If your business isn’t efficiently managing product data, it is losing customers.
The main reasons for inefficient data management are:
- Failure to implement the proper procedures for data input and maintenance.
- Resource limitations which prevent hiring additional staff members with knowledge of e-Commerce requirements, processes, and tools.
- Uncomfortable or complex software interfaces.
- Lack of clear idea of how to use a PIM solution or the idea of using a PIM solution at all.
Product information management (PIM) is an integral part of any business. It is vital for operations, marketing, and customer service teams to know what products are available which can be sold at a profit, how much they sell for, where appropriate images, video files, and other assets are located, and all the details that help recharge your product sales.
In this blog post, you will find answers to the following questions:
- Do I need a PIM solution? How important is a PIM Solution for my e-Commerce business development?
- How can it help me scale my e-Commerce business?
- What common best practices should be in place when using a PIM solution for an e-Commerce business?
PIM can be a helpful tool in managing data, as it can be applied and customized according to the needs of any product-based business in almost any industry.
What is a PIM tool?
A Product Information Management (PIM) tool is a software solution that assists enterprises in organizing, sharing, and synchronizing digital data for their products.
It solves the problem of having a variety of disconnected data sources containing information about products, such as product details from distributors, suppliers, manufacturers, or wholesalers. A PIM solution can bring all this data together and provide an efficient way to manage and distribute it across multiple digital channels.
In car parts sales, PIM is invaluable in the process of managing the availability and pricing data of a wide range of spare parts. PIM allows businesses to manage catalogs, product listings, media assets, and other important information.
The Benefits of PIM Solutions in eCommerce
Today, more than ever before, buyers are expecting personalized shopping experiences. They want to see products that are tailored to their taste and preferences.
To achieve this goal, you need a comprehensive product information management solution (PIM). It is the only way for a large retailer to empower their existing systems with the data they need to create personalized digital experiences for their potential customers.
Why is it necessary to manage data for products in a PIM system?
There are many reasons why you need PIM. Most importantly, it can help:
- Improve customer service and sales by making it easier to create offers, drive revenue, and upsell customers.
- Increase productivity of marketing and sales teams through product catalogs with all the necessary data.
- Enable effective communication between different teams, such as product managers, suppliers, or customer service representatives. This is especially important for e-Commerce businesses that deal with many vendors and wholesalers.
- Save the time of human resources by facilitating routine processes and automating them with a PIM solution.
A PIM software solution eliminates the difficulty of trying to manage multiple spreadsheets using macros and other workarounds. It also reduces complicated manual data re-entry work when adding or removing products in a catalog. Moreover, a fully integrated PIM solution allows businesses to save money on pricey eCommerce platforms by having all data in one place.
You want your customer service representatives to have accurate product inventory and pricing information to help customers as quickly as possible with their inquiries. If you don’t use a PIM solution, the only way for your staff to answer these questions is through phone calls and emails from customers or manual searching through various documents and spreadsheets.
What information does a PIM system store?
A sound product information management system should be tailored to your business. The type of information stored in a PIM system depends on what information is relevant to your customers and employees.
For example, an automotive supplier might store the manufacturer name, part number, price, and various technical specifications of their parts.
A PIM solution stores all the necessary information about relevant products and other data related to them:
- Product attributes (product model number, brand, and so on)
- Product descriptions (color, size, materials used in a product, accessories)
- Images of products (sizes, colors), with thumbnails or previews generated automatically
- Videos and other digital assets of the product
- Pricing information (cost price, sales price, or discount)
- Sales history for each product
- Inventory data for each product (stock quantity in local warehouses, if allocated to different selling regions or countries)
- Marketing data (marketing materials, prices, discounts, and special offers)
You might not need all of this data in your daily operations.
For example, the pricing information won’t be relevant during the creation of sales proposals. However, it might be necessary to update your prices or run reports with price histories that can help you forecast future trends.
Who uses PIM systems?
Companies have many reasons for using product information management software.
It is essential to choose the right PIM solution for your business depending on the number of products in your digital product catalogs and their complexity. Small businesses might need simple PIM solutions without many advanced features. They might want to avoid custom configurations in order to have their PIM system up and running as soon as possible.
In contrast, large companies with substantial product catalogs might require robust PIM systems with many customizations. They need to be sure to have everything tailored for them and their business needs.
Online marketplaces of any kind benefit from using a PIM system because it creates a backend database to manage products that are not owned or created by the marketplace.
Even manufacturers need a reliable PIM system to manage their product catalogs. Especially when it comes to large companies with dozens of plants and divisions, the inventory information is often scattered across various directories and systems. A PIM system helps manufacturers improve communication across different departments and control the data, speed up product development, and shorten their time to market.
Best Practices for PIM Software
Even with sophisticated software in place, you can still make simple mistakes that might come back to haunt you.
Here are some of the best practices for using a PIM software solution that will help update your eCommerce product catalogs automatically:
Tagging and Categorizing
You should prioritize tagging of your products. Product tags will make it easier to keep your catalog clean and accurate while making the correct information available at the right time.
Ensure you have adequately tagged before uploading a product into a PIM system in case another entry already uses the tags. Try not to use different tags for the same information, like the manufacturer name or a product model number. Using the same tag allows an easier search for a specific entry if you need to check or edit something about it later.
In addition to tagging, products should be categorized correctly. For example, if you have some products sold primarily online, there’s no reason for them to be classified under ‘Retail’ or ‘Warehouse.’ This will save you time if it is necessary to look into a category that contains only products sold online. When you know the product exists and where it is, this will make your search faster.
