Agility multichannel PIM Blog

Magnitude Agility PIM Blogs gives you insights to all the latest developments and also give you the tips and tricks for all your work related hassle.

Why Should You Manage Your Product Data as Relentlessly as You Manage Your Inventory?

There has been much talk of digital transformation over the last years as industry after industry has emerged into the digital age. It’s become a bit cliché to discuss, as have the effects of Covid-19 on the retail supply chain. If you have not been affected, you are either an eCommerce rock star or, we regret to say, possibly no longer in business.

DSG’s Ian Heller and Magnitude’s own Dawn Zassick sat down to talk about the importance of product data and share insight into why companies should manage product data as a critical capital investment. Here are some highlights.

Ian Heller
Dawn Zassick
During the course of the pandemic, stores were forced to shut their doors or allow minimal instore traffic. Many consumers opted to shop online, or buy online and pick up curbside. Most interactions sales personnel previously had with customers were gone. The same holds true for wholesale and b2b customer interactions. For b2b sellers, this meant a sudden shift from 1:1 personal selling and customer interactions to online commerce and curbside pickup. Suddenly the need to augment those previous customer interactions with product information came to the forefront.

If You Made It Thus Far, What’s Next?

The 2021 State of eCommerce in Distribution Part 2: Distributors’ Playbook for eCommerce Success, published by DSG earlier this year, has once again made it clear that the number one way to move the needle – cutting costs, boosting revenue, inching out your competition – is to improve your product data. Product data is the principal touchpoint ingredient for all your customer interactions.

Inadequate product data is the #1 Barrier to ecommerce success

What this feedback continues to prove is that proper management of product data is critical to eCommerce success in:

  • Providing up to 100% of the customer experience with your brand
    • Augmenting or complementing face-to-face sales
    • Opening new digital channels
  • Driving online engagement
  • Differentiating you from your competition

Having worked with many customers who started out (and remain in part) catalog businesses, Magnitude’s Agility PIM Team have come to see the digitalization of selling products in two, three and four dimensions.

From Two- to Four-Dimensional Product Data and Search

Many b2b businesses, including wholesalers and distributors, have evolved from a two-dimensional selling world consisting of product catalogs and ERP systems used to manage inventory and create invoices. This often results in two data sets. When these companies begin to bring their businesses online, gaps in product information emerge. Typically, this digital move reveals:

  • Lots and lots of data
  • Terminology that is not uniform and not customer friendly
  • Missing standard taxonomies deemed paramount for SEO and site search (hint: ERP taxonomy is NOT web taxonomy)

Data needs to be both harmonized and enriched. Harmonized so that search engines can find you and enriched so that customers find exactly the product or service that fits their needs. This improved product data for eCommerce is the third dimension.

But if this isn’t enough, enter a fourth-dimension product data requirement, which today encompasses AI, image and voice search, chatbots, etc. Functionality of this nature is still in the early stage of the growth curve, but adoption is already widespread. According to Moz.com, almost 27% of web searches are conducted on Google Images. Imagine the footprint of voice services on Siri, Google and Alexa alone. The additional content (written the way humans think) and multi-dimensional product imagery add impressively to the product information required for a product to be both found and preferred by customers.

Climbing the SEO Mountain

How do you go from two-dimensional thinking to four-dimensional success? Put simply, by taking your base data to the next level. Many companies use third party data services as a starting point, as often relying on suppliers to produce enriched product data can be daunting. But stopping here is stopping short – if everyone has the same data, how can a company stand out?

We saw one customer evolve a product which had not sold a single unit in over a year, to one of their top performers – just by enriching the description and adding a 360° image.

To have a chance at appearing in the top-five search results, you are going to need to overhaul your product data. Here is a good place to start:

  • Good, rich product descriptions to satisfy key word requirements
  • Strong benefits statements
  • Features for both products and assortments (don’t forget specs, attributes, pack quantities, etc.)
  • Use of natural language

If this sounds daunting, just apply your honed merchandizing skills. Start with a few of your key products or promotions and measure your results. One Magnitude Agility customer tried this on a product that hadn’t sold in over a year. They made an investment in 360° images and saw that same product become one of their top sellers. No kidding. Video can have the same effect.

Take The Same Care of Product Data as You Do Any Other Capital Investment

With most wholesalers, distributors and retailers managing thousands of SKUs, this requires automation. Very few businesses today are operating without some kind of inventory management system, whether a WMS or an ERP. To pull out all the stops on product data management, you should consider a Product Information Management (PIM) tool. Don’t rely on MDM or ERP systems that try to shoehorn product information management into their solutions.

Bottom Line: Start managing your product data with the same rigor that you manage your inventory.

How do you convince those with the purse-strings to make an investment in product data management?

Let your peers do the talking. There are businesses who brag about their success.

If you’re selling online, but not seeing the ROI you had hoped for, here’s some advice from Ian Heller at DSG. “Make sure your website is receiving proper attribution for sales made elsewhere”. In the B2C world, this is less of a problem as many transactions go from search to shopping cart to ship in a seamless transaction – or at least a transaction with a strong digital footprint. For B2B, sales often require additional steps (like purchase orders) which can drive the sale offline.

Without a little investigation, ROI on eCommerce might not be telling the whole story. Try taking a sample of monthly sales and calling or surveying customers for their purchase experience, and then extrapolate and apply the attribution across all ecommerce revenue. If you don’t, you might enter what Ian calls the “eCommerce doom loop” where underreported attribution results in underinvestment in e-commerce and product data management systems thereby limiting long term growth.

Are you ready for Product Information Management? Take our PIM Readiness Assessment today – results in 3-minutes. If you’re ready, spend some time with us – schedule a ROI assessment today.

3 Product Data Taxonomy Tips to Improve Your eCommerce

From Attribute Stuffing to Junk Drawer Categories, Learn What to Avoid

Earley Information Science (EIS) helps their customers build an information architecture that makes data more findable, usable, and valuable–for both teams and customers. EIS and Agility Multichannel have teamed up to help customers solve critical product information architecture and management needs, with such notable distributors and manufacturers as Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative and Quick Cable.

As part of our ongoing “Ask the Expert Series” we asked Chantal Schweizer, taxonomy expert, to share some best practices to help customers find your products both via search and once they have landed on your site.

So How Can You Use Product Data to Make Your Website More Efficient for Shoppers?

Taxonomy is a key part of the navigation that aids customers in finding the product they are looking to research or buy.  There are different best practices that should be considered when a taxonomy is being built or maintained to make sure it provides as much efficiency as possible to help aid in successful user experience.

If you customers can’t find it, they can’t buy it. Help them by making your navigation taxonomy intuitive, concise, and efficient.

