When you started your eCommerce business, just selling on your webstore was enough. But, then you were successful and grew. You added new webstores or new sales channels like Amazon or eBay. That introduced some complexity.
Merchandising (managing product information) in a growing, multichannel business is one of the most important areas of your business to improve. Your ability to do it well has a direct impact on your ability to sell more products.
You probably managed your product data in your eCommerce platform to start. Doing so doesn’t work well as your business expands to new sales channels. You need a Product Information Management tool that is specifically suited to the task.
In this post, we’ll discuss why you need to use a Product Information Management tool as your item master instead of your eCommerce platform.
Why Product Information Is So Important
Your ability to manage product information impacts your sales in a number of ways:
- Product information becomes web content. That content must be optimized to include the terms your customers are searching for, or how can they find your products?
- Category management also impacts the findability of your products. You need to organize products in categories that a customer can understand and navigate.
- Customers must be able to filter and drill down using product criteria (e.g. selecting “black”, “knee-high”, and “boots” on a shoe retailer’s site). Think Amazon.
When customers can’t find what they want, they’ll get frustrated. They’ll leave your webstore. They’ll buy from somewhere else. All of these issues of customer experience come down to your ability to manage product information effectively.
And, your ability to manage product information depends on the capabilities of the system you use to manage your item data (your item master).
Problems With Using Your eCommerce Platform as Your Item Master
When you started your eCommerce business, using your eCommerce platform, like Magento, as your item master made sense. But, these platforms have limitations when it comes to supporting the demands of digital product information, especially as you expand to multiple sales channels.
As you grow, you’ll learn that they simply don’t have the tools to effectively consolidate and manage large product catalogs.
It requires hours of manual and tedious data imputing.
When your process includes creating and importing spreadsheets, maintenance is manual and tedious work. You have to input, update, and adapt lengthy descriptions for ALL of your SKUs. This type of process can take up hours of your time. All of it is time away from getting products to market faster. It’s time not spent focusing on your customers.
It’s complicated to list the same items to different sales channels.
Each sales channel has their own requirements for listing products. Think of how Amazon categorizes a product differently from eBay. You’re left with the decision of either having separate spreadsheets of the same products for each channel or using the same descriptions for each channel.
The former makes it complicated and slow to get products to market. The latter results in having incomplete and incorrect product descriptions. Either way, you’re losing web sales because customers can’t find your products or aren’t sure it’s what they’re looking for
Your data can be messy and incorrect – without you even knowing it.
It’s hard to keep track of a large volume of complex data and adapt it to each sales channels. It’s likely your data is messy. In some places you might have the same item listed as BLACK and in others as BLK.
When you have extensive spreadsheets, it’s impossible to find these differences and reconcile them. This makes it hard to monitor the quality of your product information. And, when your product information is wrong, confusing, or unhelpful, you lose sales.
You can’t preview your product description before listing them.
Because you’re importing spreadsheets, there’s no way for you to see a preview of your item. It’s not until after you list it that you realize you categorized or spelled something wrong or left an important description blank. These types of mistakes make it hard for customers to find your items. If they can’t find it, they can’t make a purchase.
What is a Product Information Management System?
The limitations of your eCommerce platform can make it very difficult to centralize and manage information of volume and complexity. It’s these problems that make a Product Information Management application that much more necessary to a multichannel seller’s online success.
A Product Information Management system (a PIM, for short) is an application designed to help you keep your product data straight. It takes your data from many of your various systems and brings it into a single interface.
From within that centralized location, you can adapt and edit the information as you need. You can create dynamic, logical groupings of products. You can make bulk updates to attributes and categories. You can quickly make pricing changes and rules. And, you can publish items to different sales channels exactly as they need to be.
The Benefits of Using a PIM as Your Item Master
A PIM application makes it easy to import, consolidate, and manage product information. These capabilities are why a PIM application is the ideal system to be your item master.
Improve your product data quality and preview it before listing
No matter where your data resides, a PIM pulls in all of your data and creates a virtual product catalog. You’ll have one place to view all of your product information across your sales channels.
Then you can normalize your data. You’ll be able to make data transformations like EXTRASMALL into XS. You’ll clean up your data without all the tedious effort. You can check its right by previewing your listings. You’ll catch those costly mistakes before your publish your products.
Easily create and manage collections
A key feature of a PIM is the ability to create collections. When all of your data is in a centralized location, you can use one product catalog to build your collections. You won’t have to create separate databases or spreadsheets for each channel.
For example, maybe you build a collection of all the ski gear a beginner would need and sell it as a package. But, you would also include the same helmet in a collection of gear for the New Year. You can build each collection from the same core list of products.
You can adapt collections to your changing market. Whether it’s for a season, special event, or holiday, you’re making shopping more convenient for your customer–which can improve your sales.
Create personalized web experiences that make for a better customer experience
With a PIM application, you can present the products your customers want and make buying them easier. You can focus on a more personalized shopping experience, which makes for a better customer experience. With PIM you can do things like:
- Assign tags and identifiers to items to improve SEO to help customers find your products
- Make recommendations to customers based on products with similar attributes
- Have better control of how items are marketed and promoted
- Manage how images are merchandized with your products
- Sort products by price, color, size, etc making your site easier to navigate
Increase your speed to market when selling through multiple sales channels
For multichannel retailers, PIM makes it easier and more efficient to list your products to multiple sales channels so that you can get your products to market faster.
PIM allows you to intelligently map fields from your product catalog to the required fields of each sales channel. You can use the same product descriptions to satisfy the different categories of sales channels.
You won’t have to keep multiple spreadsheets for each channel. You’ll be able to control the look and design of each item posted in your web store or marketplaces, like Amazon or eBay. You’ll be able to expand your offering and let customers shop on their own terms.
What to Do Next
PIM applications come in all different shapes and sizes. To learn more about PIM, check out nChannel’s SaaS PIM app that is optimized for managing product information in a multichannel selling operation. It allows you to gather, organize, enrich, and publish your data to your sales channels.
If you plan on growing as an eCommerce seller, think of how you’re going to achieve your plans for the future. Improving the quality of your product data is the first step towards seizing this opportunity.