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The role of PIM in promoting collaboration

As modern omnichannel ecommerce becomes embedded in our purchasing habits, the need to offer customers an engaging and persuasive experience across all the channels you use requires a seamless consistency in the product information you provide at every touchpoint. Cross-departmental teams who collaborate seamlessly — sharing data and expertise as and when needed, work more efficiently, and move faster in a world where agile responses to sudden changes in market conditions are at a premium. Make sure your eCommerce executives, marketing managers, and every other team are working hand-in-glove and optimising to the maximum a PIM solution – that way, you will reach your true business potential in this highly competitive universe.

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Many data management systems leave product information trapped in silos.

Storing and managing product information in spreadsheets, for example, often makes it nearly impossible for all members of your team to access and manage data effectively and efficiently, leading to slower time-to-market and inaccuracies or inconsistencies in product data. Even worse, your team could end up wasting time, working on the same repetitive, low-value tasks in parallel.

Shedding the shackles of spreadsheets and avoiding silos

Piecemeal sifting and processing of spreadsheets is an inefficient and outdated way of managing data – it tends to leave product information squirreled away in silos, thus inaccessible to many employees – in the fast-moving eCommerce ecosystem of today, it is the natural enemy of productive operations.

The traditional ‘old-school’ approach is still used by a vast number of companies, struggling for survival in a new post-pandemic digital shopping world. Siloed tasks and channel preparation lead to efforts are duplicated, opportunities for errors are multiplied, and person-hours are wasted on repetitive tasks. These solutions almost always lead to slower time-to-market and more errors or inconsistencies in product information.

Get on the same page

Another cornerstone of a collaborative culture is engendering organisation-wide alignment. That could mean, for example, uploading suitable data or inputting revised data sets to adjust catalogs. To maintain fluid communication channels between users or employees, everyone needs 

  •         access to a definitive version of product information.
  •         The confidence that this version is stored in the same place for everyone
  •         That they have the authorised permission to access the data the need


This intersection achieves faster process, and PIM workflow is what glues all this together.

A PIM is designed precisely to help you optimise workflows by redevising the process of taking new products to market, managing catalogs or ranges of products, and keeping your product information up to date by providing one centralised, trusted source for product information.

PIM software solution. Just a few examples of external data sources are suppliers, subcontractors, industry-specific portals, copy writers & photographers and translators. 

Much of this incoming information is not raw data but also rich data (photos etc) and metadata (reviews, related descriptions and so on). Given the trend towards proliferation of data, a PIM software solution can save a lot of time and increase efficiencies by offering automated onboarding processes for many of these tasks. Bear these PIM features in mind when considering your overall digitisation strategy.

Automate and accelerate workflows

With a variety of teams across the business needing access to product data, the capabilities of a modern PIM are essential for digital clarity of vision for designated tasks, for instance in the sequence of the enrichment process. You can even set automated alerts to remind team members when there is a task specific to their area which needs attention.

The three cornerstones of a workflow are automation, efficiency, and productivity. Everyone on the workflow has access to the tasks completed (or not) by others, so there more drive to get projects done in a timely fashion.

PIM can maintain a seamless process even if external partners are involved, as when a new file is sent, PIM workflow notifies both parties.

This enables a fast response and any necessary data flows through the system as soon as possible. PIM also has task management tools to manage workflow efficiency. Specifically, this system flags high-priority tasks in real time.

By automating these communication processes, a PIM helps to encourage a collaborative mindset. After all, sending emails to the next team responsible reviewing data, waiting for an answer, and then waiting for action to be taken, is an antiquated and unnecessary endeavour.

Checking, brand consistency and accountability

Consistency is for one and for all when it comes to using accurate, updated, and complete data. The suite of functionalities in the right PIM workflow for your needs is designed precisely to enable that consistency. Modern PIM solutions deploy a completion report function, which can send out warnings when specific activities are not completed, data is missing, or there are inconsistencies with formatting. For example, if a Digital Asset is uploaded without connection to the product, the PIM will detect that difference straight away so that whoever is in charge of this assignment, whether it is the translation, marketing, or product team, is alerted to correct the problem.

Collaboration is key to making sure tasks are carried out smoothly and are in line with the organisation’s vision. A team of copywriters can collaborate effectively on a PIM workflow, using access to the same product information, and they also have the means to communicate on what their brand message will be. Workflow makes it possible to view others’ work so that everyone’s copywriting remains consistent. 

But none of the above will mean much unless you have a product data governance structure in place. Collaboration is built on trust and respect among different areas of a business – it will only truly happen when robust procedures and protocols are in place to ensure transparency, communication, accountability, and ownership. These sound like abstractions but are at the beating heart of what makes an effective PIM solution really work.

Sharing content between internal and external team members

Any external partners you work closely with, such as suppliers and manufacturers, can access the hub of product information relevant and appropriate to their needs. A PIM administrator manages security using a PIM’s role-based access system, where access to information depends on permissions.

All tasks assigned to each person in each role are visible for everyone to see and, as noted above, there’s significant peer pressure to get things done as and when required There are other people down the line waiting on others in the sequence of tasks. Therefore, all members feel a responsibility to do their part – collaboration suggests a degree of interdependency – the organisational version of “I’ve got your back(s)!”

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