Tag: data quality

The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Successful PIM Business Case

It can be argued that business cases play a direct and crucial role to how successful a company’s project will be. Business cases are developed during the early stages of a project and outlines the what, how, and who are necessary to determine if the plan is worth undertaking in the first place. Let’s be clear: business cases are vastly different from project proposals which focus on why a company needs a specific project. Business cases are meant to be reviewed by the project sponsor and key stakeholders before being accepted, rejected, cancelled, revised or deferred.

Marketers, take heed: Drafting a lackluster business case can result in project failure. Gartner Group studies have suggested that 75% of U.S. IT projects are considered failures by those responsible for initiating them. Failure, in this case, was defined as projects that did not meet its objectives, missed deadlines or went above the pre-approved budget.

Similarly, a Standish Group study on the U.S. IT industry found that 31% of projects were cancelled outright, with 53% of all reviewed projects displaying challenges that had the potential to make the project a failure.

Four questions need to be addressed in a business case:

  • What is/are the company’s goal/s in pursuing the project?
  • What are the potential challenges that prevent the company from reaching the goal(s)?
  • What can be done to overcome these potential challenges?
  • Is the company well-equipped to deal with these potential challenges?

Creating a business case

Great business cases clearly communicate the benefits and potential of your proposed project. In terms of arguing a case for a Product Information Management (PIM) system, you need to be clear on what and how such a solution can benefit a company.

Do talk about trends

Industry experts agree that the manufacturing industry is going to go through a lot of changes. While PIM has typically been associated with retail, predictions are being made to its necessity in the manufacturing industry as well. One important trend that can be highlighted in a business case is a 2018 study published in MAPI which talked about how the Internet of Things (IoT) will directly affect how manufacturing brands communicate with their customers. Study author, Dr. Michael Mandel, stated that e-commerce fulfillment centers and the digitization of distribution (similar to the Amazon model) will influence manufacturers to shift from a warehouse model to a direct-to-consumer (D2C) model. In order to efficiently manage this process and communicate consumer-facing information, a PIM system would be beneficial.

Takeaway: Business cases create a sense of urgency. When developing a business case, it’s important that it gives a strong overview of the market and its current trends.

Do talk about numbers

Remember that business cases are not project proposals. While it is still a good idea to talk about the benefits of having a PIM model in an organization (the “why” of the project), business cases should highlight the potential gains of implementing a PIM solution (the “what”). When a company invests in a PIM solution, they have a central repository of product information, which helps speed time-to-market. PIM systems take away the long hours needed to manage product information from multiple sources and systems. Not only does this shorten the time companies need to produce new or updated product information, it also allows for more accurate, complete, consistent and up-to-date information across multiple touch points.

Takeaway: Emphasize the tangible results of a project. Business cases almost always argue for the biggest returns in the most efficient manner possible.

Do talk about the difference

What makes each PIM system different from the rest? To gain an unbiased point of view, business cases should always look at the two previous points, and then decide which vendor best suits a company’s specific goals and needs.

One thing that should be clarified, however, is the urgency and continuous rise of the customer experience trend. A report by Internet Retailing concluded that 69% of consumers expect a hyper-personalized experience across all channels. Consumers are becoming accustomed to brands reaching out to them in personal ways, including product recommendations that have been formulated based upon previous purchases. Companies may want to consider a PIM solution that goes beyond just cleansing and transforming data, but one that also offers contextual and personalized customer experience capabilities.

Takeaway: Each company is different, so business cases should be developed accordingly. That being said, it is crucial to develop business cases on current and rising trends.

Don’t make your audience feel you’re only after their money

Present your business case while being mindful of the company’s needs and goals. Take note that more and more people expect a customer-centric approach. That is: Stakeholders of a company want to believe that they are being offered a solution that is best for their customers, and not just because of money.

Takeaway: Present a strong case for a specific solution and be aware that there is competition.

Don’t leave out the details

What other resources will the company need to implement a PIM solution? Business cases should emphasize – quite clearly – details such as the features of a specific PIM, how long the implementation will take and the product information processes that need to be reassessed.

Takeaway: Business cases get straight to the point and clearly presents what is needed to make the project a success.

