You're an eCommerce marketer who has a smorgasbord of brilliant products to sell the world. The problem is you’re unsure how to manage them all, especially across complex sales channels like print or digital. Furthermore, it can seem intimidating to find user-friendly, cloud-based software that helps you manage and group your product information across various partners and platforms (web site, Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc.). There is a solution though -- it's called product information management or PIM.
PIM: More than Just a Master Catalog
Yes, your team can manage all your product information at one convenient location from your product information management solution’s interface, but it does much more than just let you change SKU's, images, documentation and so on. It streamlines the data process and frees up your time, so you can focus on other areas of your business. Along with saving time, users of PIM also see cost savings because of better logistics. When product accuracy is improved, it reduces the amount of product returns, which, in turn, increases your company's bottom line.
A PIM solution does more than just manage your product data, it helps you retain customers too because you're able to provide store visitors with dependable product information they need, which builds buyer trust. Some of the features of PIM solution include refining searches by product attributes, tracking customer ratings and reviews, installing visualization tools like picture zooms or comparison tools so visitors can look at two or more products at the same time.
Who Needs PIM? You Do.
While this might sound appealing, you may still wonder if you really need PIM solution. Start by asking yourself if you're facing any of these challenges:
There's a mistaken belief that PIM is only for companies that sell thousands of products or services, but that's not true. In fact, any size store or vendor can benefit from PIM, even those that might not have large inventories. This is certainly the case for companies with products that require a large number of variables and customization fields, even if their product inventory list isn’t large.
Simply put, a PIM solution can help you with a multitude of eCommerce data organizing issues - whether it's improved search results, better shipping and fulfillment, lowering the number of returns or creating more upsells. A PIM solution can make e-tailers more successful and prosperous. You can learn how a product information management solution can help your business by contacting inRiver today.
Steve Gershik, Expert in B2B customer lifecycle marketing
With over 20 years of experience in product marketing, social media, demand generation and brand building, Steve is an expert in what B2B companies need to do to survive and thrive in competitive environments today.
I recently published a blog post about the benefits of using subscription-based business models called "What bike rental and the future of software have in common." Many industries are going through a shift of revenue streams from traditional one-time sales to products being provided “as a service” and paid via subscriptions. In the software industry this is referred to as Software-as-a-Service or SaaS. However, there is much more to this than just switching from a perpetual license model to a subscription model.
The “false cloud”
Back in 2010, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff warned attendees at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco to beware of what they called ‘false clouds.’ Benioff said “Companies hosting private cloud architectures do not benefit from economies of scale that ‘real’ cloud offers.” Back then, Salesforce.com's 77,000 customers were running on 3,000 servers spread over three global data centers. Theoretically, 77,000 companies of varying sizes would require at least 100,000 servers to independently run their CRM platforms on-premises or in a hosted solution. This translates to an equivalent output at only 3 percent of the infrastructure needed because of economies of scale and more efficient hardware utilization.
Many software companies are touting that they can deliver their software in the SaaS delivery model. However, what they are offering is often not a modern multi-tenant cloud solution where all customers are running the same software using shared resources and receiving software updates continuously without costly upgrade projects. In addition, these are not true SaaS offerings, where business users can configure functionality that would otherwise require expensive and time-consuming development using conventional single tenant software. These ‘false cloud’ solutions are often marketed as a ‘Private SaaS’ or a SIP (Secure Isolation Platform), but, in reality, are often just another way of selling an on-premise software package as a hosted solution.
SaaS is much more than cost savings
The biggest drawback with the false cloud is not that the customers are missing out on the economies of scale by not sharing resources, but that they will not have a speedy deployment, a future-proof and configurable solution, and the business agility that comes with a modern SaaS platform. 75% of enterprise software decisionmakers surveyed by Forrester rated ‘business agility’ as the top benefit of a SaaS platform, while another 72% rated ‘speed of deployment’ as a key benefit. Saving money, getting better uptime, and higher security are, of course, still relevant arguments for SaaS, but being agile and fast is of even greater importance. This is especially true for software that supports the rapidly changing processes in sales and marketing that can really reap the benefits of the SaaS model.
Software-as-a-Service is not just your software running on someone else's server. It is much bigger than that and should be an important factor when you choose your software vendors going forward.
Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver
This is part II in our story of the new landscape and reality for you as marketers. In this part, we will set the stage for examples on how to focus and prioritize when mastering this new reality.
Research from HubSpot found that the top three marketing objectives are converting contacts into customers, growing website traffic and increasing revenue derived from existing customers. Social selling is also more of a priority than ever before. Online content is key to achieving these goals because it allows you to connect with customers in the micro-moments – when they’re browsing that product, or standing in a shop comparing prices. In those valuable moments, you need to have the right content in the right place at the right time to attract customers’ attention.
Just go to an everyday situation in your life, a little bit of stress on your way home from work, drizzle and slush, you feel a bit cold. Or on your way in the morning, morning sun, crisp autumn air, and a warm coffee in your hand. These are totally different moments but if you can be reached and understood in either of these moments it will create trust and loyalty to that brand or for that product. This is what product storytelling is about.
To be successful at this we believe that you need to look at this from two different perspectives: the inside and the outside. One part of it is to collaborate to create your product stories in an efficient way. Another is to have everybody knowing what I in my role contribute to in this chain of product story telling.
At the other end of this, you must be efficient in how you syndicate your products to all selling touch-points. To have your information flowing easily between these touch points, without constantly having to manually do cumbersome touch-ups for the information to work in the different contexts.
Look out for the "5 Absolute Musts" blogposts, my five steps for taking your products to market successfully, in the coming weeks!
Jimmy Ekbäck, Executive Vice President Products & Services, inRiver