Category Archives: PiM
Part 1 of this blog touched on the differences between PIM and Product MDM. Since both play a role in ensuring the availability of high quality product data, it is easy to see the temptation to extend the scope of either product to play a more complete part. However, there are risks involved in customising software. PIM and MDM are not exceptions, and any customisations will carry some risk.
In the specific case of looking to extend the role of PIM, the problems start if you just look at the data and think: “oh, this is just a few more product attributes to add”. This will not give you a clear picture of the effort or risk associated with customisations. A complete picture requires looking beyond the attributes as data fields, and considering them in context: which processes and people (roles) are supported by these attributes?
Recently we were asked to assess the risk of PIM customisation for a customer. The situation was that data to be included in PIM was currently housed in separate, home grown and aging legacy systems. One school of thought was to move all the data, and their management tasks, into PIM and retire the three systems. That is, extending the role of PIM beyond a marketing application and into a Product MDM role. In this case, we found three main risks of customising PIM for this purpose. Here they are in more detail:
1. Decrease speed of PIM deployment
- Inclusion of the functionality (not just the data) will require customisations in PIM, not just additional attributes in the data model.
- Logic customisations are required for data validity checks, and some value calculations.
- Additional screens, workflows, integrations and UI customisations will be required for non-marketing roles
- PIM will become the source for some data, which is used in critical operational systems (e.g. SAP). Reference checks & data validation cannot be taken lightly due to risks of poor data elsewhere.
- Bottom line: A non-standard deployment with drive up implementation cost, time and risk.
2. Reduce marketing agility
- In the case concerned, whilst the additional data was important to marketing, it is primarily supporting by non-marketing users and processes including Product Development, Sales and Manufacturing
- These systems are key systems in their workflow in terms of creating and distributing technical details of new products to other systems, e.g. SAP for production
- If the systems are retired and replaced with PIM, these non-marketing users will need to be equal partners in PIM:
- Require access and customised roles
- Influence over configuration
- Equal vote in feature/function prioritisation
- Bottom Line: Marketing will no longer completely own the PIM system, and may have to sacrifice new functionality to prioritise supporting other roles.
3. Risk of marketing abandoning the hybrid tool in the mid-term
- An investment in PIM is usually an investment by Marketing to help them rapidly adapt to a dynamic external market.
- System agility (point 2) is key to rapid adaption, as is the ability to take advantage of new features within any packaged application.
- As more customisations are made, the cost of upgrades can become prohibitive, driven by the cost to upgrade customisations.
- Cost often driven by consulting fees to change what could be poorly documented code.
- Risk of falling behind on upgrades, and hence sacrificing access to the newest PIM functionality
- If upgrades are more expensive than new tools, PIM will be abandoned by Marketing, and they will invest in a new tool.
- Bottom line: In a worst case scenario, a customised PIM solution could be left supporting non-marketing functionality with Marketing investing in a new tool.
The first response to the last bullet point is normally “no they wouldn’t”. Unfortunately this is a pattern both I and some of my colleagues have seen in the area of marketing & eCommerce applications. The problem is that these areas are so fast moving, that nobody can afford to fall behind in terms of new functionality. If upgrades are large projects which need lengthy approval and implementation cycles, marketing is unlikely to wait. It is far easier to start again with a smaller budget under their direct control. (Which is where PIM should be in the first place.)
- Making PIM look and behave like Product MDM could have some undesirable consequences – both in the short term (current deployment) and in the longer term (application abandonment).
- A choice for customising PIM vs. enhancing your landscape with Product MDM should be made not on data attributes alone.
- Your business and data processes should guide you in terms of risk assessment for customisation of your PIM solution.
Bottom Line: If the risks seem too large, then consider enhancing your IT landscape with Product MDM. Trading PIM cost & risk for measurable business value delivered by MDM will make a very attractive business case.
If you frequently read my blog, you know that traveling, reading and observing people often leads to new articles and views. This blog entry was influenced by a recent article, from FTWeekend, that I had the pleasure to read on my way to the San Francisco Bay Area.
