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Introducing product information management to your company

INSIGHT ARTICLE

Product information management (PIM) systems can provide significant benefits to organizations, with enhanced information delivery capabilities across all sales channels. Typically, the decision to get a PIM system makes sense in one of two situations: when having an assortment of a large number of complex products, or a situation where you struggle with consistency across multiple sales channels.

Complex products

I consider a company to have complex product structures in either of the following situations:

  • If you have a separate specifications, details or features tab on your product landing pages, you’re probably maintaining a large amount of data on products that is above and beyond SKU-level information. This is very typical in electronics, parts and fashion, where consumers need additional info to make an informed decision.
  • If you are at the mercy of your suppliers new product introductions. In these instances, you are often required to quickly adopt new products and specification data that is flowing downhill to you. You may be contractually obligated to keep up to date on current offerings, and even if you aren’t, when you fall behind on other brands’ products, you will likely lose sales to competitors who are offering the latest and greatest.

In these complex products instances, typically the most important thing for a PIM system to have is flexibility. Having a data structure which is not reliant on IT to add additional fields as specifications evolve, or are added, is crucial. Additionally, having the capability to quickly upload, update or remove attributes en masse without IT’s involvement is going to remove potential bottlenecks, and improve time to market.

Multiple channels

The other instance where implementing a PIM system probably makes a lot of sense is when you are operating across multiple sales channels, geographies and lines of business. In this case, you have many different customer touch points and places where your core product and marketing message has an opportunity to be thrown off kilter. Websites, mobile apps, catalogs, specification sheets and sales presentations all have their own way of pulling and presenting data, and copy to customers. Unless these are all being fed from the same source, inconsistency is almost guaranteed. Multiple geographies exponentially increase the problem once language and currency localization enter into the mix.

If this channel problem is your core issue, the most important PIM attribute may very well be the ability to integrate and push information to a variety of mediums. You should do an analysis of the various places where product information is customer-facing, and determine what integration capabilities you need. Do you create catalogs in Adobe InDesign? Does your website need a dynamic API to pull the most up to date attribute data? Do you have spec sheets which are constantly in need of updating? Do your sales associates and reps create custom presentations in Microsoft Office products? If a PIM system can populate all of this data for you, there is a benefit in terms of consistency and efficiency, across your entire company.

So consider this advice: take a real look at your products and processes and figure out where these functions may help. Unless you’re selling the ubiquitous widget, a PIM system can surely help your company.

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