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PIM & Digital transformation – the role of PIM

The burgeoning eCommerce ecosystem along with the emergence of the truly digital customer means it is an existential necessity to start, continue or complete the transformation of your company to be digitally fit for purpose. In practical terms, that requires your business to address the practicalities behind business transformation – the principles, practices, and mindset required to make digital transformation sustainable, durable and, indicative of real, embedded organisational change.

 When devising a strategy for your business to establish a roadmap towards digital transformation, current trends must inform your decision-making:

How does digital transformation drive a holistic approach to managing product data from beginning to end of the value chain? 

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An explosion in product data volumes

Firstly, companies are experiencing an exponential increase in volume and range of product data. This means managing greater complexity with greater efficiency and more cost effectiveness. A proactive move towards digitising many operational requirements is the best way to manage that increase. Secondly, eCommerce players are feeling the pain caused by their piecemeal, fragmented, and non-centralised approach to product data management . The pressing issue is that they are simply unable to satisfy what ‘savvy’ shoppers see as a very basic right now – the right to unimpeachably correct, relevant and enriched product information.  

Business aims and organisational culture

One of the major bugbears for businesses attempting digital transformation is a failure to address the underlying business aims and organisational culture. Sophisticated and powerful modern solutions such as the current PIM offerings are simply bolted onto defective and patched up legacy systems. Add to that mix the highly problem-prone combination of siloed processes and workflows and change-resistant teams, and the frequency of business failures is unsurprising. To labour the point, digital transformation must combine your goal-oriented product information management strategy and the organisational change required to deliver that – these two factors must underpin the choice of technology solution.

Massive capacity - but keep it simple

A major attraction of eCommerce is its infinite capacity. There is so much space for product pages and information, but customers neither have time nor want to spend time clicking through multiple product pages to find what they’re looking for. eCommerce sites which work well use intelligent product categorisation for easier navigation, which leads to more purchases.

Strategic product information management

By implementing a product information management strategy which aligns with your business’s aims, you are laying the ground for defining and governing the quality specifics of your product data. This information can then safely be shared and controlled internally, across departments, and externally, with business partners like suppliers and retailers. You are operating with increasingly complex catalogs and just one positive impact of having coherent product information management is the elimination of duplicate data. Just two user impacts avoided are  ambiguous search results, leading to missed conversion opportunities.

Integration and unification

We’ve already mentioned the pitfalls of fragmentation. Digital transformation is driven by comprehensive collaboration and interaction among people and data management systems. Agile, cloud-based PIM systems with API connectors built in play a big part in enabling connectivity between legacy systems and third-party platforms used by many businesses. In fact, a PIM platform exists as an overarching system for managing the entire lifecycle of your product data, as well as laying one of the cornerstones of a successful roadmap towards digital transformation – the surety of up to date, accurate and consistent product data, as the ‘Single Source of Truth’.

Scalability and expansion

Digital transformation works strategically, in making it far more feasible to scale as and when desired or required. Systems are equipped to scale when the volume of data increases and can also support product information distribution across multiple territories. Genuine digital transformation can only exist if your systems are scalable at short notice and can expand at the rate you plan for.

Organisational mindset – governance, ownership, and collaboration

Product data management without governance is like a country without a central Government, where regions can make up their own laws, regardless of whether they align with the country’s well being.

In that respect, digital transformation can only leverage the power of technological capacity if everyone is on the same page. A product data governance framework is essential for defining and underpinning processes, authority, responsibilities, and ultimate ownership of data. The quality and security of product data across a business or organization depends enormously on clarity of roles – who can take which action, concerning which data, in which situations, and applying which methods.

Automation - efficiency and risk minimisation

You gain greater efficiency and agility through automated functions. Product data has generally been handled through email trails, spreadsheets, person-to-person transfer, and disseminated around the company in various storage formats. Therefore, multiple versions existed in multiple locations. This not only slowed down operations, including sluggish time to market, but created an environment where errors (human or otherwise) are practically inevitable.

With fit-for-use product information management in position, governed by accountability, rules, procedures and best practices, large parts of the product data value chain can automate , from ingestion to channel syndication:

  • Product data is not subject to interference, so there is little chance that human intervention results in compromised data quality.
  • Across the entire organisation, departments are using the single, most up-to-date, trusted, and reliable version of the information they require.
  • In line with the trend towards integration and unification, not only with ERPs, but with supply chain, all the processes across the product data value chain can work in harmony and synchronicity, end-to-end.

Set off on your journey towards digitisation

As competition ramps up in the ecommerce ecosystem for manufacturers, distributors and retailers those businesses which have devised a strategy for product information management as part of their business aims will be on the cutting edge, It positions them to leveraging the technological power of  PIM software as a central hub for product information management. The ROIs for the business will come quickly, and include more internal workflow efficiency, greater agility (with correct data a given), and opportunities to boost sales conversions by providing a compelling and consistent product experience across your digital shelf.

Digital transformation can be a long and complex process, but it doesn’t have to be overcomplex. At Start with Data, we offer a range of consultancy services to support your change process towards digital.Get in touch, and we’ll be happy to talk to you in depth about how we can support your journey towards digital transformation.

Ready to deliver your PIM implementation?​

For retailers and distributors

We have a highly experienced team of retail PIM consultants ready to support your implementation from supplier onboarding through to customer experience

Ben Adams, CEO

For brands and manufacturers

We can help get your products onto the digital shelf, with our accelerators

Beth Parker, PIM Consultant