Today’s customers are an evolved lot, who make informed decisions about every single purchase. This means that businesses need to provide them intrinsic details about the products they sell. Given that the average buyer’s attention span is 8 seconds, customers not only appreciate being served with the right information but also at the right place and at the right time. Ultimately, offering all product-related information to customers in an easy-to-digest format is all that matters. This is where investing in a robust product information management (PIM) system becomes imperative.
A PIM solution helps in data management and modeling, thus organizing an enterprise’s product information database. By enforcing semantics and enabling integration, PIM acts as a single pane of glass for efficient information disbursement to all delivery channels, such as e-commerce websites, distributors, brick-and-mortar catalogs, and even social media. Where traditional and manual methods like spreadsheets, homegrown systems, and disconnected applications, including ERPs, cannot address modern-day data management needs, PIM fits the bill perfectly. It can handle the “storage for easy retrieval” of information about thousands of products.
With PIM, enterprises can create new models, replicate existing models for similar products, export and import from external sources, and generate workflow rules within minutes. Its traceability helps bring in data integrity and control over massive volumes of unstructured data. Results like these are integral for marketing teams in generating the right engagement and translating investments into returns, thus giving them an edge in a competitive market.
There is no replacement for organized product data management and investing in a PIM solution is the right way to go about it. However, in a marketplace filled with hordes of PIM vendors, how can a business choose the perfect PIM solution that meets all their business goals and objectives? The following are the key building blocks that make a PIM investment live up to its promises.
1. Data consolidation
At its core, PIM must aid in simplified and effective data acquisition and aggregation. It must cater to all product-related information, including name, category, model, material, weight, SKU details, description, and other industry-specific data. For instance, in the pharma and food and beverage industries, it is crucial to accommodate all ingredient information so that it is easy to categorize the same based on specificities such as allergies or drug interactions. In such cases, designing a schema that supports an exhaustive list of descriptive details becomes necessary, and PIM provides a room for this in the form of an intuitive interface.
2. Seamless integration
Be it the initial setup from a manual system to a PIM or the recurring need to link it with other lines of business applications or data sources, easy integration goes a long way in seamless operations. Sources such as ERPs, CRMs, OMS, inventory, and suppliers’ information must be integrated with a PIM solution to create a truly unified repository. A PIM solution with an API-driven architecture is an ideal solution. It is lightweight and does not cause system outage while maintaining continuous exchange of information and, ultimately, data integrity. In the digital economy, most B2B and B2C businesses aspire for an omnichannel presence, and a PIM is must for consistent brand presence across all channels through its easy integration capabilities.
3. Streamlined workflows
The ability to serve the right information demands agility from within the business, and more importantly, from its data. This means that all product-related and other data management strategies must follow streamlined and easily customizable workflows. Whether it is to do with adding or removing a new product, creating rule engines, changing approval flows or introducing new assets, defining these workflows needs scrutinizing attention as no margin for redundancy or other inconsistency is acceptable. A PIM solution must allow easy creation of business rules and workflow modification to maintain efficient data management.
- Removing the challenge of managing product information – could IT resellers find solace in the cloud?
4. Support for innovation
A robust PIM solution must allow room for continuous innovation, as businesses rely on creative differentiators every now and then that empower them to oust competition. Especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, brands need to think out of the box regarding their delivery channels or operational model. Within the initial weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, many large retail chains shifted to the “pick up at store” paradigm as logistics operations witnessed a massive slump. Underpinning the algorithm – that lets customers choose between time slots or assigns social-distancing-based parking spots – a resilient PIM system can contribute to a transformation of such scale easily.
5. Agility and flexibility
A PIM solution must be agile and flexible to support the volume and variety of product-related data. From a scalability perspective owing to market expansion or organization growth, PIM must handle the subsequent data management needs with minimal to no effort. Whenever the business wants to respond to a dynamic need – be it a new line of products or a new delivery model – PIM must be equipped to assist and accelerate the transformation.
In addition to these fundamental functionalities that ensure businesses meet their customers’ expectations, achieve revenue growth, PIM also assists in other rewarding ways. An open-source PIM solution is a bonus, as it goes beyond merely justifying the investment.
Success begins with organized data
Over 30,000 new products across industries every year and find their way into aisles and virtual carts. To break through this noise and reach the end consumer, enterprises need to be armed and ready with information that matters. Through its all-encompassing and efficient data management aspect, PIM assists businesses to serve their customers with the right information and forms the basis for market success.
Shashin Shah, CEO, Pimcore Global Services