Multi-Store BigCommerce Challenges Solved with PIM

Optimal Multi-Store Management Equals Increased Profitability

The key to maximizing sales and growing market share is robust product pages. To delight today’s customers, manufactures and brands run multiple websites, each optimized for a specific purpose. Product information management (PIM) solves the challenges of managing a multi-store operation.

But why run multiple sites?

Benefits:

  • Tailor business storytelling by industry
  • Customize product messaging to target customers
  • Sell to businesses as well as consumers
  • Maintain distributor specific sites

Even for a brand with only limited online sales, it is vital to sales and growth to have multiple websites featuring enriched product pages.

Creating multiple sites with robust, tailored product pages results in skyrocketing online sales.

But there is 1 major difficulty. The challenge of even maintaining 1 website, let alone 2 or more, is daunting. And you’ll need a massive amount of time on top of that to improve multiple sites, and keep your product information up to date. Doing all of this manually becomes impossible fast.

According to prevailing trends, to see the results you want from your website in 2019, you need to focus on continuously improving and updating the story and data across your sites.

It’s irrelevant whether 68% (source) or 94% (source) of B2B buyers do product research prior to making any online or offline purchase, the bottom line is that’s what’s happening.

Where do these buyers want to go to do their research? You’d better believe they want to go to your website. Your brand is a proxy for trust, because a manufacturer is best able to present the authentic story with reasons to buy a product that drive conversion.

This is why having compelling websites with robust product pages is a surefire way to maximize your sales growth in 2019.

Now, how exactly do you automate the tasks required to create and maintain successful BigCommerce websites?

PIM will reduce the time you and your team need to maintain and improve your sites. PIM also comes with the tools necessary to improve the quality of all of the sites you maintain.

4 ways PIM maximizes sales on your BigCommerce multi-stores:

  1. Automatically feed product data updates to all websites
  2. Better manage specific and tailored product content for different types of buyers
  3. Improve the quality of all product pages
  4. Save time managing and updating images on all sites
Let’s take a look at each of these in depth.

1. Automatically Feed Product Data Updates to All Websites

One of the biggest challenges to maintaining a great product website is keeping product content, made up of information and assets, both compelling and accurate. So, when you partner with BigCommerce to roll out multi-stores, this challenge is greatly magnified with each additional store.

Some PIMs provide the functionality to for you to update product content once, and automatically push it out across all your BigCommerce stores. Thus, you can provide customers with all the product content necessary to make a buying decision.

As the data changes, you simply make the change in your PIM, and it will automatically update all of your BigCommerce stores. This is a massive time saver compared to the old way of manual updating each page on every site.

Being able to publish across sites automatically and simultaneously significantly empowers your ability to expand your business.

2. Better Manage Specific and Tailored Product Content for Different Types of Buyers

BigCommerce is designed to create a great product store but isn’t designed with robust product data and image management capability. Effective management of this product content is crucial to sales success, especially when you are tailoring sites to match specific buyer personas.

A PIM allows you to store and direct all product content to any of your BigCommerce stores. You can pick and choose which descriptions, specs, images, and more to update. Organizing this product content on each site individually is nearly impossible if you can’t tell what’s already up to date and what remains out of date.

3. Improve the Quality of All Your Product Pages

Only a robust product page, chock-full of information, is a high-quality product page.

Why is a high-quality product page so crucial to your success?

A high-quality product page includes the SEO optimized content to bring in customers. Once the customer has landed, they in turn have all the information they need to make a buying decision.

When BigCommerce stores fail to bring value, they do so for two main reasons:

  1. The site is hard to find, because the information customers need isn’t there
  2. Customers land on the product pages, but the information they need to make a buying decision is missing

If you have poor or under-performing product pages, implementing a PIM is a surefire way to improve the value of all your BigCommerce sites. This is because you can be sure the information needed to drive traffic and convert visitors into customers is populating on now robust product pages.

4. Save Time Managing and Updating Images on All Sites

Because ecommerce is a visually immersive experience, digital assets like images, videos, and CAD drawings become the most important pieces of any BigCommerce product page. Research shows, images or videos seen online inspire 75% of consumers to make purchases (source).

Maintaining images on multiple sites can be a near impossible task.

  1. Searching through files for the image you want can take forever
  2. Associating the right image with the right product is often difficult
  3. Images are often overlooked when product pages are updated, leaving customers with out of date information

A PIM that incorporates Digital Asset Management (DAM) gives you the tools your team needs to publish the digital assets you need to inspire a visitor to buy your product. And depending on the complexity of the product you sell, you’ll need different numbers of digital assets.

Industry standard dictates 4 as the bare minimum a customer needs, so make sure to associate each product with at least 4 images. But the most successful BigCommerce product pages will have more.

