Category Archives: Product Information Management

Ecommerce Sales in Western Europe to Grow by 15% in 2014

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.

western europe ecommerce 2014

For additional information, you can download the full report here.

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Northern European E-Commerce Market To Reach €36.8 Billion in 2014

Ecommerce Europe just reported that Northern European B2C e-commerce is developing extremely well. This is apparent from the new Northern Europe B2C E-commerce Report.

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

nordics ecommerce spend

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.

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PIM is Not Product MDM – Product MDM is not PIM

Working for Informatica has many advantages.  One of them is that I clearly understand the difference between Product Information Management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) for product data[i].  Since I have this clear in my own mind, it is easy to forget that this may not be as obvious to others.  As frequently happens, it takes a customer to help us articulate why PIM is not the same as Product MDM.  Now that this is fresh in my mind again, I thought I would share why the two are different, and when you should consider each one, or both.

In a lengthy discussion with our customer, many points were raised, discussed and classified.  In the end, all arguments essentially came down to each technology’s primary purpose.  A different primary purpose means that typical capabilities of the two products are geared towards different audiences and use cases.

PIM is a business application that centralizes and streamlines the creation and enhancement of consistent, but localised product content across channels.  (Figure 1)

PIM image

Figure 1:  PIM Product Data Creation Flow

Product MDM is an infrastructure component that consolidates the core global product data that should be consistent across multiple and diverse systems and business processes, but typically isn’t. (Figure 2)

MDM image

Figure 2:  MDM Product Data Consolidation Hub

The choice between the two technologies really comes down the current challenge you are trying to solve.  If you cannot get clean and consistent data out through all your sales channels fast enough, then a PIM solution is the correct choice for you.  However, if your organisation is making poor decisions and seeing bloated costs (e.g. procurement or inventory costs) due to poor internal product data, then MDM technology is the right choice.

But, if it is so simple – why I am even writing this down?  Why are the lines blurring now?

Here is my 3-part theory:

  1. A focus on good quality product data is relatively recent trend.  Different industries started by addressing different challenges.
    1. PIM has primarily been used in retail B2C environments and distributor B2B or B2C environments.  That is, organisations which are primarily focused around the sale of a product, rather than the design and production of the product.
    2. Product MDM has been used predominately by manufacturers of goods, looking to standardise and support global processes, reporting and analytics across departments.
  2. Now, manufacturers are increasingly looking to take control of their product information outside their organisation.
    1. This trend is most notable in Consumer Goods (CG) companies.
    2. Increasingly consistent, appealing and high quality data in the consumer realm is making the difference between choosing your product vs. a competitor’s.
    3. CG must ensure all channels – their own and their retail partner’s – are fed with high quality product data.
  3. So PIM is now entering organisations which should already have a Product MDM tool.  If they don’t, confusion arises.
    1. When Marketing buys PIM (and it normally is Marketing), quite frankly this shows up the poor product data management upstream of marketing.
    2. It becomes quite tempting to try to jam as much product data into a PIM system as possible, going beyond the original scope of PIM.

The follow-on question is clear:  why can’t we just make a few changes and use PIM as our MDM technology, or MDM as our PIM solution?  It is very tempting.  Both data models can be extended to add extra fields.  In Informatica’s case, both are supported by a common, feature-rich workflow tool.  However, there are inherent risks in using PIM where Product MDM is needed or Product MDM where PIM is needed.

After discussions with our customer, we identified 3 risks of modifying PIM when it is really Product MDM functionality that is needed:

  • Decrease speed of PIM deployment
  • Reduce marketing agility
  • Risk of marketing abandoning the hybrid tool in the mid-term

The last turned out to be the least understood, but that doesn’t make it any less real.  Since each of these risks deserves more explanation, I will discuss them in Part 2 of this Blog. (Still to be published)

In summary, PIM and Product MDM are designed to play different roles in the quest for the availability of high quality product data both internally and externally.  There are risks and costs associated with modifying one to take on the role of the other.  In many cases there is place for both PIM and MDM, but you will still need to choose a starting point.  Each journey to high quality product data will be different, but the goal is still the same – to turn product data into business value.

