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7 Best Practices for Product Information Management

Effectively managing product information requires more than implementing a product information management (PIM) system in your organization. Adequate system configuration, functional staff training, and monitoring the effects are all crucial if you want to reap the benefits of PIM. 

In this article, we’ll present best practices in product information management. This should help you streamline internal processes in your company, boost employee productivity, and ensure excellent customer experiences.

Follow These 7 PIM Best Practices

1. Specify PIM Goals and Scope

Before you decide to implement a specific PIM system, define the business goals you want it to achieve. This allows you to better tailor PIM to your organization’s specific needs, and it will also help determine how to monitor the effects later on. 

PIM may support your company’s efforts to:

  • Provide users with appealing product data: Advanced editing tools allow you to create complete and engaging product descriptions in any format.
  • Boost employee productivity: By automating monotonous and time-consuming tasks, PIM facilitates the work of internal teams, including production, logistics, marketing, and customer service.
  • Shorten time-to-market: Centralized product data and the resulting easy access supports the faster launch of new products across all sales channels.
  • Develop new sales channels: Filling new channels with generous product information facilitates omnichannel strategy implementation. 
  • Support international expansion: PIM offers the option of central supervision of products’ performance in particular markets.
  • Deliver better customer experience: Because customers can access attractive and complete product data, they can make informed buying decisions. Also, customer service and salesforce teams have all the relevant data at hand, which enables them to promptly reply to client enquiries. 

If you know your project objectives, you can start thinking about how you’ll meet them. You may decide to model the entire product catalog right away, or you may start using PIM in one specific sales channel. Whichever option you choose, consider your organization’s present and future needs as you plan the implementation. 

2. Select a Team and Run Training Sessions

The staff working on the PIM implementation should have a comprehensive knowledge of the:

  • Products on offer.
  • Desired catalog structure.
  • Specifics of all the individual sales channels used by the company.

It is absolutely necessary to re-define product information processes so that they correspond to your company’s actual needs.

All team members should also have clearly specified roles and whatever clearances/access they need to efficiently perform their duties. While defining this, bear one thing in mind: from the moment PIM is implemented, teams should focus on high-value tasks (e.g. creating emotional content that builds the brand image and engages consumers). All repetitive tasks should from that moment on be performed by the PIM system.

The other vital aspect that should never be overlooked is employee training. Using a new tool requires understanding its functions and potential. It requires developing new processes and introducing changes into various teams’ work organization. Internal training sessions, both functional and technical, are key to a successful employee adoption of PIM.

 

Who creates product information? Who uses it?

Creates, updates, and manages product information:

  • Product managers/product specialists
  • Technologists
  • Product development /R&D
  • Manufacturing department
  • Marketing department
  • Sales department
  • IT department

Uses product information:

  • Marketing department
  • Sales department 
  • e-Commerce department 
  • Logistics department 
  • Accounting department
  • Production
  • Category managers
  • Sales service department 
  • Investment department 
  • Clients/partners

3. Identify Sources for Collecting Product Data

PIM allows you to model a catalogue for all the sales channels of a location and to customize it to your company’s individual needs. For this catalog to meet its purpose, you should make sure that it’s filled with high-quality data. 

Selecting appropriate sources of product data allows teams to save a lot of time – time that has been spent manually copying information from various external files, spreadsheets, etc.

When choosing product data sources, consider the following:

  • Which sources are the most trustworthy?
  • Which sources are optimal in terms of particular attributes?
  • What format of data do you need?
  • Can you trust the data that suppliers provide?

4. Automate Catalog Management

A key benefit of implementing PIM is the opportunity to automate monotonous and repetitive tasks that previously had to be done manually by employees. In this context, PIM can not only speed up the processes of product information management, but it can also eliminate the risk of human error. Thanks to this, your team can focus on more creative tasks and contribute a great value add to your company. 

PIM allows you to develop a number of individual business rules and automations. While defining them, you should consult external stakeholders to learn which tasks they view as the most cumbersome and time consuming. This way, you will be able to specify and implement the most effective improvements.

PIM automates up to 80% of tasks that previously had to be handled manually by employees. Moreover, implementing a product information management system allows you to reduce description error ratio by an average of 3-5%.  

PIM can help you automate the:

  • Categorization of product families.
  • Copying of attribute values.
  • Assigning families to new products.
  • Collective management of product data.

5. Enrich Product Data

A PIM configuration that relevant to your business needs lets you specify which product attributes can be automatically transferred and which must be manually adjusted. When launching a product in a new market or sales channel, you may need to:

  • Determine which attributes to translate.
  • Adjust size charts to local measurement units.
  • Handle photos, fonts, colors, etc.
  • Display attributes specific to the needs of that market.
  • Customize the display of product information to particular sales channels.

This approach can significantly streamline the product information enrichment process. In turn, this shortens time-to-market for new products and encourages international expansion.  Product information is always presented in the right context, which makes product perception appealing irrelevant of the region, location, or sales channel.

6. Plan the Data Validation Process

87% of consumers admit they will never buy from a store where they encountered mistakes in the product description. Discrepancies in product data harm brand perception, decrease sales, and increase returns. Yet, it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate the risk of error when you manage a catalog of hundreds or even thousands of products.

Thus, it’s a best practice to use automatic data validation processes. This way, you can identify most errors before the product is put into circulation. PIM also enables you to determine a minimum level of data quality and completeness and make data validation a standard element of the product data management process. These actions will minimize the risk of potential errors.

7. Measure the Effects of PIM Implementation

Efficient PIM involves the cooperation of various departments. To retain control over the product information management process, you should systematically monitor the effects of PIM implementations and see if the stated goals are being delivered. This is the only way to spot potential problems early enough to take steps to eradicate them. The basic KPIs that you should monitor include:

  • Conversion ratio should be measured in every sales channel and in different markets.
  • Return rate: The best way is to classify returns by the reason for return.
  • Time to market: This is the time needed to add a new product to the catalog, as well as the frequency of product information updates.
  • Cost of data enrichment, i.e. In terms of time consumption and the amount of financial outlay incurred.

PIM Is a Process, Not a Project

A PIM class system implementation should not be treated as a one-off project. It is much better to approach it as a process leading to a continuous system improvement and adjust it to better meet individual company goals. A PIM program should reflect your organization and evolve with it, fine-tuning to its new needs, challenges, and goals. Applying the best practices for product information management – during the implementation and after it – will enhance your business’ digital transformation and help you design consistent customer experiences in an omnichannel sales model.