 

#1 Avoid Attribute Stuffing

One of these best practices is to avoid attribute stuffing. Attribute stuffing is the practice of including attribute values or specifications in the category labels. If you are shopping for sweaters and the categories are broken out by material like [Wool Sweaters] and [Cotton Sweaters] then you have to go into both categories to see all sweaters. If the material isn’t the key attribute you are using as a differentiator, then this can be frustrating. Material is better served as a filter at the category level.

In the illustration below we see another example of this. The attribute for orientation is used in the taxonomy with [Horizontal], [Right Angle], and [Vertical]. This has forced the customer into a filtered set of products and that particular attribute may not be important. It also adds noise to the taxonomy. Its best to keep the taxonomy as simple and concise as needed to make for quick and efficient scanning of categories. This adds noise both vertically and horizontally. The taxonomy unnecessarily goes down to a third level when it could have been a two level click hierarchy.  The best way to serve the customer is use is-ness in the taxonomy without attribute stuffing and use filters to allow customers to reduce the number of products they way that best suits their needs.

Avoid Attribute Stuffing

 

#2 Keep Your Taxonomy Concise and Efficient

As mentioned in the previous tip, its best to keep your taxonomy concise and efficient. There are many ways to make your taxonomy more efficient. Single value categories should be avoided if there is logical way to group them. Many times, these single value categories are parts or accessories to the primary categories in that particular branch of the taxonomy. Accessories can be grouped together to make the taxonomy more efficient. Sibling categories that don’t fit should be taken out an put in either its own branch of the category or in a branch that makes more sense.  Below we see an [Antifreeze Cooling System] category mixed with [Hoses] and various small parts. It doesn’t quite fit with the others.  This taxonomy below can be reduced to  [Hoses] and [Hose Accessories] and perhaps another layer of taxonomy under [Hoses] if the products are different enough.

Keep Your Taxonomy Concise and Efficient

Read Chantal’s previous post “Improving Discoverability & SEO Through the Right Faceted Taxonomy”

 

#3 Avoid Junk Drawer Categories

The last tip we are going to cover to make for a successful navigation taxonomy is to avoid junk drawer categories. These are categories with ambiguous names such as [Other], [Miscellaneous], [More], and [Additional Products]. It is not clear what might be in these taxonomic buckets, so they are largely ignored. Products here have far less conversion. This often occurs because the category for a new product doesn’t exist, or they are secondary products, and it was felt that the effort to modify the taxonomy wasn’t warranted. Its best to have a governance process in place when product is onboarded and when a new category is necessary so that these junk drawers can be avoided. If the customer does go down the [Other] rabbit hole and they do not find what they were looking for, this will also frustrate them. We want to make the taxonomy intuitive and junk drawers hinders this efficiency.

I hope these tips help as you are building or maintaining your taxonomy. Taxonomy testing is a great way to flag areas in your navigation taxonomy that may be problematic. If you customers can’t find it, they can’t buy it. Help them by making your navigation taxonomy intuitive, concise, and efficient.

Avoid Junk Drawer Categories

To contact Chantal, find her via Earley.com

For more information on Agility Multichannel and Agility PIM  – learn more here.

Improve Discoverability & SEO Through the Right Faceted Taxonomy

Tips from Chantal Schweizer, Earley Information Science

Face it, the greatest products are still not going to sell if people can’t easily find them, which is why faceted search, or guided navigation, has become the de facto standard not only for eCommerce and product-related websites, but also for many other content heavy sites, like media sites.

Faceted taxonomies integrate better with search, drive filters and sorting and allow customers who know what they want to narrow by what’s important, based on the search terms they use, and without limiting their choice to exactly one item. It also helps those who aren’t sure what they want by allowing them to outline some of the attributes they might want to consider.

More specifically, faceted search lets users refine or navigate to a collection of information by using a number of discrete attributes—the facets. Ecommerce experts today are opting to design faceted taxonomies rather than purely hierarchical taxonomies, and, just like the latter, faceted taxonomies really need to be carefully planned and iterated to ensure that customers have a positive search and navigation experience.

Chantal Schweizer, from Earley Information Science loves to share best practices around taxonomy, which is why, as part of our ongoing “Ask the Experts Series”, we’ve asked Chantal to share some advice on how to improve findability & SEO through the right faceted taxonomy.

Chantal:

Let me dive right in.

Facets are a key part of product navigation, and the success or failure of these facets will make or break the customer experience when on your site. If customers can’t find the product that they are looking for, they can’t buy it. If you have strong faceted search, this will increase UX and revenue because it helps findability and it helps build customer trust that you are indeed an expert in the products they are seeking. Below are some best practices I have seen and implemented with some of our clients at Earley.

Step One: Facet Selection

Careful selection of the facets to be used on the site is the first step.  At the topmost levels of the taxonomy, there should be global facets that go across all products, such as price range and brand. As a customer goes down the hierarchy to more specific product sets, the facets should be category specific. Each terminal category should have a set of attributes assigned to them that best describe the products classified within and a subset of those attributes should be raised to the facet level.

If you use all attributes as a filter, your customer can be overwhelmed with choices and may have to scroll to see all the available facets, which can be frustrating. Frustration leads to site abandonment, as we can see in the image below. To avoid this, for each terminal category, the attributes need to be evaluated for priority by talking with your product managers and your customers who shop for these products. What are the key factors in their buying decision? If the facet only has one value, then it ought to be avoided. In general, it is key to aim for three to five category specific attributes to be used as facets at the category landing page.

Step-one-Facet Selection

Step Two:  Ensure Clean Data

After the selection of the facets, the data needs to be clean. Duplicate values, spelling errors, and formatting issues can create a bad facet. To provide a strong user experience we want to make sure these facets are squeaky clean and make the scan of values efficient.  The image below illustrates what can happen when the data isn’t properly governed. It’s easy to see why this would cause a customer to become frustrated, especially if the facet only allows for a single selection.

To ensure that the data is clean, a list of values or choice list should be created for all faceted attributes. This will ensure that there are no mistaken duplicates. The values should be governed by a style guide. A style guide will provide formatting rules including the preferred use of capitalization, spacing, special characters and terms. This can be used independently or Agility can even recognize and flag when some of these rules are in violation and ought to be fixed.Step Two:  Ensure Clean Data

To ensure that the data is clean, a list of values or choice list should be created for all faceted attributes. This will ensure that there are no mistaken duplicates. The values should be governed by a style guide. A style guide will provide formatting rules including the preferred use of capitalization, spacing, special characters and terms. This can be used independently or Agility can even recognize and flag when some of these rules are in violation and ought to be fixed.

