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The Value of a PIM in a B2B Context

Almost every seller relies on a catalogue of data to organize their variety of products no matter how large or small. The early 2000s was a period of transition for many sellers as they bravely ditched the printed catalogue and inputted their information into an electronic database. Shifting from the filing cabinet to the hard-drive didn’t solve everything, the process is still frightfully manual and many sellers still wonder how to properly organize their data. Enter the PIM.

Just in case you’re still in the dark about what PIM is, it stands for Product Information Management. Whether you are a distributor, wholesaler or manufacturer PIM solutions offer professionals the opportunity to gather their data from a variety of sources, including ERP, POS, Excel and multi-channel catalogues and channel it into one centralized location. You can organize the master catalogue by separating it into several different sets. You can also edit the information as you see fit from one location.

Improve Your Relationships

Perhaps nothing is more important in the B2B world that having solid relationships with other companies in the industry. Having a strong catalogue strengthens brand image – and reputation. Not only do viewers love to look at a catalogue to quickly determine if the products match up to a competitors, but industry professionals often see a catalogue as an indication of how easy a company is to work with. It all comes down to the simplicity of research; often, they are looking for a catalogue that won’t take an eternity to navigate.

A PIM makes creating the perfect catalogue easy, fast and even enjoyable (yes, really). Companies just might be so impressed by your automated system that they won’t want to do business with anyone else…

Make the Right Impression

When it comes to getting your products finally out on the market, nothing is more essential than a concise, good-looking and well put together B2B catalogue. Retailers are only looking for the best, they don’t have time to mess about and chances are there are many products on the market similar to what you’re offering. Retailers are often a stickler for high-quality data, so you want your inventory to shine through.

Mistakes happen, but they don’t always need to. A wrong SKU number, for example, can cause retailers heaps of confusion and could often mean the difference between a sale and not. An intuitive PIM system can eliminate human error and a platform with features designed specifically for retailers can make all the difference.

Make Your Consumers Smile

Of course, traditional mail is not dead in this digital age. B2B top-players still mail out catalogues to a plethora of happy consumers all too eager to order. But as the generations shift in our worlds headquarters a PIM can help your marketing department create a catalogue that is up to scratch with what more and more people are going to be expecting. You’re now competing with e-commerce, m-commerce, and who-knows-what-commerce’s still to come, but design your catalogue the right way and you may just beat them all.

Creating a multichannel database for your offerings is challenging for every distributor, wholesaler or manufacturer. PIM is becoming more valuable than ever. It gives you the opportunity to save on an enormous amount of effort organizing endless data sets and it makes the right impression with consumers and retailers – all from one simple location. Above all it saves you time, so you can spend more of it doing what you do best.

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The growing relationship between Agencies and PIM

Enterprise-level clients have long endeavoured to work with creative agencies that can provide 360-degree eCommerce solutions. Managing their eCommerce needs under one roof allows marketers to minimize communications between multiple service providers, can reduce the chance of errors—or instructions being missed altogether—and reduces both costs and stress for the customer.

In recent years, that’s meant that agencies have worked to provide everything from strategic direction and branding, to digital support for organizations, particularly those rolling out global campaigns.

In the case of major retailers, for example, they not only want an agency that can come up with an impressive brand identity and potentially even an advertising campaign for their suite of products or services, they want full deployment across relevant platforms—and all under one agency roof. That means they want help integrating their eCommerce and enterprise resource planning platforms, ensuring a smooth online customer experience and setting the conditions to help drive the success of their brand through increased sales.

The trouble is that while a handful of larger marketing agencies are positioned to manage some of those requests, historically, they’ve struggled to satisfy clients’ expectations on the eCommerce front.

To overcome those obstacles, larger agencies have gone as far as to build in-house digital teams to develop their own eCommerce platforms. The results are often middling.

The industry transition

Others have turned to legacy ERP systems by industry giants such as Oracle to help their clients manage core business processes from eCommerce to human resources and accounting. Indeed, ERP solutions are critical to helping retailers implement and maintain effective omnichannel strategies. But as comprehensive as these systems may be, they still require significant monthly IT expenditures to install, operate and manage regular upgrades, among other operational considerations.

Others have chosen to integrate third-party software-as-a-service solutions by the likes of BigCommerce or Shopify with their customized websites—particularly with the advent of Shopify Plus and BigCommerce Enterprise to serve the needs of more sophisticated online retail operations. In many cases, agencies have partnered with third-party firms to manage these integrations instead of building and maintaining their own digital teams. Because software-as-a-service eCommerce platforms have become ubiquitous, inexpensive and relatively easy to integrate, many agencies have been able to satisfy client expectations while being able to cut the size of their in-house digital development staff.

Problem solved for agencies and their retail eCommerce clients, right? Not so fast.

