Aggregating and managing all product data is cornerstone for any digital commerce strategy. In the many years since we saw a need to better manage product information and developed the first version of the Agility software, Product Information Management PIM has become a critical technology investment for both IT and business executives. A solid PIM solution helps you to dramatically improve data quality and govern data access and usage. It enables portfolio expansion as your business grows. And, effective product information management provides the flexibility to respond to changing market conditions.
- Enhance Data Quality Whether you realize it or not, you likely have data quality issues today that are impacting your customers’ ability to easily interact with you. Data quality is critical for eCommerce. Consistently populated attribute values drive search and refinement while rich, robust content drives SEO. And, in the face of constantly changing regulations and legal requirements, maintaining compliance with industry mandates and global laws is challenging. PIM helps you address issues and eliminate incomplete attribution, inconsistent attribute values and uncontrolled choices. With a good PIM, you can enforce data completeness and compliance with regulations and legal requirements. You will be able to control consistency with choice lists and inherited values. In-field validation methods will help you prevent non-compliant data from being entered into the system. You can also rely on strong data integration capabilities to detect, correct and quarantine unwanted content on import. And, with embedded reporting and analytics you can easily identify and resolve gaps in data completion such as incomplete attributions or missing images.
- Align Channels A PIM will help you align your content across channels. Since potential buyers will size you up from many angles and touchpoints, it’s absolutely imperative that your message, branding and product data are flawlessly consistent. By creating a single repository of product data for multichannel publishing, your customers will find impeccable consistency no matter where they look. And, while a PIM provides your team with a single entry point for managing your product data, it also allows you to output it in different ways to meet the differing data requirements, governance rules and hierarchies of your various output channels. A good PIM will also allow you to balance consistency with relevancy by localizing elements of the product content to meet the needs of different audiences and downstream channels.
- Enhance Customer Experience Customer satisfaction and loyalty have never been harder to maintain in the face of growing competition across multichannel commerce. And, free shipping and hassle-free returns have led to average return levels of 33%, which coupled with increased handling costs, can be crippling for some businesses. It’s more critical than ever to enhance the customer experience by providing fuller, richer and more accurate product data. This, married with rich digital images that bring products to life, will help reduce returns. By feeding commerce with more granular content, you can facilitate individualized digital experiences, taking advantage of the personalization capabilities that your eCommerce platform provides. A PIM will also allow you to improve relevancy by maintaining a single golden record for each product, eliminating inconsistencies between marketing channels and touchpoints, but allowing for channel-specific or even demographic-specific descriptions. Finally, when you are notified of data errors, a PIM will help you improve future customer experiences by quickly correcting the issues and then immediately pushing the changes to all channels.
- Improve Search Accurate, extensive, detailed product information represents more than 90% of the content seen by users and Google’s bot. Not only is content is crucial to drive site traffic, but it also improves site search and faceted navigation. A good PIM supports this by making it easy to enrich product content, which increases page density and appeals to search engines. A PIM also allows you to manage unlimited cross-sell and upsell relations to increase page richness and revenue opportunities. By concatenating attributes, you can automate the creation of title tags, image alt tags and other meta tags, which still play a big role in your site’s SEO. And, with content completeness dashboards, you can understand at-a-glance where you have opportunities to improve your product pages. Consistency is also critical because consistent attribute values support faceted navigation and search refinement within your site. According to a recent Gartner study, by 2020, 5% of digital commerce transactions will come from a smart device, like Amazon Echo or Google Home. The importance of data quality and consistency will only accelerate as customers engage with these devices, where missing and inconsistent data has a far greater impact than it does in traditional print publications and eCommerce sites since there are no visual clues to help a customer find the right product.
- Expand & Grow To expand and grow, you need to be able to quickly react to market opportunities as they arise. Whether it’s acquiring new customers or mining a new channel, marketplace, or even a country, a PIM can help. With robust data integration tools, a good PIM will reduce the time and effort required to onboard new products from untapped sources, allowing you to extend far beyond your core product portfolio to offer whatever your customers want. With a PIM, you can easily syndicate content to new marketplaces and channels as opportunities arise. Translation and localization are key to geographic expansion and a PIM will help you manage content in multiple languages, delivering content en masse to translators and notifying them when changes are made to content in the master language and the localized content must be reviewed and updated. By connecting to InDesign and eCommerce platforms, a good PIM allows you to easily localize marketing materials and websites for language, currency or message.
- Be More Informed Aggregating product data, sales metrics, inventory and website analytics for smarter decision making can be challenging and time consuming. PIM provides an open system for integration, so that you can expand your focus and connect rich product data to transactional, interactional and analytics data, achieving a much more holistic view of your products. By connecting product data in the PIM to analytics, data warehouses, spreadsheets and other systems such as Order Management Systems, Warehouse Management Systems and ERPs, you can build mineable data cubes. A PIM with strong data integration capabilities will allow you to render data that you have mastered elsewhere, aggregating it within the PIM dashboard for a graphical 360° view of products. A good PIM should also generate dynamic reports, allowing you to assess content completeness and easily identify and address missing information.
- Boost Performance And finally, PIM isn’t just about data, it’s about maximizing the productivity of your team while improving their satisfaction with their work. A good PIM will help you reduce redundancy, rework and repetition and stop relying on error-prone, complex spreadsheets. By uncomplicating workflows, eliminating manual tasks and automating core processes, like new item creation and asset linking, you can create time for value-add activities within your team. A PIM will help you streamline your market launch activities and keep things moving from one step to the next with task lists and notifications. By maintaining your product content in a single, trustworthy source, you’ll spend less time searching for the latest update. And, you’ll be able to feed that content to more channels, increasing your market reach without significantly increasing your work effort and boosting the overall performance of your team.