Category Archives: PiM

The World Cup: Everyday PIM Malpractice

The World Cup: Everyday PIM Malpractice

The World Cup: Everyday PIM Malpractice

If you’re an electronics-loving football fan, you may have used the World Cup as an opportunity to finally buy that coveted new large-screen TV. If you did, you weren’t the only one: In fact, UK retailer John Lewis reported a 47% sales increase on televisions the week of May 31. And, almost without exception, electronics retailers designed special World Cup offers to attract customers.

The World Cup drives a profound number of purchases. These purchases expose a stunning amount of what I call “PIM malpractice.” When there is a sudden surge in online product comparisons, the companies with effective Product Information Management benefit the most. The companies that lack effective PIM lose revenue.

It should be a no-brainer for electronics retailers to make sure their TV category product information is complete and up-to-date. After all, attributes sell. Unfortunately, many retailers still don’t understand the importance of consistent, accurate product information. Product information does sell  – especially online, where shoppers go for product research. This is especially true for a spec-heavy tech purchase like a big-screen TV.

Product information has enormous power. When it is accurate and consistent, it has the power to excite and guide shoppers. When it is incomplete or incorrect, product information can create deal-breaking insecurity.

A case in point:

Let’s for a minute replicate the customer journey to that new TV set. Say you want a new HD TV with a 50-inch screen. Your budget is around $1,200, and your spouse said “yes” under the condition that it’s wall-mountable. You visit an online shop and filter your search by price and screen size. The result: no fewer than 25 models to compare. This is what a detailed view of one of them looks like:

electronics_attributes

Apart from the prioritization of essential information (shouldn’t the screen size be displayed above the model number?), it seems pretty impressive. There are lot of information and explanations (hidden behind the information icons) that make the product take shape in your mind and help you learn what to look for. The only thing that seems to be missing is information about the wall mount…

What we can learn from the comparison function

Once you look at a few products in comparison, however, the situation changes quite a bit. Say you choose four TVs from your filtered search results and hit “compare products.” This is what your screen looks like now:

electronics_compare_products

The comparison view reveals the kind of product information deficiencies that inhibit purchase. Here’s what we can learn from it:

  • Data on all four products was incomplete. One of the first things the customer sees is a whole lot of grey: product information that’s missing. The single product view only gave the available attributes but the comparison function highlights the gaps. And gaps are bad, because…
  • The product with the most attributes sets the standard. Customers look to product information to tell them what they should know. Missing information or an attribute that isn’t defined always look careless – and what’s worse, it makes the product look inferior: If they haven’t bothered, they can’t think too much of the product, right?
  • Product information doesn’t simply exist, waiting to be written down. You have to create it. When it’s designed well, it sets standards and helps your products rise above the competition.
  • The unanswered question is always the most prominent. You still don’t know about the wall mount… And as a matter of fact, whatever far-fetched detail customers may want to know – it will always be the first thing on their mind. It may be their dream TV, but unless they know that one thing, they just can’t buy it.

So when I said in the beginning that brands and retailers don’t understand that product information sells, this is what I meant:

Modern shoppers always research product information, especially when making a major purchase such as TV set. That product information isn’t neutral, or nice-to-have. It is the product. And it needs to be treated with the same care as the product itself.

Retailers need to create their own standards: It’s not enough to just display supplier information. Rigorous quality control and information completion processes need to be in place if retailers want their product information to be better than the competition’s.

Great PIM comes from the customer’s point of view. When designing product information, the customer is the ultimate guide. Immersing oneself in their situation, and investing time and the combined brain power of category experts to think about anything they may want to know – it may the make or break of a sale.

That’s one recent example in one product category.  But the PIM problem can be seen across every retail category and on virtually every retail website or mobile app.

To brands and retailers that get it right, multichannel product information management is a secret advantage. It’s also the best way to leap out of the product comparison tables and into the shopping carts.

Imagine the wall mount is there and helps to convince the mainly male target group. Which information is needed to tailor digital marketing to different personas and target groups, depending on teams, nations, locations or what information can help to personalize marketing to people which are maybe not keen on football. What would attract them?

