Tag Archives: PIM
Achieving and maintaining a single, semantically consistent version of master data is crucial for every organization. As many companies are moving from an account or product-centric approach to a customer-centric model, master data management is becoming an important part of their enterprise data management strategy. MDM provides the clean, consistent and connected information your organizations need for you to –
- Empower customer facing teams to capitalize on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities
- Create trusted information to improve employee productivity
- Be agile with data management so you can make confident decisions in a fast changing business landscape
- Improve information governance and be compliant with regulations
But there are challenges ahead for the organizations. As Andrew White of Gartner very aptly wrote in a blog post, we are only half pregnant with Master Data Management. Andrew in his blog post talked about increasing number of inquiries he gets from organizations that are making some pretty simple mistakes in their approach to MDM without realizing the impact of those decisions on a long run.
Over last 10 years, I have seen many organizations struggle to implement MDM in a right way. Few MDM implementations have failed and many have taken more time and incurred cost before showing value.
So, what is the secret sauce?
A key factor for a successful MDM implementation lays in mapping your business objectives to features and functionalities offered by the product you are selecting. It is a phase where you ask right questions and get them answered. There are few great ways in which organizations can get this done and talking to analysts is one of them. The other option is to attend MDM focused events that allow you to talk to experts, learn from other customer’s experience and hear about best practices.
We at Informatica have been working hard to deliver you a flexible MDM platform that provides complete capabilities out of the box. But MDM journey is more than just technology and product features as we have learnt over the years. To ensure our customer success, we are sharing knowledge and best practices we have gained with hundreds of successful MDM and PIM implementations. The Informatica MDM Day, is a great opportunity for organizations where we will –
- Share best practices and demonstrate our latest features and functionality
- Show our product capabilities which will address your current and future master data challenges
- Provide you opportunity to learn from other customer’s MDM and PIM journeys.
- Share knowledge about MDM powered applications that can help you realize early benefits
- Share our product roadmap and our vision
- Provide you an opportunity to network with other like-minded MDM, PIM experts and practitioners
So, join us by registering today for our MDM Day event in New York on 24th February. We are excited to see you all there and walk with you towards MDM Nirvana.
The latest North American B2C e-commerce market report is out now. For my followers I took the freedom to summarize some “Magnificent Seven Facts on B2C eCommerce in North America” in a short blog. The report covers United States, Canada and Mexico, but as well comparisons to Europe and Asia. According to this report, North American B2C e-commerce market is expected to reach $494.0 billion in 2014.
The Magnificent Seven Facts
- 122.5 million households in North America
- 336 million internet users in North America
- North America makes up 29.2% of the total global online sales ($1,552.0bn) in 2013.
- In terms of global B2C e-commerce, North America ranked third in 2013, behind Asia-Pacific and Europe
- North American consumers spent on average$2,116 online in2013. This is significantly above the global average of €1,280.
- With an average spending per e-shopper of $2,216, American consumers spent most online in2013. Canadians ranked second with an average spending of $1,577, while Mexican e-shoppers on average spent $1,133 online in2013.
- Canadians are more likely to shop mobile
Mobile Commerce: Canada Leads the Pack
Within North America, mobile commerce is most popular in Canada, with more than half of the online purchases per week being made through a mobile device. At 38.2%, US Americans still make their mobile purchases in the safe surroundings of their homes.
What are the barriers preventing mobile purchasing?
Free downloads available now
Would you like to find out more about global e-commerce? The free light versions of our Regional/Continental Reports can be downloaded here.
Throughout the lifecycle of a consumable product, many parties are constantly challenged with updating and managing product information, like ingredients and allergens. Since December 13th, 2014, this task has become even more complex than before for companies producing or selling food and beverage products in the European Union due to the new EU 1169/2011 rules. As a result, changing the basic formula of a chocolate bar by adding one allergen, like nuts for example should be carefully considered as it can have a tremendous impact on its complete supply chain if manufacturer and retailer(s) want to remain compliant with EU regulation 1169/2011 and to inform the consumer about the changes to the product.
