Tag: digital presence

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.

Is Your PIM Digital Age Ready?

Is Your PIM Digital Age Ready?

Having a Product Information Management (PIM) solution as part of your IT system landscape is a strong indicator that you are getting ready for this digital age. Perhaps, then, the better question to ask is whether your PIM system is built to evolve as the digital age advances. It’s fairly cliché to bring up Moore’s Law when it comes to the rate of technology advancement, yet it is the easiest way to acknowledge the reality that technology will continue to progress faster than we anticipate. As such, it is necessary for companies to look at their current processes as well as their digital infrastructure to ensure proper support to their business operations, today and tomorrow.

Here are a few key aspects of a PIM system that are believed to remain relevant as the digital age continues to progress:

  • Establish a single source of product truth across the Enterprise
  • Integrate within an increasingly complex e-commerce ecosystem as marketplaces are shifting and new technologies are becoming mainstream like Internet of Things (IoT) or Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Provide personalized content by considering devices, personas, locations and overall context
  • Evolve at the pace of business

If your PIM software already has these capabilities, there is no reason to start nitpicking at the various other upgrades that it may offer. However, if yours doesn’t, let’s discuss why preparing your PIM software for the future is important.

Three capabilities a modern PIM should have

Customer-Centricity

Customer experience is crucial to any business’ bottom line. Your company’s ability to deliver powerful and emotionally compelling experiences to your customers will ultimately decide whether they will keep on doing business with your brand. Research now suggests that customer experience is the most pressing mandate for marketers, with 89% of companies expecting to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.

By being customer-centric, your PIM software becomes as much of an experience platform as it does an information repository. A digital age PIM platform should improve content quality by providing accurate, up-to-date, and contextualized product information across all channels. This means the consumer receives relevant data, always considering the circumstances be it mood, intent, location or device.

Software that puts the customer first will create a sustainable, competitive advantage that leverages complete, consistent and contextualized product information.

Integrability

Your product information is useless short of being able to share it across your company. Having a DAM (Digital Asset Management) solution to store and manage your digital assets is necessary. If your PIM doesn’t have one, you’ll want to ensure that your PIM and DAM are seamlessly integrated. Just as important as having internal integrations, your PIM will also need APIs to stream content to different online channels such as websites and e-commerce stores, so that your products are visible and able to be sold.

Personalization

Once your products are on the right channels, are you able to put the right products in front of the right audience? Can your PIM software collect data from the channels that your products are sold on and understand the products that should be displayed based on search histories? Today, PIM systems should have built-in personalization capabilities and smart product management should be par for the course.

A PIM software isn’t just another piece of software in your digital suite. It’s foundational to the digital presence of the most important part of your company, your products. As technology continues to move forward, ask yourself if you’re moving along with it.