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This blog is published byAdil Rauf Khan
Enterprises across sectors deploy product information management (PIM) solutions for managing their product information across different systems. By centralizing vital product information, a strong PIM system is able to offer a complete, up-to-date view of the product as well as related information in real time to all stakeholders, including customers and business users.
IS MANAGING PRODUCT INFORMATION AS EASY AS YOU THINK?
Quite often, enterprises find it difficult to decide if they really need a powerful PIM system. A closer look into the current state of product information will help answer this question.
Customer expectations have changed and basic information is not enough anymore. Consistent, device-appropriate and context-appropriate content is the new fundamental requirement due to which business users spend a lot of time on creating accurate product information. Developing the correct product information, securing approvals, and finally getting the information published on a website or released to the customer can take over a month. Incorrect and inconsistent information can result in a delay in time-to-market and also lead to slower business growth. Yes, managing product information can be challenging. Fortunately, an integrated PIM approach can successfully address the issue.
THE GOAL: PRODUCT EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT
PIM systems are moving away from product data management toward product experience management. Let’s consider a typical customer journey. A customer looking to explore a product visits a search engine, website or online store, and then, if interested, visits a specific website to purchase the product. There are after-purchase service options too and links for getting more information. Businesses are expected to provide all of this critical product information and content that business users and customers need across multiple touchpoints in the customer journey, and a robust PIM strategy makes the job easy. A powerful PIM system should be able to provide critical information required at every stage and touchpoint.
How comprehensive should product information be? Basic information is just not enough and every aspect of product information plays a crucial role. Users look for product documents, technical specifications, user manuals, warranty information, safety instructions, and more. Marketing and SEO text is also essential for products to be easily found on search engines. Information on related products and accessories facilitate cross-selling and upselling. B2B transactions involve contract-specific or customer-specific pricing and discounts.
To deliver an enriched product experience, businesses should invest in a PIM system that is capable of managing the various information aspects, pricing- and discount-related complexities, customer- and contract-specific features, and more. An “integrated PIM approach” is the solution.
AN INTEGRATED PIM APPROACH IS THE WAY FORWARD
The Forrester Wave report in 2016 highlights: 1. eBusiness pros are looking for self-service, connectivity, and automation, and 2. Integration and syndication, usability, and vendor portal tools are key differentiators for integrated PIM systems. This means that eBusiness professionals want to find information by themselves, preferably on vendor portals where they can access information without the need to contact anyone. They want to stay connected at all times, but simply being connected is not enough anymore. They want devices to communicate with each other so that there is automated integration and consolidation of systems and product information, and this usable information is syndicated to different channels and users.
For businesses looking at enriching their product experience management and adopting an integrated PIM approach, here are key features you should watch out for while shortlisting a PIM system.
TOP AREAS TO ANALYZE BEFORE IMPLEMENTING A PIM SYSTEM
Source of product information: Know where your product information resides and all formats it exists in. One part of the information may lie in your ERP system, another part in your CRM system, while some other part may be residing in outdated legacy ERP systems or Excel files. Understand the source of your information and how you are going to consolidate it.
Data integration: Find out how the information will integrate into your PIM system. As an example, Pimcore- a 100% open-source digital experience management platform, facilitates web-services-based integration, data-to-data integration, as well as CSV-file-based integration. Understanding the capability of your PIM system will help you comprehend how it is going to support and enable the integration of your existing systems. Also examine how frequently you need to integrate data from existing systems into the PIM system.
Product information structure and types: Understand the kind of product information—product data attributes, product categories, digital media, etc.—you will need at each stage and sales channel (such as website and physical stores), and how that information will be structured.
Business processes: Review your critical business processes and examine how information will be published. Make a note of who creates and updates product information and digital media, the process flow, etc. Analyze if activities should take place in a fixed sequence or if they can happen in parallel? This knowledge will help set business rules for process automation.
Channels and touchpoints: Evaluate the various touchpoints and digital channels where your information will be published once the PIM system is ready. These channels and touchpoints will need information in pre-defined formats.
Return of information: Your PIM system should facilitate two-way communication—where your product information is delivered to end customers via different channels, and customer feedback and reviews get delivered to you from these different channels. Similarly, as products get sold, the PIM system is updated with the inventory status. Evaluate what information should get back to your system from the various digital touchpoints.
Access and security needs: Determine who should be able to see your data and to what extent. Think of reports and dashboards that could empower business users working for your business, helping them perform tasks more effectively than without a PIM system and an integrated PIM approach.
The fast-paced digital world calls for a transformation in the way product information is managed and delivered. To gain the winning edge, enterprises should adopt an integrated approach to PIM. They should pay attention to inbound and outbound data integration. It would be wise to invest in a PIM system that is flexible, customizable, and scalable too so that missing features can be easily developed based on business needs.
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is Associate Director, Digital Business Services at Happiest Minds. He is Delivery Leader with around 16 Years of experience in Software Industry.He has rich experience delivering projects in Digital Business Transformation, Product Information Management, Master Data Management, Digital Asset Management and Cloud Architecture. He has successfully managed projects including PIM, MDM and Digital Asset Management Solutions for Enterprises.
Adil Rauf Khan is Associate Director, Digital Business Services at Happiest Minds. He is Delivery Leader with around 16 Years of experience in Software Industry.He has rich experience delivering projects in Digital Business Transformation, Product Information Management, Master Data Management, Digital Asset Management and Cloud Architecture. He has successfully managed projects including PIM, MDM and Digital Asset Management Solutions for Enterprises.
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