Let’s say, the chocolate bar is available in three (3) varieties: dark-, whole milk and white chocolate. Each of the varieties is available in two (2) sizes: normal and mini size. The chocolate bar is distributed in twelve (12) countries within the European Union using different packaging. This would require the manufacturer to introduce 72 (3 varieties * 2 sizes * 12 countries) new GTINs at an item level. If the chocolate producer decides to do any package or seasonal promotions, multipacks or introduce a new variety, this number would even be higher. The new attributes, including updated information on allergens, have to be modified for each product and 72 new GTINs have to be generated for the chocolates bars by the chocolate manufacturer’s data maintenance department. Trading partners have to be updated about the modifications, too. Assuming the manufacturer uses the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), the new GTINs will have to be registered along with their new attributes eight weeks before the modified product will be available. In addition to that, packaging hierarchies have to be taken into consideration as well. Let’s say, each item has an associated case and pallet, the number of updates would sum up at 216 (72 updates * 3 product hierarchies).
Managing the updates related to the product modifications, results in high administrative and other costs. Trading partners across the supply chain report significant impact to their annual sales and costs. According to GS1 Europe, one retailer reported 6,000-8,000 GTIN changes per year, leading to 2-3% of additional administrative and support costs. If the GTIN had to change for every new minor variant of a product, they forecast the number of changes per year could rise to 20,000-25,000, leading to a significant increase in further additional administrative and support costs.
The change of the chocolate bar’s recipe also means that a corresponding change to the mandatory product data displayed on the label is required. This means for the online retailer(s) selling the chocolate bar that they have to update information displayed in the online shops. Considering that a retailer has to deliver exactly the product that is displayed in his online shop, there will be a period of time when the old version of the product and the new version coexist in the supply chain. During this period it is not possible for the retailer to know if the version of the product ordered on a website will be available at the time and place the order is picked.
GS1 Europe suggests handling this issue as follows: Retailers working to GS1 standards use GTINs to pick on-line orders. If the modified chocolate bar with nuts is given a new GTIN it increases the possibility that the correct variant can be made available for picking and, even if it is not available at the pick point, the retailer can recognize automatically if the version being picked is different from the version that was ordered. In this latter case the product can be offered as a substitute when the goods are delivered and the consumer can choose whether to accept it or not. On their websites, GS1 provides comprehensive information on how to comply with the new European Food Information Regulation.
Using the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), suppliers and retailers are able to share standardized product data, cut down the cost of building point to point integrations and speed-up new product introductions by getting access to the most accurate and most current product information. The Informatica GDSN Accelerator is an add-on to the Informatica Product Information Management (PIM) system that provides an interface to access a GDSN certified data pool. It is designed to help organizations securely and continuously exchange, update and synchronize product data with trading partners according to the standards defined by Global Standards One (GS1). GDSN ensures that data exchanged between trading partners is accurate and compliant with globally supported standards in maintaining uniqueness, classification and identification of source and recipients. Integrated in your PIM System, the GDSN Accelerator allows for leveraging product data of highest standards to be exchanged with your trading partners via the GDSN.
Thanks to the automated product data exchange, efforts and costs related to the modification of a product, as demonstrated in the chocolate bar example can be significantly reduced for both, manufacturers and retailers. The product data can be easily transferred to the data pool and you can fully control the information sharing with a specific trading partner or with all recipients of a target market.
Established in Northwestern United States, North 40 Outfitters, a family owned and operated business, has been outfitting the hardworking and hard playing populace of the region. Understanding the diverse needs of its customers, hardworking people, North 40 Outfitters carries everything from fencing for cattle and livestock to tools and trailers. They have gear for camping and hunting—even fly fishing.
Named after the Homestead Act of 1862, an event with strong significance in the region, North 40 Outfitters heritage is built on its community involvement and support of local small businesses. The company’s 700 employees could be regarded as family. At this year’s Thanksgiving, every employee was given a locally raised free range turkey to bring home. Furthermore, true to Black Friday’s shopping experience, North 40 Outfitters opened its door. Eschewing the regular practice of open as early as 3 AM, North 40 Outfitters opened at the reasonable 7 o’clock hour. They offered patrons donuts as well as coffee obtained from a local roaster.
