8 Ways a PIM will save your time

As the eCommerce store begins to grow, most of them face the same problem of managing and handling large scale product data. If all the product information is scattered, then the efficiency of your team will be low, errors will become common and the customer will begin to lose trust in your product. That’s why more and more online stores are implementing PIM – a management tool designed to avoid all these issues.

What is PIM ? PIM stands for “product information management”, a management tool that centralizes all of company’s product information. All the data from your product catalog is stored. There are many fields that you can add to PIM like :

  • Basic information about each product.(name, brand, price etc.,)
  • Technical information.
  • Information on sales channel and market places like (Amazon, Flipkart)
  • Stock availability.
  • Reviews for each product.
  • Product catalog, datasheet etc.,

PIM not only stores the information about your products, but does much more than that. Suppose if you have modified any product, PIM allows you to modify that product with new features on all sales channel at a time. In this way PIM can store and alter data as needed to carry out the daily tasks. So PIM acts as a middle ground. It makes importing and exporting product data incredibly easy.

8 Ways a PIM will save your time :

1. Reduces the use of spreadsheets :

Suppose if you have thousands of product descriptions to keep up to date, uploading the same on a spreadsheet would be time-consuming and also has chances of leading to human error of entering wrong data. PIM helps this type of task to be done more accurately. With PIM, users will save time by entering a large amount of data in lesser time and more correctly. This will help the right department to retrieve the correct data easily.

2. Automation :

Automation is another benefit of PIM technology. Instead of uploading data manually, companies can automatically get the correct information from different sources. As a result, you will be able to create a richer product experience, a better user experience and a high rate of return on investment. When you want to launch a new product or create offers for your product, PIM makes it easy by its automation capabilities. The automation feature of PIM takes less time to complete the herculean task.

3. Helps to optimize marketing :

As PIM centralizes all the information on your products, it provides you with information about the sales volume and other marketing statistics. It helps you to know

* which different sales channels are giving you better results.

* which keywords are working optimumly.

*life value of each product.

This information helps your marketing team to take the right marketing decisions on time. Timely taken the right decisions will increase your sales.

4. To reach milestones :

Through PIM you can track your business progress to reach your milestone in business. You can keep an eye on the product (sales), team performance and productivity. If you find certain things are lacking and creating hurdles in achieving your milestone, you can find those faulty points and rectify on time. PIM helps in time management to do such rectification. Things rectified on time will optimize your progress.

5. Unit growth :

PIM software facilitates businesses to easily assess the efficiency of various teams and units. If one unit is efficient, its data can be shared with a less efficient unit, to speed up the growth. As all the data is centralized by PIM, with less time you can enhance the growth of a less efficient team/unit.

6. Reduced errors :

As PIM store accurate information, it reduces the chance of sharing incorrect information. The reduction of errors means companies spend less on time and cost. Delivery of products, purchasing procedure and information of inventories are all optimized using the data in PIM. As a result, the customer can enjoy complete satisfaction after procuring your product. As PIM solutions are easy to integrate, companies save time and money on management and marketing.   

7. Enhances your customer experience :

As PIM maintains the whole data centrally, it is the single source of product information for each product across all the channels of marketing. When you notice any data errors, PIM will help you to improve them by eliminating the inconsistency. This will help in enhancing customer experience by quickly correcting the issues and then immediately pushing the changes to all channels.

8. To expand your business :

With PIM you can automatically publish new or updated product content to all selling channels quickly and accurately. As PIM is connected with eCommerce platforms, it allows you to easily localize product details for websites. By having PIM, you can save your business expansion cost and it is time-efficient.

Conclusion :

Finally, PIM makes it simple by providing everything in one area. It is easy to search, access, update, find and share product-related information. It makes it easier not only for employees but for teams, management, consumers and the company at large. PIM facilitates, not only manage a large amount of data but also makes it easy to work with. It’s time to conquer data and use it as a stepping stone for the future growth of your e-commerce business.

What is Product Information Management [PIM] for eCommerce

ECommerce businesses can have a massive amount of product data, including descriptions, measurements and inventory. A product data management system organizes and regulates this product data making it uniform and easily accessible.PDM system also makes it users friendly and available to customers as they browse your website.

Product information management is commonly known as PIM. It is a process of collecting and managing all the needed information from descriptions to images and more- about a given product in one central place. As updating of product information is possible through PIM, the efficiency of product information can be increased. PIM also facilitates to add new products to your online platforms. It ensures that your customers have to access to the right information about your products when they are ready to purchase.