Quality pages that convert incorporate multiple lifestyle images, along with a video telling the manufacturer’s story or displaying the product in use. The most recent digital asset trend to emerge involves 3D images. Managing these in file folders typically results in 36+ images just to get a single 3D view.

DAM simplifies storage and sharing of those images, allowing you to publish more rich pictures, compelling videos, and 3D images for more and more of your products. In the last two years, a majority of consumers noted 3D product images were the most compelling piece of content of a product they purchased.

Authenticity and Trust

Let’s do a thought exercise.

Imagine a potential customer comes to your page looking for information about a product you sell. You know that because products can have numerous different attributes, you can never be exactly sure what a potential customer wants.

SITUATION 1: Let’s say this customer is looking for 5 specific pieces of information, but your product page only includes 4 of them. Do you think you’re going to convert this customer, or is she going to go elsewhere?

SITUATION 2: Now, this time imagine that every time a potential customer lands on one of your product pages, it’s optimized with a full set of up to date information. It answers any possible combination of questions any customer might have, because nothing is missing and everything is accurate.

The result of the first situation is a lost sale. The result of the second is a conversion. And the next time that customer has question about a product you sell, where do you think they are going to go for an answer? Who do they think of as an expert?

With complete information, you show your customers you have an authentic concern for fulfilling their needs. That authenticity builds trust in their mind, which in turns drives repeat visits and increased sales revenue.

Ultimately, when you invest in a PIM that provides your customers with everything they want to know, they reward you with trust, return visits to your site, more sales, and recommendations. In short, they reward you with loyalty.

Now that you know how to solve your BigCommerce multi-store problems with PIM, click here to see what CATSY can do for you.

Internet Trends 2019 Report: 10 Key Takeaways

Internet Trends 2019: Key Takeaways

1. Established B2B marketing practice won’t suffer from expanding mobile use.

Mobile device usage among U.S. adults has exploded from about 20 minutes per day in 2008 to 3.6 hours per day in 2018. But, it’s critical to note this growth has occurred on top of laptop and desktop usage, not at the expense of either.

Laptop and desktop usage rates have only declined slightly, from a high of 2.6 hours per day in 2011 to 2 hours per day in 2018.

Implication: B2B customers are far less likely to make purchases with a phone than with a laptop or desktop computer. This means established B2B marketing practices are not being negatively effected by the expansion of mobile.

Nor are they likely to be in the near future, as the only other platforms with expanding usage are game consoles and other OTT devices like Apple TVs and Amazon Fire sticks (source).

How many B2B product managers do you know who sell on Xbox?

2. The re-emergence of brick and mortar is no threat to ecommerce whatsoever.

As a percentage of total retail sales in the U.S., ecommerce has gone from less than 2% in 2000 to over 15% in the first quarter of 2019. The only decline over that entire period took place in 2008.

Implication: recent articles like this and this hype the re-emergence of brick and mortar retail as part of retail’s inevitably diversified future. But they fail to acknowledge at least 2 critical points:

  1. Money is money: If you’re already selling on Amazon, do you care whether customers buy your products online or in one of their new stores? If anything, this will be good for your business.
  2. Size matters: The amount of retail stores predicted to open in the next five years is dwarfed by the downfall of a wide variety of major brands from Sears to Radioshack to CVS (source). Toys ‘R’ Us alone was operating over 800 stores less than 1 year ago (source).

3. Product integration and association will drive your sales.

  • 88% of Americans report using a second device while watching TV
  • 71% use that device to look up content related to what they’re watching on TV

Implication: if 88% of Americans are using their phones to look up information about what they’re seeing on TV, your products need to be positioned in combination to maximize reach and sales results.

Think about the enrichment of your product pages and the amount of images you offer for each. Are you showing every angle and every feature? Are you providing close up shots?

Placing products in context and highlighting their practical association with other products is critical for maximizing conversions.

4. Word of mouth is the key to expanding market share.

41% of Americans currently use a device to send messages about television content to friends and family, specifically while they’re watching TV. These individuals generate wider interest in your products by telling their friends and family members about your brand.

This finding is bolstered by the fact that a 2017 poll found that at 23%, the largest portion of individuals signing up for new online services had done so on the recommendation of another.

Implication 1: people search differently on mobile than they do on desktop/laptop computers, so optimizing your product pages to rank high for mobile search is a skill you must master.

2 points to think about:

  1. Mobile users often search by voice, using full questions.
  2. Questions address different kinds of information: do they want to buy right away or do they want to know more first?

Implication 2: in the same 2017 poll, financial incentive accounted for only 22% of new service sign-ups and only 12% even reported liking the product.