I (or one of my colleagues in a city near you) will be happy to help you understand what the best starting point is for your organisation.


[i] In case you were wondering, this is not the benefit that I joined Informatica for.

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Harrods: Product Information at the Heart of Customer Experience

Did you know Harrods introduces more than 1.7 million new products every year? This includes their own labels, as well as other brands. Recently, Peter Rush, the Harrods Solution Architect responsible for product information, spoke at Informatica’s MDM Day EMEA in London. At the event, he said there are:

“so many things we want to do: Product Information is at the heart of most of them.”

As part of the customer experience program, Harrods identified product information quality as a key asset, next to customer information management.

The Product Information Challenge Harrods was facing included the following:

  • A Lack of a single Product data store
  • Inappropriate Product Data objectives
  • Massive scale and volume of products and brands (1.7 million new products per year)
  • Concessions and Own Bought
  • Localized enrichment
  • Media Assets all over the estate

While discussing his product information management project, Peter gave a great and simple example. He showed the product descriptions below and asked, “Who knows which two products these are?”:

  1. XX 6621/74 BLK VN SS TOP 969B S
  2. XX37066 L/BLU PRK FLAN SH 440B MED

Then, he solved the mystery. The answer was this:

  1. Black V-neck sleeveless top
  2. Light blue parker print flannel shirt

Turning vision into reality needs a joint business and IT project

Peter said, it is important to build a “flexible team to meet needs of each project stage, with representation from key business areas”. The team should include representatives from groups like: Merchandise Data, Buying Team, Web Team, IT, CRM and the Shopfloor Team. In addition to their Core Project Team, Harrods defined a Steering Committee and a group of selected Super Users.

Benefit summary: a combination of people, technology and process

At the end of the session, I was impressed by this graphic. This image sums up the essentials of product information management success. It is about the people, who are able to do the right things. It is about how technology enables automation. It is about the process which turns information into value.
Finally it is important to mention our partner Javelin Group is leading the PIM implementation at Harrods. Also Andy Hayler, analyst from The Information Difference, wrote an article for the CIO Magazine.

Harrods: Product Information at the Heart of Customer Experience

Harrods: Product Information at the Heart of Customer Experience

 

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Brandspiration – The Story of the Gap Stick and an Award Winner

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.

Business Outcomes

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?

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We Are Sports – SportScheck Omnichannel Retail

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

For German readers I can highly recommend this video on the customer use case. If you are interested in more details, ask me on Twitter @benrund.

PS: This blog is based on the PIM case study on SportScheck.

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The Catalog is Dead – Long Live the Catalog?

The Catalog is Dead.

Print solution provider Werk II came up with a provocative marketing campaign in 2012. Their ads have been designed like the obituary notice for the “Main Catalog” which is “no longer with us”…

According to the Multi Channel Merchant Outlook 2014 survey, the eCommerce website (not a surprise ;-) ) is the top channel through which merchants market (90%). The social media (87.2%) and email (83%) channels follow close behind. Although catalogs may have dropped as a marketing tool, 51.7% of retailers said they still use the catalog to market their brands.

importance of channels chart

Source: MCM Outlook 2014

The Changing Role of the Catalog

Merchants are still using catalogs to sell products. However, their role has changed from transactional to sales tool. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important, merchant respondents said that using catalogs as mobile traffic drivers and custom retention tools were the most important activities (both scored an 8.25). At 7.85, web traffic driver was a close third.

methods of prospecting chart

Source: MCM Outlook 2014

Long Live the Catalog: Prospecting 

More than three-quarters of merchant respondents said catalogs were the top choice for the method of prospecting they will use in the next 12 months (77.7%). Catalog was the most popular answer, followed by Facebook (68%), email (66%), Twitter (42.7%) and Pinterest (40.8%).

What is your point of view?

How have catalogs changed in your business? What are your plans and outlook for 2015? It would be very interesting to hear points of views from different industries and countries… I’d be happy to discuss here or on Twitter @benrund. My favorite fashion retailer keeps sending me a stylish catalog, which makes me order online. Brands, retailer, consumer – how do you act, what do you expect?

