Managing Online Presence and Product Information in Retail
Online presence, especially in retail, is vital. If you don’t make the digital transition, your chances of survival are slim. This has already been proven in the traditional shopping landscape; several retailers had to close their doors for good because they missed out.
After 129 years of service, famous Dutch department store V&D had to file for bankruptcy. By the time the company realized they had to evolve in order to stay alive, it was already too late. Not only are there more channels for shopping, power is shifting and new competitors are arriving.
Trend: Omnichannel Commerce
Consumers are everywhere and expect the same presence from the providers of products and services they buy. Due to digitization, retailers are forced to change their strategy from top-down to bottom-up: the consumer holds the reins and decides where he makes his next purchase. Not the retailer, but the customer determines the entire retail process.
Omnichannel goes beyond multi- or cross-channel. The consumer is the center and all channels revolve around him/her. All channels enrich and complement each other, they are perfectly aligned and radiate the same message, which results in synergy. Consumers don’t buy from a webshop or a store, they buy from a brand.
Retailers can achieve this by anticipating the consumer’s needs. Their product or service has to be easy to find and to purchase. Furthermore, retailers have to offer as much information and have to be as flexible as possible. A few of these technical developments include showing if the desired product is in stock in the shop of their choice, or the ability to reserve an item so customers can pick it up at the nearest shop. Some retailers, for example, show atmospheric photos of a product, so the consumer can immediately see how it stands in the living room. Or they use a different tone in the product descriptions for different target groups on their website.
In order for these developments to succeed, product data must be efficiently managed, after which it can be shared with surrounding systems and partners to increase sales. There are several software solutions that can facilitate this development for retailers.
The importance of data quality in retail
To all retailers, data quality is of crucial importance. Product data is often accessible for all retailers through data pools such as GS1 or Cocosoft, a centralized source in which (product) information from several manufacturers is stored in a standardized manner. This standard makes the exchange of information and doing business between trading partners easier and many times more efficient.
Relevant product information can be imported directly from a data pool into the ERP system. An ERP system automates standard data like the product price, specifications, and variables such as stock status. But the ERP might not have detailed information about your products themselves, here is the moment that PIM comes in and offers added value.
The benefits of a PIM system for retail
In product information management systems, you manage all product data from one single source. Product data is consistent and the information is distributed across all marketing and sales channels. PIM is designed in such a way that relationships can be established between different systems, like ERP, CMS or other applications that need product data.
These are the main benefits of Product Information Management systems:
1. One single source to enrich and use data
Using one single source means all data is uniform. Edits are synchronized through all channels, including marketing and sales channels. This way, everyone works with the same product information. Make product information even more complete by translating it into different languages. This information is automatically sent to the corresponding websites.
2. Flexibility in communication across channels
Nowadays, product information is enriched with digital media such as product videos for marketing purposes. Product information is shared in different formats, all should be available for a complete marketing strategy.
How you manage each specific product for a specific channel can be determined in a PIM. For example product titles: they could be different for the various marketplaces. To help you create uniformity across different platforms, take one set of product photos and distribute them to all marketplaces automatically. Or use different kinds/sizes for each specific marketing channel.
3. Increase of conversion
Before they make a purchase, consumers like to inform themselves with as much information as possible. Within PIM, classifications are assigned to products or product groups, creating a product with many specific characteristics. This supports consistent information about a product, which has a good effect on the conversion. After all, a good system leads to a faster time to market. Furthermore, you can easily generate product feeds via your PIM for external services such as a Magento, WooCommerce, and Bol.com.
4. Accurate data
The use of a PIM reduces the risk of errors or inaccuracies: the number of actions that are required to place the correct content on a website, for example, is minimal. Making changes to product information takes place centrally; this guarantees that all channels have up-to-date information.
5. Complete product profile with digital asset management
With the integration of digital asset management in PIM, you can add product related digital assets, like images, videos or text to product data. Create marketing collateral such as brochures or flyers and publish directly to different channels.
The addition of digital assets completes the entire product profile. This eases the creation of marketing content and ensures brand consistency.
6. Automated publishing
In case you modify article data in your PIM, product specification sheets or brochures can be automatically updated to various websites. This saves a lot of manual work and reduces the chance of errors.
Is a PIM suitable for your organization?
Almost convinced of the benefits of a PIM System? Here is a short checklist to see if a PIM can offer added value to your organization:
Are two or more criteria applicable to your organization? It can certainly be useful to consider a PIM to centrally manage your product data from a single system so that all channels have consistent and complete information that can be easily enriched and published.
Want to learn more?
Learn more about product information management or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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