When I subscribed to a VIP shopping club, in order to get special sales offers, the outlet store asked me for my household income. They also asked which age group I belong to. At that point, I realized that I had, again, entered into a new buyer age group. This fact inspired me to write this blog.
According to the Financial Times, aging populations in many countries are driving economic growth by creating markets for new products and services. This phenomenon is often referred to as the “Silver Economy.”
To achieve Commerce Relevancy, you must make your products relevant to the “Silver Economy” group.
Baby-Boomers Power new age of Spending
By 2020, the silver economy’s spending power will reach 15tn USD, writes FT. In the USA, AT Kearney says that in 2013, consumers aged 55+ contributed to 30% of US clothing sales. In 2013 as well, In the UK, those figures for consumers 65+, accounted for 15% of the fashion and footwear market. Boston Consulting Group says: “We are still waiting for fundamentally new products to meet the desire of this older group”.
Two Main Challenges
CPG companies and analysts see two main challenges when addressing the golden generation.
- Packaging: Will packaging need to change? If so, how? What risks are related to changing the packaging? Everyone agrees, testing will be essential in order to make the right decisions.
- Marketing: Baby-Boomers and members of the “Silver Economy” group do not consider themselves as being old. Then, how can be find the right tone of voice when running successful marketing campaigns while also aiming not to upset clients?
Brands and retailers are already adopting marketing strategy changes by having celebrities participate in the brand experience of personal goods. In addition, they also started working with new faces of fashion like Charlotte Rampling, Jessica Lange, Twiggy and Lauren Hutton.
“60-year-olds and 40-year-olds are dressing very similar”, said Simon Wolfson, CEO of retailer Next, to FT. I can confirm this, as I’ve experienced myself with my father in law. Very often I see him wear shoes or a jacket, that I could see myself wearing and that makes me jealous. Can it be true? Has my father in law adopted a fashion style similar to mine? With that in mind, were his purchase decision influenced by the same marketing campaign that would have attracted me?
Same Same but Different
The same products can be marketed differently. In order to better target those finding themselves in the Silver Economy group it might be necessary to build “references” to icons or music that relate to their past. Personally, I believe this is what commerce relevancy is all about, it’s about increase marketing relevancy in regards to customers. An example, triggering an emotional response from my father in law with a song that relates to his youth, whereas this song leaves me indifferent, is a clever way to highlight to him being older.
For example, in Asia where the demographic shifts is the biggest, the region’s biggest retailer, Aeon, built malls with wider aisles and plenty of seating area, to accommodate this change.
New Challenges for Information Management
Marketing the same products to different target groups will lead to increased complexity in from the perspective of product information. The same item can be available in two or three different kind of packaging. Other colors, just different haptic and more.
However, the key will be building intelligent connections between products and target personas. Baby-Boomers are using different touch points and information sources, then younger people. For retailers and CPG companies this means that it is becoming progressively challenging to serve all channels with the consistent and the relevant information across all their target groups. Just one use case for Commerce Relevancy.
Did you know 2013 E-commerce sales numbers did grow by staggering 47%, but 2014 are supposed to only grow by 17%…
The Eastern Europe B2C E-commerce Report 2014 was launched by E-commerce Europe recently. It comes with the 2013 facts and figures of E-commerce in Eastern Europe, all figures are based on the Global Online Measurement Standard for B2C E-commerce (GOMSEC).
The Eastern European region, including Russia, Ukraine, Romania and others, ranked fifth in terms of E-commerce size in 2013, with a European market share of 5.3%. The total 2013 B2C E-commerce economy of Eastern Europe amounted to €19.3 billion, a 47,4% growth compared to 2012. Online sales of goods and services are forecast to reach €22.6 billion in 2014, which would mean that the growth rate is going to drop significantly to 17.1% in comparison with 2013. E-commerce Europe’s research also reveals that approximately 34 million consumers in Eastern Europe bought goods and services online in 2013.
The digital industry is increasingly discussing the topic of Commerce Relevancy. Commerce Relevancy makes information relevant to consumers at the right time and place. Specifically, it ensures sales and marketing offers and materials are personalized at the highest level and consistent across all customer touch points. This post will talk about how much Commerce Relevancy matters and will explain the six building blocks that comprise it.