All of these might seem daunting at first glance, but what should just be remembered is that business cases detail the specifics of a project, and how a company can benefit from such an endeavor.

How Top Retailers Take Advantage of Omnichannel Opportunities

The lines between consumers’ online and offline lives continue to blur as technology advances. According to Statista, consumers are increasingly using additional screens while watching TV:

This new reality leaves brands with no other choice but to switch to an omnichannel strategy, where consumers get the same experience whether they’re on their desktop, mobile, a tablet, smart watch or using their voice-enabled assistant.

Omnichannel is different from multichannel in that the former requires integration and unity among channels, while the latter employs a separate or siloed approach for each channel.

In an omnichannel approach, consumers are treated to a seamless, consistent and personalized experience at each touchpoint. This means they are enabled to continue their journey where they left it.

Why Walmart, Target and Home Depot rule omnichannel retailing

According to Internet Retailer 2019 Omnichannel Report, Walmart, Target and Home Depot scored the highest in omnichannel services.

Walmart

In 2015, the giant retailer invested $1.2 billion to improve its store experience and digital capabilities. According to Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, “As we build out our e-commerce capabilities, we are deepening our digital relationships with our customers.” This is a reaction to an Accenture study, which revealed that 45% of consumers want to receive real-time promotions on their smartphones or tablets while in-store. Unfortunately, only 28% of retailers deliver this service.

To capitalize on the opportunity, Walmart implemented geofencing technology, wherein they’re alerted once a customer pulls up in their parking lot to pick up an online order. Using the Walmart app, a customer have access to simplified shopping, including locating items quickly, checking prices and accessing weekly ads and coupons.

Another way Walmart is competing and winning in omnichannel is by combining data from both their online and offline stores. They may currently be only second to Amazon as an online retailer, but Amazon is now playing catch up in the brick-and-mortar category. This gives Walmart an edge in personalizing shopping experiences. For more on Walmart’s omnichannel activities, visit their Shopify profile.

Target

Target has a two-app strategy designed to provide customer convenience, whether they’re shopping in-store, online or both. Just like Walmart, they also have a buy online, pickup in-store program, wherein not only can online orders be picked up from the store, but they can be brought out to a designated parking spot where customers are parked and loaded into their vehicle.

The second largest retailer in the US also offers flexible shopping models, including free shipping for all online orders, which customers nowadays consider as a basic service. This is their advantage over Walmart, which has a $35 free shipping threshold.

Target is also testing out their augmented reality (AR) capability through their Beauty Studio available in ten of their stores, as well as on their desktop and mobile sites. Through this feature, consumers can test how they will look with the products, as well as take advantage of concierge services such as advice and product recommendations.

Home Depot

It seems that most big box retailers offer what Home Depot offers, such as click-and-collect, ship-to-store, and ship-from-store, which caters to online orders directly from stores.

But the difference with Home Depot is their focus on big ticket items or “e-commerce unfriendly” products or items that consumers want to see and touch before purchasing. Part of their omnichannel strategy is luring customers in the store through in-store pickup, so their representatives can speak with customers, answer their questions, offer product demos and learn about their pain points.

According to Scott Spata, Vice President of Supply Chain Direct Fulfillment, “A high number of in-store transactions start online, where we can drive customers to the store armed with all the information they could need. Alternatively, they might want to see and touch a product in a showroom before ordering a specific size or color online. However the customer wants to transact, we’ll make it happen on the back end.

In summary, leading big box retailers are leveraging technology in insight gathering and order fulfilment. One of these technologies is a product information management (PIM) solution, which consolidates data from multiple sources to enable businesses to have a single view of rich product data before publishing across their sales channels.

In an age where product returns are high, it’s a must for businesses to have a solution that helps them ensure that only accurate, complete, consistent and up-to-date product information reaches their consumers.

Build your brand by creating personalized customer experiences

As technologies develop to be more customer-focused, so too do business models. Companies are now recognizing the need to deliver an experience that separates them from their competition. With our society increasingly becoming dependent on digital technologies, many customers assume that their vendors offer a seamless experience. This includes a shopping experience wherein all data are shared consistently across all channels, such as images, texts, charts and others. It has become especially crucial to offer this type of engagement, with recent studies showing that more than 50% of retail sales are influenced by online information, regardless of whether a transaction has taken place or not.