Because this poll shows word of mouth has the potential to play a bigger role in driving ecommerce decisions than cost or preference, marketing needs to focus on building customer trust and maintaining authenticity.

People want to buy products packaged as authentic experiences they can share on social media.

5. You need to be selling in India and China today.

India

  • 1.34 billion total population
  • accounts for 12% of global Internet use
  • approx. 900 million did not use the Internet in 2015 (source)

China

  • 1.39 billion total population
  • accounts for 21% of global Internet use
  • approx. 640 million did not use the Internet in 2018 (source)
And a staggering 98% of Chinese on the Internet access it with a phone.

Implication: ecommerce operations already operating in these countries are poised to take advantage of the fact that both hold massive untapped markets. And these are countries that have already made enormous commitments to drive provision of Internet service.

Indians already trust Amazon more than any other Internet brand (source), and the Indian government is working to provide Internet service to everyone in the country by 2022 (source).

Are you selling in the Indian and Chinese markets? Are your product pages optimized for them? If not, what are you waiting for?

6. Content must be tailored and dynamic to maximize conversions.

89% of North Americans regularly use the Internet and in 2019 Americans will spend an average of 266 minutes on their phones, but only 216 watching television.

Implication: if your ads and content aren’t optimized for mobile devices and tailored for your potential customers to find them in the spaces they utilize, you won’t sell to them.

For example, Alexa Skills are like apps for an Amazon Echo that can be triggered by speaking a key phrase. Nearly 100,000 Alexa Skills are currently available for download.

This new vocal channel provides an opportunity to answer specific questions directly with a product offer.

Stats to think about:

  • 1.244 bil. – number of Android phones sold in 2017 (source)
  • 2.1 mil.number of currently available Android apps (source)
  • 215.8 mil. – number of iPhones sold in 2017 (source)
  • 1.8 mil. – number of apps in Apple’s App Store (source)
  • 100 mil. – number of Alexa devices sold to date (source)

Simple math tells us the room for growth in the total number of Alexa Skills apps is massive. Getting ahead of this trend immediately virtually ensures increasing sales and larger market share.

7. Grab your competition’s market share by cornering the wearable device channel.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of Americans wearing electronic devices embedded in clothes or accessories more than doubled, from 25 to 52 million. And it’s estimated Apple has sold 46 million watches since the 2015 launch (source), including 10.4 million just in Q4 of 2018 (source).

Implication 1: This should be obvious, but pairing your products with wearable devices in product page photographs is an easy way to speak to customers.

Your products don’t even need to relate to wearable devices, as customers will still notice the combination.

Implication 2: Wearable devices offer an incredible opportunity for collecting information that can be used to sharpen buyer personas and content offers.

Only when you know what your customers are doing, do you really know who they are, so you can speak directly to them.

Implication 3: This new channel allows for delivery of information, but not if your content isn’t tailored for the space.

When it comes to the tiny screens wearable devices include, less truly is more.

8. Massive ecommerce offer growth has made it easier to rake in ecommerce sales.

Shopee is a mobile-centric social media focused B2C and C2C ecommerce platform launched in Singapore in 2009, which sells over 180 million products across SE Asia (source).

Between 2016 and 2018, the gross value of all merchandise sold through Shopee increased roughly by a factor of 10, in spite of heavy competition from regional companies like Tokopedia and Lazada, to say nothing of Amazon.

Implication: By focusing on an innovative, winning offer, Shopee was able to dominate SE Asia.

But they’re only 1 player in only 1 regional market.

Shopee’s success can be repeated by finding a balance that takes social media, ecommerce, brick and mortar retail, average cost, buyer personas, preferred method of delivery, and design presentation into account. That balance must be struck according to the preferences and behaviors of the target market.

The main takeaway here is:

New companies are constantly figuring out ways to carve ever more nuanced, niche markets off giant platforms and develop them into tremendously profitable businesses.

Traditional economic thinking argues sales would be more likely to go down as competition goes up. However, as customer preference for niche spaces increases, so does the opportunity to find customers where they already exist online, in spaces where they want to be.

To convert customers in niche markets, you must hyper-tailor your offers to them.

9. Images convert customers, not text.

Instagram has 1 billion monthly users and more than half of them use it every day (source). Also Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, says they intend to focus on driving profitability by turning the platform into an ecommerce powerhouse (source).

Implication: Shopping has always been a sensory experience, so why should ecommerce be any different? By subtracting all other sensory information, ecommerce has to be as visually pleasing an experience as possible.

Everyone selling on Amazon knows product pages should display at least 7 images, because that’s currently the maximum number of images that display on one page. But there are two easy ways to get around this limitation.

