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Coaching

We’ve just posted an update on training and have an example of how we use some software to make easy to follow video user guides. You can find the new page here – or watch the sample system[read more]

For the last few months, I’ve been working with a brilliant coffee vending business near Gatwick. In terms of culture and atmosphere, it’s quite a contrast to BOTH other venture capital[read more]

The results of Google’s “Project Oxygen” have been reported all over the place in the last week. The London Evening Standard and the New York Times both carried this, follow the[read more]

Anyone for PIM’s?

Digital is here and it’s hard to think of a business that can ignore the changes that flow from it? But for product driven companies, great, accessible and up to data product data fundamental to winning (or keeping) market share. So how do you manage the huge volume of product and product marketing information that your organisation has buried in storage silos?

More critically, how do you leverage that information to maximise its commercial value? A relatively small distribution company I was working at recently sold around 6,000 active products but had a total catalogue of over 30,000. Products ranged from high end seasonal items to low value, high volume “basics”. In their B2B environment, the target purchasers (high street retailers in the main) were generally well known.

Yet even though there were many market segments who might buy quite different ranges, there was no viable way to create the kind of product literature or micro sites that would get the right products in front of the right buyers efficiently and well positioned. The B2B e-commerce platform performed well but did little to meet the needs of the real  end-customers – sophisticated buyers who could choose to purchase through retailers, e-tailors or hybrid businesses -or of course buy competitors product ranges instead. Nor did it help the management of the product life cycle – getting a product and its marketing and technical information ready for launch or making it end of life and ensuring old stock was efficiently and pro-actively handled.

A PIM (Product Information Management) software is a great way to organise and structure product data and automate the acquisition of media and product data and then channel it to the right distribution channel. They massively simplify the deployment and management of multiple web sites each presenting an appropriate view of the product. And of course, enabling a distributor to provide value added marketing material to the channels they sell to.

A well integrated PIM can allow the product data to be collated, QA’d and organised once and then manages the distribution of that data to all its target audiences. Multi-market, multi-language, multi-currency can all be managed away from specific e-commerce platforms and from core ERP Systems.  The PIM can provide data to each of these or accept it from them. For example, suppose you want to manage the promotion of a long-lead time product range dependent on it arriving into stock, the ERP system can be set to update the PIM when stock is sufficient for a launch and automatically trigger the release of that product data into a high profile part of the web site. You can also pull the page when stock get’s low and promote something else that IS in stock. And as many distributors sell through giant’s such as Amazon, it’s much easier to meet their rigorous requirements when all the required data is available and QA’d long before the first time its shipped.

When it comes to product data. being digital, is about more than a sales portal, or just an effective media management system – it requires a step change in the way product data is acquired, managed and then leveraged to increase sales, market share and profit.