stock availability, color options, size information, reviews and they want to consume this information seamlessly on at least three different touchpoints.

A PIM solution can drastically cut time wasted on duplicating efforts and processes each time you have to launch a new product or enter a new market. Imagine what this means for a growing eCommerce business; an expanding catalog is a key component of growing revenue and increasing market share. PIMs facilitate this transformation by streamlining data management processes and creating agile workflows that feed clean data into marketplaces and other sales channels. A PIM can easily be integrated with a company’s ERP system and simplify product data publishing to eCommerce platforms like BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, Salesforce and to other digital channels like Amazon, ebay, Walmart, Google, Facebook, etc.

Poor digital presence, poor customer experience, drop in conversions

Shifts in customer buying behavior have happened overnight, leaving no option for businesses but to create a strong online presence. Add to this the pressure of beating competition that is more often than not just a click away. 

PIM and optimized product data feeds are essential to both; creating immersive eCommerce environments and improving operational excellence. Retailers need to think about how these two components are crucial to customer retention and boosting sales.

Is it worth the effort and investment to explore PIM further? To make this decision simpler, we created a list of questions to help you understand the features and advantages of PIM better. If you answered yes to the questions below, we can help you close the gaps in your product data management, create a scalable eCommerce and grow sales.

Are you looking to:

  • Improve how product data is organized, managed, and shared to grow eCommerce sales?
  • Eliminate duplicate product data efforts?
  • Lower cost & complexity of managing product data?
  • Enable faster product updates and syndication to eCommerce platforms and digital channels?
  • Generate reliable data feeds to internal enterprise systems?
  • Enhance product content by adding categories, tech specs, features, benefits, digital assets, SEO info, etc.?
  • Achieve consistency acrossn sales channels – products, content, prices, and inventory?
  • Eliminate the hassles of managing product data in tens of excel spreadsheets, or in clunky legacy systems?

Try smallPIM, our affordable, fully managed SaaS based PIM solution today.

Forrester, Facebook & StrikeTru: Insights on How To Successfully Maneuver eCommerce in 2020

As concerns over COVID-19’s overnight impact on shopping behavior and eCommerce continue, investment in automation and modernized data sharing tools are more crucial than ever. On Jul 16, Productsup, a leader in eCommerce data integration, hosted a webinar with Forrester, Facebook and StrikeTru on “Insights to successfully maneuver eCommerce in 2020”. 

For merchants, particularly small and mid-sized businesses, digital transformation and scalable eCommerce continue to be significant challenges. They struggle with inflexible legacy systems, multiple disconnected sources of data, poor data quality, and manual and duplicated processes that result in time to market delays, serious breakdown in multichannel efforts, poor customer experiences, and lost sales opportunities – and these challenges are proving very costly. Tech savvy companies pivoted fast but for merchants that have been slow in the last 5 years to get onboard with digitization or are still in early stages are facing the brunt of this novel disruption – one where physical channels have practically evaporated and there’s a surge to online shopping like never before.

The pandemic has put a lot of pressure on retailers – small and medium alike – to speed up digitization efforts drastically. They need to find a way to get online fast and start selling before it’s too late. 10 years ago, there weren’t many affordable tools to make this possible – fast forward to today, platforms like PIM,  Feed Management and marketplaces like Facebook Shops are key to modernization and are available at reasonable costs.

The webinar focused on eCommerce trends for B2B and B2C merchants and on finding a solution for merchants to navigate a world of digital channels, the latest addition to social selling trend; Facebook Shops and how it can enable small merchants to sell online and best practice tips for managing data for eCommerce success. Joe Cicman (Forrester), Alon Levin (Facebook), and Vik Gundoju (StrikeTru) shared their respective insights on why it’s all about accelerating efforts to stay relevant and compete on the digital shelf.  The webinar clarified the path forward for retailers and the role of product information management (PIM) and Feed Management tools in creating a strong online presence today.

What are the future eCommerce trends for B2B and B2C merchants?