PIM electronics personalized marketing

What do you think? Did you find the right large-screen TV for World Cup watching? The World Cup shows everyday PIM malpractice. We’d love to hear about your most sought-after but least-found television attribute! (And for more on the importance of product information, check out our ebook “The Informed Purchase Journey.”)

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in PiM, Product Information Management, Real-Time, Retail | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

World Cup of Data: The Early Bird Closes the Sale

Did you know the 2014 Brasil World Cup is actually the World Cup of Data? In addition to the visible matches played on the pitch, eShops will be in a simultaneous struggle to win real-time online merchandise customers.

Let me explain. Jogi Löw, the manager of the German team, is known for his stylish attire. At every major event, each European Cup and World Cup, he wears newly designed shirts and suits. As a result, when television audiences see each new article of clothing, there is a corresponding increase in related online retail activity. When Löw began this tradition, people didn’t know that his outfits were made by Strenesse. As a result, people searched using the keywords “Jogi Löw Shirt.” This drove traffic to the eShop with the best search engine optimization, giving them more conversions and more revenue.

If a manager’s attire drives online retail sales, imagine how much demand there is for the jerseys worn by the most visible World Cup athletes? Many of the these players have huge social media followings. Consider the size of the social media followings of Ronaldo, Kakà, Neymar, Ronaldinho and Wayne Rooney:

football social top5

(Source: http://fanpagelist.com/category/athletes/soccer/view/list/sort/followers/page1)

There is huge demand for these player’s jerseys. This demand will only increase as the games progress. Once the winner is decided, Google searches will rise for phrases like “World Cup Winner Jersey 2014 of xxx”. Some refer to this as the super long tail. And research does show that search queries with 3 or more words have better conversion rates than queries with only 1 or 2 words.

Longtail-image

(Source: http://www.conductor.com/resource-center/research/long-tail-search )

Who can predict the winners?

What happens if a fairly unknown player scores the last goal in over time? How will that event impact social media activity and search engine volumes? Who will be able to leverage this activity to sell the relevant merchandising products fast enough? The eShop with the best data will have the quickest response. And the eShop with the quickest response will get the traffic and the revenue.

The world cup is a battle. The early bird closes the sale. It’s time to play the World Cup of Data.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in Master Data Management, PiM, Product Information Management, Real-Time, Retail | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Social Search Replace Search Engines?

More 60% of shopping journeys start with Google. This is what I wrote in one of my white papers on product information and their impact on omni-channel purchasing decisions. But how long will that be true? We all learned that shopping which is influenced by digital can dramatically change, everyday.

Marketing Sherpa reports this week which channels e-commerce companies are investing in. E-mail marketing, social media, SEO and paid search are listed as top 4 invests.

Channels investments due to MarketingSherpa

Channels investments due to MarketingSherpa

Did you notice the phenomena of social product search? We had BBQ with friends last Saturday and my friend Marco told about his new digital radio he can use for playing music from his mobile devices. That made me think about looking for a Bluetooth or Wifi ready and stylish gadget for my living room. Should not be to big, but pound enough and cool. Wifi or Bluetooth is important because I don’t want any visible cable.

This is what I did next: I posted my question to Facebook, not to a search engine.
As you know, the always connected customer is always online, on his “informed purchase journey”. Within minuted I had a series of recommendations from friends and colleagues. Some posted links to products they recommend. As some friends are know for having much more knowledge than me on consumer electronics, and both confirm same brand names…

social search

My snapshot of a “Social Search”.

What does this mean for easy access to product information and omni-channel commerce?

Keep Us Posted

Internet Retailing Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) is around the corner. See something you absolutely love? Let us know! Keep us posted by using @InformaticaCorp #IRCE2014

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in Master Data Management, PiM, Product Information Management, Real-Time, Retail | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Guest interview with Jorij Abraham: author of the first book about PIM and founder of E-commerce Foundation

Jorij AbrahamJorij Abraham is the founder of the E-commerce Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping organizations and industries improve their e-commerce activities. He advises companies on e-commerce strategy, Omnichannel development and product information management. He also works as Director Research & Advise for Ecommerce Europe.

He’s written a fine book about PIM but don’t expect a technical book at all! This is what marketing teams, merchandisers, product category teams, digital strategist, should be reading.

Like him or not, when he talks you’d better listen!

