As a business grows, the management of product information inevitably becomes more complex.
How do you make sure that every department in your company has access to the correct data while maintaining a high level of consistency? How do you keep all departments on the same page when it comes to updating product information? How can you ensure that employees can find products quickly and easily without having to resort to using an inefficient search engine?
These are some of the most common pain points faced by many businesses in an eCommerce environment. Fortunately, there is now an easy solution: eCommerce product information management software!
Read this blog post for a detailed explanation of how these tools work and why they are so important in scaling a business.
Common Methods for Product Information Management
The three most common methods for managing product catalog information are the following:
- Manual Management. This is the most basic way to manage product information. It typically includes Excel spreadsheets, hard copies of documents, and folders full of files. It also involves a lot of valuable time spent by employees inputting products into their system, slowing down business processes. The potential for human error and inconsistency is incredibly high in this setup because of the lack of a centralized product information database.
- Custom-Built PIM. Custom software built internally by the business can be time-consuming and expensive. They require many resources to develop information management systems from scratch, which often needs to change over time due to ever-changing company requirements or industry standards. It’s also not scalable because there is no way to ensure that the same level of quality is maintained as a company grows.
- All-In-One Platform. An all-in-one PIM platform is an enterprise solution built by third-party vendors that integrate with your existing systems and provides necessary product information management, inventory control, order fulfillment, POS integration, and CRM.
- While these tools are fully scalable, an issue of underutilization arises. Companies often stop using the tool or use it for just a few of the available functions, which results in wasted time and money.
Ideal Technology Stack for Commerce Scaling
To successfully expand your business, you must have the necessary resources in place to support your growth. The ideal technology stack for commerce systems consists of an enterprise commerce platform, an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, and a PIM solution, all working together seamlessly.
This is how it works: as a company grows, more products are added to the inventory, leading to increased complexity with data management. The enterprise commerce platform will integrate with your ERP system so that orders can be automatically processed and fulfilled while also having a PIM module to help maintain product information across all departments in the company.
This stack of technologies eliminates much of the potential for human error as well as inconsistency between departments. It’s scalable because it is built to grow with the company and can be easily customized to reflect a business’s individual needs.
Let’s examine each component of this technology stack more closely:
Enterprise Commerce Platform
An enterprise commerce platform is an advanced eCommerce platform that provides the front-end (customer-facing) interface of an online shop. The back-end of this type of eCommerce solution should include features such as cart level discounts, abandoned cart saving, analytics, coupons, customer groups, and similar.
This is the software that most consumers will interact with when shopping on your website or mobile app, which means it needs to be intuitive and easy to use. It will shape their shopping experience, and if it isn’t enjoyable, they will inevitably look for a different website to do their shopping.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System
An ERP system integrates all aspects of an organization’s management, including finance and accounting, multi-channel automation, sales, and distribution. It includes modules such as inventory control, order fulfillment, POS integration (Point Of Sale), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and other specialized features.
Instead of keeping separate spreadsheets and databases, your employees can use this system to share information across departments, streamline processes, and collect the data they need. Sales are automatically linked to the financial system, for example, so employees can view performance at a glance and receive real-time updates.
An ERP can provide many benefits for scaling an eCommerce business, such as efficiency and accuracy. The ability to track changes in sales data over time is also invaluable for any business that relies on product pricing or forecasting.
ERP systems can be expensive and resource-intensive to build from scratch. It is essential to find one that integrates seamlessly with your PIM solution and other business-critical data.
Product Information Management (PIM) Solution
A reliable PIM solution can help you scale your business by organizing and managing all product-related data in one place – it represents a single source of truth for product content. This includes things like whether a particular item is available or not, how much inventory is on hand, what price it should be set at, where to ship it from (e.g., warehouse), who should receive the order when it arrives, etc.
A PIM provides automatic synchronization of data across multiple business channels, keeping everyone on the same page. This is very important when scaling your business because many departments are involved in each order, such as Customer Service, Finance and Accounting (e.g., sales tax), Legal, Marketing (e.g., promotions or rebates), etc.
The back-office will manage product details (SKUs, digital images and videos, other assets, item numbers, documentation, product descriptions, custom attributes, translations, and more), while the marketing team can design digital marketing campaigns and focus on creating compelling offers.
A PIM system has a significant impact on productivity. How much time do you spend each week on product content management? How many people are involved in this process across your company? How often does it happen that orders get sent to the wrong department, or worse yet, sent back and forth between departments because of a mistake with how an item was tagged or identified.
A product information management system can help eliminate these sorts of problems and provide clear pathways to the accurate product data employees need. It also makes it easy for them to see how changes in one department will affect another before they happen.
The benefits a PIM eCommerce system can offer your business are numerous:
- Improved accuracy and efficiency across departments
- Reduced time to market
- Better visibility into inventory levels
- Cost savings on operations
- Better customer service
- More sales and faster order fulfillment
- Reduced risk of errors
When scaling your business, choose technologies that are easily customizable for your unique needs. Gone are the days of spreadsheets or a one-size-fits-all solution.
When looking for the right software for your technology stack, pay close attention to these three systems:
- eCommerce Platform
- ERP System
- PIM Solution
All three of these systems offer a lot to any business aiming for eCommerce success. How much you need will depend on how complex your supply chain and product information are, as well as the size of your company. These technologies can be used in tandem with each other or separately, depending on what works best for you at this stage of scaling up.
Keep in mind that your PIM software solution is crucial in supporting scalable growth because it helps maintain product details across all departments in your company.
The key is to choose a PIM solution that works seamlessly with your eCommerce platform and ERP system, so you can focus on expanding your business without worrying about the technical side of things.