If product data follows the 4 “C’s” – clean, concise, complete and correct – it will pave the way to strong customer experience, product findability and increased revenue for
your eCommerce site.

When the customer gets to the Product Detail Page (PDP), attribution format continues to be important. The attributes may not be used as a facet at this point, but they still provide the customer the data they need to find a solution. The attributes should be consistent across a category to ensure the ability to compare products efficiently. If the customer must look at a different location on the page as they try to compare products, it’s going to cause annoyance. We can see an example of this in the image below.

Improve Discoverability & SEO Through the Right Faceted Taxonomy

This can be avoided by managing the attributes at the category level and having those attributes inherit to all products classified to that category. A style guideline should be used for both attribute names and attribute values to ensure consistency. The management of category-specific attributes and a style guideline are key to governance initiatives in ensuring the product data is:

  1. Clean
  2. Concise
  3. Complete, and
  4. Correct

To sum it up, if the data follow’s these 4 “C’s” it will pave the way to strong customer experience, product findability and increased revenue for your eCommerce site.

If you would like to discuss how Chantal can help optimize your data for success, please contact her at earley.com.

Stay tuned for our next post in the series: Enhancing eCommerce Faceted Search with PIM.

Wondering how exactly PIM tackles faceted search? While a product information management (PIM) system isn’t directly involved in the set-up of faceted navigation for an online site, it certainly affects how it appears.

Stay tuned for our next post in the series where Magnitude’s Dawn Zassick will go into detail about how a product information management (PIM) solution can help you optimize your ecommerce faceted search to improve your shoppers’ browsing experience.

Choosing the Right PIM Provider: Why Customer Experience is Essential for Success

Ventana Research gives Magnitude’s Agility PIM top scores in product and customer experience

On the importance of effective product information

The past 15 months have provided an object lesson for all organizations in the importance of being agile and moving swiftly to address new challenges and opportunities. As companies scrambled to adapt to disruptions in their business models and supply chains, connecting customers and prospects to products and services digitally was pushed to the forefront of activity. Being successful in doing so decided who would come out ahead and who would be left behind.  In this great rush to get products out via new or nascent channels, many teams overlooked the importance, or lacked the tools and technologies to efficiently deliver optimal product information to the market.

Giving rich product information to users, with enough data that covers every detail of the product, and complementary materials that compensate for what is missing in a non-physical shopping or purchasing experience (videos, tutorials, user reviews, AR…) is key to convince the buyer to not leave at the checkout or go looking for information on competitor sites.  Add to that the fact that, what is thought of as a selling channel, extends beyond the traditional online channel to include mobile, social and other digital channels which have evolved to become highly visual experiences – ramping up the definition of ‘product information’.  Keeping all this data up-to-date and consistent across a wide variety of channels and selling experiences is a Herculean task.

Effective product information technology investments like product information management (PIM) systems can ensure that communication with customers and buyers is consistent and impactful while a company’s operations remain efficient and effective.

Ventana Research asserts that by 2022, one-half of organizations will determine that the digital experiences they provide are not intelligent or automated and fall short of maintaining business continuity for organizational readiness, resulting in lost customers and workforce instability.

Ventana Research

 

Choosing, or upgrading a PIM solution can be an arduous task, so many companies turn to analysts like Ventana Research to help guide them down the right path toward a solutions provider who will best meet their needs.

Magnitude rated “Exemplary” in the 2021 Ventana Value Index for Product Information Management

Ventana’s research places companies in one of four quadrants in their overall value index with product experience on the x-axis and customer experience on the y-axis.  Ventana placed Magnitude’s Agility PIM in the top right quadrant reserved for “exemplary” vendors who performed the best overall in both product and customer experience.  Our “dedicated approach to PIM, continued investment in product improvements and [especially customer journey supportive] marketing” won us our standing amongst the top 5 in the top right quadrant.

In its Value Index, Ventana Research evaluates a vendor’s software in seven key categories; five are product experience-experience related and two considered customer experience categories.

For more on Ventana’s methodology and the Product Information Management Value Index 2021 findings.

 

Areas where Agility PIM excelled:  Product Experience

Agility PIM came in top six for Product Experience.  Ventana Research’s methodology examines a vendor’s entire product lifecycle in terms of customer onboarding, configuration, operations, usage and maintenance.

We ranked high in the Reliability and Adaptability categories as a result, according to the research, of our:

  • “Longer-term ability to operate PIM processes”- proven by customer tenures of 20+ years and the continued evolution of product from the introduction of eCommerce through the proliferation of selling channels companies rely on today.
  • Our “ability to connect to a wide range of applications and systems across an Enterprise” – with our proven ability to connect to any system–from SAP and Oracle to legacy, in-house ERPs, from Magento and EPiServer to headless commerce and homegrown solutions.

 

Areas where Agility PIM excelled: Customer Experience

For Ventana Research, and we would agree, Customer Experience goes well beyond the customers’ experience with the product but includes the relationship that a customer forms with its – in this case PIM – vendor as a harbinger of success with the vendor’s products or technology.  Ventana Research using a weighted score of both Validation and TCO/ROI as a framework to evaluate commitment and value to the relationship.

Breaking this out, Magnitude scored a Top Three in customer experience, recognizing Agility’s high level of commitment to customer service.  “Agility’s high level of “Journey to PIM” information and support beyond the simple case study – detailing what is actually required of a company to adopt a PIM strategy is seen as a strong assist for any company evaluating PIM”.

Our Agility PIM is a simple-to-use but highly sophisticated product information management solution that puts your most valuable product data at the stable core of a go-anywhere, sell-everywhere commerce strategy. The solution is reliable whether you need to support ecommerce, traditional channels (print catalogs and direct mail), or data feed to marketplaces and other channel partners.

Are you Ready for PIM?

Our 3-minute PIM Readiness Assessment can show you the potential value a PIM solution can bring to your company.

And we’re always improving

We continually evolve our PIM Solution based on customer input and market trends. Watching our customers struggle with meeting the requirements of product data for their eCommerce site, we integrated Elasticsearch into Agility PIM, allowing customers to emulate within the PIM the experience their customers may have on their own website, allowing them to address issues in advance and provide a better experience for their end customers.

Ready to talk, our dedicated sales team is ready to help you asses your needs.

How a PIM Simplifies Product Content Management

“I wish we had a better system”

Manufacturers and distributors often rely on outdated tools to publish their product information to eCommerce channels, a practice which is both time consuming and worryingly error prone. We recently caught up with an eCommerce content specialist, often retained to stand up new storefronts, who shared a recent case study where a good PIM would have saved time and effort.

Alright, who hid the product information?