Michele: Let’s start with a view on the PIM market. Where are we globally?

Jorij: We are just starting. Most retailers still do not realize how important product information is to sell digital. In some countries the expectation is that in 2020 30 – 50% of all consumer goods are bought online. PIM no longer is an option. It is essential to be successful now and in the upcoming years.

M.: What was the main inspiration behind the book? It is definitely the first book about PIM but I am sure the motivation runs a bit deeper than that.

J.: The fact that there is very little in depth information available about the subject triggered me to write the book. However, I got a lot of help from experts from Unic and the different software vendors and was very happy with all the great research Heiler had already done in the area.

M.: Who should be reading your book?

J.: I wrote the book for a broad audience; managers, employees responsible for product information management, marketers, merchandisers, and even students! There are chapters covering the basics and how a PIM can help a company on a strategic, tactical and operational level. Few later chapters are devoted to helping product information officers implement a PIM system and choose the right PIM solution.

M.: I see that in your book you cover a good number of big PIM vendors. What is the future for those who target mid-market businesses?

J.: If you look at the overall market I think we will see a large shake out in the industry. We will have very big players like Amazon, Ebay, Walmart and lots of niche players. The medium sized business will have a difficult time to survive. All will be in need for a PIM system however.

M.: What’s your take on the different PIM vendors out there? I personally see different flavours of PIM such as those more commerce friendly, as opposed to those more ERP friendly, or just minimalist PIM solutions.  

J.: In the book I discuss several solutions. Some are for companies starting with PIM others are top of the line. Especially for larger firms with lots of product information to manage I recommend to make a larger investment. Low-end PIM solutions are a good choice if you expect your needs will remain simple. However if you know that within two or three years you will have 100.000 products, in multiple languages with lots of attributes, do not start with a simple solution. Within 1.5 years you will have to migrate again and the costs of migration are not worth the licence costs saved.

PIM Book Jorij AbrahamM.: In your view, what are the major inhibitors for PIM adoption?

J.: There are many strategic, tactical and operational benefits. Managers have difficulties understanding the ROI because it is indirect. PIM can improve traffic to your site, increase conversion ratio, and reduce returns.

M.: Would it be easier to promote PIM in combination to a WCMS platform? More generally, is there a case to promote PIM as part of a greater strategic thrust?

J.: I personally prefer systems which are great at doing what they are meant to do. However it very much depends on the needs of the company. Combining a PIM with a WCMS are mixing two solutions with very different goals. Hybris is an example of a complete solutions. If you want to buy everything at once, it is a good choice. However what I like very much about the Heiler/Informatica solution is that is great at doing what is says it does. Especially the user friendliness of the system is a big plus. Why? Because if a PIM fails it usually is because of the low user adaptation.

M.: What would you suggest to Australian retailers who are clearly reluctant to adopt PIM primarily because of limited local references (at least on large scale)?

J.: Retail in Australia is going the same way as everywhere else. Digital commerce will be a fact of life and a PIM is essential to be successful online. Look at the proof in the Asia, Europe and the USA. PIM is here to stay.

M.: Is PIM now what ERP was in the 90s and CRM at the beginning of the millennium? In other words, will it ever become a commodity?

J.: I think so. But we are really at the start of PIM. CRM is anno 2014 not yet really a part of most IT architectures. So we have a long way to go…

M.: Let’s talk about the influence exerted by analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester, and Ventana. What’s your view on this? Are they moving the market? They put a lot of effort in trying to differentiate themselves. For example, see how Gartner MDM Quadrant for Products combine MDM and PIM players.

J.:I think the research agencies in general do not get PIM yet to the full extent. It is still a niche market and they are combining solutions which in my view is not helping the business and IT user. I have seen companies buy an MDM solution expecting to support their PIM processes. MDM is very different from PIM although its goals overlap. I often see that PIM has much more end-users, requires faster publication processes. There are only a few solutions in the market which really combine MDM and PIM in a sensible way.

M.: Looking at your book, I noticed that you spend a great deal of effort in unearthing what I’d call ‘PIM core concepts”. However, while the core concepts are stable, being a technology-enabled discipline PIM will undergo ongoing enhancements. What is your view on this?