  1. Encourage your customers to upload pictures along with their reviews.
  2. If your customers click into the gallery of images, they will see ALL the pictures you upload. This means you can actually display up to 9 pictures.

P.T. Barnum said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” and ecommerce demonstrates it. Every good review posted to your product pages is an endorsement. Every bad review is an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to your customers.

Also, it really doesn’t matter how simple your products are, you should be taking advantage of all 9 picture slots. Cover all of the following:

  • 1 rich, beautiful main image
  • 2 or 3 close ups from different angles
  • 2 or 3 close ups of highlighted features
  • 1 shot of the product in use
  • 1 shot of the product in combination with other products you sell

10. Tie everything together, and do it with authenticity.

You should have noticed by now that certain themes in this post have been repeated. The fact that these takeaways compliment each other, demonstrates their efficacy, their strength in practice. It also makes incorporating them into your overall strategy easier.

Let’s recap:

Mobile won’t hurt B2B marketing, because converting is all about reaching people where they already are, and B2B customers don’t shop on mobile.

Authenticity means knowing as much as you can about your customers, so don’t insult them by barging in on their Facebook and Instagram feeds (at least until Vishal Shah’s plans come to fruition). Find them on LinkedIn and Pinterest, platforms designed for business and optimized for sales, respectively.

Use images to bring products together, because pictures give you more than the opportunity to showcase your products. They let you show your customers how well you know them. Unlike static product photos, action shots promise the authenticity of showcased reality.

Move away from airbrushed, obviously staged photos toward real pictures of real people really living their lives. Include visual cues, like wearable devices, to point people to recommend products to their friends and family. Associate your products with others to give a fuller, more realistic picture.

Sell in India and China, but without authenticity your chances of success are low. Authenticity means investing in research, asking questions, respecting local cultural practices, and absolutely not selling down to people.

Authenticity means taking the time to create tailored, dynamic content with culturally correct imagery that changes with the origin of the viewer. People from different places obviously like different things, so give them what they want to see according to where they are. Speak their language, and give them specifications in units they understand.

Finally, India and China are where shaving niche markets off giants is most readily possible, because both contain massive markets yet to dive into the online space. They also offer recently moneyed youth, the people most likely to develop and maintain lifelong niche preferences and interests which include international products.

Who wrote the Internet Trends 2019 Report?

Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist who focuses on the Internet and new technology investment, spearheaded compilation of the report. Meeker is a former partner with the noted Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner Perkins.

Since September, 2018, she has raised $1.25 billion at Bond Capital, a new firm she started and the publisher of the highly anticipated Internet Trends 2019 report.

Why should I listen to what Mary Meeker has to say?

In 1995, Meeker was working for Morgan Stanley while they were taking Netscape public. During this time she co-authored The Internet Report, known as “the bible” of the dot com boom. At Morgan Stanley, she was also the lead manager on the Google IPO.

In 2010, Fortune magazine called her, “one of the ten smartest people in tech” (source). And Forbes included her at 77 in a list of the most powerful women in the world, in 2014 (source).

So, when it comes to tech trends, it’s safe to say Mary Meeker knows what she’s talking about.

Now that you know where ecommerce is going, click here to see how CATSY can help get you there.

PIM Do’s and Don’ts: 7 Steps to Picking the Right PIM

PIM do’s and don’ts – the biggest DO when it comes to selecting a product information management (PIM) solution is also the biggest DON’T:

You DO need to choose the PIM that solves all the problems you have, so DON’T buy one if you don’t need one.

But how do you know if you need one or not?

To help you with this important decision, we’ve created a simple, step-by-step guide. With it, you can determine whether or not your operations would benefit from PIM integration.

How does it work?

Easy, if you answer any of the following questions with large amounts, or worse, you don’t know what the answers are, it might be time to start thinking about a PIM.

What value does PIM bring?

One key feature of PIM is greatly simplified functionality for inputting, updating, and managing product content across channels, manufacturers, products, and variants. If you’re repeatedly having trouble finding specific pieces of product content, how can you enrich your product pages?

What is product content?

Product content can be divided between the following two categories.

  • Product information
    • Descriptions
    • Specifications
    • Feature benefits
  • Digital assets
    • Images
    • Videos
    • CAD drawings

*These lists are not exhaustive.

As the numbers of these increase, so must the complexity of your organization.

To start, use the simple tool below to:

  • Estimate how much time and money you’re spending now managing product content
  • Compare those numbers with how much you’d like to scale your operations by selling more products across more channels

Instructions

Answer the questions for your current operations in column D. And in column F, input values that reflect how you’d like to scale up your business. The differences will autopopulate below.

