Product Information Management (PIM) software is a central hub where companies can collaboratively manage all of their product information. Today, merchandising products and optimizing them for sale across a growing list of retail channels is more complex and time-consuming than ever before. Modern PIMs are an important tool for binding back-office capabilities with eCommerce platforms like Magento, as well as third-party marketplaces like Amazon, print catalogs, and more.
And while having PIM software can help streamline that process, according to Ventana Research, just 50% of product-centric organizations are expected to use a modern dedicated PIM environment to manage product processes and provide high-quality product experiences by 2021.
The problem is that many small business owners don’t realize when their business is ready for PIM software:
• They are so used to doing things manually, they excuse laborious, manual and expensive processes and tools as just a “part of business.”
• Have no idea how to alter their current system architecture and workflows.
• Attempt to solve their product data issues with methods and tools that do not really suit their needs.
Many merchants attempt to download a DIY (do-it-yourself) PIM software and try to hack away at it themselves only to become frustrated after wasting much time and effort. Worse, many hire overpriced PIM installation “experts,” who consult them to death and create a long-term technology and relationship burden.
Luckily, there are six common signs that indicate a business should revisit its current operational workflows and evaluate how leveraging a lightweight PIM solution (built with the power and performance demands of large-scale enterprises) can help them scale and grow.
SIGN #1: BALANCING PRODUCT INFORMATION ACROSS MULTIPLE STOREFRONTS, GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS, CURRENCIES, AND MARKETPLACES
One of the biggest challenges merchants face when attempting to increase their national or global footprint is optimizing the way they sell across multiple online stores, geographically diverse regions, brick-and-mortar stores, and third-party marketplaces (such as Amazon or eBay).
Growing eCommerce merchants spend a considerable amount of their time and resources trying to do this. They usually require an enormous number of trained staff to launch a new product catalog or to complete updates to their current catalog. It’s challenging, time-consuming, expensive, redundant, and error-prone, resulting in a poor customer experience that puts them even further behind in delivering quality offerings against their competition.
SIGN #2: INCONSISTENT IMPORTS FOR PRODUCT INFORMATION
Typically, each manufacturer or distributor (ultimately the originating source of item master data) provides product data via a specific and distinct system, protocols, and filetype format. Many suppliers still provide this information to merchants in email or fax form. Yes, via fax machine!
Product data sourcing examples:
These inputs usually produce a wide range of product data types, leading to a messy retrieval and manual management process which results in the need to purchase more technologies, hire more staff and handle more error-prone and inefficient workflows that negatively impact the entire business.
SIGN #3: INEFFICIENT AND FRAGMENTED TECHNOLOGY STACK AND INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE
Where manual processes are in place, error-prone data and inefficient workflows are running rampant across an organization. The lack of a PIM system to govern and validate this information suggests that important data is easily outdated or lost.
A PIM software solution not only centralizes and sanitizes product data, but when accompanied by a strong integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS), it can enable a two-way sync across all business applications, including:
SIGN #4: DIY ERRORS: MANIPULATING MANUALLY INSTALLED PIM SOFTWARE OR ATTEMPTING TO DEVELOP A CUSTOM PIM
Sometimes teams attempt to work with excel sheets, pivot tables, and cross-scripting SQLs as if it were PIM software. Often, this method turns out costlier than anticipated as it is prone to errors, and is extremely time-consuming and frustrating for staff and leadership, who end up ultimately lacking confidence in the data they need to guide their operational strategy.
Some teams take it a step further in the wrong direction and attempt to develop or implement PIM systems on their own. They quickly find themselves underwater, as they typically underestimate the depth of their product reach and the complexity of their integrations. They are left inundated with complex import/export processes, half-baked and buggy synchronization logic, and broken data workflows.
SIGN #5: SELECTING AN “ALL-IN-ONE” PRODUCT DATA MANAGEMENT SOLUTION
One size does not fit all. All-in-one solutions are often rigid, bloated and expensive. They lack the ability to handle the delicate mix of mitigating consumer front-end load variations with internal performance. Meeting a brand’s specific business needs includes customizing front-end merchandising workflows, inventory management, and accounting back-office processes.
When combined, these are simply too large and complex a software challenge, and merchants often end up with over-engineered customized solutions.
SIGN #6: THE CURRENT PIM SOLUTION PROVIDER ISN’T A GOOD FIT
It is common that organizations delegate the wrong person to evaluate PIM software. During the sales process, promises are made by PIM sales reps and the buyer is usually sold on ease and simplicity, only to find that the product doesn’t live up to expectations.
Often businesses end up purchasing what can be called “PIM-like” products that neither scale as their businesses evolve nor provide all the features needed to support operations from start to finish. So companies end up stitching together connections to back end software.
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from PIM software, including intelligent batch management and automation capability, and rich product detail pages that provide a better front-end shopping experience and result in more sales conversions.