J.: This is a tough question. In fact, few chapters in my book may go out of date soon. For example, PIM providers are popping up and it’s hard to keep up. On a more important note, I also see the following trends:

a) The cloud is going to have a fundamental impact on PIM solutions. It will hard to sell an on-premise solution to companies that are very much focused on their core business and outsourcing everything else (e.g. Retailers)

b) I see companies working much more intensively to collect and disseminate accurate product information. This is costly and operational inefficient if it is undertaken in isolation. In fact, there’s room to improve the overall supply chain by integrating product information across different parties, e.g. suppliers, manufactures, and retailers.

c) Finally, I see the emergence of the social as another key development in the PIM space. Just think about the contribute that consumers are providing when they shop online and share their experience on the social platforms or provide a product recommendation and/or ranking. This is product information and PIMs need to incorporate that in the overall product enrichment.

M.: Thank you Jorij. This has been a fantastic opportunity for me and my readers to learn more about you and the great work you are doing.

J.: It is great that you are putting so much effort in sharing information about product information management. Only in such a way companies can start to understand the value of PIM and increase both sales as well as reduce costs.

The book is available on Springer website, Amazon, Bookdepository, and many other book stores.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, CMO, PiM, Product Information Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Long Tail strategy and PIM

As promised at the end of one of my recent posts, let’s have a closer look at the long tail approach and how PIM supports it. The driver for the long-tail model is customers expectations. In fact, they demand an increasingly larger and broader assortment of products through various online channels given that the shelf space is no longer a concern. The key insight here for independent retailers is that expanded offerings and selection can reveal demand that was otherwise not known to exist. 

The benefit of a long-tail strategy is that products in the long tail can be sold against a higher margin. Aberdeen reports up to 29 % higher profits due to higher product margins in the long-tail assortment.

Longtail_PIM

The challenges for many companies, however, is the actual management of large assortments. The graph below shows the relationship with the size of a company’s assortments and having a PIM system. 

Assortment Size - Heiler

Retailers with and without PIM in relation to their assortment size (Source: Heiler)

It is remarkable to see that when the assortment increases to over one million SKUs there are no companies that do not have a PIM system.

How PIM supports the long tail has been clearly highlighted by Rolph Heiler, founder of Heiler Software (which has recently been acquired by Informatica):

Assortments are often restricted by the fact the product data cannot be efficiently maintained. A Product Information Management (PIM) systems enables dealers to setup and manage extremely large assortments, without rising costs for expanding their assortments. 

End quote. The point is that for the first time ‘dealers’ are given a process and a tool to onboard data from suppliers and store it centrally before it is prepared and enriched for presentation purposes. However, as aptly pointed out by J. Abraham in his upcoming book (see references below), implementing a long-tail strategy entails much more than just onboarding data from suppliers to your PIM system, and the ability to technically manage larger assortments. More specifically, he observes that…

 Processes have to be set up to manage the information in the PIM system. Price mechanisms have to be set up to manage the margin for which products are sold. Just adding 30 % margin to all products might be a simple thing to do, but it does not take into consideration the actual logistical costs, perceived product value by the customer, and competitors’ prices. Likewise, when suppliers stop selling a product, the product also has to be removed from the assortment of the wholesaler or retailer. 

Once a product is sold, the product has to be ordered, possibly repackaged at the company’s warehouse and delivered to the customer. To do this, logistical processes have to be set up in the ERP system, especially when the ERP system does not yet know the product just sold. With the external and internal processes set up right, companies are able to expand their offering very fast. WarmteService for example was able to expand its offering from 20,000 products to 150,000 products in less than 1.5 years

End quote. This is a broader and more accurate view of the processes that need to be put in place to implement a successful long-tail strategy. As Ted Hurlbut put it, “The Long Tail is not an argument merely to carry broader assortments. It is not an argument to expand into unrelated categories that stretch customer’s expectations and the retailer’s core expertise. It is not just about capturing the add-on or plus sale. It is rather a demonstration that there is business to be done in carefully selected items that deepen assortments in a retailer’s niche that appeal specifically to the customer’s imagination.”

In conclusion, it should be clear that the long-tail model is a compelling territory for innovative customer experiences*. PIM has a respectable place in the model insofar as it allows retailers to quickly respond to product demands by facilitating the creation of relevant assortments in a timely and efficient manner. 