The CMO of an industrial tool manufacturer wanted to create a storefront on his company’s website to sell replacement parts for their tools direct to customers. These parts were readily available through third-party distributors. A couple quotes from the lead e-commerce manager, tasked with the project, explain the scope of the task:

“We want our customers to look to us first for replacement parts for our tools. Right now, they don’t because everything is a special order through our customer service. We lose opportunities because It is so much faster for them to order a new drive belt from a distributor.”

“We carry over 50,000 replacement parts for our tool brands. I want to focus on the top 10,000 SKUs — our best sellers. We want to stand out with better product descriptions than the distributors have. Trouble is, even though we manufacture these tools, we don’t have original documentation for them in any usable form. And over the years, through staff attrition we’ve lost all the “old guard” — the engineers who designed the tools and knew them inside and out. There’s nobody left who can answer questions.”

“We don’t have our own software. We can only produce a spreadsheet of part numbers. I wish we had a better [product information] system, but we don’t.”

No details. No experts. Excel files. Sound familiar?

The company had acquired its portfolio of tool manufacturing companies over many years. Acquisitions inevitably lead to staff reductions, resulting in knowledge loss. The CMO wanted to take advantage of an open marketing channel.

The eCommerce group started to tackle the project themselves but stalled because of the scale and scope of the project, so outsourcing made the most sense, allowing the eCommerce team to focus on a larger initiative to standardize and upgrade the autonomous websites of the three brands in question. Manual product information management was just too much for the internal team.

Reverse engineering product information – the painful manual way

Upgrading 10,000 SKUs took some time, due in part because the company did not have direct access to their product information via a PIM solution. Pulling it together required:

  1. First asking the sales team to generate a report of the 10K best-selling SKUs (not trivial).
  2. Next, requesting a data export of these SKUs and their part names from the company’s agency of record that “hosted” this content in their proprietary CMS. (All changes to product information had to pass through the agency.)
  3. Thirdly, verifying that the export correctly matched part numbers, part names and sales figures.
We don’t have our own software. I’ll get you a spreadsheet of part numbers. I wish we had a better system, but we don’t.

The brands were comprised of professional-grade woodworking and metalworking tools: free-standing and benchtop shop tools such as lathes, band saws, sanders and vises as well as hoists, trucks and pneumatic tools.

The replacement parts included most all of the component parts, from model-specific motors and housings to ubiquitous items that fit hundreds of models, such as O-rings, washers, screws, nuts, handles, springs, V-belts, wheels and ball bearings.

In an odd downstream move, two distributor websites sites were referenced as sources for part details – having a manufacturer rely on distributor information seemed somehow ironic. “Start with their stuff and see what you can do,” the eCommerce team commented, adding, “We don’t know how you can dress up a flat washer.” The team supplied product names were exactly that. Names like BUSHING, JAW INS ASSY, 10/32 X 1/2 SOC. HD CAP SCREW, CLLR NUT, 1/2″ DRILL CHUCK 3/8-24TPI W/KEY and so forth. Minimal for sure.

The story of a manufacturer relying on distributor information seemed somehow ironic.

Thanks to the distributor sites, the product pictures started coming together. A Google search with the brand name and part number produced more pieces of the product information puzzle. No surprise that the product names were identical to the descriptions found on practically every other site. All of them must have used the same content aggregator.

To nuance just how tedious the information gathering exercise can be …

  • One distributor included the line drawing and schematics for many of the primary tools with numbered callouts for the replacement parts – allowing for verification of at least one specific tool fit for a given part. This site placed tiny parts against a background grid of one-inch squares that enabled us to determine approximate sizes.
  • Another site offered “For Use with These Tools” links that helped us to assign multiple compatible models to the part. Both sites often had details about how to replace the part, or its purpose.
  • The list was sorted two ways. First, alphabetically by part name, allowing a setup of consistent descriptions, especially for common parts in different sizes like screws, washers, nuts and belts. Then part numbers were sorted. One brand incorporated the model number into the part number, making it easier to match components. Similar numbering patterns were found in the other two brands.

All in all, it was possible to identify at least one specific tool model for about two-thirds of the SKUs on the list. For all SKUs, including the common items like screws, washers and nuts, a statement asserting that the part in question was a certified Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part, made to exact specifications of the brand, was included. If the buyer were ordering using the owner’s manual as a parts reference, there would be little chance of an error. One completed example read this way:

Drive Belt #16 for Brand X Model Z Sander. Rubber. This replacement part is made by the original manufacturer. For installation steps and tools, related parts and precautions, refer to your owner’s manual and model schematics.

Light at the end of the tunnel

It took 10 weeks to deliver the 10,000 enhanced descriptions allowing the eCommerce team to successfully launch their Replacement Parts Store web site. But this is just the tip of the 50K strong SKU iceberg.

How a PIM could have saved everyone time (now and in the future)

Given the (not uncommon) history of this manufacturer, a PIM may have possibly helped to enhance the product text by applying validation and automation rules to backfill attributes from data within the product names, and it would certainly have sped up the workflow by:

  • Automating the merge of part numbers and names with prices and sales data,
  • Quickly exporting this data from the PIM, and
  • Quickly importing the completed descriptions back into the PIM for upload to the website.

Alternatively, the eCommerce team could have easily worked directly within the PIM itself and probably spared the use of an outside firm. Seeing products in the context of the taxonomy would have aided in identifying parts with ambiguous names.

Take Charge of your Product Data

Get Products to Market Faster with Agility PIM

In addition, PIM capabilities would have allowed anyone on the project to collect web-quality product images or other visual assets. Down the line, if this company is able to obtain owner’s manuals and other supporting documentation from their manufacturing facilities, these could be added as well.

A PIM is an invaluable tool for both manufacturers and distributors. PIM enables the manufacturer to establish itself as the Source of Truth for its products, and to disseminate accurate details through all customer channels, including its distributors.

For distributors, who sell products from hundreds or thousands of manufacturers, PIM allows them to manage the tens of thousands (or millions) of SKUs they offer, and to create the most customer-friendly experience possible for their competitive advantage.

To learn more about what PIM can do for your business, check out Magnitude’s Agility PIM solution, or contact us for details.

PIM Optimizes Multilingual e-Commerce Content Management

Thanks to the internet, businesses are expanding their global presence. Ecommerce reaches beyond borders, opening companies to customers outside their “home” nations. A US company might venture into Canada or Mexico while a German manufacturer sets sights on the European Union, and so forth across the seven continents. As such, the demand is surging for multilingual tools to help sellers connect with these new customers.