Commerce Relevancy in Fashion
I am a runner. For motivation, I track the majority of my runs on my iPhone. I use an arm band from a leading sports apparel company to carry my iPhone. I’m a great supporter of this apparel brand in general. I love their style so I shop from them frequently. Sometimes, when I travel the US, I shop in their outlet stores. Primarily, however, I shop on their official web-store using my iPad or mobile phone. Since I am a “fashion victim”, it is not easy for me to remember all the channels, shops and websites I have used to buy this brand’s products.
Why am I telling you all this?
For the past few weeks, I’ve repeatedly received email newsletters from this brand, promoting sporting outfits that don’t match my style or size. (Most of the promotion has been products for women, rather than for men, etc.) As a repeat customer, this lack of promotional accuracy has frustrated me. I have purchased many items from this brand. I’ve even shared their logo on twitter and Facebook. Despite my commitment to the brand, the brand still does not know which products I need or which styles I prefer.
Commerce Relevancy in Automotive
I have had a similar experience with my favorite car manufacturer. My wife and I have purchased three of this brand’s cars in the past. We currently lease one of their cars. When I need maintenance, I only visit this brand’s authorized repair garages. I only use official spare parts. Despite my loyalty to the brand, every time I call their stores, I am asked for my phone number. No one from the brand has ever approached me to test a new car, even though my current lease will soon end.
Once, when my current car was being repaired for several days, I requested permission to test drive a particular model, until my current car was ready. I was interested in this new model as a potential next purchase. I was told “it is not possible to test drive the car you’re interested in during the repair process. You may only use the official car rental service.”
Can Relevant Information Make the Difference?
The chapter of “Commerce Relevancy” started in 2013. The eBook on the “Informed Purchase Journey” mentions that consumers use average of 10.4 sources of information before taking a purchasing decision.
What this means for all companies and business people who sell products and services:
They have to earn every new sale to customer who is demanding more information than ever before.
The Meaning of Commerce Relevancy
In order to enable Commerce Relevancy, companies are now asking themselves how to connect the dots between supplier, location, customer and product information. In this business use cases customer profiles or target group personas get match with product information in sales and marketing. The key challenge his to connect the data but also to provide them to customer facing apps and touch points.
6 Building Blocks of Commerce Relevancy
- Product powered: Inside and outside your organization customer and employees have a consistent view of the products you sell, regardless of the touch point.
- Customer centric: No matter, where or how a client interacts with your company, you are able to generate a single view of the customer with address, interaction, and relation data.
- Relationship driven: The biggest value today and tomorrow lays in “connecting the dots” between different information like the availability of a product, from a supplier or warehouse, to the client who demands it.
- Bi-directional: Serving clients with really tailored marketing is only one way – the other way is the feedback on products and services and how this can be re-used.
- Predictive power: With Commerce Relevancy, companies take simple eCommerce recommendations to the next level. This means predicting the next logical action, based in information. This can empower business users to do the right things, data-driven. This makes the customer spend more, data-driven. Happy to give you examples if you reach out to me @benrund
- Real-time data: Customer always want it now. Changes on product offerings, transactions customer make, service centers they call – a service agent always needs to have the complete view with real time data.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of this blog series: “How companies can achieve commerce relevancy step by step.” It impacts, people, processes and technology.
In his recent article: “The catalog is dead – long live the catalog,” Informatica’s Ben Rund spoke about how printed catalogs are positioned as a piece of the omnichannel puzzle and are a valuable touch point on the connected customer’s informed purchase journey. The overall response was far greater than what we could have hoped for; we would like to thank all those that participated. Seeing how much interest this topic generated, we decided to investigate further, in order to find out which factors can help in making print publishing successful.
5 key Factors for Successful Print Publishing Projects
Today’s digital world impacts every facet of our lives. Deloitte recently reported that approximately 50% of purchases are influenced by our digital environment. Often, companies have no idea how much savings can be generated through the production of printed catalogues that leverage pre-existing data sources. The research at www.pim-roi.com talks of several such examples. After looking back at many successful projects, Michael and his team realized the potential to generate substantial savings when the focus is to
optimize “time to market.” (If, of course, business teams operate asynchronously!)