Drop shipping is an interesting example of long-tail strategy that will be analysed in one of the upcoming posts. Stay tuned! 

References

- J. Abraham, Product Information Management, Management for Professionals, Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014 

Aberdeen Group, The Instant Power of All-Channel PIM: Increased Sales and Competitiveness, December 2011.

PIM for long-tail, Heiler whitepaper


*I am not a blind believer of The Long Tail. I see few grey areas that various authors have spelt out greatly. If there’s interest, I will plan to extend on this fascinating subject.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in PiM, Product Information Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MDM Day Advice: Connect MDM to a Tangible Business Outcome or You Will Fail

“Start your master data management (MDM) journey knowing how it will deliver a tangible business outcome. Will it help your business generate revenue or cut costs? Focus on the business value you plan to deliver with MDM and revisit it often,” advises Michael Delgado, Information  Management Director at Citrix during his presentation at MDM Day, the InformaticaWorld 2014 pre-conference program. MDM Day focused on driving value from business-critical information and attracted 500 people.

A record 500 people attended MDM Day in Las Vegas

A record 500 people attended MDM Day in Las Vegas

In Ravi Shankar’s recent MDM Day preview blog, Part 2: All MDM, All Day at Pre-Conference Day at InformaticaWorld, he highlights the amazing line up of master data management (MDM) and product information management (PIM) customers speakers, Informatica experts as well as our talented partner sponsors.

Here are my MDM Day fun facts and key takeaways:

  • Did you know that every 2 seconds an aircraft with GE engine technology is taking off somewhere in the world?

    Ginny Walker, Chief Enterprise Architect at GE Aviation

    Ginny Walker, Chief Enterprise Architect at GE Aviation

    GE Aviation’s Chief Enterprise Architect, Ginny Walker, presented “Operationalizing Critical Business Processes: GE Aviation’s MDM Story.” GE Aviation is a $22 billion company and a leading provider of jet engines, systems and services.  Ginny shared the company’s multi-year journey to improve installed-base asset data management. She explained how the combination of data, analytics, and connectivity results in productivity improvements such as reducing up to 2% of the annual fuel bill and reducing delays. The keys to GE Aviation’s analytical MDM success were: 1) tying MDM to business metrics, 2) starting with a narrow scope, and 3) data stewards. Ginny believes that MDM is an enabler for the Industrial Internet and Big Data because it empowers companies to get insights from multiple sources of data.

  •  Did you know that EMC has made a $17 billion investment in acquisitions and is integrating more than 70 technology companies?
    Barbara Latulippe, EMC

    Barbara Latulippe, Senior Director, Enterprise Information Management at EMC

    EMC’s Barbara Latulippe, aka “The Data Diva,” is the Senior Director of Enterprise Information Management (EIM). EMC is a $21.7 billion company that has grown through acquisition and has 60,000 employees worldwide. In her presentation, “Formula for Success: EMC MDM Best Practices,” Barbara warns that if you don’t have a data governance program in place, you’re going to have a hard time getting an MDM initiative off the ground. She stressed the importance of building a data governance council and involving the business as early as possible to agree on key definitions such as “customer.” Barbara and her team focused on the financial impact of higher quality data to build a business case for operational MDM. She asked her business counterparts, “Imagine if you could onboard a customer in 3 minutes instead of 15 minutes?”

  • Did you know that Citrix is enabling the mobile workforce by uniting apps, data and services on any device over any network and cloud?

    Michael Delgado, Citrix

    Michael Delgado, Information Management Director at Citrix

    Citrix’s Information Management Director, Michael Delgado, presented “Citrix MDM Case Study: From Partner 360 to Customer 360.” Citrix is a $2.9 billion Cloud software company that embarked on a multi-domain MDM and data governance journey for channel partner, hierarchy and customer data. Because 90% of the company’s product bookings are fulfilled by channel partners, Citrix started their MDM journey to better understand their total channel partner relationship to make it easier to do business with Citrix and boost revenue. Once they were successful with partner data, they turned to customer data. They wanted to boost customer experience by understanding the total customer relationship across products lines and regions. Armed with this information, Citrix employees can engage customers in one product renewal process for all products. MDM also helps Citrix’s sales team with white space analysis to identify opportunities to sell more user licenses in existing customer accounts.