Information stored by PIM :

PIM solutions store all the required information on the product, including description, taxation, composition, technical information, hardware versions and other types of information. It also store rich media files such as images, videos. The list of product information management tool depends on the particular business needs and can vary significantly.

When to use PIM :

  • There’s a need for data rich information.
  • You have multiple suppliers and source of distribution.
  • PIM is very useful when price and product catalog has to be updated frequently. 

When not to use PIM :

  • If you use one platform or one distribution channel.
  • Number of products your store is dealing with is very less.
  • If you are working with one or two manufacturers.
  • If your product doesn’t need rich data description. Less information of the product gives a clear picture to your customer. 

Key take aways :   

  1. PIM facilitates your brand awareness and provides excellent customer experience which in turn increases your sales and revenue. 
  2. Having a quality PIM platform is a major step towards creating omni channels consistency.
  3. PIM is a part of master data management.

Benefits of PIM for your eCommerce business :

#1. Establishes a single source for product information:

PIM exports the primary records of your products quickly to your eCommerce website, market place and social media shops. Any corrections, updates, or adjustments made in records, will automatically be done by PIM across all platforms and sales channels.

#2. Go to market faster :

whether you’re launching a new product or sales channel , you are in the market is determined once you start generating revenue. Automatic workflow reduces the need for manual data entry. Allowing team to launch and maintain new products and sales channel faster.

#3. Improves quality and consistency of product data : 

Incorrect or incomplete product data will not only reduce your sales but also the user’s experience. PIM facilitates you to edit, add and review data in one system you will improve the quality and consistency of your product data. Any changes made in the PIM system can be published across your eCommerce platform. Your accurate, up to date information will help you build brand image of your product.

#4. Creates more effective marketing strategies :

customers experience which the co provides is as important as its products and services. In this era customers using multiple channels, it is important that customer experience across different channel should be unified. PIM by establishing one source for your product data will allow you to enhance the user experience, by providing accurate and current information of your product at every step of the purchasing process.

Conclusion:

PIM centralizes product information for all other business applications. Product data pushed through PIM to multiple storefronts and sales channels providing the richest shopping experience possible. You can add selected products directly to your eCommerce from your PIM system and reuse product data and attributes from your PIM system in your eCommerce to save valuable time and money. Thus PIM can help grow and optimize your eCommerce business.

Altius PIM Services

Challenges of eCommerce Catalog Management

Catalog Management is the process of managing your eCommerce Product Catalog to ensure the integrity and quality of the product data across different sales channels. A product catalog is a detailed list of inventory of a store, which consists of product images descriptions, specifications, price, and more. The process of organizing, standardizing, and publishing this information to multiple sales channels is what product catalog management is all about. 

Companies need catalog management to keep up with the huge stock of SKU’s (Stock Keeping Unit) for different sales channels. It is hard to maintain the integrity of huge quantities of product data and time consuming to keep track of the update in product data which results in incorrect and improper product data representation. 

Common Challenges of Catalog Management

Product Types

Product types make SKU management more complex because products vary by attributes like size or color. Products come in a different part or as a single individual part, keeping track of the hierarchy of product parts can be hard to manage. 

Managing across multiple channels

When selling across different channels besides the company’s own website is a difficult task. Public market places such as eBay, Overstock, Amazon creates a challenge for cataloging the products; in the sense that each product is formatted in a different manner while listing. So it becomes hard to keep track of often resulting in publishing duplicate or incomplete product data.

Dealing with third party data

Data from different sectors like distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers come in all sorts of formats. It is a humongous task to transform each and every detail into a single internal standard format. It requires large teams who spend weeks compiling, updating, and publishing the product data which could also result in the wrong and inconsistent data for customers. 

Capacity to handle infinite data

As your e-store gets established, it will have more product data coming in. It will get hard to organize data that is not in control. Expanding the product catalog becomes a challenge which in turn affects the day to day activities of the e-store stunting its revenue growth. 

Consistent Data Quality

All of the above challenges affect the quality of the data. Maintaining your product data while simultaneously expanding the catalog, communicating with suppliers; and also publishing on multiple sales channels will be a hard task. With inconsistent product attributes such as wrong spellings, missing information, wrong descriptions, or attributes, it can be overwhelming to maintain a consistent standard. 

