As your business grows, effective product information management (PIM) functionality for your rapidly expanding range will become a priority.
It’s surprising how quickly combinations of item numbers, references, stock keeping units (SKUs), product images, videos, marketing materials, technical documentation, and customizations can become unmanageable.
If your business growth plans include sales across national borders then specifications, translations and regulatory documentation can all add to the scale of the problem.
Operational workflows, staff structures and legacy systems will also play their parts.
Manual interventions and workarounds can help with the most pressing problems, but without a longer-term strategic solution your order fulfilllment will slow down, returns will increase, and customer satisfaction will fall.
More importantly, your ability to scale your business and build on your success will be hampered.
An effective PIM system can eliminate data inconsistencies across multiple information silos and allow you to manage and monitor product information in real time, supporting your business as it grows.
Signs of PIM stress
Are you currently struggling to coordinate spreadsheets and multiple separate databases and systems? Have you taken on extra employees to keep your data up to date? These are often the first symptoms of a PIM problem that is only going to grow.
Few businesses can afford to put everything on hold while a whole new system is installed, tested and implemented. Many assume that their business and requirements are unique and will require a bespoke solution. In reality this can be a costly and time-consuming approach that will not deliver a good return on your investment.
Compromising on your PIM solution
The alternative might be to use a standalone system to manage your product information, but this could mean you have to compromise on the unique requirements of your business. Unfortunately, this approach can also involve more manual interventions to transfer information between different systems, manage overlapping workflows, and fill gaps in product related data.
B2B ecommerce integration to meet your PIM needs
A PIM centralizes product information for all your business applications. It will provide the tools you need to customize product data, including languages, pricing and currencies. You can use it to share the information across multiple sales channels to meet the needs or your customers, sales team and support staff.
However, to deliver a fully scalable solution as your business grows, it needs to be combined with the power of your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and your business to business (B2B) ecommerce platform.
This will allow you to deliver an end-to-end portal from your buyers’ initial online research all the way through to delivery and reordering. Workflows for your marketing, sales, ordering and fulfilllment can be automated and improved.
You can move from a cumbersome set of mismatched processes with inevitable in-built delays and inaccuracies to a seamless, real time system that will enhance your business efficiency, increase sales and improve customer satisfaction.
Cloudfy PIM functionality
Cloudfy was designed from the very beginning as a software as a service (SaaS) solution to meet the needs of B2B ecommerce. That’s why the ability to manage product information easily and to integrate and scale as your business grows comes as standard.
Product information including dimensions, part numbers and technical data sheets, videos, case studies, functions and benefits can all be handled with Cloudfy’s easy to use dashboard. It’s an intuitive process, so responsibility can be shared without specialist training and you can be confident that your content is accurate and up to date.
Integrating your information – whatever systems you already have in place, Cloudfy’s powerful integration with major business systems such as NetSuite, SAP and Microsoft Dynamics gives you the flexibility use them together as part of a seamless system.
You can work with our integration specialists to implement full systems integration, with flat file or application programming interface (API) customizations to meet your needs.
Getting the PIM basics right – you can organize your products into categories that could include the part name, purpose or size, for example. They can be easily reorganized with a simple drag-and-drop interface, so product details can be quickly and accurately loaded and updated, and your buyers will find them more easily.
Multiple price lists – B2B pricing can vary depending on purchase volume, frequency and pre-negotiated discounts. Even if you have standard packs, pallets or bundles you might still want to offer additional discounts based on the total quantity ordered, for example. You can set thresholds for further bulk discounts and can even tailor pricing options to specific customers.
Alternatively, you can set a minimum order quantity (MOQ) or a minimum order value for certain products, specific quantity multiples for products sold in packs and cases.
Personalized catalog management – you can also customize product catalogs to meet the specific requirements of your customers. These can be tailored to divisions and business units or even individual buyers. User groups can be created with their own bespoke catalogs as sub-sets of your main catalog. Alternatively, you can hide certain products or prices for unregistered visitors.
The benefits of an effective PIM system
- Meeting customer expectations – business buyers expect to find thorough and accurate product information, images, specifications and other material such as video. The quality of the product information you provide can win you sales, but buyers will quickly move on if they don’t find what they’re looking for. This means the quality and accuracy of your product information will deliver a competitive advantage.
- Accuracy and efficiency – keeping all your product information in one place makes the job of validating your data a more reliable and efficient process. You can decide who has access, when and how information is updated. You can include quality control processes so that the information can only be published once all the necessary approvals have been given. That might sound like a burden, but with automated workflows included in your PIM system, your business can become much more efficient as part of your wider business management processes.
- Return on your investment – while large corporations might consider a long-term investment in master data management (MDM) initiatives, a business-led PIM solution is a more viable solution for smaller, fast-growing businesses. It can be implemented more quickly and cost-effectively with clear and measurable outcomes. Goals can include increased sales, improved conversion rates and fewer product returns.
Book a free Cloudfy demonstration to find out how our PIM functionality can benefit your growing business.