Studies have shown that roughly 65% of customers prefer to use e-commerce websites that “speak” their native language. This is true not just for the retail sector but also for B2B customers who buy from manufacturers and distributors. English, while widely spoken worldwide, is by no means a “universal language” for potential customers. Research also shows that 40% of global customers will not buy in a language other than their own.

Think about it. Aren’t you more comfortable making a purchase when you can read and understand all the information presented, from the landing page to the checkout screen? Marketers talk all the time about engaging customers through “personalized conversations”. When a company invests in doing business in the languages of its customers, it makes a statement that it wants to overcome cultural and language barriers and greet customers on their terms.

Trials and tribulations of translation

Content managers understand the challenges of managing product information for just one language. Each additional language added to an ecommerce platform multiplies the amount of work required to sustain it. A few of the primary roadblocks include:

  • Volume — The ordeal of channeling products through a translation service, editing and quality checking, and then publishing
  • Syntax — Rules of sentence structure
  • Idioms and colloquialisms — Including slang, jargon, words that have different meanings in different countries, or varieties of the same language (such as French vs. Canadian French)
  • Punctuation
  • Currencies

Think of the confusion created by a misplaced comma in the price of an item. Or the dismay of an American who orders a pair of pants from the UK only to receive undergarments, not trousers! And many slang expressions literally do “get lost in translation”, which can be troublesome when converting customer reviews.

Content translation must be done methodically and carefully. Few companies can afford to have a full staff of in-house polyglots to review every piece of product information that passes through. Marketers need a way to efficiently process, maintain and publish multilingual content to create an equally excellent customer experience across all its websites. A Product Information Management (PIM) system designed to support multiple languages is the most effective way to manage multilingual content.

Benefits of PIM

At its core, a good PIM offers:

  • Ease of use for in-house staff and outside content sources, like manufacturers
  • Ability to interface with back-end systems such as price files and inventory
  • Ability to handle metadata and SEO tags
  • Serve as a single source of truth for product content, images and other assets such as manuals
  • Scalability to grow with the needs of the business

 

Layered approach — How multilingual PIM works

Generally, a PIM’s supported languages exist in parallel layers, starting with a base language. Using English as the base example, if an American company wanted to add a Spanish-language store to its ecommerce site, it would convert the English content to Spanish — most likely through an outside translation service or a MT (Neural Machine Translation service akin to Amazon Translate) in a Spanish layer. The new Spanish content would still require a human review to ensure that the translated material was factually correct and readable.

By standardizing common phrases (such as “Batteries not included”), the company builds a glossary of translated words and phrases that can be reused indefinitely without additional cost. Preset choice lists (for colors, sizes and other attribute values) can be translated and applied so that “blue” appears as “azur” in the Spanish context. The layers operate bi-directionally, so that a change in the Spanish layer will either translate to English or be flagged as an exception. The PIM also allows users to compare language layers for a given product to simplify editing and review. Once established, each layer can accept imported content. Keep in mind: the human reviewer factor remains necessary forever.

The initial content migration from one language to another represents a significant amount of time and money, but the payoff is an ecommerce site that invites and engages the new customer base, builds their trust and drives revenues.  A PIM is the smart way to go international with your e-commerce.

Agility PIM Speaks Your Language

Agility PIM supports content localization and allows marketers to output multiple languages for web, print or any other channel. Powerful and easy to use, Agility PIM interfaces seamlessly with translation platforms. It allows side-by-side comparisons of the base and translated languages with highlighted copy and attribute changes for easy editing and review. Translators and in-house content developers can preview translations in channel-specific context prior to publishing to ensure that the customer-facing presentation is both accurate and localized.

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How PIM Drives Distributor’s Online Success

Trailblazing e-businesses, convenient technologies and the COVID-19 pandemic have sparked a global surge in online B2B and B2C sales. How do distributors remain relevant in these chaotic times? This article examines the key challenges for distributors and explains how a Product Information Management (PIM) solution can help them to adapt — and thrive.

Old Ways on the Way Out

For distributors, the good old days of door-to-door selling are vanishing. First websites created a new channel called ecommerce. As customers adopted ordering from the desktop, along came mobile devices — cell phones and tablets — and the birth of ecommerce apps specifically tailored for them. With each new gadget, customers demanded the same access to their favorite brands.

Distributors know too well just how daunting the landscape is. The biggest players play hard: In November 2020, Home Depot announced a major initiative to expand in the MRO ecommerce space, capped by its $8 billion acquisition of online distributor HD Supply Holdings. This marriage of a major big box chain with a Top Ten industrial distributor further complicates the scene for smaller B2B distributors.

The arrival of marketplaces such as Amazon changed the game significantly, too. These online “virtual stores” brought sourcing power, high-quality content, ease of use and exceptional delivery to lure customers away from their old favorites. Today Amazon is the gold standard by which the rest of the ecommerce world is measured.

And then, earlier this year, the pandemic literally shut down the planet for a short time. Countless businesses shuttered, millions of workers were stuck at home and market segments were tossed upside down. But life had to go on. Consumers and companies needed products. Agile businesses ramped up their online capabilities to meet these demands. While industries like Travel have yet to recover, Supermarkets countered the drop in store traffic by expanding online ordering and adding delivery service and curbside pickup. Many B2B companies pivoted their sales teams to encourage customers to order via their website or marketplace store.

Measuring Ecommerce Growth

Data shows the growth and impact of digital sales for distributors:

  • In 2019, 17% of all distributor sales ($957 billion of $6 trillion) came from an online ecommerce or marketplace site. Trends indicate that online distributor sales could crack the 20% threshold in 2021.
  • Yet 53% of all distributor sales are still done manually via paper, fax, email or telephone. This means that tremendous opportunities remain for distributors to adopt digital strategies.

Digital growth is not limited to the United States and Europe. Last year’s global retail ecommerce sales boom (up 21% from 2018) was led by Mexico (35%), India (32%), The Philippines (31%) and China (27%). Canada came in seventh at 21%. 

The Automotive Aftermarket Example

The global automotive aftermarket illustrates the dramatic jump in digital sales both in dollars and as a percentage of total sales. About 75% of aftermarket products are MRO replacement parts, tires, brakes, engine components and body parts. Customers include both professionals and do-it-yourselfers.

In 2020, worldwide aftermarket sales totaled $378 billion (USD), with $42 billion, or 11%, coming from ecommerce. Based on actual annual growth of 4% over the past several years, by 2026 auto aftermarket ecommerce is projected to reach $135 billion, or 27%, against total sales of $494 billion. While COVID-19 is expected to drop 2020 sales by 8.8%, analysts expect a comeback in 2021.

