Updated: Jan 19
The pace of change in wholesale and retail markets continues to accelerate, driven by more demanding buyers and increasingly savvier consumers. Shortening product lifecycles, omni-channel sales and serving the ‘endless aisle’ creates challenges for wholesalers and retailers alike. Add to that mix the growing importance of tailored sales strategies and we see that accurate, readily available product information becomes more critical than ever.
Poor product information impacts on customer satisfaction, employee productivity and financial performance. To stand out in any market, businesses must meet customer expectations by delivering rich, relevant, continually updated content to help them through the purchasing process. Any organisation looking to achieve business excellence should consider a dedicated approach to product information management. Accurate product information must be a priority.
Take a dedicated approach
Intelligent management of product information ensures your data is distributed to the right places, at the right time, in the best possible format. A product information management (PIM) system gathers and stores consistent, well-structured product content from multiple sources into one place. PIMs are designed to handle differing volumes of data – brands do not need many thousands of SKUs to benefit. Good PIM solutions are structured to ensure data completeness from the moment data is added, with checks to ensure you’re publishing complete product information to your sales channels. Most are cloud-based allowing for access anywhere at any time.
Manage and update your product information in spreadsheets?
Reliance on spreadsheets to manage product information often leads to inadvertent errors, over-writing and misalignment, diminishing data quality. Although spreadsheets have typically been the go-to tool for managing data, the limitations increasingly outweigh the benefits. Spreadsheets aren’t designed to create links between data and assets such as imagery, or manage collaborative working easily, and they don’t offer versioning or data roll back when errors creep in.
Implementing a system that is specifically designed for gathering, organising and enriching data, yet retains the familiarity of using spreadsheets if desired, is the answer.
A good PIM system delivers better collaboration across teams, with access managed by controlled editing rights. Common issues such as data duplication, accidental data deletion and incomplete data are all but removed, reducing the time it takes to go to market and increasing the opportunity to sell.
Rely on suppliers or manufacturers to supply you with product information?
Standardising product information from external sources is a challenge; it creates friction in processes, diminishes consistency of information and increases expenditure of time and resources.
If you are relying on suppliers or manufacturers to supply information, you must ensure you’re gathering, standardising and storing it efficiently and that you can verify the accuracy and completeness of the data.
It can take weeks to manually standardise information from multiple suppliers for editing in a spreadsheet. Add to this the data you already hold in an ERP or a DAM and the process becomes unmanageable. Harmonising all your data is the first step to delivering quality product information. Smart digital business pros use PIM solutions to manage the flow of product information from their suppliers.
How wide is the view of your product data?
Often the Marketing team deliver the customer facing product information, but the Product, Pricing and Merchandising teams play an important role in maintaining the accuracy and potency of it. Issues arise when these teams are holding data in different systems or are working in different versions of the same data. Without ‘one source of truth’, it’s difficult to know which version is the most up to date and what has been finalised.
If a large amount of product information is being handled across multiple teams, then online collaboration will benefit your organisation horizontally, giving company-wide visibility and access. Collaboration between users on data stored in one place ensures everyone is accessing and editing the latest information. This can have a dramatic effect on the quality of product information being published to your sales channels.
Mapping your product information ecosystem
Is your organisation investing in product information management technology? The perceived importance of product information to your organisation and your current level of satisfaction with data quality are likely to be influencing factors here.
Understanding both how your data is stored and the current business processes relating to data management will help you determine areas for improvement. Mapping the path your data takes to get to its destination will help you identify gaps and bottlenecks in your processes. Creating a map also makes it easier to communicate problems and solutions internally as everyone is working from the same perspective.
Maximise the effectiveness of your product information
Some key benefits of a dedicated approach to improving product information:
‘One source of truth’ for your product information, to share everywhere
Collaborate better with online visibility of data, speeding time to market
Streamlined product information is key to remaining competitive
Accurate product information is vital for improving your customers’ experience
So, how does your product information shape up?
If you’ve read the blog and feel that your product information and the management of it isn’t efficient and causes frustrations across the business, then please get in touch.
We understand the challenges and frustrations that you face when trying to manage your product information and that’s why we launched our Fast To Market package! The Fast To Market package supports companies, like yours, and provides the software, the manpower and the know-how to ensure your success over a typical 6-8 week period. Once complete, we will deliver your curated product information and imagery, in an easily accessible, intuitive, cloud-based platform for use throughout your business and beyond! Find out more here.