How a good PIM can unify your brand’s digital strategy

Avatar for Gloria Serafini
Putting things together

Spreadsheets, tons of spreadsheets for a new series launch. For marketeers their recurring nightmare of digital product information management. In the ecommerce industry – where good, consistent rich and up-to-date content is one of the keys to success – managing product information in an efficient way, is crucial for manufacturers. That is why brands across all industries, such as Philips, L’Oréal, HP, Crayola, Bestway, Braun, SpinMaster, rely on Product Information Management (PIM) tools to ease the job for them.

When consider using a PIM?

When you have few dozen of products, Excel might still work fine, but if you need to manage the content of hundreds of products or product variants, a PIM tool will be definitely necessary. Especially if you have a lot of images and other digital assets, that regularly get lost within your organization. A PIM is more efficient and time-saving for your marketeers than Excel file exchanges and it guarantees uniformity, notably if there are tens of product managers working on product information creation and updates at the same time.

Internal or cloud-based?

An internal and dedicated PIM has one major advantage: flexibility. It can be fully customized and designed according to your needs. However, developing a PIM tool will entail a considerable investment in time and money to meet the expectations of your marketeers.

Alternatively, a PIM in-the-cloud requires relatively little investment, but comes at the expense of flexibility, as it’s a generic application shared by many different companies with different requirements.

In both cases, plan training sessions for your marketeers and follow-up regularly on their product information updates. If your company is new to ecommerce and PIM, better start with a cloud solution, to be able to get familiar with the use and being able to understand and set your company requirements.

TIP: train and retrain your marketeers: data consistency is essential in the e-channel

For instance, the beauty giant L’Oréal has opted for a PIM in the cloud (Icecat) for the production and syndication of standardized, multilingual product data-sheets. This choice seems logical, given the number of brands (such as L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline, Essie and Garnier) and the marketeers involved. In one single platform, L’Oréal product managers can update and control their brands’ product content, rich media, localized content assets addressing different markets and other digital assets. DRM (Digital Rights Management) is playing more and more a crucial role for manufacturers, in case of luxury or exclusive brands. They might need to deliver only a part of the portfolio to their channel partners and this option is included in the Icecat PIM, where product managers can limit a brand portfolio and make only a part of it accessible to certain retailers. Emmanuel Burglin, Key-Account Manager & E-commerce coordinator at L’Oréal, affirms: “It’s critical for L’Oréal to centrally organize our digital assets for L’Oréal’s channel partners and our own websites. Icecat’s proven track record in providing cost-effective product information management solutions for brands and online retail partners were key to our decision.”


A different approach towards PIM

Industries which are more familiar with the e-channel, like IT, Consumer Electronics, Telecommunications and Office supplies, show a deeper understanding of the flexibility seeked by the online e-tailers, who need on the one hand trustworthy and the most complete information and on the other hand want to differentiate their content from their competitors. Traditional brands, instead, have still the fresh memory of magazine and TV advertisements, where they had full control over what had to be displayed. Therefore, they tend to project this approach to etailers and usually get frustrated by the results. It’s clearly a learning process.

TIP: balance the needs for etailer flexibility with requirements for brand-controlled content

Another major point explaining the advanced use of PIM tools and content syndication by IT companies, stems from their vast experience with the e-channel and underlying ICT platforms. Manufacturers like HP, DELL, Philips, Lenovo and etailers, all have a 360° overview of the process of content syndication. From data creation and update to the integration in channel partners platforms.

FMCG companies are newer to e-commerce. Thus, in some cases not technically prepared yet and -instead of investing right away in IT resources and training- prefer still to work with Excel files and do manual image downloads. Not a sustainable situation, meeting the real-time needs regarding product content in the thriving e-commerce industry.

Last but not least, I advise manufacturers to rely on one common PIM across all markets, selected on headquarter level. A single PIM strategy guarantees “one single truth” in all countries, benefiting all local departments in the different countries where the brand is active.

Whether you opt or not for a PIM system, internal or cloud-based, make sure your product information is rich, standardized, up-to-date and consistent. You will gain in online visibility, and control of your brand’s online image. Your channel partners will benefit from search attributes and complete information. Your customers can easily compare your products and make the right buying choice.

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