Let’s start by answering the question ‘what is a PIM?’ Standing for ‘Product Information Management’ in its purest form, PIM is the process of managing all the product information needed to market and sell products, across multiple channels.
For retailers, having a PIM solution is key to help ensure efficiency and consistency across their product catalog, regardless of the sales channel(s) they sit on. Why? To provide a unified customer experience. White goods retailers and brands in particular often look to implement a PIM solution due to the sheer number of channels and sites they sell their products on – which can often reach the 100s and even 1000s. As product lines continue to diversify and expand, PIM allows retailers to monitor, react and resolve any inconsistencies quickly, before they can impact factors such as CX.
For white goods retailers looking to stand out and provide a high-quality customer experience while also streamlining their internal processes, a PIM solution is a quick and surefire way to achieve this. The benefits are countless, from enabling a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints and channels, and seamless omnichannel delivery to providing a single source of truth and automating processes.
One of the reasons that PIM software and solutions have become so popular is that they help to ensure customers have everything they need to make an informed purchase decision online. The rise in demand for an omnichannel offering from consumers has driven this need for change as retailers fight to retain customers against their often many competitors. One way of differentiating their offering is to provide a superior CX. A recent report found that companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement retain 33% of their customers, whereas those with the right strategies in place retain on average 89%.
The rise of omnichannel
The omnichannel approach has evolved significantly over the last 20 years. After its inauguration in the dot-com boom era of the 2000s, retailers have gradually separated the physical and digital aspects of their business.
Now, an omnichannel retail strategy isn’t just a nicety, it’s a necessity, and it’s key to reaching many generations of consumers, not just the digital natives, and providing the customer experience consumers now expect. Fast forward to 2022, and retailers that aren’t including omnichannel in their offering are losing out. It’s now actually going the other way entirely. Digital-first brands are starting to branch out to physical stores as the world tries to ‘go back to normal since the onset of the pandemic in 2019. Blending online and offline experiences with an effective omnichannel strategy is something retailers should take into account to cover every possible consumer eventuality.
Changing industry standards and consumer demand in the white goods sector in recent years has also meant that once traditional brick and mortar brands have had to pivot their focus to keep pace with demand and satisfy new trends. Customers want to have the same high-quality experience regardless of their purchase journey, whether that’s researching online and buying in-store or buying online and returning in-store, and they want all the information at their fingertips to facilitate this. Without a watertight omnichannel strategy, it becomes almost impossible for retailers to provide this in an efficient, effective, and profitable manner.
For retailers that have developed and implemented an effective omnichannel strategy, they have been able to reap the rewards. Not only are they providing their consumers with a more unified and intelligent shopping experience, but they’re encouraging repeat business, and in turn encouraging greater brand loyalty.
So, what’s this got to do with PIM?
Well, PIM is the key to unlocking rapid growth. The ability to target customers at various points of the purchase cycle across channels is reason enough to implement an omnichannel strategy. With PIM, this can be achieved while also ensuring a compelling and consistent CX via a centralized environment.
Deliver a superior customer experience
As we’ve already mentioned, consumers purchasing white goods online expect a seamless and consistent experience. Imagine you were shopping online and found a great product that was missing the measurements you needed? You’d probably take your business elsewhere. Or, you found the product on one site and the measurements or description were different on another site? Again, you’d probably churn to another site or brand. Now, imagine that’s a big-ticket item such as a fridge, or washing machine. How much more time and effort are you going to put into your initial purchase? Inevitably, you’re going to conduct more research, triple-check the measurements are right, and more. That’s why a consistent customer experience is so critical to white goods retailers – one tiny error or inconsistent detail can mean the difference between a successful purchase and a lost customer.
But it’s not just consumer demand that has changed. Purchasing behavior has evolved too. Since the start of the global pandemic, there has been a stark increase in consumer spending online as a whole, as people couldn’t visit physical stores – this includes everything from grocery shopping to large appliances. The good news for omnichannel and online retailers is that this trend is here to stay (find out more about how consumer behavior has changed online versus offline in this blog ). A 2021 study found that 91% of consumers plan to continue purchasing online post-pandemic. Other research found that consumers are exhibiting less brand loyalty, with more than 48% of those surveyed replacing products previously regularly purchased at physical stores with online alternatives. Whatsmore, 54% of consumers said they read online reviews before every purchase.
