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As retail companies grow, they often expand the number of places online where customers can view items and make purchases. Manually updating sites is time consuming for both big and small companies, as it requires the individual managing of each location with potentially hundreds of products, each with variations such as color or size.
Users of product information management (PIM) software can manage multiple customer-facing channels from a single system ensuring that the product information, images, and pricing is accurately reflected across every site where they are sold.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is product information management software?
- Common features of product information management software
- What type of buyer are you?
- Benefits and potential issues
- Market trends to understand
What is product information management software?
Product information management (PIM) software gives retailers a centralized location to store details about every product in their portfolio to share the most up-to-date, accurate information across multiple sites.
This information can include pricing, descriptions, images, and other modifiers, such as colors, sizes, or materials. Users can collaborate on product details, and integrate other software used to market or sell products, such as a CRM or ecommerce software.
Beyond product information, companies can automate the content they use to market services or products with PIM software, leveraging digital asset management (DAM) to make sure partner sites have the latest versions.
Common features of product information management software
|Data modeling||Creates a model that organizes data elements in a system to ensure product information is accurate.|
|Digital asset management (DAM)||Manages documents, images, videos, and other digital assets to be used where items are sold.|
|Data quality control||Configures how data from operations is collected for exporting, including the volume and types of data.|
|Catalog management||Organizes the portfolio of products or services and manages the pricing, descriptions, and other modifiers.|
|Collaboration tools||Communicates and works with multiple users to modify product information or manage each channel.|
|Third-party integration||Connects to other systems, such as accounting or point-of-sale (POS) software, to increase functionality.|
|Content syndication||Manages the articles and graphics for publishing marketing content on partner websites and social channels.|
|Version control||Views product data changes over time and synchronizes updates across every sales channel online.|
What type of buyer are you?
- International retailers: Businesses that manage multiple sites across the globe must maintain accurate data for products, but also unique product lines for each region. PIM software helps companies support various currencies so customers can find accurate pricing from wherever they are shopping.
- Travel companies: When selling travel packages, companies need to manage the specific itineraries, partnerships, discounts, and other factors for each option using PIM software. Travel companies can also use PIM software to manage other multimedia for each location, such as images and videos.
- B2C manufacturer: Many manufacturers have been moving to create and sell products directly to consumers. This avenue of selling products has grown by nearly 25% in 2020. These companies typically produce a variety of products that require careful coordination of pricing and details and will often allow buyers to customize products. PIM software is a valuable tool to organize the wide variety of options for each product.
- Content marketer: PIM not only helps companies manage the data of their products, but also marketing materials such as graphics and articles. Content marketing professionals in large enterprise companies can use the DAM functionality to manage marketing materials, such as copy, images, or product details. This would typically be used for multiple regional campaigns to retain consistent messaging across channels.
Benefits and potential issues
- Boosted time to market: After a product is manufactured, it takes time to market it, draft product information, and create images to present the item online, especially for those with multiple color or size options. PIM systems speed up the time to market by automatically updating multiple online sites where the product is available for purchase so consumers can buy new items as soon as the information is ready.
- Accurate inventory control: The primary benefit of using a PIM system is efficient management of inventory. Companies can ensure pricing and product details are correct for each customer, but also maintain reasonable inventory levels so companies have enough stock on hand to meet demand without spending too much on carrying costs.
- Increased sales using product data models: A PIM system is used to form relationships among related items, which helps online retailers recommend products based on what customers are browsing through or have purchased before. Users can create descriptions and relationships for each product that automatically generates a list of items the buyer is most likely to buy. This helps to increase sales.
- Streamlined customer experience: As more shoppers move online, companies must provide a seamless customer experience for browsing items, evaluating pricing and discounts, and completing a transaction. A consistent experience using PIM software drives customer loyalty and sales.
- Most effective for online retailers: For smaller businesses that do the most sales in a physical store and through a single website, a PIM system may be unnecessary. However, as the business grows, these companies should consider adopting PIM tools to avoid the manual management of product information through multiple channels.
Market trends to understand
- Accelerated shift to omnichannel sales and marketing: The value of PIM software is growing as companies attempt to meet growing demands of online consumers who use multiple platforms to browse products and make purchase decisions. Gartner research shows that the most successful companies are creating consistency among their physical stores, online, and mobile sites and communicating clearly about the changes.
- Empowered AI chatbots to use product data: Chatbot technology is driving a new type of customer service where an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot can assist buyers online. The impact of these bots can be significantly boosted when integrated with the product information provided by a PIM system, suggesting new products related to a shopper’s recent purchases or offering visibility into when items are back in stock.
- Supply chain disruptions impact sales: More than one-third of U.S. manufacturers have experienced supply chain disruptions in 2020, and those slow downs can impact the inventory available for customers to buy from. In addition to digitizing important supply chain documentation, PIM software can help manufacturers share more detailed information with customers about the availability of products in order to avoid losing sales.