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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.

How Can Product Information Management Enhance User Experience?

Product Information Management (PIM) can be used to populate and standardized product inventory data across any supply chain. Old systems restricted to one link in this chain are increasingly losing their value as PIM systems become a vital tool across more and more industries. Concise, accurate and detailed product information can be available producers, suppliers, retailers and consumers across the board with an extensive management system in place. And updated product information will then adjust accordingly across every stage of the stocking and sales process.

Retailers in particular stand to benefit from standardized descriptions. E-commerce merchants need to be able to accurately represent items to potential customers. The ability to correctly and reliably identify products might seem obvious but is an important component of user experience that cannot be overlooked. A seamless process in this regard can lead directly to sales and result in customer satisfaction and faith in your service.

Accuracy and Ease of Use

When product descriptions are inaccurate or inconsistent across supply chains, the parties that suffer the most are retailers and consumers. Merchants lacking the information necessary to accurately represent products in their inventory risk disappointing customers. Users on eCommerce sites search for and purchase products with the expectation that they will receive the same edition or version of an item that is described and pictured by the retailer.

Over time, users may become less likely to make purchases from retailers that gain a reputation for posting inaccurate descriptions of the products they have in stock. Sales are most likely when users can easily identify the product they are purchasing and trust that the item described is the one they will receive. In these instances, user confidence leads directly to sales. A PIM system means that all information input will be consistent across all areas your organization.

Guaranteeing Product Data

A relationship between producers, suppliers, and retailers should be based on solid PIM solutions. Merchants can then ensure that the product information that they provide to customers is trustworthy. When a retailer can rely on accurate inventory data, the quality of UX on their eCommerce site will increase dramatically. Correct inventory data should amount in fewer complaints about inaccurate representations of products, return requests, and other public expressions of dissatisfaction which in the age of social media can make or indeed break your operation.

Information Leads To Satisfaction

PIM systems can account for an extensive amount and variety of inventory data, including basic descriptions of items and ranges of options including colours or sizes. More complex systems can also provide universal updates of customer feedback including reviews. Trusted sites are more likely to have customers generate positive descriptions of the products sold and the usefulness of retailers in providing the items described.

The more data – particularly independent user-generated responses – that can be linked with inventory items and shown to other users, the more likely customers will be to use a given retailer as a one-stop shop for learning about and finally purchasing a product. These are all types of desirable transactions that can be achieved by eCommerce merchants when accurate inventory data is made a top UX priority.

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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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ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning for Retail with PIM

In the business world it’s almost become a cliché — the large organization struggling to upgrade from a legacy software system gets bogged down in the process and sees its productivity and bottom-line performance struggle as a result. Some never manage to get through the process, instead retaining those legacy systems longer, compromising their organization’s operational capacity and competitive standing, while opening the door to increased risk in areas such as security.

This challenge is felt even more acutely by organizations attempting to upgrade their enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

ERP systems help organizations manage core business processes from marketing and inventory control, to human resources and accounting. They are often huge, lumbering programs that provide businesses across sectors with real-time data and predictive analytics that help them formulate important operational decisions. Because ERP platforms are so integral to the operation of successful corporations—due in large part to the fact that they can effectively integrate and share information across various applications—downtime is not an option.

Nowhere is this more important than in the retail sector. To be truly competitive, medium to enterprise-level retailers need robust ERP systems to keep a step ahead of rivals. Without a flexible ERP solution, retailers often struggle to implement and maintain effective omnichannel strategies. With industry-wide consolidation the trend as the market share-gobbling growth of powerhouse retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. continues almost unchecked, a lax approach to technology upgrades can pose a significant threat to organizational success.

Retailers & Legacy Systems

Because legacy systems aren’t always sufficient in helping retailers manage sales across channels—after all, many of these systems were built before the explosion of digital retail—software makers such as Bristol, UK-based Brightpearl gained traction by developing software-as-a-service ERP systems tailored to the retail industry. The aim was to simplify implementation, maintenance and improve performance for retailers who struggled to manage their rapidly evolving multi-channel operations with legacy systems produced by industry giants such as Oracle Corporation.

