How to manage product taxonomies using PIM

What is a taxononmy?

Taxonomy is a way of organising large volumes of information in a systematic manner. The aim of any taxonomy system is to make it easy to understand structured and unstructured product data (information) by organising and labelling it. Taxonomies usually work as a hierarchy. In other words, they put products into categories and then use tags to group the products inside these categories. These metadata tags are used by search engines, browsers, and web crawlers to display information from that page in a determined way.

An effective product taxonomy should work at various levels with diverse users. It facilitates and enhances dataflows through the organisation and services internal users with varying objectives. It orchestrates workflows, informs the product information governance framework and, of course, impacts massively on the omnichannel consumer experience (and hence, their overall product experience). 

 A ‘product’ is a generic definition of something that you sell to customers. For example, a tablet computer. An SKU is a single product with one or more variations of that base product. Tablets vary by manufacturer, dimensions, colour, connectivity type, hard disk volume processing speed, processor type, memory, and so on. We already have a number of product variants there. That’s where product taxonomy will provide the information hierarchy to ensure internal clarity for business users and a smooth, intuitive and trouble-free experience for the customer.

A robust and high-quality taxonomy should be;

  • Logically and mindfully ordered and structured for various internal users like product managers, marketing teams, purchasers, onboarding teams and so on.
  • Ideated, developed and constructed in collaboration with all key internal stakeholders. There are varying and often competing needs, so a taxonomy structure often requires consensus on the part of all involved.
  • Incorporated into a robust product data governance framework, with rules and guidelines so that high-quality data doesn’t get wasted or go missing through inconsistent use of an unclear taxonomy framework.  
  • Capable of triggering the quasi-unconscious intuition customers have when searching for or researching a product. The experience should be seamless (‘you can’t see the join’) and achievable as easily as possible.
  • Able to leverage consumer psychology, in making it easy for a customer to apply search filters (colour, dimensions, etc), thus facilitating decision-making and providing compelling reasons for them to convert and enjoy your PX again and again.

How does PIM enable product taxonomy management?

We talk a lot about PIM elsewhere on our website but how can a PIM make product taxonomy management easier for retailers, distributors or manufacturers?

First things first. If you don’t deploy a PIM, you’re probably managing your product taxonomy manually, which is a monotonous, time-consuming and potentially error-strewn exercise.  A PIM can manage taxonomy content as it can any product content. Using its automation functionalities, taxonomies can be auto-categorized and also enable metadata or tagging. Whichever internal stakeholders need to use this content will be sure their source is trustworthy and consistent throughout the business. Apart from providing a single source of truth for each piece of data, PIM allows you to integrate the above process changes into your governance framework. Thus, there is a unified and consolidated set of processes and procedures in place.

What are the benefits of taxonomy management?

Effective taxonomy management is important for all types of businesses but when it comes to large B2B distributors, even more so. Industrial distributors, for example, offer vast ranges of highly complex products and services. In many cases, these businesses are still picking and choosing terminology depending on the part of the organisation, which is both inconsistent and confusing to all concerned. When products and service solutions are mixed together, a product taxonomy helps to ensure that all SKUs can be sold, delivered, and measured quickly and easily.

With no (or a poor) taxonomy in place, gaining clarity regarding the product range is much harder. There will likely be confusion about product ownership, so time and energy ends up being wasted on duplicate activities or unnecessary complications in product data management.

Benefits to the consumer/purchaser/end user

A clear focus on closely-defined product offers based on customer value, the aim being to generate revenue through increased conversions, up-selling, and cross-selling.

PIM can use business rule-based tasks for populating product attributes. The process is faster and makes conversion more likely, given that complete product content drives purchases.

Visibility for data quality and completeness, making it easier to identify gaps in attributions which are causing products to be excluded from search results.

Deployment of tools which provide flexibility for the taxonomy structure. This helps customers find the products they want, regardless from where they are viewing your products (your site, a distributor’s platform or a marketplace).

Benefits to the business

Enhanced utilisation of scarce product management resources

Clarity regarding strategic and legacy platforms and products

Adoption of transparent and consistent prioritisation frameworks

Transparency for sales teams regarding to whom change requests for features should be addressed.

More effective and proactive ownership and management of internal products and platforms

Dynamic and adaptable taxonomy management is critically important for eCommerce. A clearly-structured and adaptable product taxonomy will enable your customer to search for, discover and consume the richest of content and drive their decision-making and purchasing journey to a profitable outcome. For product managers, marketers, eCommerce teams, a PIM deploys that taxonomy effectively on multiple platforms, sites and marketplaces and through whatever channel.

Dynamic and adaptable taxonomy management is critically important for eCommerce. A clearly-structured and adaptable product taxonomy will enable your customer to search for, discover and consume the richest of content and drive their decision-making and purchasing journey to a profitable outcome. For product managers, marketers, eCommerce teams, a PIM deploys that taxonomy effectively on multiple platforms, sites and marketplaces and through whatever channel.

[1] Leonard Wolters, CDO at Crobox