Absolunet Part Two

Absolunet is inRiver’s North American Partner of the Year for the second-consecutive year. We recently interviewed Charles Desjardins, EVP and Partner to discuss the agency’s end-to-end approach and how it impacts successful eCommerce outcomes.

Part 2 – Using inRiver Product Information Management as a Strategic Catalyst
Charles Desjardins, EVP and Partner

inRiver: How did Absolunet build its inRiver credentials?

Charles: We are committed to eCommerce outcomes, so we prioritize our technology certifications based upon the results the technology can help us achieve. Our clients hire us to accelerate revenue and make it easier to execute an effective eCommerce strategy. So, we are intentional about building our inRiver credentials because the platform helps our clients achieve higher conversion rates, higher transactional value, better customer experience, better sales mix across multiple channels, faster time to market with new product collections, shortened cycles to opening to markets and lower costs related to managing the vast array of digital product content that helps them sell more products.

inRiver: How does Product Information Management play into the end-to-end scope of Absolunet?

Charles: inRiver simplifies the technology piece, but the broader PIM project remains fairly complex when it comes to content classification, workflow, content distribution strategy, flows into design choices, etc.

Since product information assets are enriched by multiple stakeholders from both inside and outside a company then distributed across eCommerce sites, traditional sales channels, catalogs, POS systems, in-store displays, mobile applications and basically everywhere else a customer engages, it is obvious that our end-to-end approach is a natural fit. Product information strategy affects time-to-market for the better. Sometimes creating enriching content and marketing materials for a new product can take two months but if you use a PEM solution it can be reduced to two weeks, leaving you six weeks of more sales.

We see inRiver PIM as an important solution, so we amped our investment with an intention to be great at it. Investing those world-class capabilities into our account team structure enables us to anticipate and address complexities of collecting, enriching and publishing product information content. It has also led technology accelerators, like our pre-built connector to Magento eCommerce, connections to ERPs and our exclusive Commerce Cloud solution that consolidates administrative access to best-in-breed eCommerce systems, including inRiver.

inRiver: What is the main resistance when it comes to setting PIM as an immediate priority?

Charles: Most companies let PIM challenges fester for years. The teams closest to the problem are intimidated by the sheer amount of the content and complexity of dealing with the internal and external workflow involved. We show them how to make progress by deploying digestible phases.

Executives often misinterpret PIM as a technical solution to a tactical problem, because execution challenges are hidden across multiple metrics that are not explicitly correlated. Many in the C-level assume they are getting by just fine, but when it comes to measuring the impact of missed revenue it is difficult to calculate potential lost until you fix the problem. We focus on educating them about their current state. Once we frame the problem, they are quick to understand its implications.

inRiver: What is the opportunity that product experience management presents for marketers in the eCommerce space?

Charles: The opportunity is huge! People tend to believe that product information is strictly content or attributes but Absolunet is talking about is rich media, like videos, photos and user-generated content. The richer the content is on a product page, the higher the conversion rate.

For example, if you compare product pages that have videos with product pages that do not, you see a big difference in the conversion rate. The opportunity is there, but the company needs to get organized and be capable of creating that content instead of only thinking about creating products and releasing products.

The company needs to understand that they have to become high-quality content producers and publishers. When there’s a shift and there is an understanding, that’s when we achieve the best results.

inRiver: For those beginning to think about addressing PIM, do you have any best practice advice?

Charles: I may be biased, but hire an agency with qualified professional experts that are focused specifically on PIM – not as a feature, but as a strategy. Tactics will vary, but a qualified firm will have a clear methodology and toolsets to accelerate the configurations and workflow decisions required to meet your objectives.

Once you establish a core design, solid processes, and deploy the system, your team will use it every day and become skilled; but begin with professional help because you want to move quickly to maximize the adoption across stakeholders – internally and externally.

Another key is executive sponsorship. PIM is a strategic enterprise platform. It boosts eCommerce, and an eCommerce executive might drive the effort, but whoever drives it needs buy-in across departments to encourage immediate adoption by considering their needs.