This isn’t just a matter of study, either. There are real-life implications to this. In 2017, United Airlines experienced a crisis in their branding, losing $1.4 billion in value practically overnight when a passenger’s poor experience went viral on social media.

It is evident that customer experience is a crucial aspect to business development and growth. A study by Gartner revealed that customer experience is the “most pressing mandate for marketers,” and will lead innovation spending in the next few years. In fact, in the same study, it was found that 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, compared to a mere 34% just a few years ago.

Creating persuasive consumer-facing content to build lasting relationships with customers

Brands typically create content for a product which they share with their distributors and resellers who are then responsible for creating and managing how the product will be marketed to the end-consumer. However, growing technologies have opened a direct-to-consumer channel, effectively cutting out the middle man. Suddenly, brands have to be able to create persuasive consumer-facing content while managing various assets, including unstructured ones such as images, videos and the like. Not only is it imperative to provide high-quality data, the information a company provides needs to be consistent across all sales channels as well. Thus the need for a seamless omnichannel customer experience.

The lack of accurate and up-to-date content can significantly impact how a business is perceived by a customer. A Forbes Insights report  stated that data quality is one of the most important aspects to how confident users feel with their vendors. The quality of data, along with how consistent it is, affects how trusted a vendor is perceived by a customer.

It is not enough to improve data quality and reduce content acquisition cost (although these are very important). The ultimate goal is to make customers staunch advocates of a brand. Brand loyalty is now the focus of engagement, rather than quick-appeal marketing tactics.

Taking product messaging even further

Brands can take their product messaging even further with a new approach called Product Experience Management (PXM). As the name suggests, the platform takes a customer’s preferences to the next level. Brands will be able to ensure that product information is delivered in context, anywhere and at any time – meaning that their customers’ personal needs and interests are taken into account during the interaction. This individualized, yet expansive, approach to consumer engagement ensures that customer relationships are for the long-term. By contextualizing a product experience, there is a higher likelihood of sales conversion. The manufacturing industry, in particular, can benefit from this, as their engagements are typically with repeat clients.

Why it matters

While automating the organization, management and publishing of your product information (a.k.a. PIM) is foundational, PXM delivers your product content in context based on the channel, locale and need of your customers — wherever and whomever they are.

PXM is critical in delivering brand identity and creating an emotional connection with potential clients and repeat customers. Companies deliver a compelling product experience by:

  • Providing complete and accurate content at all times: Customer experience is typically based on the completeness of content found on a website or a mobile app. If customers cannot find complete and consistent product content, chances are they won’t buy it. The same holds true if a specific product is inaccurately described on a website compared to what is found in the physical store.
  • Publishing information in real time: Today’s society appreciates speed. Manufacturers need to get their products to market as fast as they can, especially if the products are sold on a seasonal basis. PXM enables manufacturers to update and publish their product catalogs to their retailer trading partners or distributors in a timely way.
  • Adapting to customers’ expectations: Customers no longer buy at physical stores, but access global marketplaces on their mobile phones and computers. As a consequence of this, there is an expectation that relevant and specific product information is available, in context to a customers’ needs, across all touchpoints. While the buying experience may be different between purchases made in person and online, the need for consistent and relevant information remains a universal requirement.

Remember that while having an attractive website or app is good, more substantial gains can be had if companies optimize their operations with the customer in mind.

5 Practical Tips to Improve Your Data Quality

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5 Practical Tips to Improve Your Data Quality

Data quality describes how well your data is able to serve its defined purpose, generally measured in terms of validity, accuracy, consistency, completeness and relevance. In other words, businesses know they have high-quality data when they are able to use it effectively to determine key business decisions. Data is considered “bad” or of “poor quality” when it’s inaccurate, which, unfortunately, is the norm rather than the exception in various industries.

The state of data quality report reveals:

  • 33% of organizations believe they have a lot of bad data
  • 49% point to human error as the main cause of data inaccuracies
  • 89% of the C-suite admit bad data hurt their ability to provide excellent CX

In the United States, bad data cost the economy a whopping $3.1 trillion a year, while organizations’ annual loss on average is at $15 million.