The Benefits of PIM for Distributors

As the link between manufacturers and B2B buyers, distributors face a number of challenges in managing product information and standing out from the competition:

  • Managing Product Data. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to supply incomplete or inconsistent product data. The distributor’s internal team bears the burden of normalizing the data to fill in holes, make it consistent for search and refinement, and enhance it to make its website the most useful to the customer. In this reality, “dirty” data in any form is crippling, as customers will click to a more user-friendly site in a heartbeat.
  • Differentiating Product Content. Many distributors subscribe to a content service, giving them the same product information as their rivals and no competitive advantage with SEO. Enriching content in ERP systems or via other inflexible tools is painstaking, inefficient and cumbersome.
  • Understanding the True State of the Business via Analytics. Distributors often invest hundreds of hours annually collecting critical performance metrics from across the business. Web analytics, purchasing numbers, sales figures, inventory levels, etc. may exist in silos that make information sharing problematic. Decisionmakers waste more time chasing at the expense of planning and strategizing.

A PIM allows the distributor to take control of the product information journey. Product Information Management:

  • Enables distributors to offer more SKUs more efficiently, prioritize products to earn more revenue, and create personalized experiences that showcase the brand
  • Optimizes product intake-to-channel workflows
  • Drives up product data quality and completeness with automation
  • Allows customization for each channel, geography and language
  • Saves time for internal teams, allowing them to focus on critical tasks
  • Is flexible, scalable and simplifies content maintenance
  • Is designed for quick, easy syndication of product information to the desired channels
  • Facilitates better decision making on product presentation, assortments, discounts, etc. from a central analytics dashboard

PIM’s ability to interface with ERPs, sales, inventory and other data silos cannot be overstated. PIM brings this data together to give managers the total picture. The difference between operating with or without a PIM is like getting a framed photo of the Grand Canyon versus getting an unassembled puzzle of the same scene.

Agility PIM enables global distributors to curate complete and consistent product information into an engaging shopping experience that increases sales and facilitates up- and cross-selling. Want to learn more? Fill out our online contact form to get the conversation started.

Statistics in this blog were originally published by the 2020 Distributor 300 Research Report, McKinsey, and Forbes. 

Related Resources
PIM for Distributors
Four Reasons Why Distributors Need a PIM
Is PIM right for you?

Future-Proofing Your E-Commerce Platform with Product Information Management

FACT: E-commerce is a moving target and every company eventually outgrows its e-commerce platform. When your platform can no longer deliver the functionality and performance your business requires, it’s time for an upgrade.

b2b ecommerce

Considering the significant cost of a new system in dollars and staff resources, the stakes are high. Your company will be wedded to your selection for many years. Your ability to compete and thrive depends on a sound decision. Before your organization selects a new platform or solution for e-commerce, you must be assured that it can help you:

Admittedly, that’s a tall order, but not insurmountable.

We will help you understand whether it’s time for an upgrade; if it is, why product information management (PIM) is a smart next step; and the importance of preparing for a transition by ensuring you have clean, complete, consistent and contextual product data that serves the needs of your business and your customers.

Let’s get started.

Making-Leap-E-Commerce-Product-Experience Management
Making the Leap from E-Commerce to Product Experience Management
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1. Accomplish the objectives necessary for growth

As you look ahead, your organization likely has big plans that depend on the capabilities of your e-commerce platform, such as:

  • Increasing the number of SKUs offered
  • Drastically decreasing time-to-market
  • Ranking high in search results and driving traffic to your site
  • Freeing staff from manual effort and spreadsheet-driven chaos
  • Getting departments, suppliers, vendors and affiliates to work collaboratively
  • Reducing returns and decrease calls to Technical Support
  • Implementing a workflow process that automates approval
  • Publishing products multiple channels effortlessly

An existing e-commerce platform that can’t support such objectives is one that is holding your organization back. Compile your own list of strategic goals for your business and what features you expect an e-commerce platform to have to help you realize them.

For example, for the objective of increasing SKUs, you may want to require a platform that is scalable and supports unlimited SKUs. Finally, prioritize the features as Must Haves, Want to Haves, Nice to Haves (not deal-breakers). This allows you to identify the functionality most important to you when you examine a potential solution. This will represent one half of your eventual functional wish list – the dream state. 

2. Address the pain points that are prompting the change

Your current platform obviously has shortcomings. Some are minor annoyances, but others hamper your ability to transact business or manage your e-commerce process efficiently. The good news is that your pain points can alert you to functionality you’ll need in an upgraded system:

  • List these pain points, most painful to least.
  • Redefine them as features that you seek in a new system. For example, “Having to manage photos and assets from a separate program” could be rephrased as “Integrated Digital Asset Manager”.

Prioritize the features as Must Haves, Want to Haves, Nice to Haves (not deal-breakers). This allows you to identify the functionality most important to you when you examine a potential solution.

b2b customer want

Add this to your dream state list, and you have a comprehensive, prioritized list of functionality you’re looking for to address the pain of your current state and help you transition to a future state that will allow you to achieve your business objectives.

Most of all, at no point should you have to settle for less functionality than you currently have. In fact, you should be looking for a quantum leap forward that will serve you for well beyond your initial ROI and enable future capabilities such as intelligent recommendations, voice search, native mobile apps, marketplaces, and expansion into global markets.

3. Implement a custom solution that fits your organization

Does the solution fit you, or do you have to fit the solution? Not all e-commerce platforms offer the same levels of functionality and flexibility. Some are intended strictly for e-commerce. If you publish to endpoints besides a website — mobile, print — ask how the potential solution serves these channels. Look for a product that can be configured and scaled to your needs. If the sales call wanders into “round peg, square hole” territory, move on.

A provider may try to convince you that their product’s “catalog” feature serves as a product information management system. These solutions are generally OK for storing product information, but not for managing it.  Ask for a proof of concept and be mindful of needing a future-proof solution.

If you find you need a robust tool that allows you to organize, create, manage and publish content to a variety of endpoints, now and into the future, consider a Product Information Management (PIM) solution as a core component of your overall e-commerce infrastructure.

You may not think you know what PIM software is, or what it does. But as a consumer, you’re already familiar with what a PIM solution delivers:

  • If you’ve entered a few product criteria into a search engine and been presented with relevant results, that’s the kind of SEO and findability PIM software delivers.
  • If you’ve seen a product’s specifications online, in a brochure, and on the packaging, and they’re all correct and the same, that’s the kind of consistency PIM software delivers.
  • If you’ve made an online purchase with confidence because you’ve been able to review features and benefits, see photos or a video, and been offered needed accessories at checkout, that’s the kind of compelling, contextual content PIM software can deliver.
  • If you’re received a flyer with a product selection tailored to your interests, that’s the kind of targeting PIM software can deliver.

