You have data on customers, employees, processes and especially your products. We’ve already talked about how you can use your customer data to personalise and increase sales in an earlier blog post. But what if we told you that your product data could help you just as much, maybe even more? You can use it to cut costs, shorten your time-to-market and futureproof your business model.
Getting a grip on your product data
Before you can start harnessing the power of your product data, you have to organise it first. When we talk to a company about their data, we notice that it’s often scattered throughout the whole organisation. Person A has an Excel-file, Department B has built something in their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), while person C has yet another Excel-file… But which system contains the latest versions? That’s where Product Information Management systems, or PIM systems for short, will save the day. Simply put, these databases are designed to hold, update and distribute product data to the right people. They connect to a Content Management System (CMS) to place your data in your web shop, they connect to a print plugin that makes generating catalogues much easier and they make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your product specifications.
Shortening your time-to-market with good PIM
A PIM system comes with a portal that was built specifically for your suppliers to onboard their data. If you’re a retailer or wholesaler, this will be a familiar scenario: One of the brands that you offer releases a new product and you plan on selling it through your online store. How long does this currently take you? With a PIM system, the supplier could already fill in most of their specifications in the system themselves. Once one of your employees verifies the data and, if needed, makes some adjustments, it is uploaded, and you are good to go. Of course, you don’t have to worry about suppliers seeing things they shouldn’t see. Their view is restricted to the data of their own products. This means that you will only have to spend a few minutes to make sure that a product is ready to be published on your store. But also edits can be done so much faster than before. In roughly 8 minutes a product can be updated, processed and online, which is roughly 30% shorter than it is for most companies. In a time where speed is of utmost importance, this could give you a significant advantage against your competitors.
Catching the wave of the long tail
However, increased speed isn’t the only advantage. You can finally make use of what’s called “the long tail of the internet”. In essence, companies that adopt a long tail strategy dramatically increase their product assortment through niche products. These products then come with higher margins. Since the costs of adding them to your store is much lower than they used to be, it’s a good investment, even if you don’t sell that many of them. Since these niche items often don’t get a lot of traffic, they don’t tend to receive much love and care from the product data teams. Other products that drive more traffic will always be a priority. However, now that the suppliers can do a part of that work for you, it’s far easier to manage the quality of the data and imagery that’s being displayed.
Saving money on returns
Returns are an enormous source of cost for many companies. According to Trusted Shops, fashion has to deal with a return rate of up to 30%. The logistical costs and man-hours that have to be invested to handle the entire return process can quickly start to eat into your revenue. The best solution for your problems with returns would be to offer more and high-quality data on your product pages. Through a PIM system, your data would be more consistent, more complete and contain less errors. As a result these three factors would decrease your amount of returns immensely.