News Blog Posted on: 04.21.16
The importance of PIM in a world of empowered customers
In today’s business environment shaped by digitization, providing a seamless customer experience is a priority for companies.
Based on this assumption, Google intoduced the ZMOT concept which focuses on early activities in the sales funnel. It recognizes the Zero Moment of Truth as the most important phase. According to Google, the Zero Moment of Truth occurs between the stimulus (the moment when a person is first exposed to a brand) and the First Moment of Truth (the moment when the customer first encounters a product physically, in a brick – and – mortar store). It is during that phase, when a majority of potential customers try to find more information about products. With an access to multiple sources, they learned to perform an extensive research before making a purchase. The ZMOT concept recognizes the buyers’ uniqueness and subsequently – the importance of providing complete and relevant information during the research phase.
Customers expect top quality, relevant and consistent information regardless of the channel. They usually see no difference between “omni channel” and “multi channel” as long as they receive a seamless experience. In order to provide it, companies need to understand how each of their channels work and how they can shape customer’s perception of the brand. Thus, sustaining high quality of product data becomes principal for both retailers and manufacturers.
According to the “Polishing Up Your Product” report by Forrester, product information is the most important factor when considering products for purchase on a retailer’s website. Another research by the same company states that “Thirty percent of US online adults cite that they would consider buying from an online retailer they had never previously purchased from if the retailer offered detailed product information” (The Forrester Wave™: Product Information Management (PIM), Q2 2014).
With a growing number of content distribution channels, the need for solutions to manage differentiate content increases. Managing product data may be difficult, depending on the type and complexity of a product. Product information is often found in many different systems that are hard to access or identify, which results in the chaos of information. Relying on manual processes is time consuming and ineffective – spreadsheets are not suited for storing information about hundreds or even thousands of products.
That’s where Product Information Management steps in. A PIM system acts as a single source of truth for product data. Product Information Management Systems are designed to store data from multiple sources. Such a central repository gives users across organization a single view of the records. However, is it not only a technical solution, but most of all a process and people involved in it.
A PIM system allows users to create, enrich, store and distribute all marketing content including images, catalog and SKU data, meta-data, video, text, and product data. A major part of the process is automated, including input validation and image conversion. All the content is centrally managed and distributed to selected channels using automated approval processes where needed. Because of that, the quality remains under headquarters’ control while being pro-actively served to all users in different locations. Consequently, local branches receive all the tools required to excel at marketing: brand guidelines, creative assets, marketing planning, best practices and customer data. Affiliates can adjust assets to match their local strategies. It allows them to execute campaigns and reach consumers faster.
Product Information Management Systems have gained momentum mostly due to an increasing pressure to provide a consistent experience across multiple marketing and sales channels. Other contributing factors include: the development of e-commerce, more dispersed audiences, growing number of suppliers and legal obligations (which forces companies to provide certain types of information – like source of materials used for production). PIM is a useful tool for both online (ecommerce) and offline (POS) businesses, so it does not require a brick – and – mortar store.
The 2015 State of marketing report released by Salesforce shows that remaining up to date with current technology and trends as well as integration of marketing tools/ systems are among the top 10 Most Pressing Business Challenges. Businesses are expected to increase investments in marketing automation software in order to be able to respond to current market conditions. Therefore, companies that should already have a PIM system implemented, but are still postponing it, risk the loss of market share and consequently profits.
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Salesforce. (2015). 2015 State of Marketing.
Sheldon, P., & Goetz, M. (2014). The Forrester Wave™: Product Information Management (PIM), Q2 2014.
Its Time to Face Marketings Impact on Customer Experience. (2015, September 1). Retrieved January 13, 2016, from http://www.dmnews.com/customer-experience/its-time-to-face-marketings-impact-on-customer-experience/article/435386/
CMO Council. (2011). Localize To Optimize Sales Channel Effectiveness: Powering Performance on a Field Marketing Level Through Localized Content, Advertising, Promotions, Search Contacts, and Cyber Community Connections.
CMO Council. (2013). Brand Automation For Local Activation: Connecting Customer Engagement Into Measurable Local Strategies.