North 40 Outfitters aims to be different. They achieve differentiation by being data driven. While the products they sell cannot be sourced exclusively from local sources, their experience aims to do exactly that.
Prior to operating under the name North 40 Outfitters, the company ran under the banner of “Big R”, which was shared with several other members of the same buying group. The decision to change the name to North 40 Outfitters was the result of a move into the digital realm— they needed a name to distinguish themselves. Now as North 40 Outfitters, they can focus on what matters rather than having to deal with the confusion of a shared name. They would now provide the “local store” experience, while investing in their digital strategy as a means to do business online and bring the unique North 40 Outfitters experience and value nationwide.
With those organizational changes taking place, lay an even greater challenge. With over 150,000 SKUs and no digital database for their product information, North 40 Outfitters had to find a solution and build everything from the ground up. Moreover, with customers demanding a means to buy products online, especially customers living in rural areas, it became clear that North 40 Outfitters would have to address its data concerns.
Along with the fresh rebrand and restructure, North 40 Outfitters needed to tame their product information situation, a critical step conducive to building their digital product database and launching their ecommerce store.
North 40 Outfitters was clear about the outcome of the recent rebranding and they knew that investments needed to be taken if they were to add value to their existing business. Building the capabilities to take their business to new channels, ecommerce in this case, meant finding the best solution to start on the right foot. Consequently, wishing to become master of their own data, for both online and in-store uses, North 40 Outfitters determined that they needed a PIM application that would act as a unique data information repository.
It’s important to note that North 40 Outfitters environment is not typical to that of traditional retailers. The difference can be found in the large variation of product type they sell. Some of their suppliers have local, boutique style production scales, while some are large multi-national distributors. Furthermore, a large portion of North 40 Outfitters customers live in rural regions, in some cases their stores are a day’s drive away. With the ability to leverage both a PIM and an ecommerce solution North 40 Outfitters is now a step closer to outfitting everyone in the Northwestern region.
It is still very early to talk about results, since North 40 Outfitters has only recently entered the implementation phase. What can be said is that they are very excited. Having reclaimed their territory, and equipped with a PIM solution and an ecommerce solution they have all the right tools to till and plow the playing field.
The meaning of North 40 Outfitters
To the uninitiated the name North 40 Outfitters might not mean much. However, there is a lot of local heritage and history standing behind this newly rebranded name. North 40 is derived from the Homestead Act of 1862. The Act refers to the “North forty”, to the Northern most block of the homesteader’s property. To this day, this still holds significance to the local community. The second half of the brand: “Outfitters” is about the company’s focus on the company ability to outfit its customers both for work and play. On the one hand, you can visit North 40 Outfitters to purchase goods aimed at running your ranch, such as fencing material, horse related goods or quality tools. At the same time, you can buy camping and backpacking goods—they even sell ice fishing huts.
North 40 Outfitters ensures their customers have what they need to work the land, get back from it and ultimately go out and play just as hard if not harder.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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:
- A focus on good quality product data is relatively recent trend. Different industries started by addressing different challenges.
- 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.
- Product MDM has been used predominately by manufacturers of goods, looking to standardise and support global processes, reporting and analytics across departments.
- Now, manufacturers are increasingly looking to take control of their product information outside their organisation.
- This trend is most notable in Consumer Goods (CG) companies.
- Increasingly consistent, appealing and high quality data in the consumer realm is making the difference between choosing your product vs. a competitor’s.
- CG must ensure all channels – their own and their retail partner’s – are fed with high quality product data.
- So PIM is now entering organisations which should already have a Product MDM tool. If they don’t, confusion arises.
- When Marketing buys PIM (and it normally is Marketing), quite frankly this shows up the poor product data management upstream of marketing.
- 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.