If you’re also experiencing losses due to bad data, here are five tried-and-true tips to help you improve it:

Streamline your approach

Look at how data is collected, processed, stored, consumed and distributed to come up with a streamlined approach. You can choose to work with your existing setups, get completely new ones or create a hybrid solution. The idea is to come up with one that provides visibility into your data, the level of quality, its processes and ownership of said data.

Break down data silos

Having different and separate data silos discourages collaboration between internal and external stakeholders. This can be solved by having a central data repository where users and workflows are defined, and processes and progress are visible. This ensures you’re working with a single source of truth and not multiple sets of the same data.

Automate data onboarding

Building on the previous point, having vast amounts of data in different silos can lead to inaccuracy of published content, which leads to a poor customer experience. To bridge the gap among these silos, companies need to automatically onboard product information from legacy systems, data pools, suppliers, third-party content aggregators and other sources quickly and efficiently. This eliminates errors caused by manual entry and maintenance.

Enforce product data quality checks

Manual quality checks and maintenance is not efficient for large volumes of data. You need to set up data cleansing, standardization, normalization, classification and categorization rules to transform your data so that it is accurate, complete, consistent and up-to-date.

Utilize a version control system

Track and manage all versions of a dataset to create a seamless audit trail for full traceability. With this, you can get rid of redundancies and duplicates to ensure up-to-date, audit-compliant information at all times.

Why MDM is the Cornerstone of a Powerful Enterprise Data Strategy

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Why MDM is the Cornerstone of a Powerful Enterprise Data Strategy

In the digital age, data ceased to be just a byproduct of business activities to be discarded after it served its purpose. Today, data is the new gold, so valuable it requires not just management, but a serious strategy for businesses to harness its benefits.

What’s the difference between data management and strategy? Think of data as your money that as you’re running a business, you wouldn’t just manage but actually grow. And growing money is an activity that needs a strategy.

As the Internet, social media, mobile and the digital revolution continuously pump data – containing valuable business information – into organizations, it’s almost a crime not to have a strategy to effectively mine it.

What does an effective data strategy entail?

It starts with what your business wants out of data. Generally, a data strategy is created to support the organization’s overall business strategy, which aims to increase profit and market share, decrease cost, differentiate products through innovation and deliver an excellent customer experience.

These can only be achieved through quality information distributed to relevant personnel and applied to the right systems and processes. That’s why data quality management (DQM) is the most important business intelligence (BI) trend for 2019.

So, what are the basics of an effective data strategy?

  1. Identified and defined data. Much like how books are cataloged and organized in libraries, data must also be named, formatted and assigned values.
  2. Storage. Since data is an enterprise asset, the organization’s storage capability must accommodate not just data housing, but also convenient data transferring and sharing between systems.
  3. Rules and access guidelines. To ensure consistent data management, an enterprise-wide data governance rules and policies must be established.
  4. Data processing system. Most if not all data comes into the system raw. Meaning, since they’re from different sources, it’s anticipated that they’ll be in different formats and levels of quality, and must therefore be cleansed and enriched before being sent out.

Quality information or valuable insight, such as granular customer and competitor details should come out of these activities. And once acquired, these insights should be correctly and swiftly acted upon, for example, if certain products are doing well on certain channels and at certain times – then not only should heavier advertisement and promotion be sent that way, but a more focused data mining activity to find out why it’s working and how it can be improved to not only drive sales, but inspire brand loyalty.

How is MDM central to a solid enterprise data strategy?

No matter how good the drawn up strategy is, it won’t work without proper execution. And to execute well, you need a modern master data management (MDM) solution.

Gartner defines MDM as a “technology-enabled discipline in which business and IT work together to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency and accountability of the enterprise’s official shared master data assets.”

It ultimately gives you a single, trusted version of the truth or golden record, which enables you to have a complete picture and a deep understanding of the relationships between the data entities relevant to your business, such as your consumers, products, suppliers, stores, etc.

With MDM, you can:

  • Ensure data quality.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities
  • Establish processes according to your business requirements
  • Acquire, process and model data from multiple coexisting domains
  • Share information within your business
  • Integrate assets/content from different sources

Your enterprise data strategy is your roadmap to fulfilling a long-term goal. An MDM is essential for your journey as it allows you to regularly review and measure your activities, so you can continuously grow and evolve into an organization or brand that constantly transforms to the needs of your consumers.