So, does that mean that retailers should scrap their legacy ERP systems? Absolutely not. On the contrary, those systems are still critical to the smooth functioning of any organization. ERP makers continue to innovate and update their software to deliver value to clients across industries. But they can’t do it all. Brightpearl, for example, excels in helping retailers in areas ranging from resource planning and accounting, to fulfillment and reporting. Where virtually all ERP software falls short is in product data enrichment—or the structuring, categorization, publication and aggregation of product and order information across multiple retail platforms.

PIM – Product Information Management

Enter product information management (PIM) software. PIMs are supplementary middleware that allow retailers to combine information from an ERP platform to create a comprehensive master system capable of handling all product merchandising. Integrating a PIM with an ERP platform is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways for eCommerce retailers—not to mention manufacturers and distributors—to manage product across channels, while also handling core business operations in a single platform and offsetting any legacy ERP shortcomings.

When global adhesive manufacturer Avery Dennison Corporation, reached out to our team for help, they faced a common systems-integration problem.

Avery Dennison’s printers, fasteners and solutions division had been utilizing a legacy ERP system by Oracle that was still delivering impressive results. But when they needed to develop a new BigCommerce Enterprise storefront, integrating the two systems posed a major challenge. The company needed a system that could scale and grow over time, providing it with the flexibility needed to expand global eCommerce sales.

We provided the necessary consultation and insight to understand the challenge and coordinate an action plan, then worked with a partner to design and develop the new digital storefront, integrating a custom payment gateway into the BigCommerce platform. The result: our customer now has a nimble B2B website with easy-to-use payment and has the added advantage of being able to manage product information and tie in relevant data to its ERP system.

This was also a more cost-effective approach than attempting to swap out their legacy ERP software, which would have been prohibitively expensive and time consuming.

We can’t underestimate the importance of that last point.

Choose PIM for your Retail eCommerce system

With the advent of online marketplaces and electronic data interchange (EDI) feeds between smaller retailers and their enterprise trading partners such as a Wal-Mart and Home Depot, it’s often far too costly for an ERP firm to develop one-off PIM solutions for a single client — not to mention the fact that ERP software firms may lack the technology needed to match the offerings of PIM-specific providers. Factor in the critically expensive implementation costs, and it’s clear why third-party PIM software makers are often the choice for everyone from budget-conscious enterprise-level retailers to their growth-hungry, medium-sized competitors.

Once integrated, a robust PIM system brings more value to ERP systems because the retailer can publish to channels and marketplaces, but aggregate all order information back to the PIM and flow data to ERP or accounting systems. That alleviates the need to export data to an eCommerce financial or accounting system. This dramatically improves order fulfillment time and simplicity, particularly when managing orders across multiple warehouses.

Even the largest ERP firms are leveraging third-party PIM systems because they need to provide the most robust solutions possible to their customers and would rather outsource that responsibility by working with the very best service providers in the industry, rather than investing the capital to develop a competitive product that may well prove inferior. Developing those partnerships only helps deepen the ERP firm’s relationship with their customers, drives client retention and expands the scope of their product offerings.

Retailers should remember that competing in the age of digital retail doesn’t mean jettisoning legacy ERP systems. The more effective strategy is to find a complementary system that helps them achieve game-changing results for less. It’s an approach that not only makes sense, but could provide the competitive advantage that organizations such as yours need to be successful as digital retail continues to dominate the market in the years ahead.

It’s an exciting time to run an eCommerce business

With the help of platforms such as Shopify, or Bigcommerce, it’s never been easier to sell products or services online. Whether your customers are around the corner or across the world, rapidly-evolving digital technology empowers organizations of all sizes to reach new market segments on a limited budget and with minimal staff.

But if expansion is the goal of any growth-oriented organization, managing what comes next can pose a potentially crippling administrative burden.

Consider this scenario: your organization has a robust regional e-commerce presence, and has been selling its products across a defined local market for a few years. Revenue growth is on an upward trajectory, your product line is expanding and organic inquiries are even beginning to pour in from overseas prospects.