*Find an explanation of terminology below and please go ahead and download a free copy by clicking on the download icon (the document with the white arrow on it).

Terminology

  • Channel: any means by which a product or service is brought to market to be sold (source)
  • Variant: an individual product as determined by its attributes – for example, a t-shirt is a product, but a small, blue, cotton t-shirt is a variant of that product
  • Attribute: any quality serving to make one variant different from another, like size, color, or material (source)
Now that you have and idea of what you’d like to be doing, let’s see if implementing a PIM can help.

1. How often do you update your product pages or catalogs?

Complex operations necessarily require ever higher degrees of organization.

In 2010, research into 1,150 senior executives at companies of at least 1,000 employees resulted in 2 major revelations:

“Companies reporting low levels of complexity … had the highest returns on capital employed and the highest returns on invested capital.”

(McKinsey & Company)

Further, 80% of companies that minimized complexity also saved money, with some having slashed nearly 20 percent of personnel costs by prioritizing value of activity over its complexity.

Ecommerce today is overburdened with automatable busy work.

PIM makes keeping product content up to date and accurate far easier than with traditional spreadsheet management. These benefits minimize complexity, but are best understood at scale. So if your products don’t change from month to month or year to year, updating your product pages and catalogs often is probably unnecessary.

For example, companies that sell seasonal products likely have an annual updating schedule, giving them a year to foresee and avoid product page and catalog updating problems. Companies that provide a set of products proven to sell year after year may not need to update their catalogs and product pages at all, except to change their overall aesthetic.

So if you’re consistently certain your product information is accurate and up to date, and your company falls into one of the categories describes above, you might not need a PIM.

Unless you want to increase sales by selling on more channels…

2. How many channels do you sell across?

And how complex are their processes?

Do the sales channels you work with provide standard templates to create new products in their systems? Are those templates ready to accept attribute information for new products immediately? If not and you have to send in a general description, how long do you have to wait for them to get back to you?

Multi-channel campaigns that bring limited or no results might be suffering from a lack of the enrichment capability of PIM.

One channel might be fine with several different file types and sizes, while another might want your images to correspond to highly specific parameters. One channel might require a small number of specific pieces of information, while another might need dozens per product page.

PIM makes this, and many other jobs, easier.

Another key function of PIM is automatic translation and conversion. Do you sell products in other countries? Only 20% of the world speaks English, so if you don’t have a way to convert your product pages into your customers’ preferred languages, you’re not going to sell to them.

Likewise, if your spec sheets discuss your products in Imperial terms, with inches and gallons instead of centimeters and liters, it’s likely you’re just confusing 7.3 billion potential customers who use the Metric system worldwide. Ultimately, PIM ensures product content coherence across channels.

Just how many markets do you want to sell in anyway?

Selling across multiple channels is complicated at best, but it’s relatively easy to maintain high quality product content on one channel if you don’t update your product pages or catalogs often. In that case, you may not need the functionality a PIM provides.

Unless you sell products made by several manufacturers…

3. How many manufacturers do you work with?

If you only work with one manufacturer, you probably don’t need the organization PIM provides.

Again, the more simple your operation, the easier it likely is to manage. But as product information comes to you from ever more manufacturers, several possibilities become more and more likely.

  1. Standardizing information entered with different systems requires more and more work to coordinate
  2. Formatting that information for your sales channels adds a second level to standardization
  3. Some manufacturers will inevitably be worse at supplying you with error-free information

To a certain degree you can mitigate some of these difficulties in Excel. But if you don’t know how to build, maintain, and feed standardized information into macros, managing more and more manufacturers will only require more time and effort.

So, if you only work with a single manufacturer to sell on one platform and your product pages or catalogs don’t need much updating, you probably don’t need a PIM.

Unless you sell a large number of products…

4. How many products do you sell?

Is a hard number really a useful measure?

It can also be helpful to think of this question in terms of people, amount of work, or simply time. Regardless of the number of products you sell, if one person can get all the work done in 40 hours a week, do you need to buy a PIM?

But is the work REALLY getting done?

Ultimately, you know your operation well enough to confidently say all the product content management work is getting done. Think about how well your products appear to be organized, and whether any associated information is ever missing from your product pages. PIM is a way of getting even more done in an equal amount of time, which means organization that leads to robust product pages that convert.

Do you provide a personal experience?

Personalization driven by tailored content is the engine of modern ecommerce, something consumers have come to expect from shopping experiences. PIM functionality makes personalization easier, so you can keep the promises you make to your customers, increasing sales and decreasing returns.

What about new products?

How long does it take your company to bring new products to market? Ecommerce success is typically measured in dollars and cents, not hours and days. But the fact of the matter is PIM can reduce whatever that amount of time is.

