5-reasons-retailers-need-pim

Five Reasons Why Retailers Need a PIM

“It is a well-known fact that bringing in technologies in the retail sector is good for business.” — N. R. Narayana Murthy, Co-founder, Infosys.

If technology doesn’t actually run our daily lives, it certainly shapes the journey. From the smart phones we carry, to the multimedia systems in our homes, to the navigation wizardry in our cars, technology is everywhere. Nearly all of it purchased, of course, from a retailer like you.

So, if technology is inescapable, doesn’t it make sense for you, the retailer, to adopt tech in your business? Think about your place in the retail world versus five or ten years ago. Do you have the same competitors? Same products? Same supply chain? Have customer behaviors and tastes stayed the same?  So much has changed, right? And the changes keep on coming. Faster. New competitors, shifting customer expectations and the emergence of online and mobile shopping have shaken the old bricks and mortar. A lot of retailers with a mindset stuck in the 1980s are either failing or have disappeared.

Enter e-commerce

Retail veterans might wax for the simpler times when you had your shop or chain of stores and a reasonably local and predictable customer base. You knew your rivals and they knew you. Customer relationships were more personal. But about 25 years ago, the Internet gave birth to ecommerce. Amazon created and refined online customer engagement. At the same time, products poured into the US from all corners of the globe. The retail world would never be the same.

Amazon was the true retail disruptor. Amazon’s business model centered on customers, specifically their desire for more choices, lower prices and greater convenience. Once Amazon mastered delivery systems, they nailed it. Customers swarmed to Amazon and other sites like eBay. The smarter old guard retail giants took notice and built their own ecommerce platforms, with much copycatting. In this war for the retail dollar, customers were the clear winners.

Today, US online retail sales represent 10.2% of all US retail sales. At $137.7 billion against total US retail sales of $1,344.9 billion, e-commerce continues its steady climb upward. [See chart below.] Within this number are two interesting statistics. First, Amazon owns almost half of the US ecommerce market. Two, about 45% of today’s online purchases are made on mobile devices. Think about that. Nearly one out of two online purchases is made from a smart phone, tablet or wristwatch. The potential of mobile as a retail channel is fascinating to contemplate.

You need a PIM

So how can you bring the power of technology to bear in your business? The answer: Implement a Product Information Management (PIM) solution. Here are five reasons why a PIM is an essential piece of a retailer’s product management and marketing strategy.

  1. To efficiently manage and curate product information —A PIM enables you to create, organize and optimize product data from one central source. The PIM also allows data to be input from external sources such as supplier websites. A PIM is a tremendous time saver and powerful tool.
  2. For brand consistency. Whether you are an active lifestyle retailer, a luxury auto dealer, a department store or a small boutique, your brand is your identity. Now think: How often is your brand message used incorrectly? Do you battle inconsistency with brand usage? A PIM helps you to ensure the consistent, correct style, voice, tone and message of your brand across all channels. You can control who has access to your product data, and you can edit supplier content to conform to your brand’s style. The last point is key if you publish content from overseas suppliers, as translated English occasionally needs a little editing.
  3. To understand market trends — Raise your hand if you hate to fill out sales reports. Thought so. A PIM can integrate data from outside systems (ERP, mainframes, sales data, price files, asset libraries, Excel, Oracle, SAP, etc.) to deliver real-time analytics and reports. This gives the store manager, the regional manager and the corporate office the intel they need about sales, customer behaviors and other factors affecting business performance. Instead of fumbling with spreadsheets, you’ll have the ability to make better decisions faster.
  4. For multichannel publishing — A PIM allows you to configure and feed product information from the data repository to your website and to mobile-friendly platforms as well as publish to print or electronic catalogs, in-store kiosks and many other channels. Content can be updated and repurposed over and over. One national tool retailer uses its PIM data to tailor direct mail and digital marketing messages to different regions and to individual customers. The result is an exceptionally personalized engagement that drives store traffic.
  5. Better blogging. Your blog page is a space to add value and showcase your expertise. A few years back, an ad agency audited a supermarket chain’s web content as part of a website overhaul. Agency writers discovered that the supermarket’s blog content was heavy on holiday entertaining, summer sunburn prevention and grilling, but woefully thin on such diverse topics as wellness, seafood, sustainable foods and vegan/vegetarian cuisine. The blog page was a clear weak spot. Without an efficient means to organize her posts, the in-house blogger often wrote essentially duplicate stories about Christmas cookies and cheese trays. A PIM would have allowed her to organize, update and publish her blogs and remove outdated content.

A robust PIM solution is flexible, scalable, configurable and easily deployed and used. For these reasons, a PIM should be the bedrock of any retailer’s information management and marketing strategy. If you are looking to take control of your product information journey, we recommend the following steps to ensure a thorough PIM evaluation – check out the infographic: Choosing a PIM: What to Watch for.

Curious about the major trends reshaping the retail landscape today? Join Agility at the InternetRetailing Conference (IRC) on Thursday October 10th in London.

Meet with our PIM experts in-person at IRC stand #25 to talk through your product information challenges. Don’t miss our workshop session: Why product information management is essential in your digital commerce journey.

 

†Source: US Department of Commerce, Quarterly E-Commerce Retails Sales, 1st Quarter 2019. https://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pdf

DID YOU KNOW? US E-COMMERCE RETAIL SALES as % of TOTAL US RETAIL SALES, 2009-2019 (US Department of Commerce, 5/17/2019)

1Q 2009

1Q 2012

1Q 2015

1Q 2019

4.0%

5.0%

7.0%

10.2%