Tag Archives: PIM
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.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
Did you know the 2014 Brasil World Cup is actually the World Cup of Data? In addition to the visible matches played on the pitch, eShops will be in a simultaneous struggle to win real-time online merchandise customers.
Let me explain. Jogi Löw, the manager of the German team, is known for his stylish attire. At every major event, each European Cup and World Cup, he wears newly designed shirts and suits. As a result, when television audiences see each new article of clothing, there is a corresponding increase in related online retail activity. When Löw began this tradition, people didn’t know that his outfits were made by Strenesse. As a result, people searched using the keywords “Jogi Löw Shirt.” This drove traffic to the eShop with the best search engine optimization, giving them more conversions and more revenue.
If a manager’s attire drives online retail sales, imagine how much demand there is for the jerseys worn by the most visible World Cup athletes? Many of the these players have huge social media followings. Consider the size of the social media followings of Ronaldo, Kakà, Neymar, Ronaldinho and Wayne Rooney:
There is huge demand for these player’s jerseys. This demand will only increase as the games progress. Once the winner is decided, Google searches will rise for phrases like “World Cup Winner Jersey 2014 of xxx”. Some refer to this as the super long tail. And research does show that search queries with 3 or more words have better conversion rates than queries with only 1 or 2 words.
Who can predict the winners?
What happens if a fairly unknown player scores the last goal in over time? How will that event impact social media activity and search engine volumes? Who will be able to leverage this activity to sell the relevant merchandising products fast enough? The eShop with the best data will have the quickest response. And the eShop with the quickest response will get the traffic and the revenue.
The world cup is a battle. The early bird closes the sale. It’s time to play the World Cup of Data.
Regardless of the industry, new regulatory compliance requirements are more often than not treated like the introduction of a new tax. A few may be supportive, some will see the benefits, but most will focus on the negatives – the cost, the effort, the intrusion into private matters. There will more than likely be a lot of grumbling.
Across many industries there is currently a lot of grumbling, as new regulation seems to be springing up all over the place. Pharmaceutical companies have to deal with IDMP in Europe and UDI in the USA. This is hot on the heels of the US Sunshine Act, which is being followed in Europe by Aggregate Spend requirements. Consumer Goods companies in Europe are looking at the consequences of beefed up 1169 requirements. Financial Institutes are mulling over compliance to BCBS-239. Behind the grumbling most organisations across all verticals appear to have a similar approach to regulatory compliance. The pattern seems to go like this:
- Delay (The requirements may change)
- Scramble (They want it when? Why didn’t we get more time?)
- Code to Spec (Provide exactly what they want, and only what they want)
No wonder these requirements are seen as purely a cost and an annoyance. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and in fact, it should not. Just like I have seen a pattern in response to compliance, I see a pattern in the requirements themselves:
- The regulators want data
- Their requirements will change
- When they do change, regulators will be wanting even more data!
Now read the last 3 bullet points again, but use ‘executives’ or ‘management’ or ‘the business people’ instead of ‘regulators’. The pattern still holds true. The irony is that execs will quickly sign off on budget to meet regulatory requirements, but find it hard to see the value in “infrastructure” projects. Projects that will deliver this same data to their internal teams.
This is where the opportunity comes in. pwc’s 2013 State of Compliance Report[i] shows that over 42% of central compliance budgets are in excess of $1m. A significant figure. Efforts outside of the compliance team imply a higher actual cost. Large budgets are not surprising in multi-national companies, who often have to satisfy multiple regulators in a number of countries. As an alternate to multiple over-lapping compliance projects, what if this significant budget was repurposed to create a flexible data management platform? This approach could deliver compliance, but provide even more value internally.
Almost all internal teams are currently clamouring for additional data to drive ther newest application. Pharma and CG sales & marketing teams would love ready access to detailed product information. So would consumer and patient support staff, as well as down-stream partners. Trading desks and client managers within Financial Institutes should really have real-time access to their risk profiles guiding daily decision making. These data needs will not be going away. Why should regulators be prioritised over the people who drive your bottom line and who are guardians of your brand?
A flexible data management platform will serve everyone equally. Foundational tools for a flexible data management platform exist today including Data Quality, MDM, PIM and VIBE, Informatica’s Virtual Data Machine. Each of them play a significant role in easing of regulatory compliance, and as a bonus they deliver measureable business value in their own right. Implemented correctly, you will get enhanced data agility & visibility across the entire organisation as part of your compliance efforts. Sounds like ‘Buy one Get One Free’, or BOGOF in retail terms.