Mapping the Catalog Management Process
If you are not the only one with access to the entire product catalog, things can get complicated. It’s important to create internal processes that allow you to track and monitor changes made by others users.
This might include an approval process so that only the most recent versions of products are visible in reports and on other interfaces. You can also set access rights to various parts of the catalog by assigning specific roles or permissions to different users.
Mapping the process of catalog management can help you identify the complexities of your product catalog and create rules to manage it. It is a great way to measure the effectiveness of the process and where its potential bottlenecks are.
To create an accurate catalog management map, consider the following questions:
- Who needs what kind of access to the product catalog?
- What should be done by whom, in case a product needs to be added or edited?
- How many steps are required in a standard catalog management process?
- Is there a need for reporting on products (such as Sales Statistics), and who is responsible for collecting this information?
- Do all users have the same understanding of the company’s business goals, or are each part of the organization going about their tasks differently?
Maintaining a Clean Product Database
A clean database means that you can trust the information you get from reports, online catalogs, and other interfaces. When a report shows that a product was sold 100 times last month, you know that it is accurate because no error would lead to this result.
Duplicates in the product database mess up reports and other data analysis tools and create confusion when making a large-scale update of products. You should reduce the number of duplicated entries by reviewing your PIM software solution regularly and deleting all but one instance of each duplicate entry.
To avoid inaccurate or incomplete information in your database, be sure to follow the final steps of adding or editing a product:
- Double-check the correct spelling and location of your store(s). Check if there’s a price set for each location.
- Check if any images have been attached to the product.
- Confirm that all information has been entered correctly. This will save you time later on if you need to edit or remove the product.
- Check for specific rules, such as required fields in a form. If everything looks alright, you can go ahead and publish the product.
Offering Relevant Alternatives
A product information management system is great for upselling and cross-selling.
The main idea is to offer personalized product recommendations to the customer, which increases the chances of purchasing a different product from what has been initially selected. This can be done with or without explicitly informing customers about them – depending on your business’ needs.
For example, if you want to upsell specific parts, you could display those alternatives directly on the product page or in an alternative products grid.
Does your e-Commerce business have any unique selling propositions? Use this knowledge to offer customers relevant alternatives that match their needs and context.
If a customer has already purchased from your website, you can also create a history of previous purchases and suggest additional products based on the items they already have. If you collect the history of customer behaviors, you can use this to create top customer reports – check out what items are commonly bought together and recommend them to similar customers.
At the same time, your PIM solution should allow you to keep track of how often a product has been cross-sold or up-sold. This way, you can see the items that have had the greatest influence on boosting sales and improve accordingly.
Ideal Technology Stack for Scaling
If you are looking to expand your organization, you will most likely need to hire new employees and equip them with the necessary tools. To achieve this, you should ensure that your team has access to an up-to-date product information management solution and similar technologies.
The ideal technology stack for scaling a growing eCommerce business includes the following:
Enterprise Commerce Platform
This type of platform is a good choice for businesses that need a scalable and flexible application. It consists of a back-end service for coupons, analytics, abandoned cart saving, cart-level discounts, etc. However, the main segment of an enterprise commerce platform is the front-end part – the one that customers interact with.
An enterprise commerce platform influences a customer’s shopping experience, making it easier (or more difficult) for them to find what they’re looking for.
Analyzing how customers interact with your front-end allows you to improve the overall shopping experience and make more informed decisions when creating a purchasing process.
A platform such as this allows for easy integration with other systems such as ERP and PIM solutions.
Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP)
An ERP solution is designed to integrate all aspects of your business, from financial management to accounting and production planning. You can use an ERP system for customer management, generating quotes and invoices, managing suppliers, and more.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
- POS (Point of Sale) integration
- Order management
- Inventory control
- ASP modules for accounting and finances
- Various analytical tools to help you make strategic decisions
- Central monitoring and management of cash flows, assets, suppliers, customers, employees
One of the most critical aspects of an ERP is integrating with other systems: it allows for creating a completely digital supply chain that makes it easy to manage your business.
Production Information Management Solutions (PIM)
Your PIM software is only as good as it can support your business goals and requirements. If you are looking to scale up and grow internationally, or if you want to provide an excellent experience for customers from different regions, make sure that a PIM solution can enable this.
A crucial benefit of a PIM system is its significant impact on productivity. It allows employees to manage the content of their catalogs faster and more efficiently.
Monitoring reviews and ratings can be an excellent way of finding out what your customers like or dislike about a specific product or category. A PIM system will help you gather all this information in one place.
If you’re using an e-commerce platform, one of the best ways to improve its functionality is to integrate with a third-party PIM solution.
A fully connected tech stack with all the options described above will allow you to:
- Improve the efficiency of your e-Commerce business.
- Expand internationally and reach more customers than ever before.
Managing an extensive product catalog – as is the case with aftermarket car parts retailers – can be pretty challenging.
Without a PIM solution or an organized technology stack, you’ll need to invest your time and resources into organizing content by hand. You risk committing mistakes that will potentially hurt your business in the long run.
The ideal technology stack for scaling an eCommerce business includes an enterprise commerce platform, ERP, and PIM software solutions: these are the essential tools for running a successful enterprise. They will help you grow, expand, and ensure high productivity.
If you are left wondering what the ideal PIM option would be for your online car parts store, you can always contact Illumaware for more information. We are looking forward to helping you with your technology needs, so don’t hesitate to reach out!