Business is good, in other words—maybe too good.

At the same time, questions being to swirl around managing key logistical challenges. Determining how to handle basic administrative functions such as controlling product information across multiple channels has become nightmarish. Distribution is always a question mark, particularly in markets where you have no previous footprint, but growth is only fuelling uncertainty on that front. Beyond considering how to manage warehousing—an issue for virtually every retailer—managing product information across various facilities to ensure seamless order fulfillment is turning into an arduous task.

And this is only the beginning. Expect these stressful business demands to only continue mounting every time you need to update product information or add a new SKU to your rapidly-expanding product line.

If these challenges sound familiar, you’re not alone—in fact, you’re in rarified company.

Managing sustainable growth

The ‘growth wall’ is a signifier of success for small and medium-sized retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors whose swift sales growth begins to overwhelm their existing online e-commerce infrastructure. In many cases, CEOs will seek out opportunities to expand into new domestic or overseas markets as the next logical step in their e-commerce journey after exhausting opportunities across their local market and looking abroad to realize continued growth.

But failing to manage e-commerce growth introduces a host of new operational risks that can quickly threaten an organization’s bottom-line performance. It’s a problem that can be largely mitigated by embracing a more proactive approach to e-commerce management.

That process starts by integrating robust product information management (PIM) software with your existing e-commerce platform, all with the goal of transforming your business into a thriving online enterprise.

E-commerce retailers, manufacturers and distributors can leverage PIM platforms to centrally manage attribute data across both offline and online channels, eliminating the need to painstakingly edit information on multiple platforms. This tends to happen when organizations endeavour to broaden sales into other countries or regions and need to do business in multiple languages and currencies—or after creating multiple sub-brands across channels under a single parent brand. At this point, warehousing and distribution needs can also escalate, thereby increasing pressure on an organization to keep pace with accelerating information-management requirements.

Marketplaces and beyond

In addition, a company might sell across multiple online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon.com. For consumer-facing organizations it becomes increasingly important for information ranging from product pricing to attributes to be complete, consistent and accurate—more so when dealing with multiple accounting platforms and legislative compliance requirements across jurisdictions.

In another scenario, a business-to-business-focused organization such as a manufacturer or distributor might receive product orders from retailers who want to buy their products. PIM systems enable them to either sell via B2B channels, or provide retailers with a product information feed to add to their platforms, allowing the manufacturer/distributor to establish a new sales channel quickly and at minimal effort.

As these examples illustrate, embracing PIM is crucial to future-proofing your business, setting the stage for scalability and opening the door to the integration of digital innovations sure to render existing e-commerce systems obsolete in the years ahead—changes that could potentially compromise your company’s present-day competitive advantage.

The benefits are real

A survey of retailers and manufacturers by Redwood City, CA.-based software development firm Informatica underscores the importance of embracing PIM technology. Researchers found that manufacturers utilizing PIM systems distributed their products in at least 45 countries compared to 17 countries for those who hadn’t embraced the technology.

Retailers showed even more dramatic results using PIM. Fully 69 per cent of those that used PIM software reported increases in customer acquisition versus the 48 per cent of respondents who eschewed the technology. The survey found that 57 per cent of PIM users noted increases in revenue per customer compared to 35 per cent of respondents that went to market without PIM systems.

It’s fair to say that the benefits of PIM technology are nearly limitless.

PIM systems not only deliver dramatic decreases in data management and labour costs, they also improve data accuracy—an important value proposition for fast-growing businesses making constant additions to their product or service assortment. This allows for faster market deployment and improved customer response times that non-PIM-enabled organizations simply can’t match.

Turn on a dime

Because there are so many different e-commerce platforms on the market—each with different features and benefits—organizations are increasingly hopping from one platform to another to address their unique needs. This inevitably means companies are incurring heavy development costs, while potentially increasing e-commerce downtime. With PIM, it’s possible to change from a platform such as Shopify, Magento or Big Commerce, and then get back online relatively quickly.

