Your Product Data will Determine your Online Success
While tactical marketing plays a huge role in creating appeal, what actually educates and leads to purchase is merchandised content. Especially online when shoppers can’t interact with a product physically, the more rich and detail-oriented your product data, the higher the chances of a shopper being convinced. Yet most manufacturers today struggle to maintain the quality of product data across their sales and distribution channels, and for a number of reasons.
In this blog, we will discuss some of these reasons and the fixes to them, and before that, what product data actually is and why it is the key to online success.
Product Data — Draws a Detailed Picture of your Product
Product data comprises all the relevant attributes for each unique product in your inventory. Attributes may include the price, description, features, product images, dimensions, color, model numbers, SKUs, and UPCs. Ideally, manufacturers should include all the technical and marketing data that describes the product in detail, answering questions like:
- What can the product do?
- What is it capable of?
- How does it do it?
Additionally, product data also includes information that is not necessarily a feature or physical aspect of the item, including details like keywords, location, availability, shipping time, review score, and other products related to it.
On average it could take an organization 25 minutes per SKU to collect all the underlying details for a product. Leave that to retailers to figure out, and they may never be invested enough to collect all the underlying details.
Purchase Decisions — Driven by Rich Engaging Experiences
As a manufacturer or brand, whether selling online or offline, much of your success comes down to the experience you can craft for your customers. While it is easy to deliver an engaging and interactive experience in real life, replicating those experiences online is not the same. When consumers can’t physically experience your products, they base their buying decisions on the information they can find online, and when that information is not readily available or appealing enough, they might move to different options.
“ A third of all shoppers move on to another website within ten seconds if product information is lacking.” — says Hotjar
Your goal should be to draw such a detailed picture of your product, that consumers can visually imagine what it could do for them, without finding the need to physically experience it. This is possible through rich multimedia content such as 3D walkthroughs, in-depth video reviews, high-quality product imagery, and detailed guidelines.
Purchase Journeys — More Circular than Linear
Consumers today research a product thoroughly before making a purchase. During that process, they might come across a product on multiple channels, many of which might not be directly controlled by you. Instead of making a purchase straight away, they are likely to move back and forth multiple channels and cross-reference before they make their mind. And when they see discrepancies across channels, it reflects poorly on your brand and makes them skeptical about the purchase. Even if much of your sales happen offline, consumers are still bound to look at your product on the web, and if your content online is not up to the mark, that could lead to declining sales over time.
Inconsistent data may also make it hard for your sales partners and distributors to process orders, inaccurate or inconsistent data negatively impacts customer satisfaction leading to returns and refunds.
Maintaining High-Quality Product Data is Challenging
For you as a manufacturer, it’s important that you control the quality and consistency of the data that customers might encounter about your products. Only that will guarantee trust among consumers and ultimately loyalty. But with global marketplaces and multi-channel sales, manufacturers and brands are plagued with a number of challenges before they can ensure that.
1. Data Consistency:
This is a huge problem when data is aggregated from multiple resources. Often when companies are maintaining excel sheets or PDF files it’s hard to manage versions and have the latest updates sent across to retail and sales partners. Further, when collecting data, without quality checks, it’s difficult to standardize or enforce standards across your product teams. This causes inaccuracies and inconsistencies, making it difficult to maintain a brand image and harder to complete sales, leading to more returns and replacements.
Crafting the perfect product data requires input from multiple stakeholders, from manufacturing, design, product managers, marketing, and sales. Consolidating all of that data, and managing assets have become a big challenge for organizations. Internal collaboration over data, reconciling it across the board to have it in a presentable format requires dedicated time and effort, often at the cost of other important activities.
3. Disorganized Logs:
Many manufacturers today deal with a number of products, even entire different product lines. Making product data accessible to retailers or partners who are authorized to sell that specific line again requires effort, or at times is impossible to separate and organize data in a way, which makes it easy for them to organize and browse.
4. Data Governance:
With loosely collected files it’s impossible to control and govern data. Ensuring that your retailers and partners make use of the correct version of your product information is impossible. This hurts the brand image and visibility, while manufacturers can directly ping retailers to update, with multiple channels, especially that you don’t control, it is not feasible to keep track.
5. Data Security and Backup:
Another huge challenge is ensuring nobody unauthorized gets to access your product data. While this may not be of urgency for some organizations, product data for most is a valuable asset that can be maligned against the manufacturer. Loss of those files can lead to another severe disruption, even in the age of cloud technologies and backups, synchronizing each and every update manually is an additional challenge.
6. Data Distribution:
Last but not least. One of the biggest challenges for manufacturers is sharing product data with retailers. Often products keep getting updated, retired, or modified and new information needs to be communicated to the retailers who have them up on their stores. Getting that information out to them in time is a nightmare for the sales and marketing teams.
All of these challenges put together hurt the data quality and makes data collection harder, the operational management alone is a big investment and companies ultimately spend less time enriching the data and more time maintaining and distributing it.
Single Source of Truth — Product Information Management
PIM stands for Product Information Management and refers to a centralized hub to consolidate, manage, enrich, and access product information. Creating a single source of truth, PIMs ensure that consumers get a seamless, high-quality product experience regardless of what channel they come across.
When you don’t own or control all of your sales channels, PIMs give you the security of knowing that all of the product information that is being used is correct, up-to-date, and tailored to the channel. An effective PIM can assist you :
- Cut costs by eliminating any discrepancies and errors.
- Increase conversion rate by providing your consumers with precise information.
- Reduce time-to-market by offering quick ways to open new sales channels.
- Lesser returns and higher profits
Often PIMs have intuitive data editors, that allow manufacturers to collect and enrich product data in a very detail-oriented manner. Further, the data can be organized and modeled as desired, streamlining the entire process from ground up, from collection to distribution.
Distribution becomes way easier when your retailers and distributors know where to look for the latest product information. With a series of integration and electronic data feeds, they can incorporate your data straight to their storefronts, so all your data is delivered across channels just as you intended it to be and more importantly updated in real-time.
Implementing a PIM System
Unlike traditional ERPs or Databases, implementing a PIM is easy. The right PIM solution can get you started with a minimum of handholding and onboarding time. Further with on-cloud hosting, you can expect lower data maintenance and management costs, and lesser effort to collect and organize data.
If you want to implement a PIM for your organization to ensure quality and consistency of your product data, luckily you are the right place.
At APIMIO we are experts on the subject and can help you get started really quickly.
Schedule a call with one of our team members and we will help you start with your own PIM today!
An ERP contains different parts of data, including product, customer, logistics, and financial.
A PIM system on the other hand is designed solely to manage and store product information in a central location, and optimize it for sales and marketing purposes.