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?”:
- XX 6621/74 BLK VN SS TOP 969B S
- XX37066 L/BLU PRK FLAN SH 440B MED
Then, he solved the mystery. The answer was this:
- Black V-neck sleeveless top
- 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.
In our interviews of CIOs, they have told us that connecting what IT is doing to business strategy has become a higher priority than even things like improving technical orchestration and overall process excellence. Being CIO today has become much more about business alignment than technology alignment. This means that CIOs and their teams need to understand their firm’s business problems almost as well as they understand their implementations of information technology. One area where CIOs say they are trying to do a better job of alignment is in working with their firm’s Chief Marketing Officer. Confirming this is a recent CIO Magazine Survey that found initiatives around revenue, customer acquisition, and customer retention receiving top IT priority these days.
Geiger IT solves a persistent business problem by aligning with the marketing team
One CIO that that has really taken this to heart is the Dale Denham who is the CIO at Geiger. Dale and his IT team decided that they needed to get closer to their firm’s marketing organization and by doing so was able to go after a persistent business problem and change the IT-business relationship in the process.
At Geiger, their marketing team was limited in their ability to add new products. Competitively, the marketing team needed to improve their product selection. However, they were hitting the wall in updating and maintaining their product mix. Geiger provides its customers with more than 5,000 products, each having as many as 350 variations. This translates to a 175,000 product permutations to price and manage. At the same time, Geiger sells its products through 500 Sales Partners—this, in turn, can create an additional layer of permutation.
The source of this business problem was that Geiger’s ERP and Website systems that required the users to manipulate multiple screens to get to product data and product codes into the system. The system was difficult enough that it took about six weeks to train someone to input product data. Think about the time needed to then do this this across all products, product permutations, and channel partners.
To fix things, Dale and his team partnered with the business. Doing it together rather than separately enabled the IT organization and the business to collaborate and to build a better and more permanent partnership. Dale says, “We have really enjoyed implementing the solution, because the business units are now working very closely with IT”. Dale claims as well the relationship with their business units has gotten to be a very solid, trusting relationship with them, and very collaborative. They have learned to trust IT’s input, and IT has learned a lot from the business units about how they operate and like to operate.”
The impact of working together is clear
The solution that the business and IT derived cut the time to train people in half. In fact, Dale says that new system users are relatively productive within a week, because the solution is faster and easier to use. Dale says that the time per product entry went down from an hour and half to thirty minutes. For this reason, marketing teams are more efficient. Overall, it reduced the process from two months to one week for them to update the customer facing website. By automating the process, they were able to speed up marketing processes. This means marketing can now add and extend to the existing marketing mix and increase customer satisfaction and potential increase customer upsell and cross sell.
The historical the process created a lot of efficiencies for marketing. Marketing staff is now much more focused on what they’re doing from day to day. They have the ability to update products faster from prices and this has stabilized business margins. At the same time, marketing was able to reduce invoice discrepancies. Given all of this, marketing staff is more engaged that they are able to get the job done in a timely manner and to be able to get to market faster with the products.
The solution took the data entry process down from ninety minutes to thirty minutes. And now with this increased efficiency, the marketing staff has focused more of its time on the quality of copy for the product and on getting the graphics of the images up to websites. This has improved overall customer experience. And of course they were able to expand their product offering. They now have three times the throughput capacity, which is what is going to allow Geiger to grow in the future as it provides more product options to customers.
Already they have found that customers are happier with the immediate larger breadth of product to choose from. Lastly, their leadership team is happier because they are able to get more opportunities to grow the business. And this gives them much more ability to satisfy customers and provide for the additional growth they need in the future.
Clearly business and IT alignment is all the rage today. But it starts and ends with a team that solves meaningful business problems. Geiger is a great of example of how to do this right. If you want to learn more about what Geiger did and how they solved their marketing problems, please click this hyperlink.
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.
- Real-time commerce (certification with IBM WebSphere Commerce), which eliminates shelf lag
- Editable channel preview which help to envision how customers view the product
- Data quality dashboards for improved conversion power, which means selling more with better information
- Business Process Management for better collaboration throughout the enterprise
- 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.