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Right Product, Right Customer, Right Place – The Informed Purchase Journey

The Informed Purchase Journey

The way we shop has changed. It’s hard to keep up with customer demands in a single channel, much less many. Selling products today has changed and always will. The video below shows how today’s customer takes The Informed Purchase Journey:

“Customers expect a seamless experience that makes it easy for them to engage at every touchpoint on their “decision journey. Informatica PIM is key component on  transformation from a product centric view to a consumer experience driven marketing with more efficiency.” – Heather Hanson – Global Head of Marketing Technology at Electrolux

Selling products today is:

  • Shopper-controlled. It’s never been easier for consumers to compare products and prices. This has eroded old customer loyalty and means you have to earn every sale.
  • Global. If you’re selling your products in different regions, you’re facing complex localization and supply chain coordination.
  • Fast. Product lifecycles are short. Time-to-market is critical (and gets tougher the more channels you’re selling through).
  • SKU-heavy. Endless-aisle assortments are great for margins. That’s a huge opportunity, but product data overload due to the large number of SKUs and their attributes adds up to a huge admin burden.
  • Data driven. Product data alone is more than a handful to deal with. But you also need to know as much about your customers as you know about your products. And the explosion of channels and touch points doesn’t make it any easier to connect the dots.

Conversion Power – From Deal Breaker To Deal Maker

For years, a customer’s purchase journey was something of “An Unexpected Journey.” Lack of insight into the journey was a struggle for retailers and brands. The journey is fraught with more questions about product than ever before, even for fast moving consumer goods.

Today, the 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.

  • Due to Google shoppers use 10.4 sources in average (zero moment of truth ZMOT google research)
  •  133% higher conversion rate shown by mobile shoppers who view customer content like reviews.
  • Digital devices’ influence 50% of in-store purchase behavior by end of 2014 (Deloitte’s Digital Divide)

How Informatica PIM 7.1 turns information from deal breaker to deal maker

PIM 7.1 comes with new data quality dashboards, helping users like category managers, marketing texters, managers or ecommerce specialists to do the right things. The quality dashboards point users to the things they have to do next in order to get the data right, out and ready for sales.

Eliminate Shelf Lag: The Early Product Closes the Sale

For vendors, this effectively means time-to-market: the availability of a product plus the time it takes to collect all relevant product information so you can display it to the customer (product introduction time).

The biggest threat is not the competition – it’s your own time-consuming, internal processes. We call this Shelf Lag, and it’s a big inhibitor of retailer profits. Here’s why:

  • You can’t sell what you can’t display.
  • Be ready to spin up new channels
  • Watch your margins.

How Informatica PIM 7.1 speeds up product introduction and customer experience

“By 2017… customer experience is what buyers are going to use to make purchase decisions.” (Source: Gartner’s Hype Cycle for E-Commerce, 2013) PIM 7.1 comes with new editable channel previews. This helps business users like marketing, translators, merchandisers or product managers to envistion how the product looks at the cutomer facing webshop, catalog or other touchpoint. Getting products live online within seconds, we is key because the customer always wants it now. For eCommerce product data Informatica PIM is certified for IBM WebSphere Commerce to get products ready for ecommerce within seconds.

The editable channel previews helps professionals in product management, merchandizing, marketing and ecommerce to envision their products as customers are facing it. The way of “what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG)” product data management improves customer shopping experience with best and authentic information. With the new eCommerce integration, Informatica speeds up the time to market in eBusiness. The new standard (certified by IBM WebSphere Commerce enables a live update of eShops with real time integration.

The growing need for fast and s ecure collaboration across globally acting enterprises is addressed by the Business Process Management tool of Informatica, which can now be used for PIM customers.

Intelligent insights: How relevant is our offering to your customers?

This is the age of annoyance and information overload. Each day, the average person has to handle more than 7,000 pieces of information. Only 25% of Americans say there are brand loyal. That means brands and retailers have to earn every new sale in a transparent world. In this context information needs to be relevant to the recipient.

  • Where do the data come from? How can product information auto-cleansed and characterizing into a taxonomy?
  • Is the supplier performance hitting our standards?
  • How can we mitigate risks like hidden costs and work with trusted suppliers only?
  • How can we and build customer segmentations for marketing?
  • How to build product personalization and predict the next logical buy of the customer?

