How to avoid inconsistent data across channels and trading partners for brands & manufacturers
Product content is what greases the wheels of your product experience – if the information you use is correct, timely, up to date relevant, and persuasive, you get a smoother drive towards conversions and sales revenue. That’s why, in an era when customers expect a top-notch omnichannel shopping experience, keeping your information consistent is a key characteristic of a seamless customer experience. When we say ‘consistent’ we basically mean of the same quality, accuracy and verifiable validity regardless from where it is accessed by the consumer or business partner.
According to a recent survey by PIM software vendor, Inriver, over 30% of global B2B decision makers observe that their products have frequently been pulled, or had a delayed launch, due to inconsistent product information. In fact, all customers need to be able to identify consistent patterns or themes in the information they encounter during their purchasing process. If customers abandon carts and switch to a competitor, it isn’t because they want to – the friction in their existing buyer journey forces them to.
Today’s information-rich digital commerce depends on absolute consistency of product information to engage productively with customers. Compared to retailers, brands and manufacturers have been later to the game for omnichannel commerce, which often means they are later adopters of product information management tools.
So, as manufacturers and brands, what can you do to eliminate inconsistencies in your product data when sharing with sales channels and business partners?
Eliminate data silos
Silos happen when databases are isolated from one another in various parts of the organisation. To address this problem, it isn’t simply a question of importing and exporting those databases ‘as are.’ Formatting may vary from department to department, and data is not static. Product content gets upgraded and updated, attributes change, variants become available, new versions emerge. If you have to manually adjust data every time it changes, it will take a huge amount of time and effort, as well as heightening the risk of manual data entry errors.
Product information management - a PIM solution unifies product data management
PIM solution vendors know full well that your business will probably be working with other systems to help run the business. That’s why the latest PIMs come with API-powered connectors to ensure they can fully integrate with an existing tech stack (ERP, CRM, Warehousing, et al). When it comes to product data, it is THE sole source of UNIQUE data items for ALL teams and departments.
Consolidating all data onto one platform makes it easier to share that data among departments – meaning greater accessibility, consistency, and security. Moreover, a PIM automatically standardises data to the same format. You can then use data validation to author product content, with the PIM, checking that the relevant quality standards are fulfilled (see more about quality below) before exporting the information.
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Product taxonomy and navigability
Create strong taxonomies that make your search and browse capabilities more customer- centric and improve accuracy and efficiency of your product data model. When you invest in your PIM solution, you still need to ensure that your product data is organised in a logical and coherent way in the eyes of the customer. A well-designed taxonomy does that by organising product categories into a hierarchy which enables customers to navigate your product offering easily and intuitively. |t also improves efficiency and speed to market, as the taxonomy permits you to inherit data.
Monitoring data quality in relation to KPIs
Manufacturers and brands should synchronise their product information in real-time across all channels. Having clear data ownership and data governance protocols in place is the best way to ensure this happens. For ongoing improvement of the quality process, data should fulfil KPIs:
- Are the data COMPLETE or are there missing or unusable items?
- Do they CONFORM to the standardised format?
- Are they CONSISTENT or are there conflicting versions?
- Is your data ACCURATE or incorrect or out of date?
- Are data DUPLICATED, that is, redundant or double-stored?
- Do they fulfil INTEGRITY and LEGAL criteria? Has the data been checked for legal and regulatory compliance?
Consistency and the customer experience
Customers don’t interact in exactly the same way with every channel. That’s why a PIM ensures that data is correct, aligned, and formatted for each channel, because otherwise, lack of consistency and correctness of data across channels can result in the customer getting confused by different information, which can have a highly negatively impact legally, reputationally and on the bottom line.
So, that’s why a key element of the added value of a PIM solution is data consistency across all channels. So, if you sell in a marketplace, but also via catalog sales and instore, your product data is fully aligned. PIM conserves the order in the product catalog and the data can be exported to all or selected channels – depending on things like your pricing strategy or time-limited promotions. Customers will not see incorrect prices, incomplete information on labels, or poor-quality digital assets such as low-resolution images or out-of-date technical specification sheets, nor misleading details about materials, or variants available.
Key takeaways - PIM enables consistency
A PIM is a central platform of single-source data to enable you to manage all data in one place. It sends correct data to all distribution channels in real time and having safeguards in place to spot inconsistencies (outliers, anomalies) before they reach the customer. A PIM also adapts to the business context and specifics of individual channels.
This leads to:
Download our PIM guide for Manufacturers
At Start with Data, we have broad experience working with manufacturers and brands to ensure their data is high-quality and consistent across their sales points. Our boutique consultancy doesn’t just help you to find the right PIM solution. Our holistic service model covers from the initial discovery process through building a tailored solution to implementing and go-live, and beyond, to managed services and maintenance.
Get in touch with us and let’s have a more in-depth conversation about how we can help you get your product data into tip-top shape when it comes to channel and trading partner consistency.