Unlike taxes, BOGOF opportunities are normally embraced with open arms. Regulatory compliance should receive a similar welcome – an opportunity to build the foundations for universal delivery of data which is safe, clean and connected. A 2011 study by The Economist found that effective regulatory compliance benefits businesses across a wide range of performance metrics[ii].
Is it time to get your free performance boost?
Guest interview with Jorij Abraham: author of the first book about PIM and founder of E-commerce Foundation
Jorij Abraham is the founder of the E-commerce Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping organizations and industries improve their e-commerce activities. He advises companies on e-commerce strategy, Omnichannel development and product information management. He also works as Director Research & Advise for Ecommerce Europe.
He’s written a fine book about PIM but don’t expect a technical book at all! This is what marketing teams, merchandisers, product category teams, digital strategist, should be reading.
Like him or not, when he talks you’d better listen!
Michele: Let’s start with a view on the PIM market. Where are we globally?
Jorij: We are just starting. Most retailers still do not realize how important product information is to sell digital. In some countries the expectation is that in 2020 30 – 50% of all consumer goods are bought online. PIM no longer is an option. It is essential to be successful now and in the upcoming years.
M.: What was the main inspiration behind the book? It is definitely the first book about PIM but I am sure the motivation runs a bit deeper than that.
J.: The fact that there is very little in depth information available about the subject triggered me to write the book. However, I got a lot of help from experts from Unic and the different software vendors and was very happy with all the great research Heiler had already done in the area.
M.: Who should be reading your book?
J.: I wrote the book for a broad audience; managers, employees responsible for product information management, marketers, merchandisers, and even students! There are chapters covering the basics and how a PIM can help a company on a strategic, tactical and operational level. Few later chapters are devoted to helping product information officers implement a PIM system and choose the right PIM solution.
M.: I see that in your book you cover a good number of big PIM vendors. What is the future for those who target mid-market businesses?
J.: If you look at the overall market I think we will see a large shake out in the industry. We will have very big players like Amazon, Ebay, Walmart and lots of niche players. The medium sized business will have a difficult time to survive. All will be in need for a PIM system however.
M.: What’s your take on the different PIM vendors out there? I personally see different flavours of PIM such as those more commerce friendly, as opposed to those more ERP friendly, or just minimalist PIM solutions.
J.: In the book I discuss several solutions. Some are for companies starting with PIM others are top of the line. Especially for larger firms with lots of product information to manage I recommend to make a larger investment. Low-end PIM solutions are a good choice if you expect your needs will remain simple. However if you know that within two or three years you will have 100.000 products, in multiple languages with lots of attributes, do not start with a simple solution. Within 1.5 years you will have to migrate again and the costs of migration are not worth the licence costs saved.
J.: There are many strategic, tactical and operational benefits. Managers have difficulties understanding the ROI because it is indirect. PIM can improve traffic to your site, increase conversion ratio, and reduce returns.
M.: Would it be easier to promote PIM in combination to a WCMS platform? More generally, is there a case to promote PIM as part of a greater strategic thrust?
J.: I personally prefer systems which are great at doing what they are meant to do. However it very much depends on the needs of the company. Combining a PIM with a WCMS are mixing two solutions with very different goals. Hybris is an example of a complete solutions. If you want to buy everything at once, it is a good choice. However what I like very much about the Heiler/Informatica solution is that is great at doing what is says it does. Especially the user friendliness of the system is a big plus. Why? Because if a PIM fails it usually is because of the low user adaptation.
M.: What would you suggest to Australian retailers who are clearly reluctant to adopt PIM primarily because of limited local references (at least on large scale)?
J.: Retail in Australia is going the same way as everywhere else. Digital commerce will be a fact of life and a PIM is essential to be successful online. Look at the proof in the Asia, Europe and the USA. PIM is here to stay.
M.: Is PIM now what ERP was in the 90s and CRM at the beginning of the millennium? In other words, will it ever become a commodity?
J.: I think so. But we are really at the start of PIM. CRM is anno 2014 not yet really a part of most IT architectures. So we have a long way to go…
M.: Let’s talk about the influence exerted by analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester, and Ventana. What’s your view on this? Are they moving the market? They put a lot of effort in trying to differentiate themselves. For example, see how Gartner MDM Quadrant for Products combine MDM and PIM players.
