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PIM - a force to be reckoned with

eCommerce Business Analyst

April 06, 2018

PIM is hot! And with good reason. You may not be aware, but a successful implementation of a Product Information Management solution can add a whole lot of value to your business - especially in this experience driven economy in which we operate today.

We, as consumers, very easily get overwhelmed by bits and bytes of product information, and running a business with many products in multiple countries, - channels and different languages, requires a massive effort to orchestrate. PIM solutions not only centralize and manage all product information in a cost-effective manner, it also provides your customers with a significantly enhanced experience. So whether you’re looking at it from a business- or a customer perspective – implementing a PIM solution is adding value.

Obvious business benefits

Benefits derived from a PIM solution change from case to case, but seen from an overall business point-of-view there are several obvious benefits regardless of whether we speak at a strategic, tactical or operational level. In fact, the benefits far outreach the space I have in this article. So I’ve handpicked three benefits, I believe are the most important.

Reducing operational resources and cost

PIM systems provide automated workflows across a number of countries, languages, regions and channels, freeing up loads of human ressources.
By setting up business logic and –rules to orchestrate both structured and unstructured data, automatically importing new/updated products or information from different sources and conducting ongoing validations, you’re setup with a system that basically does anything for you. As a result, you’ll have much less editing and data cleaning, and thereby you significantly reduce the time-to-market for your products.

Consistent and accurate information

Customers need accurate and consistent information across all touchpoints. A centralized place for all product information enables you to ensure just that and benefits your business in two significant ways:
1) returns can destroy your business. With accurate product information, you’ll have less returns which significantly reduces your costs, and
2) keeps your customer happy. A study by Salsify Consumer Research showed that 50% of the online shoppers who returned items, did so because of inaccurate product descriptions, and that 54 % of these people were less likely to buy from the same vendor again .

In other words: with PIM you can ensure correct information which not only leads to a better experience for your customers, it also saves you money by reducing returns and ensuring you don’t loose business due to unnecessary returns.

Control and automated publishing to channels and touchpoints

Let the PIM system act as a hub between all your touchpoints in order to orchestrate your omni-channel vision. With PIM as a hub for all your channels – including the potential of direct acces to any other vendors’ systems and channels – the centralized and real-time hub connected to all relevant sales channels, ensures that all product information is up-to-date in every channel at all times. And we’re talking about all sorts of channels! - Most commonly though, is probably eCommerce, POS systems, marketplaces and advertising platforms.

Obvious benefits for customers

We’re all well aware of the ROPO discussion – Research online Purchase offline and the RO part is huge. Customers research and consume more information than ever, and take for example the age group 18-29; in a recent study published by Forrester, 75% of them stated that they had researched products and services online within the past three months .Yet, the channel that generates the most sales, is still the brick and mortar stores. What that tells us is that we can’t put enough emphasis on the importance of the omni-channel vision.

In order for any retailer, to provide a seamless customer experience, they must meet the expectations of a seemless omni-channel experience and execute towards the vision, where customers have all the benefits of both digital touchpoints and physical stores (buy online and pick-up, research online purchase offline e.g.). This requires an accurate, consistent and synchronized product information across all touchpoints. And guess what – that is exactly what a PIM system provides.

To truly see how PIM can enrich the customer journey, I’ve put the PIM solution into a simplified purchase decision process:

Dividing the purchase decision process into four simple steps, shows how a PIM solution storage product data to support each step with different content, depending on where the costumer is on his/her user journey.

More choices, more ressources, more information

To sum up, we all agree that customers have more choices and richer ressources than ever before. They also research and are more well informed than ever. Therefore, retailers must acknowledge this and incorporate it into their strategy. The data and the technologies are already in place, but are you?

- Forrester Reseach 2017 – ”The State Of Consumers And Technology Benchmark”
- Salsify – 2017 Consumer Research Report – “Cracking the code”

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