For this new blog entry, we interviewed Michael Giesen, IT Consultancy and Project Management at Laudert to get his thoughts and opinion on the key factors behind the success of print publishing projects. We asked Michael to share his experience and thoughts on the leading factors in running successful print publishing projects. Furthermore, Michael also provides insight on which steps to prioritize and which pitfalls to avoid at all costs, in order to ensure the best results.
1. Publication Analysis
How are objects in print (like products) structured today? What about individual topics and design of creative pages? How is the placement of tables, headings, prices and images organized nowadays? Are there standards? If so, what can be standardized and how? To get an overall picture, you have to thoroughly examine these points. You must do so for all the content elements involved in the layout, ensuring that, in the future, they can be used for Dynamic Publishing. It is conceivable that individual elements, such as titles or pages used in subject areas, could be excluded and reused in separate projects. Gaining the ability to automate catalog creation potentially requires to compromise in certain areas. We shall discuss this later. In the future, product information will probably be presented with very little need to apply changes, 4 instead of 24 table types, for example. Great, now we are on the right path!
2. Data Source Analysis
Where is the data used in today’s printed material being sourced from? If possible or needed, are there several data sources that require to be combined? How is pricing handled? What about product attributes or the structure of product description tables in the case of an individual item? Is all the marketing content and subsequent variations included as well? What about numerous product images or multiple languages? What about seasonally adjusted texts that pull from external sources?
This case requires a very detailed analysis, leading us to the following question:
What is the role and the value of storing product information using a standardized method in print publishing?
The benefits of utilizing such processes should be clear by now: The more standards are in place, the greater the amount of time you will save and the greater your ability to generate positive ROI. Companies that currently operate with complex systems supporting well-structured data are already ahead in the game. Furthermore, yielding positive results doesn’t necessarily require them to start from scratch and rebuild from the ground up. As a matter of fact, companies that have already invested in database systems (E.g. MSSQL) can leverage their existing infrastructures.
3. Process Analysis
In this section of our analysis, we will be getting right down to the details: What does the production process look like, from the initial layout phase to the final release process? Who is responsible for the “how? Who maintains the linear progression? Who has the responsibilities and release rights? Lastly, where are the bottlenecks? Are there safeguards mechanisms in place? Once all these roles and processes have been put in place and have received the right resources we can advance to the next step of our analysis. You are ready to tackle the next key factor: Implementation.
Here you should be adventurous, creative and open minded, seeing that compromise might be needed. If your existing data sources do not meet the requirements, a solution must be found! A certain technical creative pragmatism may facilitate the short and medium planning (see point 2). You must extract and prepare your data sources for printed medium, such as a catalog, for example. The priint:suite of WERK II has proven itself as a robust all-round solution for Database Publishing and Web2Print. All-inclusive PIM solutions, such as Informatica PIM, already has a standard interface to priint:suite available. Depending on the specific requirements, an important decision must then be made: Is there a need for an InDesign Server? Simply put, it enables the fully automatic production of large-volume objects and offers accurate data preview. While slightly less featured, the use of WERK II PDF renderers offers similar functionalities but at a significantly more affordable price.
Based on the software and interfaces selected, an optimized process which supports your system can be developed and be structured to be fully automated if needed.
For individual groups of goods, templates can be defined, placeholders and page layouts developed. Production can start!
5. Selecting an Implementation Partner
In order to facilitate a smooth transition from day one, the support of a partner to carry out the implementation should be considered from the beginning. Since not only technology, but more importantly practical expertise provides maximum process efficiency, it is recommended that you inquire about a potential partner’s references. Getting insight from existing customers will provide you with feedback about their experience and successes. Any potential partner will be pleased to put you in touch with their existing customers.
What are Your Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing?
I would like to know what your thoughts are on this topic. Has anyone tried PDF renderers other than WERK II, such as Codeware’s XActuell? Furthermore, if there are any other factors you think are important in managing successful print publishing, feel free to mention them in the comments here. I’d be happy to discuss here or on twitter at @nicholasgoupil.
