Intelligent information management has become the lifeline of businesses with growing digital dexterity. It is mainly because a customer, today, can interact with a brand in multiple ways, such as e-commerce websites, social media platforms, mobile apps, and marketplaces like Amazon. And for businesses to make a successful sale, they must ensure consistent product information across every customer touchpoint.
In fact, an accurate and trusted product information repository is prerequisite for brands that operate at scale with thousands of products and millions of SKUs in their catalog. PIM can leverage the power of automation to streamline product information across various channels effectively and efficiently. According to a forecast by Markets and Markets, the global market size of PIM is expected to grow from $12.2 billion to $23.8 billion by 2027.
Organizations relying on outdated product information management approaches that require significant manual effort and offer only a limited scope of value are facing diminishing ROI and may soon be redundant. So why should businesses migrate to modern PIM, and what are the impacts of using outdated ones? Let’s take a look.
Data inconsistency due to data silos
Data stored in isolation and inaccessible by the rest of the organization is a significant cause for information inconsistency. Product data silos refer to situations where different teams or departments within an organization maintain separate sets of data about a particular product, rather than having a single, unified source of truth. This can lead to inconsistencies in the data, as different teams may have different versions of the product data, or may have entered data in different formats.
To address the problem of product data silos, organizations can implement a centralized system for managing product data, and establish clear processes and guidelines for how data should be collected, stored, and used. These actions will lead to information accuracy across teams and better collaboration to create a wholesome customer experience.
Lack of ownership and collaboration
One of the significant drawbacks of managing product information manually is that employees need help in finding a common goal to work towards. This lack of direction diminishes ownership and accountability among employees, ultimately leading to failure to acquire customers and causing a financial loss for the company. For businesses with omnichannel sales, it is crucial to have employees from various departments to be on the same page with a clear sense of purpose and clarity about the product information.
The antiquated PIM confines employees to a boundary and disconnects them from the rest of the organization. This limitation disrupts the flow of information and creates data inaccuracy. Inaccurate data and the lack of collaboration bring down the quality of insights essential for making crucial business decisions. To tackle this lack of ownership and employee collaboration, companies must hit a tech refresh and invest in a modern PIM that promotes transparency, optimizes workflow, encourages teamwork, and improves margins.
Manual and time-consuming processes
Managing data pertaining to thousands of products and an ever-growing customer base is daunting for any business. To keep pace with the market, companies must find ways to optimize their product data across channels and keep clunky systems from slowing down the process. Managing data with the help of spreadsheets and other outdated systems tends to lead to manual errors and consumes hours of unending labor.
Manually aggregating information from multiple spreadsheets, enterprise resource planning systems (ERP), and product lifecycle management systems (PLM) can clutter the database with inaccuracies. PIM systems allow businesses to centralize and manage product information in a single database, making it easier to ensure the accuracy and consistency of product data across all channels. This can help businesses reduce the time and effort required to maintain product information, as well as reduce the risk of errors and inconsistencies that can lead to customer confusion and frustration.
Integration of external data sources without properly filtering for duplicates
In any organization, it is a standard practice to establish a master data management (MDM) program that holds the core enterprise information, such as details about customers, prospects, citizens, suppliers, hierarchies, and much more. MDM is created by merging external and internal data sources and applications, and the master data is used for making holistic data-driven decisions. With data integration playing a pivotal role in keeping MDM error-free in the traditional product information management ecosystem, there are no proven methods to eliminate data duplication.
In a practical scenario, a customer’s data could be duplicated due to differently spelled names, and human errors in their address and contact numbers, leading to confusion and inaccurate reporting. Manual processes hardly have agility to recognize and resolve such issues. A more powerful tool with state-of-the-art data integration capabilities must tackle such duplication issues. By eliminating data duplication, marketing teams can streamline their ad spending, bringing down the customer acquisition cost (CAC) in the long run.
Fragmented experience across channels
With omnichannel presence as the new norm, businesses interact with customers on many platforms. Companies are looking to capitalize on new avenues available to promote their brand, engage with customers, and scale their businesses. The key to a successful omnichannel presence is maintaining consistency of information across all the channels of customer interaction. Across social media, websites, and brick-and-mortar stores, customers seek a wholesome buying experience where they are guided every step of the way in a personalized manner.
Therefore, organizations must build the capacity to integrate data from various customer touchpoints, get insights about their preferences and offer customized services accordingly. With traditional PIM, providing a wholesome experience across multiple channels is nearly impossible as they need more data integration and the capability to give valuable insights along the customer journey.
First-mover advantage has a significant impact on the success of a business, especially in e-commerce. The faster a company can conceive an idea, develop a product, and make it available in the market, the better its chances of attracting customers and increasing its market share in a particular segment. Several things must fall into place to achieve a shorter time-to-market (TTM), especially on the data front.
Firstly, all the teams involved in the development and marketing should have access to accurate, relevant, and detailed product information to repurpose it and accelerate TTM. Next, the organization must leverage PIM to streamline various developmental and marketing processes and reduce manual intervention significantly. With features like access control on modern PIM, multiple teams can collaborate to improve the quality of the product. Traditional PIM doesn’t offer a broader scope of collaboration; hence, organizations that want to innovate in their domain must also invest in powerful PIM to increase their time-to-market.
The way forward for intelligent product portfolios
An efficient, modern, and powerful PIM can positively impact businesses on many levels. An organization that invests in the latest PIM has numerous benefits waiting to be reaped. Firstly, it centralizes data storage and accessibility to ensure product information is consistent across all channels and touchpoints. Modern PIM is loaded with features like data validation and enrichment to improve the quality and accuracy of the product information and ultimately promotes timely and intelligent decision-making that can drive customer engagement.
PIM also helps automate manual processes like data entry and updates to eliminate errors and improve productivity. These benefits ultimately boil down to having uniform product information across channels that constantly improve customer satisfaction and increase sales. Leverage the power of data with a modern PIM to levitate your business.
(The author is Rietsch, CEO for Pimcore, and the views expressed in this article are his own)