Perhaps most importantly, PIM systems improve the customer experience. That means better conversion rates, fewer product returns, less aggravation and stronger customer satisfaction results. A back-end PIM investment can help build an army of brand ambassadors eager to direct members of their community to your online store or product.

But any cutting-edge technology comes with at least a few drawbacks. The major challenge with PIM technology, at least at this point, is that it still requires an (often significant) investment of time and capital to implement. That’s why it’s critical to find an affordable software-as-a-service PIM with onboarding support, that enables prototyping and is delivered by an experienced software firm that can connect your PIM to external systems. It’s also important to ensure that your team sets a reasonable deployment deadline—about three months—after choosing a platform that best suits your organization’s needs. Frankly, there’s nothing worse than watching a group of managers become bogged down by endless platform demos or the tedious minutiae of software spec analysis.

Now, you may still be wondering whether you really need to invest the time and capital to implement PIM technology. The answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ because success in the years ahead will come from multiple opportunities to sell a wider range of products in different languages, currencies, countries and across targeted audience segments. The most effective way to maintain your organization’s expansion across SKUs is to accurately syndicate product information and maintain a strong customer experience with the help of a PIM platform.

Consider it more than a luxury—introducing this critical digital infrastructure could spell the difference between your future e-commerce growth or failure.

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Palm trees and PIM – Join us in Los Angeles at Shop.org

Join Jasper on September 26th and 27th in Los Angeles at Shop.org, one of the largest eCommerce trade shows in the industry!

Meet us at booth #749 to discover how our Product Information Management (PIM) solution can help your growing business handle product data more intelligently. Save staff time. Sell more!

Manually wrangling product information in spreadsheets across fragmented platforms is error prone and time consuming; it simply does not scale. Our PIM solution centralizes product data and connects it holistically with your accounting platform, your point-of-sale system, your ERP, your CRM, your shopping cart, and any other marketplace or back office application, providing your business with a professional eCommerce infrastructure for growth.

The Jasper PIM saves incredible amounts of staff time by maintaining accurate end-to-end product information for all of your brands and marketplaces, reducing data errors and redundancy, providing powerful merchandising capability, and seamlessly synchronizing product inventory and pricing data consistently across all sales channels.

Empower greater sales into new markets through integrated support for multiple languages and currencies, and through support for multiple warehouse integration and drop-ship functionality!

Come and talk to us about your product management pain-points and see how our PIM can FUTURE-PROOF your eCommerce strategy.

We look forward to seeing you at the show!

product information management shop.org

 

Improve multi-channel, multi-storefront results with PIM

Five Critical Ways PIM Software Will Improve Your Bottom Line

In today’s global marketplace, most businesses operate in a multi-channel environment. Whether you are a distributor, manufacturer or retailer with a multi-storefront operation, you’re faced with the challenge of being able to keep an accurate product catalog that can be maintained easily, accurately and consistently across all channels. The implementation of a PIM, or Product Information Management system, can deliver all of this and impact your bottom line in five critical ways.

Save Time

When your product data is stored in multiple places, every update or addition must also be applied in every location. This can be a tedious and time-consuming process that costs money and manpower. When there is marketing, logistics or other data that has to be included, you have to determine what pieces are relevant to which area and enter it accordingly. Then there is the matter of a product reaching end-of-life and needing to be removed. A PIM saves you that time because it allows you to manage all of this information in one place.

Improve Accuracy

By entering data multiple times in multiple places, the risk of error and inconsistent input increases a great deal. When you consider the sheer number of SKU’s many companies have in their inventory today, the likelihood of an error in these circumstances can be mind-boggling. When you integrate a system like this in your company, it works with the systems and interfaces your end users use to access the data. This means the information gets entered one time, and what your end users see is consistent and most importantly, accurate.