These are the reasons why you need to invest in a strong data management system like Altius InRiver PIM. So, this centralizes the data with a single view; with an efficient and consistent way of managing the product data across multiple channels.

Altius InRiver PIM

Altius InRiver PIM saves investors and e-business owners from spending enormous time cleaning up product data; enabling to list rich, high-quality product data across all of their channels.

inRiver Solutions with Altius

inRiver Solutions with Altius

inRiver PIM

inRiver helps to simplify Product Information Management (PIM) for Retail, Manufacturing and Distribution industries. inRiver PIM Solution helps to build product experiences for eCommerce stores and product marketing teams. It also delivers highly searchable, enriched, and consistently better product content. It drives conversions while optimizing customer experience throughout B2B distribution networks. inRiver is for marketers and takes care of the ease of on boarding information, redefining information integration and elevating the quality of product content.

Altius is in esteemed partnership with inRiver solution for PIM implementations, PIM Solutions development, and PIM consulting services.

PIM implementation involves a Product Information Management System that provides a centralized place to collect, manage, and enrich product information and along the way create a product catalog and also disperse it to eCommerce channels. inRiver Solutions development makes it faster to create and deliver high end product experiences. inRiver PIM consulting services with Altius support in consistently implementing the product strategy from conception to the point the project goes live. 

We maintain relationship with existing inRiver customers to help them meet their continuous development requirements to get the maximum ROI on the investment. 

Altius PIM Connector Integration with inRiver

We have has proven expertise in PIM Connector Integration. PIM connector integrates product data from different various systems and applications together thereby achieving 360-degree view of the product data. inRiver Connector Settings play a vital role in the PIM implementation or integration. inRiver Connector settings saves time by making use of inRiver’s specification entity to store some of the frequently changing values thus enabling faster search output and quick results. 

inRiver PIM Connector is used to export product data to IDW (Industry Data Warehouse for manufacturers or distributors) which is managed by the IDEA (Industry Data Exchange Association). inRiver PIM centralizes and manages eCommerce product data information enabling a single accurate view of product data that can be utilized for multiple channels.

Altius Approach to PIM Integration

Point-to-Point Integration

Since we develop the connector to integrate and function the system; Altius follows a traditional approach to PIM integration called Point-to-point integration. Applications and systems are connected through a one-to-one relationship, where they interact with each other individually. Point-to-point integration requires developers to implement PIM integration; by building custom code between PIM systems and other relevant applications and systems.

API – Led Connectivity

API-led connectivity is a new approach to PIM integration. It is a methodical way to connect data with applications through reusable and purposeful API’s. This connectivity came into play because of the limitations of point-to-point PIM integration.

Niche areas of Altius for PIM connector integration are homegrown, custom software systems, eCommerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify, Amazon,

CMS systems; that is, WordPress, KenticoPIM connector integration for Printing with systems like InDesign and PIM tools for export, import, model etc.

PIM-blog

Developing a Future Proof inRiver Custom Connector

Real World

When an inRiver PIM connector is developed for an external system, it is based on a number of assumptions. It starts from the definition of the product in PIM, an organization of data in PIM, inRiver system environment, target systems environment, connectivity and so on.

All these assumptions have a reasonable probability to change in the short term itself. While it may be impossible to make it future proof for the long term, there can be a lot of initiatives that can be taken to minimize the changes and prevent connector redevelopment in the short term.

Challenge

Following are some of the sample scenarios that can be encountered in any PIM implementation or PIM integration in short term.

  • Change in the number of attributes required to define a product in the target.
  • Mapping of inRiver product attribute to target system’s attribute.
  • Transformations if any for inRiver product attribute to target system’s attribute.
  • Runtime controls of the connector like source data location, target server connectivity, etc.,
  • Alert/notification mechanisms

Approach

While there are many possible approaches to overcome these challenges, some of the proven ones are:

  • Making use of inRiver connector’s settings
  • Making use of resource files in the same way configuration files are used in any typical software development
  • Making use of inRiver’s Specification entity to store some of these frequently changing values

Final word…

Each of the options above has its own advantages & limitations. And the right option for the situation can be selected considering the requirements for flexibility, the frequency of expected change, technical expertise of the end users, etc…

 
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Tips to guarantee performance in your inRiver Connector

Situation

When starting a new connector development project, a lot of thought goes into –
  • Understanding the PIM data model requirements
  • Understanding the input data formats requirements / output data formats requirements
  • Anticipating the future requirements and incorporating the required flexibility
  • Understanding the requirements of the external system and so on