As with ERP software firms that help medium- to enterprise-level retailers maintain their competitive edge with flexible solutions, agencies face limitations when it comes to product information management (PIM) software. Specifically, they mostly lack the software needed to manage dozens or even thousands of SKUs across multiple platforms. And that’s exactly what PIMs are designed to do.

By definition, PIMs are supplementary middleware that allows retailers to combine information from an ERP platform to create a comprehensive master system capable of handling all product merchandising. PIMs also help manufacturers and distributors manage products across channels, particularly when dealing in multiple foreign currencies or languages.

PIM systems are the missing piece of the eCommerce puzzle that boutique, mid-sized and even multinational marketing agencies typically lack—and they’re crucial for any of their retail clients who may be trying to expand into multiple marketplaces, particularly if they endeavour to sell internationally.

Agencies and PIM enhancing each other

That’s not to downplay the incredible eCommerce value that agencies deliver. Without their creative experience and expertise, strategy, brand identity development, marketing collateral, photography, illustrations, essential digital assets and other critical creative elements would be non-existent. Platforms are empty digital shells without their cutting-edge design and content.

But PIM systems allow agencies and their clients to bring that amazing content to life. They empower a retailer to centrally manage attribute data and publish to various channels and marketplaces, then aggregate all order information back to the PIM. Content can be published in multiple languages and currencies with ease from a single, simplified platform. Retailers can create multiple sub-brands across channels while managing product pricing and changes in product information accurately without the need to painstakingly edit information on multiple platforms. Information management goes from nightmarish to organized and uncomplicated with a simple integration—which in the case of a Jasper PIM, can typically be accomplished in slightly more than a month.
PIMs are also an essential tool when dealing with multiple accounting platforms and when attempting to satisfy legislative compliance requirements across jurisdictions.

Get more done, together

Perhaps most importantly for agencies, PIMs allow account managers to do drastically more with less. Imagine being able to pitch a worldwide campaign and product rollout, managed effectively, efficiently and affordably by just one or two people. That wonderful creative content can now be showcased globally, all while helping the client drive previously unimaginable sales growth across categories—and minimizing their costs along the way.

To be sure, it sounds too good to be true, but advancements in PIM technology have moved mindbogglingly fast in recent years, creating lucrative opportunities for forward-thinking agencies. The ones who leverage PIM platforms will find themselves with a significant competitive advantage over their agency rivals.

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PIM: Stand Out in the B2B Market

PIM stands for Product Information Management, and it is essential for anyone working in the B2B world. Almost every seller relies on a catalog of data to organize their often sizable assortment of products, whether it’s a distributor, wholesaler or manufacturer, and more often than not, those catalogs still exist in the form of multiple spreadsheets scattered throughout the organization.  Unfortunately this creates a lot of room for error, as well as task redundancy and an abundance of manual processes.  Here’s a quick look into how your organization can capitalize on well organized and accurate product information, and effectively utilize this data.

PIM solutions offer professionals the opportunity to pull their data from a variety of sources, including ERP, POS, spreadsheets and multiple catalogs, condense it into one central location and then automate the publication of that data out to multiple sales and marketing channels. The ability to sort and create product groups, categories, and hierarchies based on product attributes and rule sets allows you to search and batch edit information as you see fit for any of your multiple sales and marketing channels with 100% accuracy.  Think of creating promotions, new sales categories, price changes or inventory threshold rules for thousands of products at once with a single click.  Think of publishing tens of thousands of SKUs to a website or a 3rd part market in mere minutes.   It’s this type of agility that allows for faster speed to market, greater accuracy across channels, the ability to scale your business without adding costs and ultimately, happier customers.

Improve Your Customer Relationships

Nothing is more important in the B2B world that having solid relationships with your customers. And coming in at a close second place is good quality product data.  Not only do customers want to be able to quickly find their requirements, but industry professionals often see a product catalog as an indication of how easy a company is to work with. Rich product data, multi-media assets, cut sheets, user manuals, instructional videos, multi-language descriptions, all at their fingertips.  It’s not just wanted by today’s buyers, it’s expected.  A lot of the success of a wholesaler comes down to the simplicity of product research and having a partner that facilitates an easy buying experience, and having an accurate product catalog not only strengthens brand image, but also builds relationships and gives both you and your trading partners the ability exceed customers’ expectations.

Make the Right Impression

One small mistake in your catalog can create a world of trouble.   A wrong SKU number, incorrect pricing, poor images or incorrect product specifications can create headaches and added costs for your retail partners, not to mention fines for you, the distributor. The PIM provides a single source of product truth for guaranteed accuracy, and also has the ability to set rules and validations based on the completion stage of each product and its readiness to be published to each channel.   The auto-publication capabilities of the PIM also dramatically reduce the amount manual input needed to populate each of your sales channels every day.

The result?  No fines, better sell-through, better profit margins through internal efficiency gains and the ability increase your customer base without creating internal chaos.