For major retailers, the complexity of adapting quickly to increasingly fluid customer tastes and expectations is a primary threat to maintaining success. Yes, these large retailers are generally capable of reaching customers on a wide variety of channels, offer broad assortments and can react to price pressures more easily than their mid-market and small counterparts. But their blessing is also their curse, as maintaining efficient workflows and guaranteeing accuracy in product information becomes increasingly challenging.
That’s why many of the most well-respected retailers are turning their attention to next-gen product information management (PIM) solutions. They see these systems as foundational to their unified commerce success in an increasingly hectic and competitive landscape. The provide automated workflows, robust attribute management and governance for content management that large retailers simply can’t avoid needing any longer.
In fact, Future Market Insights claims that the global product information management market is expected to reach a value above $12B by 2027 from a valuation of around $1.8B in 2017, at a very high CAGR of 21.0%.
But as next-generation PIM capabilities become increasingly critical, the gap between a traditional solution and the most innovative and robust solutions is becoming even more noticeable and important. In fact, next-gen PIM is often now viewed as an essential element of any large retailer’s infrastructure. Let’s explore a few key reasons why large retail businesses require highly advanced PIM features in order to improve efficiency and profitability across every area of the organization.
Wide array of products
Large retail businesses generally rely upon a significant variety of products in order to maintain relevance to a specific or ever-increasing broad audience. The scale of the business requires a centralized system that automates product workflows and makes it easy to ensure that each product is tracked and promoted with the same identifiers and information across the enterprise. With large and complex internal processes and structures, it’s easy for small flaws in product descriptions and data to fall through the cracks.
Fortunately, today’s most powerful PIM solutions provide real-time access to accurate and complete information between and among teams. It offers a collaborative workflow and data governance-based repository that delivers accurate persona-based content to get products to revenue faster and assure that customers get best digital experience. An ideal PIM provides an intuitive user interface that delivers clear alerts and recommendations to users when errors are found, an invaluable benefit when attempting to move massive product collections through the pipeline without error or wasted time.
Frequently changing product characteristics
One of the biggest challenges with managing so many products is that characteristics of products can often change quickly depending on a variety of conditions. These changes can be subtle or extreme but require immediate and complete attention to ensure that all information is represented accurately in both internal and customer-facing systems.
The real-time ability of a modern PIM to recognize that changes need to be made and to ensure they are taken care of for each system before allowing the next stage of operation to occur reduces the possibility of surprises when customers buy items that are labeled as the wrong size, wrong color, or any other flexible characteristic of a consumer product.
Customers need accurate, complete and real-time information regardless of where they’re shopping. Online, they’re unable to touch or see a product, can’t try it on or feel how much power it has. Retailers are responsible for replicating this experience online, which is challenging without tools and systems in place that automate the ability to not only source that information, but to ensure that it is replicated in full across all channels.
Making this increasingly challenging is that the boom in ecommerce has brought a necessary (in most cases) proliferation in distribution channels for selling merchandise. Now, not only is a retailer’s own merchandise listed for sale on its website, but many large retailers have opened their online stores to third-party vendors to create an open marketplace; many retailers have begun listing their own merchandise on other marketplaces too. Throw in the social commerce phenomenon, the additional challenge of making these channels accessible, consistent and mobile, and you can see how the complexity of managing product information across all digital channels has ballooned.
Doing this all manually or with an outdated PIM is inefficient, slow and costly. But a modern PIM activates the potential of these marketplaces, making it easy to bring suppliers and customers closer than ever, on the retailer’s platform, to everyone’s benefit.
Disparate IT Infrastructure
What makes tying all these processes together is that most retailers have moved to a best-of-breed SaaS model for managing many core business functions. Even more challenging is the trend of consolidation at the top of the retail market with mergers taking center stage across a number of key markets.
In order to consolidate and create consistency among the non-uniform IT infrastructure of these organizations, a modern PIM like PlumSlice is able to integrate seamlessly and provide the same intuitive interface that automatically creates a collaboration between all units. Not only does this help eliminate the mistakes that can be made when working out the kinks of adopting a new system, or integrating a new business unit, but it also ensures that the time to value of those investments is greatly reduced.
Large retail organizations are being pressured from every angle – Amazon from the top and nimble upstarts from behind. But these retailers have established themselves as highly influential market players with significant brand cache and customer bases. They don’t need to revolutionize their business from the ground up to compete – they just need to establish more efficient processes that make the customer experience more seamless and eliminate barriers between online and physical retail. PIM guarantees that when it comes to product information, there is no gap, while ensuring that retailers benefit from reduced costs, faster time to market, fewer errors, and better time to ROI of investments elsewhere in organization. It’s a no brainer!