Enhance Speed to Market

One of the most critical benefits of this type of system is that it provides a faster speed to market time for new products. Being able to manage all data related to a new product in one place allows you to enter, track and change information quickly and easily. Companies who operate internationally stand to gain even more because it can also translate international currencies, so getting a product out in a multi-storefront and eCommerce environment is much, much faster. Whether it’s marketing information, test data, inventory or pricing, you’re able to get the data where it needs to be, fast.

Maintain Brand Messaging

Your company’s brand image is a critical part of being top of mind when your customers need to buy. Entering product information in one place allows you to be sure you’re applying the right brand messaging to your products. It also ensures that the messaging is consistent in a multi-channel environment. Whether your customer is looking on a website, browsing in a store or ordering from a catalog, you know they’re getting the same information and the same experience your brand strives to provide.

Increase Your Bottom Line

The impact a PIM system can make for your company offers incredible potential for ROI that simply can’t be ignored. Not only does it save time and money, it allows you to get your products to market faster while staying consistent in your brand messaging. The biggest potential of all, however, is how this remarkable software positions your company for future growth in the fast-moving world of multi-channel operations and eCommerce.

 

Using a PIM to drive innovation

Creating an agile technology backbone

I came across a Linkedin post the other day with the title:  RETAIL IS DEAD!  It then went on to show this simple graphic:

brick and mortar

This type of black and white messaging, typically used in a context designed to make a product or service look favourable, drives me a bit mad.  Retail is far from dead and consumers are spending more than ever before, it’s just that now they have more options for how and where to buy the goods they need than at any other point in retail history. Brick and mortar, Desktop, mobile, 3rd party marketplaces, subscriptions, and the list goes on.   Are some of these retail channels suffering?  You bet. Are some of them evolving? Absolutely.  Are some of them seeing record growth?  Of course.  The challenge then becomes which one, or ones, are right for your business?

Every brand, wholesaler and retailer should be asking themselves “What channels are right for my products and how do I best reach my target audience?”.  It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario, that’s for sure, and often it’s not a single straight path.  No more “if you build it they will come” approaches, as it’s typically a multi-faceted, convoluted, multi-channel, zig zag path that leads to a consumer purchase in today’s retail landscape.   With new sales-channels constantly evolving, and a larger amount of technological disparity between both generations of consumers and the organizations they buy from than ever before, the key is not to have a locked-in plan and stick with it until the bitter end, but rather to be agile and build your foundation around flexibility and agility.  Because your answer today, will surely not be the same as your answer in 5 years.  Things are changing too fast.  Allow your organization to change directions quickly, try new avenues with as little risk as possible, quickly measure your successes, learn quickly from your failures, and then move on and re-route accordingly.

While people go to great lengths to foster an innovative team environment, and rightfully your technology backbone plays an equally important role.  The technology used by your team tends to either create bottleneck within your organization, which can put a hard stop on innovation (i.e., “We can’t receive orders this way”, “We have no insights to gauge success on”, “it’s too time consuming to publish products to multiple channels”, “we aren’t streamlined enough to handle that amount of information”, “we can’t make changes that quickly”, or on the other end, actually drives innovation and your ability to take calculated risks and build a truly innovative company.

So, what does your current technology suite say about your organization?

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Inventory, PIM, Overstock

Inventory Updates With Product Information Management

The rate of product invention and production has accelerated rapidly, resulting in shorter product life cycles than at any point in the history of manufacturing and sales. Every link in the supply chain depends upon centralized, constantly updated, and standardized inventory data. Product information management (PIM) systems are the best tools available to ensure that product producers, suppliers, and retailers share the same necessary data and details and that this relevant information is passed on to consumers. Accurate information is necessary for correct ordering, successful sales, and customer satisfaction.

Innovation and Information

The continuous introduction of new products to an ever-expanding marketplace in addition to updated models or versions of existing products makes PIM systems a necessity. The provision of accurate information from producers to suppliers and retailers is of utmost importance. At the final stage in the supply chain, merchants need to be able to ensure that their inventory includes suitable quantities, varieties, and versions of products in order to satisfy customer demand. Standardized product information is imperative to prevent incorrect or insufficient labeling that results in returned orders, customer complaints, or overstock that is difficult to move.

