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Why you need a PIM system for your marketplace store

PIM - product information management system

 

It’s no surprise that products play a central part in the success of a marketplace store. However, in a rush to satisfy demand, it’s easy to overlook the product experience.

The product experience isn’t to be confused with the customer experience. It’s about delivering your product information consistently across your channels, your webshop, and your marketplace store.

A few years ago A.T. Kearney carried out a study and found that poor product information resulted in a 30% error rate in data catalogs. The financial consequences were hard to ignore: Errors in 60% of invoices costing $40 to $400 to rectify; 3.5% of sales lost in supply chain inefficiencies; 25 minutes per SKU each year to correct out-of-sync information. [1]

It’s easy to be intimidated by the vast amount of product information you need to collect. And this information also needs to be shared across every channel in the right format.

Thankfully, a Product Information Management (PIM) system alleviates this burden. It stores your product information securely in a central cloud database. This ensures this information is distributed to the right channels and the right people at the right time.

Still, awareness of the benefits of a PIM system is low among e-commerce store operators. Ventana Research estimates one-third of sellers will need new technologies to deliver the product experience their buyers expect by the year 2022 [2].

In this article, we’ll clarify what a Product Information Management system is and why you should consider one for your marketplace store.

What is a Product Information Management system?

As the name suggests, a Product Information Management system stores and processes your product information. This includes your product descriptions, pricing information, Stock Keeping Units (SKUs), and digital assets such as product images.

A PIM system is a subset of a Master Data Management (MDM) system. MDM systems create uniform sets of data to enable data sharing across different business systems.

Enterprise business systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems can also store product information. However, they don’t offer the scalability and flexibility of PIM systems that provide enriched product information.

PIM systems are a dedicated product data management platform. They integrate with other business systems through APIs and synchronize product information across your e-commerce tech stack (ERP, CMS, CRM, etc…).

The back-office team can upload, edit and distribute product information in minute detail. While marketing can execute personalized campaigns across different marketplaces – from eBay to Amazon to Google Shopping and more.

A Product Information Management system provides a central repository to collect, manage, and enrich your product information. It bolsters data quality and provides a compelling product experience.



What information does a PIM system store?

A PIM system centralizes product data into a single database for efficient management and distribution. It stores:

  • Core product data such as product name, title, and description
  • Product specifications, such as SKUs and prices
  • Product attributes including weight, dimensions, and colors
  • Media assets such as images, videos, and sound files
  • Channel information (eBay, Amazon, AliExpress…)
  • Supplier information
  • Business rules
  • Store information (POS registers, product catalogs, etc…)

In short, any information relating to processing, distributing, and merchandising products belongs in a PIM system.


Sources of data

There are many sources of data that feed your Product Information Management system:

Internal systems: your internal systems (ERP, CRM, …) are a rich source of data. If you use a dedicated procurement system, you’ll also have useful data relating to suppliers and purchases.

ERP: in addition to the point above, you likely use an Enterprise Resource Planning platform for your e-commerce operation. Your ERP holds information such as product IDs and pricing data.

Warehouse Management System: this system feeds inventory data into the PIM system. You can thus make informed choices on merchandizing.

Product suppliers: product manufacturers are an obvious source of product data. The information they provide can be as basic as the weight or size of products; or it can also include rich information, such as product pictures.

Data suppliers: it’s sometimes more efficient for product suppliers to work with third-party data suppliers to distribute their product information. These suppliers then enrich the product data thus providing added value.

Agencies: agencies often work with product suppliers to write product descriptions, take pictures etc… In this case, they’ll provide you with this information which you can upload to your PIM system.

A PIM system increases omnichannel engagement as customers engage with your brand at various touchpoints. It ensures up-to-date and accurate product information is always available across your customer value chain.


Benefits of a PIM system

Chances are you’re using ERP software to store your company data. However, today’s consumer expects personalized marketing content at every touchpoint. An Enterprise Resource Planning tool simply isn’t nimble enough to meet those demands.

A PIM system excels as a multichannel marketing tool. It also gives you complete control over your e-commerce strategy: you can track your catalog and inventory data. And you can distribute that information to your channels in real-time.

A PIM system also tracks and synchronizes product information across your customer value chain. It gives every team access to accurate and up-to-date product data. So back-office, sales, and marketing teams all work from the same data.