J.:I think the research agencies in general do not get PIM yet to the full extent. It is still a niche market and they are combining solutions which in my view is not helping the business and IT user. I have seen companies buy an MDM solution expecting to support their PIM processes. MDM is very different from PIM although its goals overlap. I often see that PIM has much more end-users, requires faster publication processes. There are only a few solutions in the market which really combine MDM and PIM in a sensible way.
M.: Looking at your book, I noticed that you spend a great deal of effort in unearthing what I’d call ‘PIM core concepts”. However, while the core concepts are stable, being a technology-enabled discipline PIM will undergo ongoing enhancements. What is your view on this?
J.: This is a tough question. In fact, few chapters in my book may go out of date soon. For example, PIM providers are popping up and it’s hard to keep up. On a more important note, I also see the following trends:
a) The cloud is going to have a fundamental impact on PIM solutions. It will hard to sell an on-premise solution to companies that are very much focused on their core business and outsourcing everything else (e.g. Retailers)
b) I see companies working much more intensively to collect and disseminate accurate product information. This is costly and operational inefficient if it is undertaken in isolation. In fact, there’s room to improve the overall supply chain by integrating product information across different parties, e.g. suppliers, manufactures, and retailers.
c) Finally, I see the emergence of the social as another key development in the PIM space. Just think about the contribute that consumers are providing when they shop online and share their experience on the social platforms or provide a product recommendation and/or ranking. This is product information and PIMs need to incorporate that in the overall product enrichment.
M.: Thank you Jorij. This has been a fantastic opportunity for me and my readers to learn more about you and the great work you are doing.
J.: It is great that you are putting so much effort in sharing information about product information management. Only in such a way companies can start to understand the value of PIM and increase both sales as well as reduce costs.
As promised at the end of one of my recent posts, let’s have a closer look at the long tail approach and how PIM supports it. The driver for the long-tail model is customers expectations. In fact, they demand an increasingly larger and broader assortment of products through various online channels given that the shelf space is no longer a concern. The key insight here for independent retailers is that expanded offerings and selection can reveal demand that was otherwise not known to exist.
The benefit of a long-tail strategy is that products in the long tail can be sold against a higher margin. Aberdeen reports up to 29 % higher profits due to higher product margins in the long-tail assortment.
The challenges for many companies, however, is the actual management of large assortments. The graph below shows the relationship with the size of a company’s assortments and having a PIM system.
It is remarkable to see that when the assortment increases to over one million SKUs there are no companies that do not have a PIM system.
How PIM supports the long tail has been clearly highlighted by Rolph Heiler, founder of Heiler Software (which has recently been acquired by Informatica):
Assortments are often restricted by the fact the product data cannot be efficiently maintained. A Product Information Management (PIM) systems enables dealers to setup and manage extremely large assortments, without rising costs for expanding their assortments.
End quote. The point is that for the first time ‘dealers’ are given a process and a tool to onboard data from suppliers and store it centrally before it is prepared and enriched for presentation purposes. However, as aptly pointed out by J. Abraham in his upcoming book (see references below), implementing a long-tail strategy entails much more than just onboarding data from suppliers to your PIM system, and the ability to technically manage larger assortments. More specifically, he observes that…
Processes have to be set up to manage the information in the PIM system. Price mechanisms have to be set up to manage the margin for which products are sold. Just adding 30 % margin to all products might be a simple thing to do, but it does not take into consideration the actual logistical costs, perceived product value by the customer, and competitors’ prices. Likewise, when suppliers stop selling a product, the product also has to be removed from the assortment of the wholesaler or retailer.
Once a product is sold, the product has to be ordered, possibly repackaged at the company’s warehouse and delivered to the customer. To do this, logistical processes have to be set up in the ERP system, especially when the ERP system does not yet know the product just sold. With the external and internal processes set up right, companies are able to expand their offering very fast. WarmteService for example was able to expand its offering from 20,000 products to 150,000 products in less than 1.5 years
End quote. This is a broader and more accurate view of the processes that need to be put in place to implement a successful long-tail strategy. As Ted Hurlbut put it, “The Long Tail is not an argument merely to carry broader assortments. It is not an argument to expand into unrelated categories that stretch customer’s expectations and the retailer’s core expertise. It is not just about capturing the add-on or plus sale. It is rather a demonstration that there is business to be done in carefully selected items that deepen assortments in a retailer’s niche that appeal specifically to the customer’s imagination.”