With projected online sales of €47.8 billion for 2014 and an average annual growth rate of 22% since 2010, the e-commerce market is a beam of hope for the crisis-struck Southern European region on its path out of the recession. Goods and services sold online in Southern Europe in 2013 amounted to a total value of €40.8 billion, making up more than 11% of the total online sales in Europe. The region, consists of Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Cyprus and Malta.
This is all revealed by the latest Southern Europe B2C E-Commerce Report by Ecommerce Europe, the European umbrella organization for 25,000+ companies that sell products and/or services online to consumers. Figures in the Ecommerce Europe reports are based on the Global Online Measurement Standard for E-commerce (GOMSEC).
Here are some facts on ecommerce in Southern Europe, I find worth mention
- 48 million online shoppers: Southern Europe is fertile ground for online retail activities; of 125 million active Internet users, 48 million are buying goods or products online.
- Spain leads the region: With total e-commerce sales of €14.4 billion, Spain is leading the Southern European region, ahead of Italy (€11.2 billion) and Turkey (€8.9 billion).
- Greek e-shoppers spent most in 2013: On average, Southern European online shoppers spent €842 per person in 2013. This amount is significantly less than the EU28 average of €1,500 and the European average of €1,376.
You can download the full Southern Europe B2C E-Commerce Report by Ecommerce Europe here.
The Western European B2C ecommerce market is developing extremely well. In fact, the Western European ecommerce market is expected to reach € 204.7 billion in 2014.
Online Sales to Reach €204.7 Billion in 2014
Just like the year before, the Western European region, comprising Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, was in first position with regard to e-commerce size in 2013, with a European market share of 49%.
The total B2C e-commerce economy of Western Europe amounted €177.7 billion, a 12% growth compared to 2012. Online sales of goods and services are forecast to reach €204.7 billion in 2014, a growth of more than 15% in comparison with 2013. Ecommerce Europe’s research also reveals that 95 million consumers in Western Europe bought goods and services online in 2013.
Average Western European E-shopper Spent €1,867 Online in 2013
On average, Western European e-shoppers spent €1,867 per person online in 2013. This is far above the European average of €1,376 and EU28 average of €1,500. The United Kingdom leads the way with €2,614, making their e-shoppers the biggest online spenders in Europe. Within Western Europe, Ireland, Luxembourg and France follow with €1,643, €1,533 and €1,503, respectively, per online shopper.
For additional information, you can download the full report here.
Ecommerce Europe, the European umbrella organization for 25,000+ companies selling products and/or services online to consumers and collaborating with the regional associations. The total Northern European e-commerce economy of goods and services sold online amounted to €33.2 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to €36.8 billion in 2014.
Online sales expected to reach €36.8 billion in 2014
The Northern European region, including Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway, is now in fourth position with regard to e-commerce size, with a 9.1% European market share. In 2013, the total B2C e-commerce economy of Northern Europe amounted to €33.2 billion, a 13.7% growth compared to the preceding year. Online sales of goods and services are forecast to reach €36.8 billion in 2013, which represents a growth of 10.7% in comparison with last year.
The average consumer spends more than 1700 euro online
If you are intersted in learning more details and figures on growth, marketsize on country level for Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia and Lithuania, you can download the full B2C Ecommerce Report for Northern here.
This is the story about a great speaker, a simple but funny product and the idea of a Ventana Award winning company which does “Brandspiration”.
When I invited Dale Denham, CIO from Geiger to speak on his at Informatica World this year, I was not sure what I will get. I only knew that Dale is known as an entertaining speaker. What could we expect from a person who, calls himself “the selling CIO”?
And Dale delivered. He opened his session “How product information in ecommerce improved Geiger’s ability to promote and sell promotional products” with a video.
What I liked about it was: It is a simple product, addressing a everyday problem, everybody knows. And this is the business of Geiger & Crestline, two brands in one company which sell promotional products to help companies inspire with their brand. They call is “Brandspiration”.
What this has to do with PIM?