MarketsandMarkets estimates the global market size for PIM systems will nearly double between 2020 and 2025, growing from $9 billion to $16 billion [3].

This is hardly surprising, as e-commerce store operators seek to differentiate themselves and improve product experiences. And they also realize the many benefits of using a PIM system which:

  • Streamlines onboarding of suppliers and data providers
  • Captures and validates product data
  • Enriches product data from multiple sources
  • Provides a single view of product data
  • Maps product data to customer needs
  • Provides a snapshot of products for every channel
  • Improves the consistency of data across all your channels
  • Automates the creation and updating of product information
  • Drives compelling product experiences
  • Enhances product flow


Centralize product data

With a PIM system, you can create product categories as and when you need them. Data fields are populated automatically with product data from the appropriate channels.

A centralized product database also facilitates catalog production. The same product information is output regardless of format. Further, it’s easier to work with a single view of data if you need to internationalize your product information.

A PIM system ensures every team member and sales channel sees the same information in real-time.


Control catalog structure

Each e-commerce and marketplace has a unique catalog structure. One advantage of a PIM system, it can present the same information in the required format in real-time. Also useful, a PIM system that tracks changes and updates to the catalog.



Standardize product information

Each marketplace needs product information in a specific format. A PIM system is easily configured to channel-specific business rules.

Standardizing your product data also gives you a single version of your product data. This way you can easily search your data and update your product catalog. You can also validate your product categories and attributes, thus avoiding expensive discrepancies in product content.


Launch products quickly

A PIM system not only stores product data but also improves workflows. Through automated business rules, it coordinates a large number of product combinations and SKUs. It integrates your product data with your other business information systems, thus speeding up product creation at scale. You significantly reduce your time-to-market and access new channels faster.


Merchandize efficiently

Your product content makes or breaks your marketplace store. Your PIM dashboard is your go-to place for product insights. It helps you build a picture around individual products or categories, provides data on clicks, views, and around your shopping cart. It also collects customer feedback.

With real-time product information at your fingertips, you’re able to roll out timely personalized offers quickly.

Man working with a PIM system




Provide a seamless shopping experience

The modern consumer’s shopping experience is omnichannel. Even if you only ever sell through your marketplace store, your customer may have found you through an ad, a recommendation, a newsletter, or an app.

Your customers also expect a personalized shopping experience. They expect you to remember their shopping habits and preferences. A PIM system creates a seamless interface between your customer and product data.


Improve data quality and governance

Customer and product data work together to create a memorable shopping experience. The better the quality of the data, the better the shopping experience. A PIM system combines standardized product information with quality data sources to improve customer outcomes. A PIM system also builds data governance rules into workflows that satisfy product compliance requirements.


Improve ROI

Customers engage better with clear and accurate product information. A Product Information Management system centralizes product data, thus minimizing errors and redundancies. So you can:

  • Enrich product data
  • Create and publish product categories
  • Manage product relationships
  • Build custom feeds
  • Syndicate product data to your channels

A PIM system lays the foundation for automated workflows, reduces manual input, and boosts productivity. All this while improving product content as well as the quality of the shopping experience. This results in increased conversion rates and reduced product returns. Thus your marketplace store experiences an improved ROI.


Key takeaway

As the pace of digital transformation accelerates, your online channels and marketplace store benefit from synchronized product data. A Product Information Management system centralizes your product information in one single database.

There are many benefits to having a single view of product data. But the strength of PIM systems lies in coordinating and synchronizing product information. This real-time synchronicity improves product content, provides insights, and improves ROI.


Sources

[1] Murphy- Global Logistics, J., & Strategies, S. C. (n.d.). Data synchronization will ease headaches, save big bucks in retail supply chain. Supplychainbrain.Com. Retrieved July 5, 2021, from https://www.supplychainbrain.com/articles/1095-data-synchronization-will-ease-headaches-save-big-bucks-in-retail-supply-chain

[2] Smith, M. (n.d.). The business continuity imperative: The product experience for buyer and customer delight in 2020 and beyond. Ventana Research. Retrieved July 5, 2021, from https://marksmith.ventanaresearch.com/the-business-continuity-imperative-the-product-experience-for-buyer-and-customer-delight-in-2020-and-beyond

[3] Product information management market size, share and global market forecast to 2025. (n.d.). Marketsandmarkets.Com. Retrieved July 5, 2021, from https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/product-information-management-market-661489.html

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