7 Keys to Crafting High-Quality Product Content

7 Keys to Crafting High-Quality Product Content

Content gets the bulk of attention these days when it comes to digital marketing. A quick Google search on content creation will pull up countless articles on blogging best practices, effective strategies, campaign ideas, social media trends, and so on, which can get people to your site.  Driving awareness is one thing, but it’s quite another to convert them into paying customers.

When it comes to product content, accurate, complete, consistent and relevant product information is king.

The following are seven ways to produce product content that will excite, engage and convert your audience:

1) Focus on your target buyer and personalize your offering

The competition to sell inventory across the web is fierce. You might only get one shot at selling your product to the right person. If you’re displaying the wrong product you’re out of luck.  People aren’t going to click into your site to find the right product if the one in front of them has no bearing on themselves. You have only one chance.

As an example, I have spent the last few weeks exploring new SUVs. Car dealerships in general have figured out that I’m looking for a new car, but some have honed in to the type I’m looking for. This ad happened to catch my eye, while I was casually scrolling through…

 

According to the 2018 Trends in Personalization report, 98% of marketers agree that personalization boosts customer relationships, while 87% share that they’re experiencing measurable success.

2) Create a compelling story

Writing product descriptions are no different than any content marketing efforts. They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but when it comes to a product, you might need  a short description (under 160 words) or long description (under 600 words) next to to the photo to bring it it to life. A coat in a product catalog, for example, is just a coat, until you pair it with an interesting backstory…

Why is storytelling important? According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchasing decisions happens in the subconscious. And the best way to reach that part of the human brain is through engaging stories.

3) Use an attention-grabbing headline

As with any piece of content, if people don’t read it it’s a waste of time to write it. The headline should draw your audience in for more.

How to write headlines that people will read? Well, first define which “people”, a.k.a. your target audience. There has to be something in the content for them to continue reading. According to copyblogger, 8 of 10 people will read the headline, but only 2 of 10 will go on to finish the piece. So, for your headline to have the power to grab and hold, it must contain the 4Us: useful, urgent, unique and ultra-specific.

4) Write original copy

Every product is different and when you have an inventory that has hundreds or even thousands of products, writing original copy for each one can be daunting, but it is necessary. Even beyond that, as mentioned in bullet one, writing original product copy for each persona can truly help the content be not only relevant, but persuasive.

 

www.blackdiamondequipment.com

Why is original copy important? Because it builds trust. Writing your own product description shows your belief in your product, respect for your customers and trustworthiness.

5) Product rich imagery

If you’re the type of person who spends time in the mountains and need a utilitarian vehicle, not many words need to be written for someone to click…

How important are images for product experience? 75% of ecommerce shoppers say product images strongly influence their buying decision. With images, consumers are instantly connected to the product, so they have the power to make or break the sale. If that’s the case, ensure that you put up high-quality original images as much as possible. It’s even better if you avoid using stock photography, as it will turn consumers off. You could also provide alternate views/angles and zoom. Finally, shoot a contextual shot. Show people how the product would look like on them or let them experience it with their imagination.

6) Have clear and concise descriptions

Original and descriptive copy doesn’t mean you have to write a novel. In fact, as with most text, less is more. As Dr. Seuss famously quoted “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” Or in the case of product content, making a chore of him or her moving on from your product.

Remember that most people today are on the go and using their mobile to read. Not only that, according to a Microsoft study, their attention span has become worse than the proverbial goldfish. From 12 seconds in 2000, it’s down to eight seconds in 2013. Plus, they’re naturally distracted, what with all the choices given them, so it makes so much sense to write a short purposeful copy.

7) Offer additional relevant products

So, you’ve got their attention, so what’s next?  Don’t stop there, show them what else they can’t live without.  You know who they are now, you know what they want, you have the ability to strike while they’re still on your site.

It doesn’t hurt to offer or suggest items that complement or supplement their purchase. In fact, it’s a known sales technique called cross-selling. Another technique you can use is upselling or when you encourage consumers to upgrade to a more valuable purchase.