Well the business need for Geiger was to sell 100,000s of products more efficient. Which includes update products faster and more accurately and add more products. But also Geiger was planning to
- Eliminate reliance on ERP
- Launch new web properties
- Improve SEO
- Centralize product management & control
- Standardize business processes & workflows
- Produce print catalog more faster
Before working with Informatica PIM it took a week to launch a new product. And Geiger/ Crestline has a complex price management for bundles, brands, packages and more under their two own brands for two different target groups: low price products with aggressive pricing and more high quality promotional products.
With PIM the product entry time could be reduced by about an hour. Geiger achieved 25% time saving for catalog creation and implemented PIM in about six months. (btw with the integrator “Ideosity“.) Another fact which made me proud on our offering was, that Dale told me his company was able to upgrade on the latest PIM version within hours.
“PIM has allowed us to be more proactive Instead of being handcuffed to a system that made us reactive. A great invest for this company. I can’t believe we survived for as long as we did without this software.”
Dale Denham, CIO
Whatch the video of Dale and how his company Geiger realizes Brandspiration with Informatica PIM. Did you know, Geiger is a proud winner of the Ventana Research Innovation Award for their PIM initiative?
Are you a manager dedicated to fashion, B2C or retail? This blog provides an overview what companies can learn on omnichannel from SportScheck.
SportScheck is one of Germany’s most successful multichannel businesses. SportScheck (btw Ventana Research Innovation Award Winner) is an equipment and clothing specialist for almost every sport and its website gets over 52 million hits per year, making it one of the most successful online stores in Germany.
Each year, more than million customers sign up for the mail-order business while over 17 million customers visit its brick and mortar stores (Source). These figures undoubtedly describe the success of SportScheck’s multichannel strategy. SportScheck also strives to deliver innovative concepts in all of its sales channels, while always aiming to provide customers with the best shopping experience possible. This philosophy can be carried out only in conjunction with modern systems landscapes and optimized processes.
Complete, reliable, and attractive information – across every channel – is the key to a great customer experience and better sales. It’s hard to keep up with customer demands in a single channel, much less multiple channels. Download The Informed Purchase Journey. The Informed Purchase Journey requires the right product, to right customer at the right place. Enjoy the video!
What is the Business Initiative in SportScheck
- Providing the customer the same deals across all sales channels with a centralized location for all product information
- Improve customer service in all sales channels with perfect product data
- Make sure customers have enough product information to make a purchase without the order being returned
Intelligent and Agile Processes are Key to Success
“Good customer service, whether online, in-store, or in print, needs perfect product data” said Alexander Pischetsrieder in an interview. At the Munich-based sporting goods retailer, there had been no centralized system for product data before now. After extensive research and evaluation, the company decided to implement the product information management (PIM) system from Informatica.
The main reason for the introduction of Informatica Product Information Management (PIM) solutions was its support for a true multichannel strategy. Customers should have access to the same deals across all sales channels. In addition to making a breadth of information available, customer service still remains key.
In times where information is THE killer app, key challenges are, keeping information up to date and ensuring efficient processes. In a retail scenario, product catalog onboarding starts with PIM to get the latest product information. A dataset in the relevant systems that is always up-to-date is a further basis, which allows companies to react immediately to market movements and implement marketing requirements as quickly as possible. Data must be exchanged between the systems practically in real time. If you want to learn more details, how SportScheck solved the technical integration between SAP ERP and Informatica PIM?
Product Data Equals Demonstrated Expertise
“I am convinced that a well-presented product with lots of pictures and details sells better. For us, this signals knowing our product. That sets us apart from the large discount stores,” notes Alexander Pischetsrieder. “In the end, we have to ask: who is the customer going to trust? We gain trust here with our product knowledge and our love of sports in general.” Just like our motto says, “We get our fans excited.” By offering a professional search engine, product comparisons, and many other features, PIM adds value not only in ecommerce – and that gets us excited!”
Benefits for SportScheck
- Centralized location for all product information across all sales channels
- An agile system that is capable of interweaving the different retail processes across sales channels into a smooth, cross-channel function
- Self-Service portal for agencies and suppliers with direct upload to the PIM system
PS: This blog is based on the PIM case study on SportScheck.