If you dread bring new products to market, because meeting deadlines and quality standards is so difficult, PIM can help. With PIM, product pages aren’t just complete, they’re dripping with the most accurate information possible and set off with rich, detailed pictures, descriptions, and feature explanations.

To sum up, if you don’t have trouble bringing new products to market, sell a small number of products from one manufacturer on a single channel, and your product pages or catalogs don’t require regular updating, a PIM likely isn’t for you.

Unless your products have a lot of variants…

5. How complex are your products?

Product complexity increases with the number of attributes.

How did you estimate the number of variants for your products when you completed the tool at the beginning of this post? If you have a large operation it’s likely this was the most difficult question to answer, because some products are simple and some are impossibly complex.

In any case, most products vary to some degree.

Another key organizational feature of PIM is variant organization or what’s known as parent/child relationship. A parent is like a master product template, including a comprehensive list of all possible attributes a given product has. The children are the variant products sharing an identical set of attributes, but with varying values for them.

For example, if a parent product is a t-shirt, one child would be an extra-large, blue t-shirt. This is a very simple example, as complex products can have virtually any number of attributes and those attributes can have a huge variety of possible values.

Product content enrichment, accuracy, and completeness drive sales conversions, so the more variants you have, the more digital assets you’re going to need. A PIM with digital asset management (DAM) capability simplifies this by giving you the option of tying a single image to each child product. One benefit is that your product pages will be tidy, making more sense to your customers and the search engines they use to find your products.

Think about the example above, if you’re selling 10 sizes of blue shirts, do you need 10 different pictures?

If your operation is simple, you have a small number of business partnerships, and you sell a narrow variety of simple products, you probably don’t need to invest in a PIM.

Unless your prices change often…

6. How often do you update your prices?

If you sell a lot of different, highly complex products, you’re probably adjusting your prices often.

Selling in highly competitive markets tends to call for adjusting prices more frequently. Under certain circumstances you may need to display discounted prices next to original prices, to entice potential customers to take advantage of savings.

If you run sales, promotions, or special offers frequently, you’ll probably need to set and reset prices often. If those offers take place at random, or if prices must be precisely calculated manually, adjusting your prices may be taking up a significant amount of your time.

PIM can be set to do all of these automatically.

So, if everything discussed leads to you to believe you don’t need a PIM and your products have stable prices, then a PIM probably isn’t going to help you do business.

Unless your product content comes from multiple internal sources…

7. How many employees do you have?

If you’ve gotten this far through the list, you’re probably running a big company.

PIM collects product content from multiple sources to maintain product information consistency across internal teams and external sales channels. If yours is a small operation, you’re less likely to need that kind of management control.

However, large operations require a significant investment in inter-team organization. PIMs often include workflow capability to increase efficiency and productivity. Workflow allows you to assign tasks in a specific order with messaging and reminders set to trigger automatically. This makes it easier to ensure operations more forward smoothly, and that each of your employees gets what they need to complete their work right when they need it.

To Recap:

If any of the following are true or if you’re planning on expanding to the following capacities, a PIM might need to be in your future.
  1. Your product pages or catalogs require regular updating
  2. Your company sells on two or more channels
  3. Multiple manufacturers provide you with products
  4. You sell a wide variety of products
  5. The products you sell come in a variety of configurations
  6. Your prices are volatile
  7. You have more than a few employees who directly control some amount of your product information

What the Best PIM Will Do for You

Owning the digital shelf means delivering the rich, accurate product pages most likely to convert visitors to your site into paying customers. Remember, accurate product information is one lever you have significant control over on the engine driving ecommerce sales success.

While human fickleness means you can’t keep people from changing their minds and returning products, you can help them make them up in the first place.

Do this with rich, compelling product pages full of accurate information.

Bonus Pointers

We promised a list of PIM do’s and don’ts at the outset, so here it is:

DO choose a PIM that…
  1. Solves all of your concerns, but don’t choose one that’s overly complex or provides functionality you know you won’t use.
  2. Includes DAM integration, but don’t opt for a DAM that’s been built to mimic the functionality of a PIM.
  3. Offers responsive customer service, but don’t simply take their word for it (see final thought below).

Final thought: To verify the PIM you’re considering offers all of these, you should conduct your own research and read reviews on sites like G2Crowd.

Now that you have everything you need to know to decide whether or not you need a PIM, click here to see what CATSY can do for you.

Use PIM Component Expertise to Create Perfect Product Pages

Product Information Management (PIM) is software that provides a central space to create, manage, and syndicate product information across sales channels in a unified manner.

Internally, PIM comprises tools to store and share product information across multiple systems, and to facilitate workflow.