It is all about The Right product. To the Right Person. In the Right Way. Learn more about the vision of the Intelligent Data Plaform.

Informatica PIM Builds the Basis of Real Time Commerce Information

All these innovations speed up the new product introduction and collaboration massively. As buyers today are always online and connected, PIM helps our customer to serve the informed purchase journey, with the right information in at the right touch point and in real time.

  1. Real-time commerce (certification with IBM WebSphere Commerce), which eliminates shelf lag
  2. Editable channel preview which help to envision how customers view the product
  3. Data quality dashboards for improved conversion power, which means selling more with better information
  4. Business Process Management for better collaboration throughout the enterprise
  5. Accelerator for global data synchronization (GDSN like GS1 for food and CPG) – which helps to improve quality of data and fulfill legal requirements

All this makes merchandizers more productive and increases average spend per customer.

Find out how the new release of Informatica PIM 7.1 helps you to unleash conversion power on the customer’s informed purchase journey.

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How GS1 and PIM Help to Fulfill Legal Regulations and Feed Distribution Channels

Manufacturers and retailers are constantly being challenged by the market. They continually seek ways to optimize their business processes and improve their margins. They face a number of challenges. These challenges include the following:

  • Delays in getting products ordered
  • Delays in getting products displayed on the shelf
  • Out of stock issues
  • Constant pressure to comply with how information is exchanged with local partners
  • Pressure to comply with how information is exchanged with international distribution partners

Recently, new regulations have been mandated by governing bodies. These bodies include the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as European Union (EU) entities. One example of these regulations is EU Regulation 1169/2011. This regulation focuses on nutrition and contents for food labels.

How much would it mean to a supplier if they could reduce their “time to shelf?” What would it mean if they could improve their order and item administration?

GS1 and PIM

If you’re a supplier, and if these improvements would benefit you, you’ll want to explore solutions. In particular, you’d benefit from a solution which could do the following:

  • Make your business available to the widest possible audience, both locally and internationally
  • Eliminate the need to build individual “point to point” interfaces
  • Provide the ability to communicate both “one on one” with a partner and broadly with othe
  • Eliminate product data inconsistencies
  • Improve data quality
  • Improve productivity

One such solution that can accomplish these things is Informatica’s combination of PIM and GDSN.

For Manufacturers

Manufacturers of CPG or food products have to adhere to strict compliance regulations. The new EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers changes existing legislation on food labeling. The new rules take effect on December 13, 2014. The obligation to provide nutrition information will apply from 13 December 2016. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) enforces record keeping and the Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP).

In addition to that information standards are key factor feedbug distributors and retailers as our customer Vitakraft says:

“For us as a manufacturer of pet food, the retailers and distributors are key distribution channels. With the GS1 Accelerator for Informatica PIM we connect with the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). Leveraging GDSN we serve our retail and distribution partners with product information for all sales channels. Informatica, helps us to meet the expectations of our business partners and customers in the e-business.”

Heiko Cichala, Product & Electronic Data Interchange Management

For Retailers

On one side retailers like supermarkets, expect from their vendors or manufacturers to get all  required information which is required legally – on the other side they are looking for strategies to leverage information for better customer service and experience (Check out “the supermarket of tomorrow”).

Companies, like German food retailer Edeka offer an app for push marketing, or help matching customer profiles of dietary or allergy profiles with QR-code scanned products on the shopping list within the supermarket app.

The Informatica GS1 Accelerator

GS1, GDSN for PIM

 

The GS1 Accelerator from Informatica offers suppliers and manufacturers the capability to ensure their data is not only of high quality but also confirms to GS1 standards. The Informatica GDSN accelerator offers the possibility to provide this high quality data directly to a certified data pool for synchronisation with their trading partners.

The quality of the data can be ensured by the Data Quality rules engine of the PIM system. It leverages the Global Product Classification hierarchy that conforms to GS1 standards for communication with the data pools.

All GDSN related activities is encapsulated within PIM can be initiated from there itself. The product data can easily be transferred to the data pool and released to a specific trading partner or made public for all recipients of a Target Market.

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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.”)

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