Customer support is in a frenzy. Complaints are piling in. Everyone is furious about receiving products in the “wrong” size.
Turns out, the widget listed as 3.0” long in the product catalog is actually 30” long. Thanks to a misplaced decimal, every shipment needs to be replaced.
Even the smallest errors in product information like this can cause lasting damage far greater than the initial returns. If customers can’t rely on your data integrity, they wonder what else might be compromised. Once that trust is lost, you’re sunk.
The challenge is that product data traverses a long chain of handoffs from development to marketing to sales channels to finally reach customers. Every transfer compounds the risk of error, especially without tight connections to keep the journey intact.
Manufacturers and brands must shore up 3 key product information leaks to ensure customers receive correct and current information across every sales channel.
Gap 1: Disconnected Product and Marketing Teams
Ensure specs reflect current production.
Products change over time throughout their whole lifecycle. Supply chain disruptions may shift production to different countries or prompt the need for alternate parts. Quality cases may necessitate a material improvement. Market feedback may push faster feature updates.
Each of these changes has downstream impacts on the appearance, performance, or regulatory compliance of a product for customers. However, manufacturers often fail to keep them in the loop.
A gap between product and commercial teams is to blame.
When product and commercial teams are separated by siloed systems and processes, marketers are reliant on manual handoffs of product specs with little visibility of ongoing updates.
Spreadsheets saved at product launch quickly become outdated, and shared drives are overrun with multiple versions of product data. Disconnected from the change cycle, marketers have no single source of truth that reflects the most current product to properly inform customers.
Instead, manufacturers need to connect product and commercial teams in a unified platform that provides:
- Complete data continuity from concept to customer, and
- Workflow throughout the value chain to notify teams of product changes.
Leveraging one continuous, trusted source for product information, teams throughout the organization have full visibility to cross-functional discussions, changes, and approvals to quickly reference the most complete and current information.
When changes happen in production, automated workflows notify marketing to update corresponding customer-facing product details. Marketers and merchandisers can then confidently create reliable content without extensive time spent gathering and verifying data.
Gap 2: Disconnected Product Attributes and Digital Assets
Ensure ALL attributes and assets are correct.
Engaging with customers today requires more than just posting basic product weights and measurements to a website. Marketers need to deliver rich content, documentation, images, videos, and brand narratives to create the deeply relevant experiences customers demand.
However, few systems are tailored to maintain this wide variety of structured and unstructured data in one central place. As a result, marketers must work across PLM and ERP systems to find product data and attributes, then skip over to shared drives and DAM systems for digital assets.
With information scattered across multiple systems, each source is rarely in sync. For example, length may be entered in PLM as 30”, represented in the DAM image as 30.5”, and manually added to the website CMS as 3.0”. It’s no surprise that internal teams—and customers—would be confused about which is right.
A gap between systems is to blame.
Instead, teams need one clear, complete view of product information to maintain accuracy. This includes aggregating structured data from controlled sources like PLM and ERP and organizing it alongside unstructured descriptions, features, and all associated digital assets.
It’s critical to incorporate every asset that customers may need to discover, buy, or use a product throughout its lifecycle. This ensures that information updated in one area is reflected in all customer-facing materials, including sales presentations, user guides, or product images. With a single view for enrichment, marketers ensure every piece of product content is correct and consistent.
Gap 3: Disconnected Internal and External Customer Touchpoints
Ensure every channel is consistently updated.
Delivering the best experiences requires serving customers the right information, at the right time, in the right channel. This means product content must be maintained across an ever-expanding number of touchpoints.
Marketers now need to publish to traditional sales channels, such as account sales teams, customer services, retail stores, and distributors, as well as digital channels like online stores, social selling, and marketplaces. Every channel where customers receive product information must work in harmony to create a seamless journey.
However, marketers often lose visibility and control of where information is published. Updates may be easy to make on owned websites and catalogs, but more difficult to feed through unowned marketplaces or social channels. When selling through distributors or channel partners, information may be pushed out without any confirmation that end users actually received it. Keeping consistency for customers across every channel becomes a never-ending battle.
A gap between internal systems of record and external sales channels is to blame.
To take full advantage of diverse channels, marketers need greater clarity on where information is published and flexibility to distribute to a wide range of touchpoints from a single platform. Traditional product information management (PIM) software helps create content but focuses on delivery to ecommerce catalogs, completely sidestepping crucial internal sales channels.
With access to the rich product information offered by a modern PIM solution such as Propel Software, these internal customer-facing teams have visibility to the various templates that feed to all different taxonomies and marketplaces. These PIM platforms are extensible and deeply collaborative, allowing product teams to deliver information instantaneously to more than marketing teams, but also to sales, service, and everyone else involved in commercialization.
By linking product content with every customer channel, marketers swiftly and adeptly deliver the right information, in the right channel, at the right time.
The Right PIM Solution for You
Omnichannel product experiences need speed and agility that can’t be found in spreadsheets and siloed systems. Workflow processes may plug a few holes in your information channels, but you need a seamless foundation to really keep afloat.
Modern PIM software like Propel’s offering establishes a framework to centralize, enrich, and activate product information in sales channels. When combined on a single product value management (PVM) platform, the power of PIM is multiplied by uniting product and marketing in a continuous, trusted source that fuels customer engagement.
Propel streamlines go-to-market processes to deliver accurate, consistent product information to customers in every channel. By connecting teams with inline collaboration and complete data continuity from concept to customer, Propel helps capitalize products faster and boost customer lifetime value.
To read more about the key features and advanced capabilities of a modern solution, check out “The Untapped Power of Next-Gen PIM.”