PIM can store all product information:
  • Product Descriptions
  • Configurations
  • Logistics Information
  • Reviews
  • Warranty Details
  • Prices

This makes PIM a reliable, all-in-one source of product information. Content is the king of ecommerce, and quality, tailored content that ensures a delightful customer experience is built on product information accuracy.

PIM delivers this accuracy to your product pages.

PIM Essentials

At its core, PIM offers companies the flexibility of working with every platform for product information retrieval and distribution. Companies must ensure customers receive complete, accurate information to make purchase decisions.

PIM and its standard elements make this possible.

Your PIM must syndicate product information easily.

Product information syndication is crucial, because storage spans individuals, teams, and their devices. For example, bulk editing ensures information consistency.

Editing information on marketing channels and platforms one by one takes forever. This also leads to product information inconsistency and increases the chance of including errors on product pages. Make sure your PIM can edit product information across digital channels simultaneously.

A good PIM is also highly flexible and configurable.

Users should be able to view product information by channel to make adjustments according to specific channel requirements. Your PIM should also integrate easily with other systems to turn out quality product content.

Content analytics is another element your PIM must have.

Analytics allow you to monitor product sales performance and fix problems as they arise.

Your PIM has to include a Digital Asset Management (DAM) feature.

DAM in PIM allows you to optimize digital assets, such as images and videos, for specific channels. Your DAM should be able to transform assets for seamless syndication across all the channels you use regardless of what their specific requirements are.

Define Your Objectives

What do you want your PIM to do?

Answering this question will allow you to structure your PIM to support your marketing strategy and organizational goals. PIM capabilities are numerous, and performance tends to vary from one organization to another.

Start by defining your central business objectives.

You may want to simply deliver quality product information or improve internal team coordination. Maybe you want to expand across channels, reduce time to market (TTM), or improve your entire customer experience.

It’s essential to set goals and define how success will be measured.

It’s no use investing in a PIM if you can’t understand its impact. Ultimately, you have to define how your PIM will support brand growth, because if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

Determine Your Implementation Parameters

Ask yourself how you’re going to implement processes with your PIM.

To define implementation scope, you need to consider your preferred channels, your operation region, and current TTM.

Either of two models can determine how to handle product information.

1. Model all product information from the outset.

or…

2. Start with subsets of product information and increase in subsequent phases.

Large companies tend to opt for the second method, because they prefer beginning with a particular product line or region. The second method allows for process testing to ensure proper functioning well before full implementation.

Other companies may prefer the benefits of full information centralization by rolling everything out at once. While both methods include pros and cons, your decision should rest on your company’s current and future needs.

Implementation Strike Team

Successful PIM implementation requires a strike team.

Even for a small ecommerce operation, it’s unlikely one person will be able to handle all the requirements of implementation. The tasks of implementation are as different from each other as the knowledge and skills required to complete them successfully.

You will need:
  • An executive sponsor to see everything through
  • A project manager overseeing daily tasks
  • A product manager to gather all your product information
  • A group of individuals to input all the information
  • A marketer to write your product page text
  • A designer to supply images
  • A tech who knows how your ERP system will integrate with your PIM

Determine Your Product Catalog Structure

The only way to build a strong catalog is by using accurate product information regarding all of your offerings.

This means your product categories, attributes, how they vary, and their use regarding different customer touch-points.

PIM offers a broad range of options.

You can structure your catalog virtually any way your company requires. But craft that structure carefully, as the success of your PIM implementation depends upon it.

Your catalog structure should reflect the attributes of the specific sales channels you intend to use.

The structure should also support different product categories, attributes, and how these may vary.

Finally, incorporate the catalog must include the relationship of a given product to another as well as metrics for different online sales areas.

Workflows and Mechanisms of Integration

Getting the most out of your PIM depends largely on the strength of the workflows you set up.

You need to think about which teams interact with what product information, as well as what each team’s core function is. Consider how each team will use your PIM and how processes need to be ordered to maximize efficiency. Also, define permissions carefully so the right people have access to the right information, nothing more or less.

Proper understanding of the entire workflow will guide business operations and increase efficiency.

Previous work processes may need updating for the way processes will work after PIM implementation. You may want your PIM to support processes you think you can’t change, but those processes might be the most in need of overhaul.

Remember that one of the greatest strengths of PIM lies in eliminating the placement of product information in silos.

PIM workflow support provides for information sync, driving accuracy in real-time. This kind of integration helps streamline your entire ecommerce operation.

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

It’s important to ensure that your PIM includes DAM capability.

While some companies have modified DAM to mimic PIM, the result is often clunky, incomplete, or both. Moreover, PIM and DAM may seem similar in function, but they are actually fundamentally different.

