Why retailers need a PIM system

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Product information Why retailers need a PIM system

Published on 24.03.2021 by Stephan Lamprecht, journalist

Product data plays a fundamental role in online selling, but many businesses pay only minimal attention to this important subject. A system for product information management (PIM) streamlines internal processes and can even reduce returns while increasing customer satisfaction.

Multi-channel strategies, the onward march of marketplaces and the growing number of (digital) touchpoints with customers: business is becoming more and more complex and fragmented for retailers and brand manufacturers. Data about products being sold is an important raw material that is required in every channel and in many processes.

Product data is the basis for the presentation of goods in marketplaces and online shops, but it’s also used to design posts for social media and networks.

Service providers and agencies rely on this information to create advertisements.

So it makes absolute sense from a business point of view to give some consideration as to how to manage this data efficiently.

Typical challenges with product information

Product information typically includes a description of the item, dimensions, colour, weight and material, the EAN or SKU as well as product photos and additional documents (operating instructions, assembly instructions, certificates).

All of this information is needed in different places, the first of which is of course the online shop and the item pages on a marketplace. But the challenges begin there, because pricing search engines, marketplaces and online shop systems all require information in different data formats or in different sequences. This manual data management can soon take up a lot of staff resources.

The complexity increases with the number of channels that a business stocks, and it increases yet again when translations are required. Often, different pieces of information about a product are spread all around the business – the support team has the technical product data and instruction manual, the marketing division has the product pictures that sales staff do not have, or vice versa. This means a lot of time is spent on collating product information from many places if this needs to be distributed during projects.

Unclear processes and decentralised storage of information quickly lead to confusion. An item description might be in the wrong language, the picture might not match the product, or the description could be of the previous version or variant.

A PIM can solve these problems

A PIM (product information management) system allows all this data and information, the assets, to be collated in a structured manner. Input screens and saved processes stop essential information from being forgotten, and eliminate the effort required to search everywhere for it when it’s needed. It’s not necessary to search for videos and images from other sources or departments because all the information about a product is available in a central location.

This is a huge advantage to businesses during everyday routines, because missing information is detected immediately, and the exchange of data with external and internal partners is simplified. With the right export filters, product information can be generated in precisely the format that the online shop system or marketplace provider needs. Creating briefings for agencies is simpler, and there are fewer requests for media content.

Product master data doesn’t have to be re-entered, and raw information can also be taken from inventory management, or inventory management can be fed with a subset of the information from the PIM. The only decision that needs to be taken to avoid redundancies and errors is which system should be given sovereignty over the master data.

The PIM can then take care of the task of centrally collecting the information about a product that is supplied by manufacturers and suppliers, which can then be enriched with custom product photos or additional data.

Higher levels of satisfaction and fewer returns – thanks to accurate product data

A look at customer reviews on marketplaces shows the heavy influence that product descriptions have on customer satisfaction and on the rate of returns. Often in bad reviews of a product or retailer, you see comments indicating that the product received was not the same as in the picture, or that an accessory was listed in the description but was not included in the delivery.

Often, goods are returned or receive bad reviews because some important information was missing, or because they didn't match up with reality (e.g. dimensions, material, etc.).

Product information forms the basis of a customers’ purchasing decisions. If this is correct and contains enough detail, i.e. if the item fits the description, then customer satisfaction increases and there is a lower risk of disappointing a customer.

The PIM ensures product data is correct and comprehensive.

Stephan Lamprecht, journalist

Stephan Lamprecht has been following e-commerce developments in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for two decades as a journalist and consultant.

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