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Five Key Takeaways from London B2B Commerce Meetup

Author: Richard Hunt

Last month, we partnered with Lingo24 to host the first London B2B Commerce Meetup on the theme of successful digital transformation. We had a tremendous turnout of eCommerce professionals from companies that span from startups to mid-sized companies to global brands.

Hot topics for discussion included: how to best compete and beat Amazon in the B2B space; moving into new countries; the importance of localization (or localization for my US friends) and, the realization of the importance of delivering consistent and engaging product experiences not just to retail customers but to industrial buyers as well.

I came up with 5 key, slightly tongue-in-cheek takeaways for ensuring successful digital transformation:

  1. Know your starting point: Let’s face it, achieving a complete and total digital transformation is a bit like reaching the top of Mount Everest. Most of us – even the boldest and most daring of us — will never get there. One surefooted step at time, however, will get you a lot farther than you think. Digital transformation isn’t merely about having a great-looking website. It’s about core vision, conviction and leadership, and it starts with a clear and honest assessment of where you’re starting from and where you want to go, in terms of organization and structure (for instance, how managers are rewarded for hitting goals) and your product content (its granularity and richness, as well as your processes for on-boarding and digital delivery). It’s a risk worth taking.

  2. Don’t boil the ocean: Technology vendors will throw everything and the kitchen sink at you to justify a project. While there may be more than 25 valid reasons for building a product information management (PIM) system, attempting everything on the list will be unattainable. Instead, set realistic expectations of what can be accomplished. Prioritizing the big wins is just as important as deciding which to leave out.

  3. “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content”. A great quote from Leo Tolstoy, which can be readily applied to today’s B2B company’s dilemma. When your directive is to take on 5-10 times more SKUs while radically reducing product introduction times, you have to pick your battles. Some SKUS will have to go straight to market; others will need to be held back so that you can develop richer product content. Distributors need to get suppliers to do the work and to employ machine learning and AI to help automate as much of the enrichment process as possible. While you’re taking the time to make every bit of product content perfect, someone else Is selling those products to your customers.

  4. It’s the boss’s idea: In order to transform digitally, the right stakeholders have to believe that a digital strategy is critical. It takes getting buy-in early from the top and the right leadership to set a clear vision for the roadmap ahead. Digital transformation for product-centric B2B companies is critical for survival and future prosperity. Therefore, the boss has to be centrally involved, and preferably it’s their idea

  5. Watch out for the fake news:  When companies invest in new technologies, they usually undergo a thoughtful evaluation process. Once purchased, the buyer’s reputation is on the line, and they’re the ones who are usually the most committed to its long-term success. They’re also the most knowledgeable. There are plenty of opinions and reviews of technology solutions, just a click or two away, but it’s the end-users who are the most reliable sources for honest evaluations. Customer conferences and meet ups are a great ways to avoid the fake news and accurately benchmark your approach to digital transformation.

7 Reasons Why PIM Should be the Next Step in Your Digital Commerce Journey

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, 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. Read more

5 Common Myths about Product Information Management PIM

The science of managing information about products has existed for decades, although, Product Information Management (PIM) is a relatively new branch of Data Management. Historically, the solutions required to manage product content have been complex, since that data has multiple touch-points and affects the 3 pillars – People, Process and Technology. With a shift in the industry to promote business-focused, data-driven organizations, PIM was invented with a purpose to ease the collection, management and syndication of data, in a simple, easy and concise manner. However, there are still some myths from its past. Read more

Magento Technology Partnership

We’re delighted to announce that Agility Multichannel is now a Magento technology partner, the ecommerce leader’s first (and only) partner for PIM.

At the beginning of November, Magento Commerce broke away from eBay Inc and launched as an independent company. Two weeks later, the company released Magento 2.0 (“…a foundational milestone that extends Magento’s market share and innovation leadership into the next decade,” said Mark Lavelle, Magento Commerce CEO.) We’re delighted to announce that Agility Multichannel is now a Magento technology partner, the ecommerce leader’s first (and only) partner for PIM. In our commitment to the “3 C’s” (connecting Content with Creative for Commerce), strong partnerships are critical, and clearly the people at Magento Commerce feel the same way, with a new partnership program that is full of energy and dedicated to delivering best-in-class commerce experiences.

To read more about the Magento story and why it may be the “biggest commerce company you haven’t heard of yet,” the New York Business Journal does a good job of laying things out.

 

2015 PIM Value Index

Agility Multichannel improved more since the last report than any other vendor, demonstrating “commitment to its products, customers and partners.”

Ventana Research has just published its 2015 PIM Value Index, and we’re delighted to see that Agility Multichannel improved more since the last report than any other vendor, demonstrating (says author, CEO and chief research officer Mark Smith) “commitment to [our] products, customers and partners.” It’s an essential and important report, and it can be downloaded here.

Global Retail Expansion

Here’s an article titled Twelve Barriers to 2015 Retail Global Expansion, and Hacks for Breaking them Down that’s full of valuable insights, including 2 cents from our CEO Richard Hunt:

The key is to design a single, flexible, scalable global process that makes it easy not just to add channels and touch points but to move into new markets and countries when opportunities arise.  An enterprise Product Information Management (PIM) system can provide tools for product on-boarding, governance, workflows, enrichment and translation, approval and syndication that let end-users in any country and any department seamlessly localize and market their specific products – all within a single, endlessly scalable, global solution.

Richard Hunt in Apparel magazine