Accurate Product Data

The accuracy of item descriptions is especially important when merchants stock multiple releases or versions of certain products. There may be significant variations in specifications or pricing between items that appear relatively similar. Two products of the same brand may be distinguished only by refinement between production cycles or generations. PIM systems can account for these minor distinctions all the way down the supply chain. Merchants can be sure that they are stocking and offering the correct version of a product for the proper price and avoid confusing or dissatisfying customers.

When it comes to differentiating between newer and older versions of products and accounting for the fact that the latter may become overstock, having appropriate inventory data can allow retailers to accurately depict and price different versions. Some customers may be interested in purchasing discontinued products, possibly at a discounted price, which still result in sales. It is all the more important that newer products or versions can be easily distinguished from older stock through accurate and updated product data.

Successful Product Launches

Whether a vendor is stocking an entirely new product or a new version of an existing product, PIM solutions can play a pivotal part in a successful product launch. Standardizing product descriptions, pricing, and other details off the manufacturing line can allow for efficient distribution and sale. Accurate product information increases retailers’ ability to effectively promote new stock to potential customers and facilitate conversions or purchases.

Updated information plays a crucial role in today’s sales ecosystem, which still spans the digital divide. The synchronized updates made possible by PIM systems allow for standardization across every stage of the supply process. It is important that dead-end branches off of these centralized and consistent systems are prevented whenever possible, as these can result in sinks for inventory and profits. The benefits of accurate and consistent product information accrue to all companies involved, and ultimately to consumers.

Why Going Global is Easier Than You Think

Your company has grown and you’ve established a strong brand image domestically. Your supply chain is intact and you have the capacity to increase your volumes.  It might be the perfect time to consider creating an international presence.  But there are a variety of factors and many processes involved which may make it overwhelming to consider.  That isn’t the case when you consider implementing a product information management system, or PIM, to manage your multiple storefronts from one central location. A PIM is the perfect tool to ensure your success in a global expansion-and will make your domestic operations more efficient at the same time.

Testing the Markets

The streamlined approach you gain through this technology will allow you to get your product open to a test market anywhere in the world quickly. Whether you introduce your wares through ecommerce or retail avenues, it will allow you to start quickly and then track test data for your marketing team. You can learn quickly which markets will provide the growth you’re looking for and form a sound strategy for continued expansion.

Selling in Multi-Currency

When considering selling in other countries, you have to create processes that allow you to sell in each country’s currency. This is a function that this type of software provides, as it will convert foreign currencies for you. From an accounting perspective, this saves a lot of time and clerical work. From a sales and marketing perspective, it gives you a quick apples-to-apples comparison of results around the world.

Speeding Up Time to Market

Faster time-to-market is critical to staying innovative and keeping your customers interested in your products. Domestically, this is one of the key reasons companies invest in this type of software. That benefit is only magnified for international operations. Even a multi-storefront, multi-channel operation across several countries can get new products introduced everywhere at once and reduce the time it takes to do so.

Preserving Brand Image/Consistent Brand Messaging

Your brand image is special and what makes a company recognizable. When considering a global expansion, you don’t have to sacrifice the integrity of that. There are two ways PIM software protects your brand messaging. First, by allowing you to manage all product information from one place, you can easily ensure that your brand messaging stays consistent. Second, it has multi-lingual capabilities that let you share that message anywhere in the world.

Immediate Results

As you imagine implementing a PIM system in your company, you can see the advantages it will give you as you work to expand globally. While it will certainly allow you to accomplish this more quickly than you might have thought, there is another key factor to consider: the immediate results you will gain in your domestic operations. Streamlined, quicker product entry, accuracy, consistent brand messaging and faster time-to-market speeds will improve your bottom line immediately. The return on investment you will gain can even lead to more cash flow for that global expansion you’re planning for.

Invest in the Future

As you can see, whether you’re considering an international eCommerce sales expansion or increasing your presence across the world with a multi-channel or multi-storefront strategy, PIM software is critical to your success. There is no time like the present to take that first step!