From the customer perspective, Product Information Management is the foundation of a buying experience that simplifies product selection, removes doubt, and ensures satisfaction.

4. Deliver a satisfying customer experience that ensures brand loyalty

As new technologies emerge, customer behaviors change with them to redefine the “expected” customer experience. Recent research confirms that because shoppers have options of where to buy products, the shopping experience has become more of a differentiator:

Companies need to design their e-commerce journeys to meet the expectations of today’s shoppers so they can:

  • Search and find products based on multiple attributes like size, weight, color, material, etc.
  • Make informed purchase decisions on information-rich product pages with multiple images and often videos, complete specifications, descriptive copy that highlights distinctive features, user guides, related products, needed accessories and supplies, and more
  • Receive personalized product recommendations that are on point

According to Gartner, this level of customer experience demands utilizing all the capabilities of PIM to deliver a shopping interaction that satisfies the customer, or Product Experience Management (PxM):

PxM is wholly dependent on the complete and consistent product content that product content management, and product information management, enables. Very few comprehensive solutions on the market can the findability, context, and personalization that converts shoppers into brand loyalists.

5. Keep your product data clean and buyer-ready

A PIM can help you to conquer a universal challenge for product content managers: keeping your content “clean.” Over the years, with multiple users adding information, content quality inevitably degrades in terms of organization, presentation, consistency, and accuracy.

One of the most common mistakes companies make when migrating e-commerce platforms is to move bad data from the old platform to the new. Pre-migration planning offers you a chance to clean house, scrub your content and ensure that you populate the new platform with accurate and timely product information. This is a critical and painstaking step, but the benefits make the effort worthwhile.

Before you upload a single product record, organize a migration team to assess your data model, taxonomy and content.

The data model should reflect all of the ways you use and publish product information. Ideally you want to manage multiple outputs from a single source of content truth. The number of product copy attributes must be sufficient for the task but not too granular. You want your product intake mechanisms — manual authoring or electronic imports — to be efficient.


Your product taxonomy probably has some level of misclassification. This leads to erroneous or incomplete browse, search and refinement results for your website users. For example, we knew a cutting tools distributor whose “saw blades” were scattered under “Saw Blades” as well as under “Power Tools”. Different search and browse approaches returned different product lists. It behooves you to analyze your products in your existing taxonomy and make corrections before you migrate.

We recommend an audit — a systematic review — of your existing content with these action steps:

  • Remove outdated content, i.e. expired promotions, past events, old news releases.
  • Archive content of historical value. This retains the information but separates it from current content.
  • Remove duplicate content. Over the years, you might have written multiple articles about the same topic. Cull the older articles and keep the most recent if it remains valid.
  • Standardize inconsistent content. This applies mainly to individual product specifications and includes things such as units of measurement (mL, ml, milliliters), spelling and abbreviations. This can be done very efficiently via a spreadsheet export
  • Author incomplete content. Identify products with less-than-ideal descriptions and enrich the content.

Finally, think ahead to the future state with a new platform. How will you keep your product information in top shape? How will you cost-effectively market to multiple channels and allow personalization? Will your new platform support your business needs in the years to come? If you decide to implement a PIM as a core component of your e-commerce infrastructure, the answer is yes to all.

Ready to Upgrade? Consider a PIM

A good PIM is configurable, scalable, versatile, and flexible and integrates with your e-commerce platform as well as with your ERP and other critical back-end business processes.  As the name implies, a PIM is designed specifically for authoring, managing and publishing product information for omnichannel marketing. [Check out our Infographic: What to Watch for When Choosing a PIM]

To confirm if it’s time to take your e-commerce strategy to the next level, take our 3-Minute PIM Readiness Assessment—16 simple questions designed to help you establish if your business could benefit from PIM. Or, contact our Agility product information management experts and we’ll help you evaluate your business needs and determine if you are ready for a PIM solution. Let’s start a conversation.

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Optimizing Product Content for Voice Search

Science fiction has been promising us the convenience of voice interaction with computers for decades. Smart devices and voice assistants like OK Google, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa have brought our futuristic dreams closer to reality. A report by OC&C Strategy Consultants predicts that voice shopping spending will grow to over $40 billion in 2022 alone, compared to $2 billion in spending today. Now that the capability is available, voice search use is growing, both at home and on mobile devices.

27% population using voice search

A Market Research Future forecast through 2023 estimates that, “North America [is] expected to dominate the smart speaker market…owing to the presence of early adopters and key smart speaker providers such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com.

Smart speaker adoption is growing globally, with Asia-Pacific leading the way:

Smart speakers set to surge in East Asia

S: What Voice Search means for PIM

Siri, is our product data tuned to deliver answers to voice queries?

Chances are, it isn’t. Web searching has trained us to speak to computers in their natural language: keywords. And organizing and populating content according to keywords has been the basis of web search since Netscape was the hot new thing. Voice search flips the script and expects computers to be able to interpret natural language requests. It’s the difference between entering: Backpacking Store Boulder and saying “Alexa, where can I buy a sleeping bag near me.”

The instinct may be to assume voice search is primarily a concern for B2C ecommerce sites. However, the B2B ecommerce shopper is also a B2C shopper for their personal needs, and they bring the expectations and behaviors from one to the other. For instance, according to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers admit to conducting online research before making a buying decision and Forrester found that 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem. Combine that with the ease and speed with which a user can get an answer to a question using voice search, and the top of the sales funnel now runs through Siri or OK Google.

There are four main strategies for product content managers to capitalize on the opportunities of voice search:

1.Understand the questions

Responding to the which, what, when, and where requires an understanding of the types of questions customers will ask about your products. These questions tend to come in a few forms:

  • A request for specific information, like “Does STORE carry raincoats?”
  • A location-specific request, like “Which STORE is closest to me?”
  • A time-frame request, like “Is STORE open tomorrow?”
  • A value-based request, like “Which STORE has the best raincoats?”

Research you’ve done on website traffic analytics will reveal typical search engine phrases that can be of great help in building an effective voice search strategy. Another option is the site, AnswerThePublic, which “listens into autocomplete data from search engines like Google then quickly cranks out every useful phrase and question people are asking around your keyword.” Search results are rendered in either CSV form, or as a visualization:

From this intelligence, you can evaluate your product content to align your meta tags and descriptions to what customers are asking for. Schema markup that includes elements like product name, brand, size, rating, review count, and availability status also makes it easy for voice searchers to get a quick preview of your site.

