Customers today have become accustomed to convenience in buying journeys and are naturally drawn to brands that offer hyper-personalized shopping experiences. With devices being their primary go-to medium for research, customers browse product information online, compare prices to find the best deal, and skim through social media to look up reviews before making a purchase. In addition, they prefer self-checkout kiosks and digital payment methods, share product experiences online, participate in brand polls and surveys, and engage in interactive forums. The evolving tech-savvy consumers are subconsciously attracted to personalized and contextualized shopping experiences. To keep up, retail companies are investing in innovative omnichannel strategies to attract, motivate and connect to shoppers, both in-store and online. Omnichannel commerce is a notch above multi-channel sales as it offers 100% integration of all touchpoints and conducts more holistic monitoring of customers’ purchasing patterns.
Gartner’s Omnichannel 2020 Intelligence Report states that during December 2018-January 2019, 48% of people had checked a product’s availability in-store, and 31% ordered online and picked up in-store. So it comes as no surprise that the entire gamut of customer convenience measures, right from direct-to-customer (D2C), buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS), or curbside pick-ups, rests on the shoulders of robust omnichannel efforts set in motion by retailers and marketers by streamlining accurate product information. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to imagine the possibility of delivering consistent and correct product-related data across shopping channels and touchpoints without omnichannel enablement—which is one of the key benefit claims of Product Information Management (PIM) solutions.
PIM lets retail enterprises organize their product experiences seamlessly across channels (websites, mobile, digital marketplaces, POS, etc.) to offer the best possible shopping experiences through:
Excellent Data Management for Enabling Consistency
Effective product data management plays a key role in making the eCommerce omnichannel strategy successful. If omnichannel is the engine, then product data management is the fuel that keeps the engine running steady and smooth. A PIM platform collects, manages, and enriches accurate product data in a centralized repository. It also enables the integration of numerous applications through APIs and speeds up the import and export of data to and from external systems.
With context-sensitive drag and drops operations, PIM facilitates efficient product data management and a web-based user interface. A PIM system can steer the omnichannel shopping experience to success by providing uniform, consistent and up-to-date product data across all eCommerce channels. It allows marketers to achieve data uniformity and provide customized product content to different customer segments on various sales channels, thus creating a consistent and connected retail experience.
Seamless Customer Experience
With omnichannel enablement redefining the market dynamics, eCommerce players must reimagine their customer experience strategy and offer a 360° view of product data. This includes putting forward rich product information such as high-resolution images, descriptive texts highlighting distinctive features, detailed specifications, and informative user guides to help capture customers’ attention and influence their purchasing decisions. PIM ensures that buyers have access to detailed and consistent product data across all possible sales and marketing channels by serving as a single source of truth. By offering a well-cataloged product portfolio with reliable, consistent, and compliant product data, PIM provides a holistic data repository that helps eCommerce organizations overcome product data challenges and enrich product information for delivering seamless customer experiences to secure a more significant share of the customer’s wallet. Due to this, it also plays an important role in reducing shopping cart abandonment.
Ease Of Adding/Modifying Product Attributes
PIM enables eCommerce enterprises to store customized product information using attributes such as texts (e.g., features or descriptions), digital assets (e.g., product photos, videos, animations, illustrations, etc.), and other artifacts including instruction guides, pdfs, etc. These attributes are assigned to products to facilitate advanced search using attribute values, product segmentation, and merchandising. In case of a new product launch or the release of a new product variant, product attributes have to be modified or updated. For a large retail organization, manually executing such updates is tedious, time-consuming, and error-prone, leading to poor quality data and negative customer experiences. PIM’s batch product editor enables users to add or make numerous edits like adding or removing product names, descriptions, modifying categories and attributes, updating warranty, etc., without the need to export product data to a third-party source, increasing efficiency manifolds.
Facilitating Seamless Global Product Launches
Product launches and promotions form an essential part of a brand’s identity. From a retailer’s point of view, launching global product campaigns can be quite complex and daunting, even for established companies. A centralized platform for product information management enables efficient and consistent product data distribution across multiple geographies and time zones. Moreover, PIM helps marketers deliver demographic-specific, multi-lingual product descriptions to connect with customers better. Consumers are likely to engage more with brands that align with their preferences, so conveying the same through product content is crucial for global product launches. PIM empowers retailers to scale effortlessly through automation and workflows to deliver tailored campaigns across global locations successfully. As a centralized repository of product data, PIM drives collaboration across international marketing teams, reduces time-to-market, and helps target the right audience with the right products instantly.
Enabling Innovation in Shopping Experience
Today’s hyper-connected consumers access product-related information across different devices and channels. With this backdrop, it becomes essential to provide customers with an integrated and innovative shopping experience by making unified product information available throughout all customer touchpoints. PIM enables enterprises up their eCommerce game by giving complete control over every aspect of product information. While some customers prefer to shop online and have their products delivered, others look for in-store, BOPIS, or curbside pick-up to save shipping costs. PIM ensures that everything works efficiently to enable innovative shopping experiences as a robust product data management system. PIM contributes to D2C and social commerce success through product content syndication for delivering a rich product experience to customers wherever they are. A PIM solution increases conversions, enhances brand value, and improves the bottom line by enabling improved shopping models with total control over product data.
PIM is All You Need
The retail landscape is swiftly changing with rapid shifts in customer behavior. With recent studies showing that 42% of consumers equally favor physical stores and websites, retailers are fast realizing that business success today depends on the ability to complement ‘bricks’ with ‘clicks.’ They must deliver the best options to their customers every time everywhere. According to McKinsey, customers are fast switching brands for reasons like availability (in-store and online), convenience, and value. In turn, this adds to the popularity of the brick-and-click shopping experience, as it promises the best of both worlds.
In such times, the need for efficient product information management that ensures accurate product data is available across all channels is paramount for long-term and sustained business growth. PIM helps retailers improve cross-sell and upsell opportunities, drive better personalization across customer touchpoints, increase brand loyalty, and reduce product return rates. By joining the dots between physical and virtual worlds through omnichannel enablement, PIM enables retailers to make product data available to channel partners and marketplaces, drive collaboration across the value chain, and gain a significant competitive edge with deeper insights into customer behavior.
Vandana Singal is Director of Solution Consulting at Pimcore Global Services (A Happiest Minds Company). Pimcore is an open-source platform for product information management (PIM/MDM), digital asset management (DAM), content management system (CMS), and eCommerce. She has extensive experience managing presales, product development, and multifunctional teams.