Businesses across the globe are on a precipice. According to an article, which appeared in The New York Times on April 9, 2021, “Huge swaths of the economy shut down last spring and are now being turned back on. But as roughly three million Americans are vaccinated per day and nearly $3 trillion in federal money courses through the economy, it is an open question how long it will take businesses to get up to speed.”
Statistics abound, but one recent study noted that the global online shopping market size hit nearly 4 trillion in 2020 in the United States alone; it is projected that there will be 300 million more online shoppers by 2023. Harnessing the power of data is proving to be an essential route to success for companies hoping to capitalize on revived, post-pandemic consumer demand for goods. From cars to CPG, data and digital initiatives are driving the conversation in marketing and sales. What omni-channel and online merchants are realizing, is that PIM (Product Information Management) is central to capturing the market and generating sales.
As the shift to digital commerce escalates, spurred in large part by COVID-19, product data can and should accelerate eCommerce success. Sales and marketing leaders are waking up to the fact that eCommerce brings unique requirements around governance, taxonomy, syndication, data pools, and more. Modern Product Information Management (PIM) and Product Content Management (PCM) systems offer enterprises a central system to acquire content from sources, manage and enrich that content with digital assets or complex product hierarchies, and ultimately ensure that the same information gets published to multiple consuming channels and syndication sources.
As information flows from the producers to the consumers, great care (and governance) should be taken to ensure that the product content remains up-to-date and is enriched effectively. Let’s focus on five key areas within the purview of sales and marketing executives where PIM leverages data that makes a difference:
It’s long been obvious that strong searchability is a major differentiator in eCommerce growth. However, accurate, granular product information not only propels higher search engine rankings, but also helps customers easily find products on the merchant’s website and third-party channels. With SEO playing an increasing role in marketplace sales (Amazon is the third most popular search engine in the world), it’s become essential to have searchable product attributes in every single description. PIM makes that previously manual and error-prone process automatic and precise and gives companies the ability to gather product information into one centralized hub – both freeing sales and marketing departments to do their “real” jobs rather than incessantly monitor product descriptions.
Online product content must bridge the gap between a hands-on, in-person and online customer shopping experience by providing robust product descriptions that feature digital assets like 360-degree images, videos, manuals, and product demonstrations that bring the product to life. PIM solutions with integrated Digital Asset Management (DAM) give companies the ability to present their products in a much more compelling way.
3-Personalized Product Experiences
According to consulting firm McKinsey& Company, 80% of customers want personalization from retailers, yet 67% of CEOs said they don’t have the correct tools to accomplish personalization at scale. The missing ingredient is often PIM. First, PIM helps online retailers deliver the relevant recommendations that shoppers crave by establishing relationships and hierarchies across attributes and categories. As customers dig into the details of one product, similar or accompanying products can be displayed, boosting upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Second, PIM helps power modern product experiences, like Augmented Reality (AR). From seeing how a couch fits in a living room to virtually “trying on” a new pair of shoes on a smartphone, AR is popping up across many retail categories. However, to drive these experiences, retailers need detailed, accurate product information. Whether it’s AR, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc., PIM gives organizations the capability to bring new forms of personalization to customers and stand out from a crowded field in the process.
The pandemic brought about a greater prevalence of fulfillment options – such as curbside pickup or same-day delivery. Now, online shoppers have higher expectations around how they will actually get the product after they order it. PIM(and particularly how it intersects with data around location and suppliers)aids order fulfillment in a number of ways – from exact height and weight specifications for boxing shipments to validating SKU numbers and assuring the correct products are shipped to customers and stores. Having accurate, consistent product data gives the supply chain the information it needs to coordinate order fulfillment and display that information accurately on merchants’ websites or third-party sites so customers know what to expect.
5-The Last-Last Mile
Much has been said about the importance of last-mile delivery. But there’s another bridge to cross and that is customer satisfaction with what is specifically in the box that arrives on the doorstep, because product returns make the difference between profit and loss. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), consumers returned an estimated $428 Billion in merchandise to retailers last year, and $102 Billion of merchandise purchased online was returned. That fact alone should worry sales and marketing teams. A 2015 survey by Shotfarm found that nearly 80% of consumers surveyed ranked product information as “very important” in their online purchasing decisions, and almost 90% said they would be unlikely or very unlikely to make a repeat purchase with a retailer that provided inaccurate product information.
PIM platforms help ensure online shoppers understand precisely what they’ll receive. And when a product meets a customer’s expectations, he or she is more likely to keep it and provide positive reviews that fuel more sales. It’s clear that consumers rely on high-quality product content as part of their path to purchase. Rich content that is available and accurate on every channel (web, mobile, print, etc.) can make the difference in a buying decision, while poor quality information or, worse, inaccurate or inconsistent information across channels can have a lasting effect on brand loyalty.