Joe Cicman from Forrester highlighted the effects of Covid19 on shopping behavior. “40% customers say they are buying more online than they normally would.” He also said there is a reluctance to get back to physical shopping adding that numbers suggest the new buying pattern is likely to prolong even post lockdown. “82% of market growth came from marketplaces.” Data quality is the secret sauce, for B2B and B2C merchants to offer seamless customer experience. He said merchants must have the right approach to product data feeds to turbo charge their ROI. Joe spoke about the benefits of a fully integrated product data feed strategy, steps to achieve this and massive consolidation in multi-tiered distribution. 

Key takeaway: To avoid losing out to digitally savvy competitors, B2B merchants should start thinking like CPG brands and adopt new competencies quickly to achieve success. Inefficiencies in distribution will be eliminated by automation, embedded services and rising pricing power. 

How can merchants leverage social selling?

Alon Levin introduced the latest offering from Facebook – a native, frictionless digital storefront across all Facebook apps that operates with a single data source product feed.  Facebook Shops is a result of analyzing customer behavior and how they engage across these social platforms. It’s a great tool for merchants to offer their customers a memorable and unified shopping experience vs. the chore of buying.  Facebook Shops can help businesses sell more by enabling customers to find and purchase their favorite products and brands easily – right from where they browse. So the path to ‘buy now’ is a seamless journey without ever getting out of Instagram or Messenger.

Key takeaway: Creating a Facebook Shop is free and customizable so sellers of all sizes can start selling online as soon as they want.

What are some best practice tips for managing data for eCommerce success?

How can eCommerce trends and evolving shopping platforms be leveraged by businesses? Vik highlighted the urgency for small businesses to accelerate their digital transformation and execute their digital commerce strategy before it’s too late. He spoke about the critical role of technology and data management as major value creators throughout the product lifecycle. “Merchants can overcome many systemic weaknesses that Covid19 sharply exposed by modernizing legacy systems, adopting new tech tools and implementing agile data management practices.” He explains what PIM and feed management can do for merchants, how they fit into an enterprise systems landscape and how product data flows from source systems to internal & external destinations. 

Key takeaway: Retailers that are struggling with scaling SKUs assortments, scaling digital channels, providing exceptional CX, and lowering operating costs have no option but to digitize and invest in modern PIM systems and feed management tools to excel on eCommerce.

Big or small businesses, if your content management is a pain and its effecting productivity and customer experience, that’s when PIM comes into play.

To watch the recording of the webinar, click here

Q&A

  • Q – (Chris) Could you give some advice on what size considerations for when you would move to a PIM – is it driven by SKUs, market place demands, or supported channels?
  • A – (Vik) Few years ago only the bigger firms were investing in PIM, because of high costs and it involved a lot of process re-engineering. Now product data and digital assets are so important, even smaller companies have started doing it. Whether big or small – when content management is a pain and as a result business productivity is affected and customer experiences – that’s when they should invest in a PIM. Typically, it’s manifested by the fact that there are tons of spreadsheets, the data is bad, inconsistent across channels and they are not able to fix it in a timely fashion.
  • Q – (Chris) How should merchants approach channel rollout, is it big bang, 80 – 20, is it easy as first? How are they looking at expanding their digital/eCommerce channels?
  • A – (Vik) Many of them want to expand their digital channels – internal challenges and resource constraints hold them back. Depending on the industry, there are variations. We’ve worked with a Distributor in Industrial Distribution segment and the first channel they wanted to sell on was Amazon or probably eBay. They don’t have resources to do active channel management – they have a lot of stock sitting in their warehouse that they want to get rid of. They start small with excess products sitting on shelf, they pick products that are already listed on Amazon so they don’t have to do the hard work of entering data and they are selling that and converting sales from there to expand into other products and channels.              

Is Your Product Data Optimized For Omnichannel Commerce?

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.

Get in touch to talk to a PIM expert today. 


Marketing To Millennials

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.

Online search

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.

Impulse buying

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.

Influenza economy

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.

Product Information Management (PIM) Magic

A short introduction to the world of PIM

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.

Why PIM?

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.

Benefits

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:

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.   

Go global:

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.     

To learn more  about PIM and how StrikeTru can help you visit us here!

Product Information Management (PIM) BenefitsSource: https://pim-auswahl.de/en/