PIM centralizes and facilitates syndication of product information, while DAM specifically handles digital assets.

Some assets, like company logos, may not even relate to products. DAM ensures proper management of images, videos, and documents attached to specific products. PIM allows you to store and manage these digital assets alongside product information.

Long story short, PIM is not DAM and DAM is not PIM.

Why Is DAM Important?

Digital consumers absorb media of all kinds every second they spend online.

The rise of digital technology and acceleration of innovation have only increased this digital consumption of media, driven by market and popular trends.

Media files include:
  • Animation
  • Videos
  • Interactive ads
  • Games
  • Audio files

Navigating these media has become a challenge companies and their customers share. Today’s digitally empowered consumer doesn’t want a rich digital customer experience, they expect one.

Companies that don’t meet and surpass customer expectations are doomed to suffer dwindling sales.

Customer expectations include access to the high-quality media content necessary to convince them their buying choices are correct. This is the key to conversions, because disappointed potential customers won’t give you their money.

Digital assets are more than just files, as they also include metadata about the asset.

You can use digital assets to product strong, searchable content only if the right metadata is associated with it. Searchability saves your teams time and makes it easier for customers to find you in the crowded digital marketplace.

Enrichment Tools

PIM integrates with multiple resource planning systems to extract product information for storage as product attributes. This allows marketing teams to enrich product descriptions and assets for syndication across sales channels.

PIM systems are specifically designed to support information syndication regardless of the particular formats various channels require.

With PIM, information can be enriched from internal and external sources. Internal sources include your marketing department, while external sources are your suppliers, external information bases, and agencies.

Information from both sources increases product information accuracy, driving sales.

Product Attributes

The description of product attributes directly affects purchase decisions.

It’s important to properly manage both the tangible and intangible attributes described on your product pages.

Tangible attributes include:
  • Size
  • Feel
  • Packaging
  • Weight
  • Quantity
  • Material composition
Intangible attributes include:
  • Quality
  • Aesthetics
  • Reputation
  • Price
Customers expect products and services to have certain specific attributes.

Points of parity refers to the way in which a given company’s products are similar to those of another.

Some companies go a step further and incorporate “points of difference.”

In a bid to differentiate their products and services from the competition, they discuss the ways in which their products are superior to those of their competitors.

Optimizing your product information means including both types of information.

Ultimately, product attributes discuss product quality, features, and style/design. All three should add value in the eyes of your customers.

PIM Analytics

PIM implementation allows access to powerful analytics tools which detail product content performance.

Product information quality, as well as team performance, can be analyzed. Management can see all activities taking place across the system and how much time they require.

With analytics, you can quickly search, find, and fill in product information gaps, along with finding errors. These gaps are not limited to text, as your images, descriptions, and translations may be missing crucial information, too.

You can also conduct analysis by product groups.

Management can control the accuracy and overall quality of product information with analysis by section, language, or geographic region.

Analytics also covers your syndication channels by ensuring the right product information is pushed out. You can also streamline searches by field and create multi-variant tests using different versions of standard documents.

This will go a long way to improve content quality, even that of custom content.

Audit Trails

This core PIM function provides a time-stamped record of every change or operation your team undertakes.

By automatically tracking actions, from sales made to customer service complaints, optimization becomes far easier. Audit trails also support product information maintenance, helping to quickly identify errors for correction.

There are two approaches to audit trails:

Progressive

Tracks and monitors all actions from beginning to end

Retrograde

Tracks results back to the starting point

The purpose of using audit trails is to maintain a log of all information modifications.

Monitoring all modifications acts as a check against unauthorized or mistaken changes. You can monitor specific entities in the PIM for modification.

These include:
  • Items
  • Media assets
  • User groups
  • Products
  • Structure
  • Supplier catalogs
  • Structure features
  • Structure groups
There are two ways to retrieve audit trails.

1. Call up a given audit trail from the context menu to display specific changes.

or…

2. Display an overview of a given audit trail.

Regardless, every PIM has a default audit trail configuration.

Users can create specific queries to search for specific entities or users and a search window will display the results.

Bells and Whistles

PIM options and tools include more benefits than spreadsheets or manual solutions could ever offer.

By unifying product information in a single repository, companies can derive maximum value by delivering quality product information. This reduces the risks and delays that come with displaying outdated or incomplete information.

The flexibility the PIM system affords allows for significant customization.

With an expert team, you can configure your PIM to include the specific functionality you need to manage all of your product information. However, it’s always best to make sure you add only what you need, meaning only what you’ll use.

Opting for a standard PIM that satisfies all your ecommerce marketing and distribution needs is ideal.

Now that you know all about what a PIM is, click here to see what CATSY can do for you.