Challenge

However, in most scenarios, the performance expectations for the connector are not considered till the final production / go live time. This can result in unexpected delays and schedule slippages if the connector is not able to meet the performance requirements. Given that even a very small PIM implementation may deal with thousands of products it is guaranteed to have performance challenges if the performance requirements are not planned from the beginning and also tested during User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

Recommendations

Following are some of the recommendations that any connector development team should consider:
  • A good understanding of the volume of records to be processed (number of SKUs, etc.,) before starting the project
  • A good test plan to verify that the connector can meet the performance requirements
  • Separate DEV and QA environments to simulate large volume of data and test the performance without affecting the other teams and overall schedule
  • In addition following the tips below is also useful:
    • If the output is required in XML format, using in built XML class libraries to generate and validate the XML can improve performance
    • Replacing for loops with LinQ queries can also improve performance
    • If files are output to FTP server, assessing the performance of the FTP server and making sure it is not a bottleneck is also a necessity
    • Last but not the least, it may also be necessary to deploy the connector from the same geography as where the PIM instance is setup

Final word…

Planning for the performance of the connector from the beginning will make sure there are no surprises during the UAT / Go Live phase and guarantee that there are no cost overruns in the PIM implementation.
Why-is-product-information-important-in-reducing-your-return-merchandise-rate

Why is product information important in reducing your return merchandise rate?

t is a known fact that the distributor ends up getting quite a bit of product returns(At least 30% of all products ordered online are returned).

The reasons are product damage, wrong pricing, wrong order to name a few.

From an e-commerce company owner or a product owner perspective, the reasons for damage and the price may not be relevant, but you can take steps in ensuring that your customers don’t order the wrong products.

Wrong orders happen because the visitors do not see adequate information about the product that they search. Since some customers may have a time pressure to purchase, they end up making some assumptions about the product and buys it in-spite of this lack of product information.

However, the customers figure out the lack of fitment, when the product reaches the warehouse. The customers return the products to the store. The store owner incurs the cost of shipment, inventory and a loss of faith with these customers.

How can you ensure adequate product information?

You have to locate the product information from multiple sources and provide the information in a structured manner. You should also give adequate technical specifications about the product for the customers to compare and to confirm the fitness of the product to the industrial use case requirement. You should cross map the products in multiple application areas which are the place where the bulk of oversight happens

How would you benefit?

  • Saving significant cost in handling returns
  • Improved customer loyalty and satisfaction
  • Better inventory management
  • Retaining existing customers
  • Lowering support costs
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Why is it important for you to outsource your PIM requirement?

With the advent of multiple brands and variants for a single product in both B2B and B2C, it is difficult to manage price lists, promotions and other complexities simultaneously across various countries and platforms.

The sheer volume of data necessitates the implementation of Product Information Management– PIM(PIM requirment).

The PIM system allows creation of a single source of accurate and enriched product information that can be consumed confidentially by internal and external sources within the company.

It improves the availability of information within sales teams, ecommerce channels, procurement teams inventory management, distributors, retailers and the end customers.

Benefits of PIM

  1. Centralized data with single view of content.
  2. Ensure data accuracy and consistency.
  3. Availability of updated content across various channels.
  4. Integration of data from multiple source, formats and communication channels.
  5. Easy expansion of product catalog.
  6. Quick export of product info for various markets and sales channels/platforms.
  7. Easy management of content, media and digital assets.
  8. Boosts team productivity.

There are many PIM solutions available in the market.

Choosing the right PIM for your business is crucial. Not every business requirement is alike. Though the features maybe similar across all PIM solutions, not all of them can be high on your expectation level.

Hiring a consultant who is well-versed in this area might be a wise thing to do.

Outsourcing is a means of reducing operational costs. It also means, that you would be choosing to go to an expert in the field instead of hiring a team for a seasonal time period.

Altius Technologies helps clients in choosing the right PIM for their businesses. An expert in ecommerce product data entry services (product content enrichment), Altius understands the need to be updated at all touch points.

Having partnered with InRiver and Agility Multichannel, Altius consults and implements PIM systems to various clients depending on the volume and scalability of data needed.

In conclusion, as your business grows, data is expected to grow. Keeping in mind the growth potential of your business and concentrating on your own expertise will help you guide your instincts towards choosing an expert solution provider to handle your product data and PIM solutions.