This means that more consumers than ever before are sometimes conducting hours of online research before making a final purchase. It’s easy to see why when sectors such as the large appliances market have so many players in the game to choose from. This means that retailers in this space must ensure the information they do provide is accurate, up-to-date and above all else, consistent, regardless of the touchpoint and the sales channel being used.
By nature, humans are creatures of habit and we often thrive off of familiarity and consistency. This is why implementing a PIM solution is key for retailers to provide what consumers want in terms of unified information, which in turn, encourages more conversions and returning customers.
Facilitate greater purchase confidence
While showcasing consistent product information across distribution channels is great, it’s counterintuitive if that information isn’t useful. Displaying better – and more importantly, the right – product information can enable consumers to have greater confidence in their product purchases. For example, if a consumer is looking to purchase a fridge, they’re going to want to know all the measurements beforehand, how many drawers the freezer compartment has, how heavy it is, any technological capabilities, or if delivery includes a man with a van bringing the item into the house and installing the item. These are all important factors and differ depending on the product in question.
Interactive features are another factor to consider to encourage greater purchasing confidence. Retailers that invest in tools such as digital showrooms and 3D planning solutions enable consumers to see the product either digitally in-store or within their home environment in a virtual way, without having to leave the comfort of their homes. These tools offer next-level consumer personalization. Again, offering these tools upfront only improves the CX and instills greater confidence in the consumer – all your cards are on the table as a retailer, which in turn, also encourages fewer returns as all the relevant information is provided.
Whatsmore, these value-added features encourage greater brand awareness. A consumer is more likely to remember and return to a brand if it was the time they used X retailer’s cool new 3D tool to see the dishwasher they want in their home, digitally. Having the right product information also helps improve brand awareness. If a consumer finds a brand or retailer that provides all the product information they could need to make an informed purchase decision upfront, the likelihood of that consumer choosing that brand again increases. Why? Because if they want to make a future purchase, that’s the brand that had all the info on their preferred channel last time, and they didn’t have to find more or the correct information on other channels.
Likewise, having all this information front and center means quicker purchases. Consumers don’t need to look around for additional information, whether that’s via chatbot, email, reviews, or social media platforms. They already have everything they need to simply click ‘buy now.’
Improve in-house processes
While providing a superior CX should be at the top of every retailer’s to-do list to encourage conversions and repeat customs and place themselves above and beyond the competition, there are other advantages to implementing a PIM solution…
The internal business benefits associated with PIM are plenty.
The whole idea behind a PIM solution is to identify and evaluate product data and information across every channel that the product is featured on, so you don’t have to do it manually. Once the solution has done this, it then automatically manages and distributes that information across platforms. This means that you can modify all the information a consumer sees across channels in one go. Even if you’ve got several product information formats and character lengths across channels, the solution will find the best fit for each.
Ensure regulatory compliance
Another business case for PIM is the fact that it helps retailers to ensure they are and remain regulatory compliant regardless of which jurisdiction their product is being sold in. Having inaccurate information can also lead to legal compliance issues in many countries, resulting in greater operational costs for the retailer. By providing a single source of truth, it means that only accurate product information is published, so, where product information compliance is essential, PIM is the answer.
Improve version control and access for teams
Another great benefit of a PIM solution is the idea that it facilitates a single source of truth for any given information on a product. This means that retailers no longer need to worry about which version of that information is used on which platform, as the solution ensures the most up-to-date information is used across all channels. It also offers the ability for internal team leads to provide or limit access to certain product information, so only those who need to work on that specific piece of information or product can edit it if changes are required, reducing the chances of human error.
Facilitate greater efficiency
Adding new products to a catalog is often time-consuming. A PIM solution enables retailers to streamline the product onboarding process by automating workflows that then free up internal time and resources and reduce the margin of error, all via handy integrated product information tools.
To reap the benefits outlined, white goods retailers and those in the large appliances sector need to adopt a solution that offers everything they might need from a PIM solution. ECP offers a solution that provides retailers with the consistency they need across every product and accuracy across every channel to enable a high-quality customer experience that will keep customers coming back for more.
The all-in-one PIM solution also shares clear quality scores so retailers can adjust and improve product information as required, and dual syndication enables easier importation of product information from other supplier catalogs. Moreover, retailers can benefit from improved product ownership through greater taxonomy, which can be auto-categorized with metadata or tagging enabled. Intuitive reports provide the optimal next action based on every individual user of the platform, so you and your team can focus on driving value.
If you’re a retailer looking to stand out above the competition and provide a truly transformational customer experience,