In conclusion, it should be clear that the long-tail model is a compelling territory for innovative customer experiences*. PIM has a respectable place in the model insofar as it allows retailers to quickly respond to product demands by facilitating the creation of relevant assortments in a timely and efficient manner.
Drop shipping is an interesting example of long-tail strategy that will be analysed in one of the upcoming posts. Stay tuned!
- J. Abraham, Product Information Management, Management for Professionals, Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014
- Aberdeen Group, The Instant Power of All-Channel PIM: Increased Sales and Competitiveness, December 2011.
- PIM for long-tail, Heiler whitepaper
*I am not a blind believer of The Long Tail. I see few grey areas that various authors have spelt out greatly. If there’s interest, I will plan to extend on this fascinating subject.
“Start your master data management (MDM) journey knowing how it will deliver a tangible business outcome. Will it help your business generate revenue or cut costs? Focus on the business value you plan to deliver with MDM and revisit it often,” advises Michael Delgado, Information Management Director at Citrix during his presentation at MDM Day, the InformaticaWorld 2014 pre-conference program. MDM Day focused on driving value from business-critical information and attracted 500 people.
In Ravi Shankar’s recent MDM Day preview blog, Part 2: All MDM, All Day at Pre-Conference Day at InformaticaWorld, he highlights the amazing line up of master data management (MDM) and product information management (PIM) customers speakers, Informatica experts as well as our talented partner sponsors.
Here are my MDM Day fun facts and key takeaways:
- Did you know that every 2 seconds an aircraft with GE engine technology is taking off somewhere in the world?
GE Aviation’s Chief Enterprise Architect, Ginny Walker, presented “Operationalizing Critical Business Processes: GE Aviation’s MDM Story.” GE Aviation is a $22 billion company and a leading provider of jet engines, systems and services. Ginny shared the company’s multi-year journey to improve installed-base asset data management. She explained how the combination of data, analytics, and connectivity results in productivity improvements such as reducing up to 2% of the annual fuel bill and reducing delays. The keys to GE Aviation’s analytical MDM success were: 1) tying MDM to business metrics, 2) starting with a narrow scope, and 3) data stewards. Ginny believes that MDM is an enabler for the Industrial Internet and Big Data because it empowers companies to get insights from multiple sources of data.
- Did you know that EMC has made a $17 billion investment in acquisitions and is integrating more than 70 technology companies?
EMC’s Barbara Latulippe, aka “The Data Diva,” is the Senior Director of Enterprise Information Management (EIM). EMC is a $21.7 billion company that has grown through acquisition and has 60,000 employees worldwide. In her presentation, “Formula for Success: EMC MDM Best Practices,” Barbara warns that if you don’t have a data governance program in place, you’re going to have a hard time getting an MDM initiative off the ground. She stressed the importance of building a data governance council and involving the business as early as possible to agree on key definitions such as “customer.” Barbara and her team focused on the financial impact of higher quality data to build a business case for operational MDM. She asked her business counterparts, “Imagine if you could onboard a customer in 3 minutes instead of 15 minutes?”
- Did you know that Citrix is enabling the mobile workforce by uniting apps, data and services on any device over any network and cloud?
Citrix’s Information Management Director, Michael Delgado, presented “Citrix MDM Case Study: From Partner 360 to Customer 360.” Citrix is a $2.9 billion Cloud software company that embarked on a multi-domain MDM and data governance journey for channel partner, hierarchy and customer data. Because 90% of the company’s product bookings are fulfilled by channel partners, Citrix started their MDM journey to better understand their total channel partner relationship to make it easier to do business with Citrix and boost revenue. Once they were successful with partner data, they turned to customer data. They wanted to boost customer experience by understanding the total customer relationship across products lines and regions. Armed with this information, Citrix employees can engage customers in one product renewal process for all products. MDM also helps Citrix’s sales team with white space analysis to identify opportunities to sell more user licenses in existing customer accounts.
- Did you know Quintiles helped develop or commercialize all of the top 5 best-selling drugs on the market?