  •  Did you know Quintiles helped develop or commercialize all of the top 5 best-selling drugs on the market?

    John Poonnen, Quintiles

    John Poonnen, Director Infosario Data Factory at Quintiles

    Quintiles’ Director of the Infosario Data Factory, John Poonnen, presented “Using Multi-domain MDM to Gain Information Insights:How Quintiles Efficiently Manages Complex Clinical Trials.” Quintiles is the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services with more than 27,000 employees. John explained how the company leverages a tailored, multi-domain MDM platform to gain a holistic view of business-critical entities such as investigators, research facilities, clinical studies, study sites and subjects to cut costs, improve quality, improve productivity and to meet regulatory and patient needs. “Although information needs to flow throughout the process – it tends to get stuck in different silos and must be manually manipulated to get meaningful insights,” said John. He believes master data is foundational — combining it with other data, capabilities and expertise makes it transformational.

While I couldn’t attend the PIM customer presentations below, I heard they were excellent. I look forward to watching the videos:

  • Crestline/ Geiger: Dale Denham, CIO presented, “How Product Information in eCommerce improved Geiger’s Ability to Promote and Sell Promotional Products.”
  • Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply: Director of Marketing, Kitch Walker presented, “Driving Omnichannel Customer Engagement – PIM Best Practices.”

I also had the opportunity MDM Day Sponsorsto speak with some of our knowledgeable and experienced MDM Day partner sponsors. Go to Twitter and search for #MDM and #DataQuality to see their advice on what it takes to successfully kick-off and implement an MDM program.

There are more thought-provoking MDM and PIM customer presentations taking place this week at InformaticaWorld 2014. To join or follow the conversation, use #INFA14 #MDM or #INFA14 #PIM.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Business/IT Collaboration, CIO, CMO, Customer Acquisition & Retention, Customers, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Informatica World 2014, Master Data Management, Partners, PiM, Product Information Management, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Product Information Management (PIM) is a Silo Breaker!

cultural silos

When Silos Prevent Progress

Much is being said about how quickly information is stacking up which is creating quite the paradox. On one hand, information is being gathered in spades to enable quick problem solving. On the other, information is locked in disparate systems, hindering the very reason why information was collected in the first place. How can you turn information into actionable knowledge?

clip1

I lean on David Aeker for defense. In his Spanning SilosAeker convincingly pointed out that a silo is a metaphor for “organizational units that contain their own management team and talent and lack of motivation…to work with or even communicate with other units.” Hence, the very idea of collaboration and flow of information is challenged, resulting in products and solutions that claim to solve the problem but in reality further segregate the knowledge base.

A Unified Approach

What we need is a unified paradigm for capturing, storing, organizing and searching content as well as people. Interestingly, PIM is an application approach to aggregate product data in order to transform it into information relevant to multiple channels. This may appear to result in another silo but that is a very shaky way to look at PIM. PIM is more than an application to master product data, PIM is all about collaboration.

clip2

We should remember that creation of product information is all about the process of bringing together cross-departmental contributions that lead to the final artifact. Given the nature of product information, it is more than a workflow scenario that assists the collection of information at the right time from the right source. In fact, product information touches the entire enterprise. For instance, PIM supports transactional systems such as order fulfillment and warehouse management, or it can be more merchandise-oriented by supporting multichannel marketing. It crosses to the enterprise as well. Think about how reviews and feedback on products will impact the information that is dynamically attached to products.

The enemy of silos is fertile communication across the board, which is reflected down to operations. With all the key teams working on the same platform, PIM facilitates a collaborative environment where real teams made up of people from multiple departments sit and work on the same construction site by promoting cross-fertilization, immediate appreciation across department and a quick turnaround.

