As a manufacturer, your brand is your identity. Your reputation and the perception of all of your products and services is wrapped in a name, logo and stock market symbol. It doesn’t matter if your brand is long established in the market or new to the scene, it is essential to proactively maintain your marketing message.
Source of Truth
Consumers look to manufacturers to provide the original, single true source of information about their products. From concept to design to prototype to finished product, the manufacturer owns every step of the process. Every aspect of the final product derives from the manufacturer — each spec, detail, feature, benefit, part, component or instructions. All of this information is part of the package that is stamped with your brand. This is true for a garment, a drill, a tractor or a turboexpander for a power plant. The manufacturer’s information is fact. And so, managing the creation, maintenance and dissemination of this information is as critical to the manufacturer as controlling its distribution channels.
Why is this important?
B2B and B2C distribution channels have changed dramatically with the rise of the internet and eCommerce. Print catalogs remain viable, but old-fashioned “mail orders” have been nearly wiped out by electronic transactions. Even that reliable field call by your sales rep might end in a customer order placed electronically.
The sales process moves much quicker today. Thanks to global sourcing, the number of products available to customers continues to rise exponentially. So does the amount of product information, especially when the same basic information is replicated and edited through retail, distributor and reseller channels.
Do a quick search for some of your products on the internet and see how many times you can find them. Then look at the product information. Are these websites providing all of the details you want to share about your products? And in the way you want it to be presented? Just like gossip gets distorted when it passes from person to person, your product information may not survive intact through all of these hands. You’ll find that many sites provide minimal product information and no detail at all.
Your products—your brand—are at risk of being diluted in this electronic stream. It’s one of the reasons smart manufacturers are adopting a Product Information Management solution (PIM) as the core of their digital marketing strategies. Here are other reasons to consider:
- E-commerce is here to stay. Global electronic transactions neared the $3 trillion mark in 2018, up 15% from 2017, and continue to rise. Yet manufacturers are lagging in the race to ecommerce. A 2018 B2BecNews survey of 276 manufacturers indicated that 60.7% lacked an ecommerce site, but that 75% planned to launch one within two years
- Ecommerce is more than just a website. Digital transformation means giving customers access to your products where they shop—via mobile-friendly apps, phones, tablets and other portables. Today’s customers buy on the fly. They want an “experience”. You have to embrace this new wave of customer engagement in order to survive.
- A PIM gives you total control over product information. From one single source of truth you can manage products, specifications, SKUs, photos, schematics, and all other assets. You can ensure brand consistency across all of your distribution channels. And you have security over your data.
- Publishing from a PIM is easy. Print or web, catalog or brochure, data export to a distributor’s ecommerce portal—a PIM allows you to configure and feed product information from the data repository to an eCommerce storefront as well as publish to print or electronic catalogs. An ERP system cannot. This flexibility enables the manufacturer to target messages to specific audiences with exceptional efficiency and to archive publications for updates and reuse.
- A PIM “talks” to outside systems (SAP, Oracle, other ERPs, mainframes, sales data, price files, asset libraries, Excel, other marketing systems, etc.) and integrates data from these sources to provide real-time analytics and reports. This gives the manufacturer a clear picture of customer behaviors and other factors affecting business performance. Instead of wasting time compiling data, the manufacturer can evaluate the information from the PIM’s reporting functionality—achieving a 360° view of their products—and make better decisions faster.
A robust PIM solution is flexible, scalable, configurable and easily deployed and used. For these reasons, it’s essential to any digital transformation initiative. 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 our infographic: Choosing a PIM: What to Watch for.