Quintiles’ Director of the Infosario Data Factory, John Poonnen, presented “Using Multi-domain MDM to Gain Information Insights:How Quintiles Efficiently Manages Complex Clinical Trials.” Quintiles is the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services with more than 27,000 employees. John explained how the company leverages a tailored, multi-domain MDM platform to gain a holistic view of business-critical entities such as investigators, research facilities, clinical studies, study sites and subjects to cut costs, improve quality, improve productivity and to meet regulatory and patient needs. “Although information needs to flow throughout the process – it tends to get stuck in different silos and must be manually manipulated to get meaningful insights,” said John. He believes master data is foundational — combining it with other data, capabilities and expertise makes it transformational.
While I couldn’t attend the PIM customer presentations below, I heard they were excellent. I look forward to watching the videos:
- Crestline/ Geiger: Dale Denham, CIO presented, “How Product Information in eCommerce improved Geiger’s Ability to Promote and Sell Promotional Products.”
- Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply: Director of Marketing, Kitch Walker presented, “Driving Omnichannel Customer Engagement – PIM Best Practices.”
I also had the opportunity to speak with some of our knowledgeable and experienced MDM Day partner sponsors. Go to Twitter and search for #MDM and #DataQuality to see their advice on what it takes to successfully kick-off and implement an MDM program.
There are more thought-provoking MDM and PIM customer presentations taking place this week at InformaticaWorld 2014. To join or follow the conversation, use #INFA14 #MDM or #INFA14 #PIM.
Much is being said about how quickly information is stacking up which is creating quite the paradox. On one hand, information is being gathered in spades to enable quick problem solving. On the other, information is locked in disparate systems, hindering the very reason why information was collected in the first place. How can you turn information into actionable knowledge?
I lean on David Aeker for defense. In his Spanning Silos, Aeker convincingly pointed out that a silo is a metaphor for “organizational units that contain their own management team and talent and lack of motivation…to work with or even communicate with other units.” Hence, the very idea of collaboration and flow of information is challenged, resulting in products and solutions that claim to solve the problem but in reality further segregate the knowledge base.
A Unified Approach
What we need is a unified paradigm for capturing, storing, organizing and searching content as well as people. Interestingly, PIM is an application approach to aggregate product data in order to transform it into information relevant to multiple channels. This may appear to result in another silo but that is a very shaky way to look at PIM. PIM is more than an application to master product data, PIM is all about collaboration.
We should remember that creation of product information is all about the process of bringing together cross-departmental contributions that lead to the final artifact. Given the nature of product information, it is more than a workflow scenario that assists the collection of information at the right time from the right source. In fact, product information touches the entire enterprise. For instance, PIM supports transactional systems such as order fulfillment and warehouse management, or it can be more merchandise-oriented by supporting multichannel marketing. It crosses to the enterprise as well. Think about how reviews and feedback on products will impact the information that is dynamically attached to products.
The enemy of silos is fertile communication across the board, which is reflected down to operations. With all the key teams working on the same platform, PIM facilitates a collaborative environment where real teams made up of people from multiple departments sit and work on the same construction site by promoting cross-fertilization, immediate appreciation across department and a quick turnaround.
Image source: http://www.winnersfdd.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Cultural-Silos-generic.jpg
Product Information Management (PIM) is an investment, not a “cost.” This is so important it’s worth repeating: “PIM is an investment.” If you are a retailer of any size (small or big, it makes little difference), it’s likely your most painful challenges include the following:
- Lost sales from out-of-stock issues
- Lost time haggling over return disputes
- Squandered hours reconciling product information promotion discrepancies across all channels
And, if you’re comfortable experiencing the following, then no change is needed:
- Slower Time-To-Market for for new product introductions and the corresponding wasted dollars
- Wasted time spent relaying basic product information to customers and partners
- Overall brand erosion
However, for those who want to embark on a journey toward redemption, I will use this post to lay a good foundation and to demystify PIM.
Here are 6 reasons to consider transforming your business using PIM. Note that the priority order will vary by industry and situation.
1) PIM for Operational efficiency
This really boils down to a reduction in the number of call center questions regarding basic item information, a reduction in the number of instances when inventory levels are insufficient, and a reduction in the number of purchase order errors, resulting in incorrect shipments or adjustments.
