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The Untapped Power of Next-Gen PIM

How the latest in product information management (PIM) can transform your documents labyrinth into a content powerhouse.

Let’s all admit, as customers, we are a very demanding bunch. 

We expect VIP, five-star experiences every time we buy or use a product, with information at our fingertips wherever and whenever we want. If brands deliver anything less, we move on and leave a wake of poor reviews in our path.  

With customers constantly raising the bar, brands and manufacturers are struggling to keep pace. Too often, marketing and sales teams slog through disconnected systems, trying to piece together product information, maintain it in different formats, and update it across diverse sales channels. 

Delivering the seamless product experiences that customers demand requires a speed and agility that can’t be found in spreadsheets and shared drives. It’s time for product information management to take center stage.

Product information management (PIM) is a system that helps brands and manufacturers centralize product data and create compelling customer content, such as product descriptions, images, and user guides. 

The power of PIM is leveraging it as a single, trusted source of product information to enable omnichannel experiences that do not disappoint. PIM stands to transform the way commercial teams engage customers with enriched product experiences. 

Ensure accuracy throughout the whole product lifecycle with data continuity from concept to customer

First and foremost, all product information shared with customers must be correct. 

Customers expect accuracy, both at the point of purchase and well beyond as they use and maintain the product. There is no wiggle room here. 

Errors in product listings or catalogs disappoint customers, fuel high returns, and compromise trust in a brand. Last year alone, the U.S. had more than $760 billion in returned goods (CNBC). Investing in giving customers the right information before making a purchase has a major impact on the bottom line. 

The difficulty is that customers need product data that originates across a breadth of business systems, such as product lifecycle management (PLM) and customer relationship management (CRM). Rather than linking each of those to every end channel, PIM steps in to collect and unify information from the various sources to create a single point of reference. This provides the opportunity to verify all content is correct and current before it goes out the door to customers. 

PIM’s strength is in the connections to the larger data ecosystem, especially for controlling high-quality information. Several integrations are typically necessary, but maintaining those over time can become an IT headache. Finally, there is a better way. 

Combining PLM and PIM into a single, unified platform creates a data continuity powerhouse. Together, PLM and PIM form a continuous thread of information directly from the engineers creating the product through to the marketers selling the product. 

Commercial teams have visibility to the most updated product specifications without time-consuming uploads, manual entry, or extensive data cleansing efforts. Likewise, development teams have visibility to market demand and customer-specific requirements to incorporate into the design process.

“As stewards of the customer journey, marketing teams deliver incredible value with tailored, personalized experiences for each sales channel.”

This is especially important for product changes, which may occur months or years after an initial product launch.

“Product changes happen frequently to improve performance based on customer feedback or to adapt with supply chain disruptions,” said Mark Boles, senior product manager at Propel Software. “The only way to make certain that updates reach every piece of content in every channel is through a PIM with 100% data continuity.” 

The most effective PIM is seamlessly connected with PLM on a single product platform, keeping correct and current information intact from concept to customer. 

This ensures accuracy for new launches and long after, throughout the whole product lifecycle. 

Tailor product content in each channel for more impactful customer experiences

Marketers have an ever-increasing number of channels to reach customers, such as company websites, ecommerce catalogs, social media, marketplaces, retail shops, and wholesale distributors. 

However, all channels are not created equal, as customers expect to find different information in each. For example, shoppers find short, visual product inspiration on social media, more in-depth descriptions and use instructions online, and packaged samples to try in-store.

Marketers cannot blanket every channel with one generic product presentation and hope for meaningful engagement. 

Instead, PIM enables teams to create contextual content and share product stories in formats that further captivate customers in their preferred channel. 

Flexible, configurable attribution allows marketers to adjust product titles, messaging, and feature callouts to reflect the appropriate endpoint and stage of the customer journey. Additionally, advanced PIMs include digital assets as part of the product record to maintain any product-related media files or documents. 

This gives marketers the power to select and prioritize which visual presentation is most impactful in each channel, with the assurance that all are up-to-date. Meeting customers where they are, with the most relevant information, increases conversions and loyalty. 

The future of PIM is upon us, and it's yours to customize

Even with these capabilities, customizing content for each channel could still be time-consuming with previous generations of PIM. New innovations are providing Content Composer Shortcuts to fully streamline tailored enrichment.

Content Composer Shortcuts eliminate any duplicative efforts by allowing authors to enrich information once and apply the content to as many products as needed. This provides a greater focus on value-add optimization of the most impactful content for both attributes and digital assets. 

For attributes, auto-inheritance through a product variant structure reduces the need to copy and paste dozens or hundreds of times onto every individual SKU. 

Data is entered once at the highest product level and cascades down to every underlying SKU. It is important that information can be overridden at any variant level, empowering authors to differentiate content exactly where it is needed. 

Similarly, for digital assets, shortcuts create a process to store the file once and relate its record to any applicable products. This avoids uploading files across multiple products or in a multitude of sales channels. 

When a file is updated at the master level, teams know without a doubt that the new information simultaneously updates in every product for distribution to its downstream customer channels.

“As stewards of the customer journey, marketing teams deliver incredible value with tailored, personalized experiences for each sales channel,” Boles said. “Content Creator Shortcuts eliminate repetitive data management tasks so that teams can focus on the differentiated content strategies that really drive sales.”

The proliferation of new sales channels provides the opportunity to shift from transactional commerce to deeply engaging customer connections that pay dividends over the long run. 

These more tailored interactions require a higher level of coordination than ever before, and marketers can no longer manually manage this complex environment.

By streamlining the bulk of core product enrichment, marketers are free to focus on optimizing the experience of each channel with truly tailored content.  

Keep your customers in the loop

KPIs today all revolve around creating a powerful whole product experience by increasing satisfaction, building trust, and driving lifetime value. 

By providing both accurate information and tailored content about products to customers in every channel, companies can bolster their brand in the eyes of their customers—and they can do so with greater reach and less effort using PIM. 

The new generation of PIM is dedicated to meeting the evolving needs of the customer-first revolution. Propel Software’s PIM offering does this and more, given that Propel’s solution is rooted in its product value management (PVM) philosophy, a whole-product customer-first approach.

With PIM in your pocket, you can drive omnichannel growth by capitalizing new products sooner, expanding into new digital channels, or moving into new markets faster. 

To learn more about how PIM works and what it can do for your commercialization efforts, check out our webinar A Marketer's Guide to Engaging Product Experiences.

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Post by
Jill Mueller
Director of Product Marketing, Propel

Jill has a passion for bringing brands to life to drive strategic growth. Her experience in both retail and manufacturing provides a strong balance of marketing, development, and production knowledge. Most recently, Jill worked with private-equity-backed firms to identify and execute market growth opportunities, including channel expansion, product category launches, and global supply chain improvements.

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Jill Mueller