How PIM solves Manufacturing problems
When it comes to managing data, manufacturers have a lot of complexities to deal with. They generally work with large product catalogs, and with large internal teams spread across various areas, they can often struggle to manage the scale of digital and eCommerce workloads. Up until recently, manufacturers have tended to manage their product data using ERP and PLM systems – these are not designed to manage product data for marketing and sales purposes. The risk of using poor-quality product data increases when we consider that, in comparison with retailers, manufacturers are typically dealing with onboarding, normalising, processing, and exporting product data for highly technical products in highly specific and non-standard formats
PIM solutions to the rescue
Once manufacturers have implemented a Product Information Management (PIM) solution incorporating Product Experience Management (PXM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) tools, they are in a far better position to
- manage large product catalogs more efficiently and easily
- prepare for a successful transformation to eCommerce
- get their products to market fast, to remain competitive
Once they have implemented a PIM solution, the impacts are increased conversion rates, a reduction in product returns, and far greater efficiency and effectiveness on the part of marketing, eCommerce, and sales teams.
1. PIM keeps product data in one place as ‘the single source of truth’
How many hours are lost while your employees try to track down missing data? Or end up having to decide which data is correct among three versions? Only later, with an irate customer on the phone, do they realise…it wasn’t the correct version. Both scenarios are common bugbears for manufacturers (in fact, for all types of product-centric businesses!). The culprits?
– Missing fields
– Wrongly completed fields
– Duplicate sets of data in different locations
– Data hoarded in departmental systems
– Impossible to find data
Obviously, these scenarios are expensive and commercially damaging if they lead to increased returns, dissatisfied customers, and loss of revenue. A PIM solution will reduce these incidences to the absolute minimum. When you implement a PIM system.
- the product data governance framework you put in place ensures that there can be multiple check and verifications to ensure the information contained is correct, that any changes made can be traced, and that only the right people are permitted to access particular data sets
- there is a guarantee that the PIM hub, centrally located, contains the ‘golden record,’ the ‘single source of truth’ for all items of product data – no duplicates, no missing, incorrect, or incomplete data.
2. PIM makes channel and catalog management easier and more efficient
Two main issues for manufacturers managing product data are:
- Adding new channels – especially challenging for industrial manufacturers because of the large volumes of product catalogs. Without a PIM, this has meant extra time and effort when updating their product information online, or simply adding and populating a new sales channel.
- These catalogs tend to be filled with highly technical product information in formats standard only to industry, requiring yet more person hours to process and prepare.
Using a PIM solution, however, the process of enriching product data to ready them for publication across sales channels is significantly simplified. Using business rules engines and validation workflows, you can avoid tedious, repetitive tasks and make sure that customer-facing product information is consistent, accurate, and contextually relevant
3. PIM powers organisational growth and scalability
You can’t simply enrich a product catalog once. Product information is dynamic, and changeable, so needs updating constantly, to reflect changes in product features, new variants, newly launched product line extensions and so on.
As you add new products to current catalogs, these start getting bigger, making them more complicated to handle efficiently and effectively on a day-to-day basis, especially, as we’ve noted, given the complex and highly specific nature of that information – for example, the wrong measurement, even by a millimetre, can cause serious inconvenience to an industrial purchaser.
But using a PIM solution, manufacturers can make sustainable their transition to being digitally driven. Modern PIMs are notable for their inbuilt scalability, flexibility of structure, adaptable data modelling and visual enrichment capabilities. Ease of business user experience is facilitated by offering a user interface designed not for IT experts, but for marketers and other product-focused staff. Using business rules-based automated tasks, time is freed up for these teams to make updates and changes quickly and get on with the development and deployment of the compelling customer experiences you pay them to create.
4. PIM handles industry data formats
Improvements in business processes
In comparison to retail, manufacturing product data is typically expressed and exchanged in industry-specific and non-standard formats such as:
- ETIM – a classification standard used to describe technical products, especially those in the electronics industry
- BMECat – a standard for electronic data transfer by electronic catalogs.
- IceCat – a global open catalog containing product datasheets
- GS1 – probably GS1’s best-known standard is the electronically scanned barcode (currently, there are more than one hundred million products worldwide with GS1 barcodes)
These formats are advantageous for industrial manufacturers in that they enable easier communication among suppliers and distributors, making accelerated time-to-market much more feasible. Nevertheless, they make it more complex to manage information and assets for omnichannel. A PIM’s design has in mind the need to manage data in these relatively unusual formats.
5. PIM seamlessly integrates with existing tech stacks
Efficiently handling data is only half the battle, however.
In an information-heavy space like industrial manufacturing, your company also needs to be able to seamlessly communicate and manage data across multiple data management tools and systems, including DAMs, ERPs, and more. It may sound simple but managing your product information and specifications across all of the different data systems you have is often easier said than done.
PIM can help teams to simplify data management through the integration of diverse systems and tools, using open-source connectors. This prevents errors or inconsistencies in product data slipping through the net.
6. PIM increases productivity
Your team needs to be able to move quickly to keep up with ever-evolving customer trends and demands.
PIM enables greater speed in the product introduction process, meaning new products get to market. PIM features which boost productivity include:
- automation features, which minimise repetitive tasks which can be prone to human error
- validation features to make sure that customer-facing information is complete, validated, approved, and updated fast
- completeness features to streamline and logically structure workflows across channels and territories, enabling teams to concentrate on what really matters and enhance their productivity in the process
7. PIM future-proofs – Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Business operations across multiple sectors are leveraging advances in technology. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D printers, Artificial Intelligence, augmented reality, and digital twinning will become commonplace in manufacturing but smaller operators still fall far behind in the rush towards digital. Trends suggest that customers will be demanding greater customisation and shorter product runs, so for those manufacturers who can deploy a PIM for effective product data management, there are opportunities to take advantage of these developments by acting on reliable and trusted product data and consequently, being first to market.
At Start with Data, we specialise in all things PIM, whether for manufacturers, retailers or distributors. Manufacturers! Get in touch to have a more detailed conversation about how we can help you to take your product data to the next level and solve all those niggly problems with your product data management.