2) PIM for New Product Introduction (NPI)
Introducing a new product requires the coordinated efforts of dozens of internal and external staff. It can be a fairly complex task. Even a simple product may require hundreds of attributes, all derived from multiple systems residing within and outside the organization.
3) PIM to Reduce the “Time to Market”
Studies have shown that high-performing companies generate, on average, 61 percent of their sales from successful introductions of new products and services. PIM will help you have a streamlined process for creating new products and distributing them to eCommerce and other channels in the ecosystem. The faster, the better. Why? Well, you will have them before anyone else and secondly there will be more time to sell them.
4) PIM for Business growth and improved customer satisfaction
The instantaneous nature of online retail impacts consistency and adds an additional layer of complexity to the management of product information. Customer satisfaction is (also) correlated to rich, contextual, and consistent product information across sales channels. Companies that lack this discipline experience brand erosion with consequental detrimental impact on overall business performance.
5) PIM to Improve your supplier performance
How would you answer your CFO if she asked for the average cost to on-board a product from a supplier? All things considered, my bet is that it would be in the neighborhood of $500-$700. But even if it is $200 you are still in deep water. In fact, with a bit of math you’ll figure out the incidence of this cost when considering the tens of thousands of SKUs that are introduced into the market every year. Forward-thinking retailers are leveraging an integrated supplier portal to enhance supplier collaboration. This saves precious time and manpower, often bringing down that cost to less than $5.
6) PIM for Omni-channel enablement
A retail omni-channel strategy cannot not contemplate the management of product information. This is because retailers need to collect information from multiple sources, optimizing content and facilitating timely distribution of content across multiple channels. Very often, though, information in stores, eCommerce sites, mobile apps, and print catalogs just don’t match up. Often, it is difficult to connect products and customers, resulting in poor customer experiences. This is a large topic that will be covered in upcoming posts.
Looking for more information on how PIM can actually lay the foundations to deliver on these promises? There is more in my previous blog posts here, here, and here. There is also a SlideShare presentation here. Finally, we have a new eBook called The Informed Purchase Journey available here.
Over the past few years, we have assisted an increasing shift in customer behavior. Pervasive internet connectivity – along with the exponential adoption of mobile devices – has enabled shoppers to research and purchase products of all kinds, anytime and anywhere, using a combination of touch points they find most convenient. This is not a passing fad.
Consumers expect rich data and images to make purchase choices; business users require access to analytical data in order to make mission-critical decisions. These demands for information are driving a need for improved product data availability and accuracy. And this is changing the way businesses go to market.
A staggering number of stores and manufacturers are reforming their models to response to this challenge. The direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, while not new, is rapidly becoming the center stage to address these challenges. The optimal DTC model will vary depending on specific and contextual business objectives. However, there are many strategic benefits to going direct, but the main objectives include growing sales, gaining control over pricing, strengthening the brand, getting closer to consumers, and testing out new products and markets.
It is my contention that while the DTC model is gaining the deserved attention, much remains to be done. In fact, among many challenges that DTC poses, the processes and activities associated with sourcing product information, enriching product data to drive sales and lower returns, and managing product assortments across all channels loom large. More precisely, the challenges that need to be overcome are better exemplified by these points:
- Products have several variations to support different segments, markets, and campaigns.
- Product components, ingredients, care information, environmental impact data and other facets of importance to the customer.
- People are visual. As a result, easy website navigation is essential. Eye-catching images that highlight your products or services (perhaps as they’re being performed or displayed as intended) is an effective way to visually communicate information to your customers and make it easier for them to evaluate options. If information and pictures are readily accessible, customers are more likely to engage.
- Ratings, reviews and social data, stored within the product’s record rather than in separate systems.
- Purchasing and sales measurements, for example, sales in-store, return rates, sales velocity, product views online, as well as viewing and purchasing correlations are often held across several systems. However, this information is increasingly needed for search and recommendation.
The importance of product data and its use, combined with the increased demands on business as a result of inefficient, non-scaling approaches to data management, provide an imperative to considering a PIM to ‘power’ cross-channel retail. Once established, PIM users repeatedly report higher ROI. It is likely that we’ll see PIM systems rank alongside CRM, ERP, CMS, order management and merchandising systems as the pillars of cross-channel retailing at scale.
For all these reasons, choosing the right PIM strategy (and partner) is now a key decision. Get this decision wrong and it could become an expensive mistake.