Image source: http://www.winnersfdd.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Cultural-Silos-generic.jpg

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in PiM, Product Information Management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

6 Reasons to Invest in PIM

PIM - the missing linkProduct Information Management (PIM) is an investment, not a “cost.” This is so important it’s worth repeating: “PIM is an investment.” If you are a retailer of any size (small or big, it makes little difference), it’s likely your most painful challenges include the following:

  • Lost sales from out-of-stock issues
  • Lost time haggling over return disputes
  • Squandered hours reconciling product information promotion discrepancies across all channels

And, if you’re comfortable experiencing the following, then no change is needed:

  • Slower Time-To-Market for for new product introductions and the corresponding wasted dollars
  • Wasted time spent relaying basic product information to customers and partners
  • Overall brand erosion

However, for those who want to embark on a journey toward redemption, I will use this post to lay a good foundation and to demystify PIM.

PIM is a collaborative foundation for coordinating a company's business processes

Here are 6 reasons to consider transforming your business using PIM. Note that the priority order will vary by industry and situation.

1) PIM for Operational efficiency

This really boils down to a reduction in the number of call center questions regarding basic item information, a reduction in the number of instances when inventory levels are insufficient, and a reduction in the number of purchase order errors, resulting in incorrect shipments or adjustments.

2) PIM for New Product Introduction (NPI)

Introducing a new product requires the coordinated efforts of dozens of internal and external staff. It can be a fairly complex task. Even a simple product may require hundreds of attributes, all derived from multiple systems residing within and outside the organization.

3) PIM to Reduce the “Time to Market”

Studies have shown that high-performing companies generate, on average, 61 percent of their sales from successful introductions of new products and services. PIM will help you have a streamlined process for creating new products and distributing them to eCommerce and other channels in the ecosystem. The faster, the better. Why? Well, you will have them before anyone else and secondly there will be more time to sell them.

4) PIM for Business growth and improved customer satisfaction

The instantaneous nature of online retail impacts consistency and adds an additional layer of complexity to the management of product information. Customer satisfaction is (also) correlated to rich, contextual, and consistent product information across sales channels. Companies that lack this discipline experience brand erosion with consequental detrimental impact on overall business performance.

5) PIM to Improve your supplier performance

How would you answer your CFO if she asked for the average cost to on-board a product from a supplier? All things considered, my bet is that it would be in the neighborhood of $500-$700. But even if it is $200 you are still in deep water. In fact, with a bit of math you’ll figure out the incidence of this cost when considering the tens of thousands of SKUs that are introduced into the market every year. Forward-thinking retailers are leveraging an integrated supplier portal to enhance supplier collaboration. This saves precious time and manpower, often bringing down that cost to less than $5.

6) PIM for Omni-channel enablement

A retail omni-channel strategy cannot not contemplate the management of product information. This is because retailers need to collect information from multiple sources, optimizing content and facilitating timely distribution of content across multiple channels. Very often, though, information in stores, eCommerce sites, mobile apps, and print catalogs just don’t match up. Often, it is difficult to connect products and customers, resulting in poor customer experiences. This is a large topic that will be covered in upcoming posts.

Looking for more information on how PIM can actually lay the foundations to deliver on these promises? There is more in my previous blog posts here, here, and here. There is also a SlideShare presentation here. Finally, we have a new eBook called The Informed Purchase Journey available here.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, PiM, Product Information Management | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Unexpected Journey – The Informed Purchase Journey

unexpected journeyFor years, a customer’s purchase process was something of “An Unexpected Journey.” Lack of insight into the journey was a struggle for retailers. The journey was fraught with questions about product research habits, purchases and crucial factors that spark purchase decisions.

Today, the customer purchase journey no longer has to be a “guessing game.” Data integration and analytics are able to assist retailers in understanding this journey. To begin, let’s examine how consumer behaviors and the role of product information have changed since the advent of substantial bandwidths and social buying. To do so, lets examine the way shoppers buy today.

The customer buying experience has changed in the following ways:

Shopper-controlled
The days of the single visit to a trusted retailer are behind us. Today’s shoppers are in control. They are hugely aware of their power as consumers, and they’re exercising it freely.

Multichannel 
Buyers aren’t using one specific channel anymore. They’re shopping in stores, online, through mobile apps, on social platforms, and from catalogs simultaneously. Lacking a central focal point, quality data integration and analytics have become imperative to understanding this behavior. Retailers must be able to track the purchase decisions of one consumer as he or she switches back and forth amongst these channels. If done correctly, a retailer would be able to recognize behavior specific to individuals and act on it, serving ads or timely discounts to them.

