Product information management for many employees in the e-commerce industry is a nightmare. Every day, they have to add a huge amount of data, check if they are correct and eliminate errors. Functional PIM system is a tool that not only improves their work but also has an impact on building a positive customer shopping experience, which increases sales.
What is product information?
Before you read more about why it is worth investing in a PIM system, stop by the product information for a moment.
Product information can be divided into 3 areas:
- Sales data: Selling price, Promotional prices, Stocks, Shipping options, Points of sale, SKU.
- Physical data: Material, Colour, Other product characteristics.
- Marketing data: Photos, Videos, Descriptions.
At first glance, this division does not seem to be tricky. Imagine, that you have to multiply all this information by 30.000 products that you sell in the online store. Remember that each of these products has also a specific number of attributes. Let’s take sports shoes as an example — each pair can have a minimum of 10–20 attributes (color, lining material, outer material, color of laces, type of tying, foot size, the toe of the shoe, type of heel, photos, videos, short description, extended description etc.). In some sectors, the case is even more complicated. For instance, when you sell electronic parts, one product can have up to 50 attributes.
Besides, you must assume that the number of products will increase as your business grows. New channels of reaching customers will appear. You will also have to translate all information into new languages. All this will be necessary for you to fulfil the omnichannel strategy.
Managing such a large amount of data sounds like a backbreaking task, doesn’t it? This will be confirmed by anyone who received product information from several sources (e.g. e-mail, PDF, paper catalog, etc.) and tried to arrange it manually (e.g. by entering it into a file in Excel). It may come as a surprise that somebody is doing it by hand. But, there are studies that show that companies operate in this way. According to Ventana Research’s 2017 report 48% of companies set product records by relying on manual work and 38% on spreadsheets. It turned out that only 28% of the surveyed companies use a dedicated product information management application.
Moreover, according to Ventana Research, using spreadsheets causes errors in 90% of organizations. Even for an efficient team, managing data on such a large scale is a challenge. Such a task requires accuracy and maintaining a high level of productivity. Manual management of product information is inefficient and unprofitable. Based on old habits, companies waste time on activities that should have been automated a long time ago.
Why is product information important?
Product descriptions are the essence of building a shopping experience. 87% of consumers rate product information as “extremely important” or “important” when making a purchasing decision, regardless of where they buy it. Also, 69% of consumers said the reason behind the cart abandonment was incompleteness of information or details on the product page.
The product information is involved at every stage of the customer journey. From the moment he enters the query in the search engine, through the purchase, to the process of building commitment to the brand. Photos, videos, technical information, delivery information or product story are crucial. All affect consumer purchasing decisions. That is why it is impossible to talk about creating an online shopping experience without product information.
Communication with customers in many channels and omnichannel sales need consistency of information. Taking care of the quality of information, its presentation and management are possible thanks to PIM systems. This is important especially when the information is used by many people and entities.
What is PIM? Product Information Management is a system based on a central database. It enables you to create and distribute product content in various channels, e.g. e-commerce systems, mobile applications, websites, catalogs, PDF files, etc.
Who should use PIM?
Using PIM will bring benefits to large e-commerce entities, distributors, manufacturers and companies offering many sales channels. In fact, the larger a product catalog is, the sooner you should consider implementing a PIM system to avoid exposition to errors, repetitions, and inconsistencies in the product information.
Companies are facing some problems with product information. They work in a chaotic environment, where the amount and incompleteness of information is a huge issue. The solution for these problems is a PIM system, which improves and optimizes the work on product information.
Imagine that a large online store where you work sells shoes from dozens of manufacturers. Each of them sends you the information in different ways. You get one in the email, others in PDF or spreadsheet, and some in the paper catalog. You must also remember about information from suppliers. If you want to process this data and send it to the world — you do it manually.
How does it look in practice? You enter information separately into the leaflet, Excel, stationary stores system, etc. To process these data you need a lot of man-hours and (preferably) several pairs of hands to work.
Your hero is coming
The PIM system will definitely make your work easier. In what way? You only need to create a product template with attributes once, and in the future, you will always rely on it.
In this way, most of the activities related to product information management will focus on verifying whether they are complete. You won’t have to reintroduce them, you’ll just have to fill them in. And you know you won’t make a mistake. If you do somehow, the system lets you know with a push notification or field validation.
As Forrester Research specialists underline: e-commerce teams need a PIM
solution to manage multiple sales channels and to create and manage content that is suitable for each channel and market segment. Companies without high-quality PIM system risk that the information they publish will meet only minimum market requirements and will not be sufficiently tailored to customer expectations.
Teams that do use PIM win customers and expand their markets with product content that engages buyers and drives purchase decisions. — Forrester Research
Benefits of the PIM system
Using the PIM system, from one place you can effectively manage the distribution of product information to many channels: e-commerce system, mobile application or printed catalog. Thanks to PIM in each of these channels, product data will be automatically updated based on specific needs.
What will you gain by using the PIM system?
- control over a large amount of product data and the ability to share product information consistently across all sales channels (e-commerce, catalogs, SEO, mobile, marketplace), which will help to eliminate errors,
- customer service improvement — reliable product information reduces the number of customer inquiries. With a central system for managing product information, customer service can respond more quickly to customer requests.
- improving customer experience by providing consistent product information at every stage of the purchasing path and in every sales channel (omnichannel),
- competitive advantage through faster product launch increased cross-sell and up-sell sales potential,
- save time and energy for a team that can perform more cost-effective
activities, e.g. instead of spending one day checking the correctness of data, the team can prepare effective SEO descriptions that have a real impact on visibility in the search engine, and thus, increasing conversions.
- data security and streamlining the flow of product information within the organization and between business partners.
Do you really need a PIM system?
If your online shop has only one sales channel and there aren’t many product categories — you may not need a PIM system. But, if you feel that your company is struggling with information chaos, and at the same time wants to grow, sell more, explore new markets and implement an omnichannel strategy — do not hesitate to start looking for the ideal PIM solution for your business as soon as possible.
Ventana Research 2017 research mentioned in the article was conducted among managers of small, medium and large enterprises from all over the world (North America, Europe, Asia, and Pacific), 209 respondents.
The Next Generation Of Product Information Management, Ventana Research 2017.
The Forrester Wave™: Product Information Management Solutions, Q2 2018, https://www.forrester.com/report/The+Forrester+Wave+Product+Information+Management+Solutions+Q2+2018/-/E-RES141114
Cracking The Consumer Code, Salisfy 2017,
What Shoppers Want From the Online Experience: 3 Insights, https://www.marketingcharts.com/industries/retail-and-e-commerce-83523
Building A Business Case For PIM, https://www.ventanaresearch.com/ebook/operations_and_supply_chain/building_a_business_case_for_pim