If you have a Frequently Asked Questions page that is built from actual customer questions, that’s both a good place to start and an indispensable tool for voice search as it already frames your product information in the form of the answer. If your FAQ page isn’t robust and current, now is the time to build it out. Write answers in short simple sentences and be sure to answer the question in the first sentence, ideally repeating the keyword upfront as shown here.

2. Be the ONE

With voice search you ask one question and voice search returns one answer based on a combination of algorithms, SEO and AI. In this scenario, you don’t just want to make the first page, you want to be the ONE product that fits the bill.

Including specific value-based words in your content like best, affordable, water resistant, or durable will make it more likely that a voice search will identify your product as the best answer for that value. This is important because more and more voice searches are framing queries this way: At the end of 2017, Google revealed that it had seen an 80% growth in mobile searches containing the word “best” in the past two years.

3. Appeal to the Featured Snippet

All voice assistants, be it Siri, Cortana, Alexa, or ‘OK Google’, use either Bing or Google as their default search engines, but Google wins for e-commerce: 35% of all online purchases start with a Google search.

Google’s featured snippet, also known as the “answer box” is ideally designed for voice search.

Google featured snippet

Searchengineland.com says Google “takes snippets of relevant content from web pages, often preferring semantically sound ordered and unordered lists, and displays them in a box directly below paid listings and just above the first organic result. Below the displayed content, Google provides a link to the web page where they found this information.” Research by Backlinko found that 40.7% of all voice search answers came from a Featured Snippet.

Occupying “position zero” at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), featured snippets are usually formatted in such a way as to be “snippable,” in either paragraph, bulleted list, or table form.  While Google can parse site content to construct its own snippet, it’s smart to make information easier for both users and Google to find and understand. Backlinko found that Google prefers short, concise answers to voice search queries. The typical voice search result is only 29 words in length and is written at a 9th grade level.

4. Make It Local

For the “instant gratification” set, shopping for an item on an e-commerce site and picking it up at the local brick and mortar store is the best of both worlds. Product content managers can satisfy these hybrid shoppers by ensuring they know when a product can be secured in their area.

SEMRush advises that “a Google My Business listing is a way to let Google know that your business is located at a particular place. When someone asks Google to display similar businesses in that area, your business could rank for that voice query.”

S: Advantage for First Movers

While the B2B e-commerce implications of voice search are still emerging, Businessworld Magazine warns “upgrade your website and content for voice search. Getting a first-mover advantage is significant and imperative on the grounds that soon different brands in the same sector start optimizing their content to be voice search friendly thereby generating more traffic creating direct competition to your business.”

As you considering how to use PIM to capitalize on the opportunities of voice search? Contact our PIM experts today to get started.

Four Reasons to Add a PIM System and Enhance Your ERP

Did you know that a Product Information Management (PIM) system can help to simplify your business processes and achieve more efficient use of your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system?

In an earlier blog, we discussed the differences between ERP and PIM and their complementary role. Ideally, a company has both an ERP and a PIM. But many companies struggle to market their products and services to customer channels without the measurable benefits of a PIM. Today, we offer four ways that a PIM helps to improve your product marketing efforts.

First, a quick recap:

  • An ERP is an operational hub that organizes and optimizes diverse back-end business processes. An ERP manages transactional data such as customer records, parts lists, prices, inventory, sales and order processing. It is not intended to create or manage customer-facing product information.  An ERP is the “Grand Central Station” (or London Waterloo) where a company’s internal data sources intersect.
  • A PIM is product-focused. PIMs are specifically designed to collect, create and manage product information — descriptions, images, video assets, specifications and more — and publish that information to customer channels such as e-commerce web sites, marketplaces, mobile devices and print catalogs. A PIM is a drawing board where you craft your customer-facing product presentations.

A PIM helps your company in four significant ways:

Faster, more efficient Data Onboarding. Many companies create all products inside the ERP. This approach has two obstacles:

  • Inactive products [not ready for sale] take up space in the ERP, which is meant to track activity for active products
  • Product data fields in the ERP are quite limited, so enriched product information must be maintained in an outside system or worse, in a spreadsheet. In addition, ERPs typically lack a portal to allow suppliers or content providers to place information into it.

By beginning the product life cycle in PIM, the path to the market is shorter and faster. Suppliers can connect to upload detailed product information. Product specifications and hierarchies are easy to add or modify. Data from multiple suppliers can be normalized into standard formats for consistency in product comparisons and browse/search parameters. And, the core transactional product attributes (units of sale, measurements, etc.) can be easily exported to the ERP. By using the PIM as the product staging area, the ERP stays uncluttered of non-sellable products. The PIM gathers all relevant product details into one workspace, allowing each product to get to market more quickly.

Data integration without the juggling act. PIM systems have built-in connectors (API) to interface bi-directionally with other systems, databases, spreadsheets and programs, including the ERP. The PIM can harvest product photos, schematics, videos and data sheets that become part of the e-commerce product presentation. Internally, PIM provides a smooth, automated exchange of information for sharing, reporting and analysis. This capability eliminates manual data entry as well as the need for an analyst or team to comb multiple data sources in order to compile meaningful information or develop customer-facing product content.

PIM creates richer product experiences. PIM provides unparalleled insights into a product’s completeness and its performance. When you leverage all the capabilities available in PIM, you can create a rewarding, contextual, and personalized product experience for the customer, making it quick and easy for customers to locate the right products. Adding natural language descriptions, features and benefits, and explaining how products solve problems will improve SEO and conversions. Product data held in a more granular way, including multiple tags or keywords, unlocks the power of faceted searching to narrow choices and creates a more rewarding shopping experience.

PIM also allows you to combine your product content with analytics to deliver actionable intelligence to managers across the company. Using its universal connectivity, the PIM collects external market and performance data (Key Performance Indicators such as sales, returns, inventory, regional patterns, page views, customer ratings, SEO, click-throughs, etc.). Put together, this information gives a complete picture of a product’s profitability, both at a given point and over time. Managers can adjust strategies and tactics accordingly based on these findings.

Data optimization for clean, complete and accurate e-commerce-ready product information. Data quality is a key driving factor for e-commerce success. PIM allows you to set up and maintain governance rules to ensure data consistency. The reporting function can call out exceptions (like missing images), errors and data gaps, so you’ll be able to correct them. PIM’s powerful functionality gives content managers complete visibility and control of all aspects of product data.

To recap:

  • Adopting a PIM ends the frustration of trying to utilize the ERP beyond its intended capabilities.
  • PIM provides a full range of tools to collect, create, organize and maintain product information and, unlike ERPs, the PIM interface is designed with marketers/merchants in mind
  • PIM allows you to get products to market faster and more efficiently.

To learn more about how Agility PIM can help your business excel, request a demo or contact our PIM experts today!