Social-powered
Purchasing decisions are “crowd-informed.” Recommendations and reviews from peers guide consumers and validate their choices every step of the way. As a result, it has become increasingly necessary for retailers to understand how they are being reviewed. But more specifically, it is important for the retailer to identify and target influential reviewers. If this is done effectively, the retailer may be able to personalize their experience and make that influential consumer feel special. This may seem like a complicated task with small returns, but imagine if they write a positive review that is ultimately read by thousands of people. This could lead to a fantastic return on investment for the retailer.

Search-guided 
Shoppers used to be dependent on a few sources of information. Now with Internet search tools, consumers are able to hunt for answers themselves. As such, retailers must understand what type of information their consumers are searching for. With this information, retailers may be able to update the content on their websites, blogs, or social channels to provide information customers need. To visualize this purchase journey we’ve created the INFAgraphic below.

The-Informed-Purchase-Journey-Informatica

The Informed Purchase Journey – An example of an unexpected journey.

So how can I learn more?

Join us at Informatica World 2014 to learn rich information about retail technology and the “purchase journey.”

The Retail Path track will feature insights from companies including: NikeAvent, Discount Tire, Nordstrom, GeigerIntricity and Deloitte.

Experts will share ways of leveraging your data to boost sales and heighten customer experience. The conference also has a dedicated MDM Day on Monday May 12 with workshops and sessions showing how vendors, distributors, retailers and individuals interact in the “always-on,” connected world.

Reserve your spot by signing up here.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in Informatica World 2014, Master Data Management, PiM, Product Information Management, Real-Time, Retail | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Consider PIM When (Re)Defining Your Direct-To-Consumer Model

directmodel

Over the past few years, we have assisted an increasing shift in customer behavior. Pervasive internet connectivity – along with the exponential adoption of mobile devices – has enabled shoppers to research and purchase products of all kinds, anytime and anywhere, using a combination of touch points they find most convenient. This is not a passing fad.

Consumers expect rich data and images to make purchase choices; business users require access to analytical data in order to make mission-critical decisions. These demands for information are driving a need for improved product data availability and accuracy. And this is changing the way businesses go to market.

A staggering number of stores and manufacturers are reforming their models to response to this challenge. The direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, while not new, is rapidly becoming the center stage to address these challenges. The optimal DTC model will vary depending on specific and contextual business objectives. However, there are many strategic benefits to going direct, but the main objectives include growing sales, gaining control over pricing, strengthening the brand, getting closer to consumers, and testing out new products and markets.

Supermarket Tube Informatica

Supermarket Tube Informatica

It is my contention that while the DTC model is gaining the deserved attention, much remains to be done. In fact, among many challenges that DTC poses, the processes and activities associated with sourcing product information, enriching product data to drive sales and lower returns, and managing product assortments across all channels loom large. More precisely, the challenges that need to be overcome are better exemplified by these points:

  • Products have several variations to support different segments, markets, and campaigns.
  • Product components, ingredients, care information, environmental impact data and other facets of importance to the customer.
  • People are visual. As a result, easy website navigation is essential. Eye-catching images that highlight your products or services (perhaps as they’re being performed or displayed as intended) is an effective way to visually communicate information to your customers and make it easier for them to evaluate options. If information and pictures are readily accessible, customers are more likely to engage.
  • Ratings, reviews and social data, stored within the product’s record rather than in separate systems.
  • Purchasing and sales measurements, for example, sales in-store, return rates, sales velocity, product views online, as well as viewing and purchasing correlations are often held across several systems. However, this information is increasingly needed for search and recommendation.

The importance of product data and its use, combined with the increased  demands on business as a result of inefficient, non-scaling approaches to data management, provide an imperative to considering a PIM to ‘power’ cross-channel retail. Once established, PIM users repeatedly report higher ROI. It is likely that we’ll see PIM systems rank alongside CRM, ERP, CMS, order management and merchandising systems as the pillars of cross-channel retailing at scale.

For all these reasons, choosing the right PIM strategy (and partner) is now a key decision. Get this decision wrong and it could become an expensive mistake.

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintShare
Posted in Business Impact / Benefits, Operational Efficiency, PiM, Product Information Management, Retail | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment