Understanding the basics of B2B product information management
The end game of product information management is the business discipline of providing customers with a seamless, omnichannel product experience across multiple sales channels. Of primary importance is consistent information, obtained by aggregating all existing and incoming product information you have into a single storage hub. That means elements like product descriptions, and related files such as documents, images, and videos. The bottom line is Most importantly, high-quality data upon which contextualised and compelling product information can be created. Nowadays, PIM solutions store all this data in the cloud system for greater security, easier access and faster deployment.
In this article, we’ll look at the core elements of B2B product information management and how a PIM enhances its execution.
The benefits of implementing a PIM solution for B2B enterprises
Implementing a PIM system into B2B eCommerce benefits many businesses, who can:
- collate information from trusted sources to a single repository so B2B customers get the volume and scope of key details they require to make an informed decision
- Establish a predetermined standards for data quality and organisation-wide governance, for quality, ownership, and access protocols
- implement a range of automated routine processes to save time and resources
- integrate into other systems such as ecommerce, CRM, ERP, logistics, shipping and more
- create seamless and governed product data flows among departments, engendering greater cross-functional and holistic cooperation in creating product content
- provide a top-class product experience for highly discerning buyers
The differences between B2C and B2B product information management
PIM for B2C (retailers, manufacturers, and brands) has evolved a lot in recent years, but B2B has lagged behind when it comes to creating frictionless digital experiences. The shift to digitally driven is beginning to happen, but there is catching up to be done.
The evolving B2B buyer
As new generations of digital natives assume B2B purchaser roles, their behaviour is inevitably technology-oriented. In an ever faster-paced operating environment, professionals are often too busy to meet a sales rep in person, and phone calls are not seen as being productive. As a result, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have become the weapons of choice for B2B purchasers.
Much of the B2B purchasing process has gone online, and specifically, it has gone social. A study by the IDC in 2014 found that 75% of B2B buyers and 80% of executive buyers relied on social media to assist with decision-making. As a result, brands must capture prospects’ attention early in the buying cycle, for example, by engaging early-stage prospects through warm-path outreach, as potential customers can easily find many vendors online.
Modern purchasers carry out around two-thirds of the customer journey without any input from sales reps. In fact, although personal selling can be influential in complex product sales, the capabilities of B2B eCommerce outlets is making this increasingly unnecessary. B2B purchasers are becoming more like their B2C counterparts, and the ‘savvy’ buyer is using their discretion to choose consultative partners who add real value during the purchasing process. Buyers are simply choosier and wish to dictate the terms of how they buy and who they engage with.
The decision-making process
Businesses and retail consumers have different motivations for buying a product. For instance, a B2B prospect makes their decision through a rational, need-based process (short or lengthy, depending on product complexity, price, and importance). Various stakeholders and executives may well be involved and where the typical B2C consumer tends often makes emotion-driven decisions (even impulse buys), that isn’t going to be the case with hard-headed B2B purchasers.
The importance of pricing
B2B pricing variables include volume, frequency, and discounts (pre-negotiated). Even standard sizes, pallets or bundles can accrue additional discounts, which is where PIM plays another crucial role. Integrated into multi-domain MDM, PIM is the connection to updated and accurate product information, inventory levels (availability) and dynamic pricing. Given the relationship factor, it is crucial that the buyer has full sight of availability – inaccurate information in this area might be a minor inconvenience for an individual shopper but is a positive ‘brand-loyalty-breaker’ for a hard-pressed B2B purchaser seeking a fast solution.
- As new generations of digital natives assume B2B purchaser roles, their behaviour is inevitably technology-oriented: in an ever faster-paced operating environment, professionals are often too busy to meet a sales rep in person, phone calls are not seen as being productive. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones are the weapons of choice.
- Much of the B2B purchasing process has gone online. Specifically, it’s gone social. A study by the IDC in 2014 found that of those polled, 75% of B2B buyers and 80% ten executive buyers relied on social media to assist with decision-making.
- Can find many vendors online, making it critical for brands to capture prospects’ attention early in the buying cycle, for example, by engaging early-stage prospects through warm-path outreach.
- Modern purchasers carry out around two-thirds of the customer journey without any input from sales reps. In fact, although personal selling can be influential in complex product sales, the capabilities of B2B eCommerce outlets is making this increasingly unnecessary.
- As in B2C, the ‘savvy’ B2B buyer is using their discretion to choose consultative partners who add real value during the purchasing process. Buyers are simply choosier and wish to dictate the terms of how they buy and who they engage with.
While UX personalisation is the buzzword for digital retailing, there is no reason why B2B merchants cannot:
- customise product catalogs to meet the niche needs of regular customers and provide a genuinely personalised client UX.
- tailor catalogs to divisions, business units, and down to named individuals
- create user groups with bespoke catalogs, as sub-sets of the main catalog.
Enhanced digital and print content
In comparison to B2C, B2B merchants may have large-volume product catalogs, with multiple variants for the simplest of products. Digital catalogs (populated with good information) eliminate the pitfalls of creating print catalogs: long-creation cycle, cumbersome distribution methods, printing costs and expensive to update. A PIM allows users to add to and update digital catalogs practically in real time.
B2B digital catalogs also enable companies to present any or all collection of products with useful digital assets – Digital also means trackable, so analytics reports let you know what users are clicking on, liking, or bouncing from, allowing for targeted spend on quality improvement for discrete areas.
SEO for B2B
SEO keywords in B2B commerce
B2B tends to create more specific or multiple niches. Selling so many products and product lines is challenging when devoting marketing efforts to keywords. The market for businesses as customers is much narrower than B2C, but many businesses prefer networking and social media, to which SEO is intrinsically connected making it a key part of any product information strategy.
Search and findability
Faceted search is another key feature of product showcasing in B2B – that is, a logical filter with different facet types. With thousands (or even millions) of products on sale, digital catalogs can be very large, so, in a given transaction, prospects must be able to discover intuitively exactly what variant they need. In a few words:
- Fine-tuned focus is essential in the B2B landscape
- Companies tend to have specific, niche buyer personas.
- Purchasers are not browsing, but looking for products with very precise specifications
- The merchant should nurture customer relationships as a long-term investment
- Prospects are time poor– they need a seamless, fast. and efficient process
PIM unites B2B Product content & keywords
As both a content management system and a product data storage system, a PIM kills two birds with one stone. That’s why it is the first point of reference when B2B companies are optimising and enriching content.
Once B2B companies have researched keywords, they populate their product content. B2B companies can optimise bullet features, descriptions, and other copy from PIM implementation onwards. This capacity to create content which integrates the right keywords seamlessly and consistently across touchpoints saves businesses from needing to optimise multiple channels and catalogs one-by-one. When information is syndicated, SEO is simultaneously and consistently applicable.
B2B vs. B2C customer service
The values and needs of a B2B customer base differ considerably from that of a B2C. Firstly, it’s much more niche than that of B2C. B2B merchants target the type of company needing their services, so although there are fewer prospects to target, the seller should put a premium on establishing solid relations with each one.
Cloning of the B2C digital shelf model cannot work. Regarding product information management, the world will increasingly be divided into ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. Those companies using a PIM system to manage their product data –onboarding, normalising, enriching, syndicating, and optimising – will thrive, because PIM can flex and adapt to the fast-paced demands of the modern B2B ecosystem.
At Start with Data, we specialise in all matters PIM across a range of verticals touching many sectors. For manufacturers, we advise and support on PIM implementation projects, as well as offering a range of key managed services. To have a more in-depth conversation about how we can add value to your B2B product information management processes. Get in touch – we’ll be delighted to help!