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 eCommerce Catalog 

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 like 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 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 that centralizes the data with a single view with an efficient and consistent way of managing the product data across multiple channels.

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 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. inRiver delivers product content that is highly searchable, enriched, and consistently better. It drives conversions while optimizing customer experience throughout B2B distribution networks. inRiver is built 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. 

Altius maintains relationships 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

Altius 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 it is the connector developed 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. API-led 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 like Magento, Shopify, Amazon, CMS systems that include WordPress, KenticoPIM connector integration for Printing with systems like InDesign and PIM tools for export, import, model etc.

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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.
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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.

 

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What are the Requirements of a Modern PIM System?

You need to invest in proper technology to keep up with customer demands. You know the demands that you need to cater to, considering the shift of consumer behavior season to season.

Product Information Management, helps you organize your data and help you grow in this dynamic world.

When it comes to choosing a PIM platform for your business, you need to consider one that manages to adapt to the rapidly changing content requirements of digital channels.

With many PIM software out there, you need one that fits your needs.

Analytic Solutions Powering Modern E-Commerce

PIM is a tool meant to power modern commerce. With the already generated data like a core customer base, you can test your marketing content amongst them.

You will get to know what kind of content works, and what doesn’t. Getting real-time analytics, allows you to change things that aren’t getting a positive response.

Also, when there is a huge customer base, you tend to get insight into human behavior and purchasing patterns.

The Evolved Product Content

Using real-time analytics, helps you make a much more informed and faster decisions.

You will see that your competitors are competitive enough to use the same kind of PIM platform.

You may have to also change your product content every day because of the dynamic consumer behavior. The PIM you use should be able to integrate all the said features.

Making Data Changes

Modern PIM tools help you change data across multiple channels through a single application. This is absent in the older versions.

Modern PIM tools help you make changes according to dynamic consumer behavior, thus helping you in making faster and informed decisions.

Workflow

Syndications tools are important in all PIM applications. It helps you transfer your updated content across many people and enriching the process.

Consolidated syndication workflow helps content to be brought out to the market immediately after a change takes place, avoiding time lag. This just-in-time concept of data availability helps retail outlets make an informed decision in the buying process.

Using A Dependable Cloud Platform

To benefit from modern PIM deliverables, you need to choose the right PIM platform that offers public, private, cloud or hybrid environments.

A lack of these you could face downtime in managing your data, leading to financial losses and communication errors. Choose a platform with continuous updates with the absence of lags.

Eliminating ‘Data First’ Model

The smart thing to do is to use the PIM process to extract data from source systems to benefit high on time.

Doing the ‘Data First’ model could take you weeks to complete the task. You need to understand your PIM better to make complete and smart use of it.

Connecting everyone involved in your business is your goal here and what a modern PIM product helps you achieve.

Looking for more advice on Modern PIM’s for your business?

        

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5 Signs Your Enterprise Needs a Robust PIM Platform

Today, PIM plays an important role in the final decision-making stage in the consumer’s buying experience. The Product Information Management, aka, PIM, adds value to customer experience by delivering accurate and consistent data, thus generating revenue. A superior PIM software provides an omnichannel experience and a seamless integration and availability of product information across multiple channels.

There are a multitude of open source PIM platforms available today.

Here are 5 significant signs to look out for, to see if your company is in dire need of a robust PIM.

Spreadsheets is old school

Major drawback of working with spreadsheet is the lack of synchronization.

With the lack of a centralized platform, data entry & type of data entry will tend to vary depending on the individual at that point in time working with the company.

The old school way of product documentation and sharing is thus inaccurate, obsolete and inconsistent.

Dynamic product data

Products get updated all the time. Hence product content also needs updating. Handling millions of products and constant updating requires manpower on the job constantly.

They monitor, track and record all data transactions and filter out wrong data.

This tedious job affects the productivity of the employees. With the time and energy wasted on this, there is a loss of revenue as well.

Customer service calls

When wrong data is circulated across all systems, the customer too looks at wrong data and buys the product. Once the product is delivered he realises that this product doesn’t fit his need.

Unhappy customers give bad feedback, leading to poor customer experience. This will effect your brand and revenue ultimately.

From inventory management, to order placement, to order processing and ultimately delivery, if you are unable to govern and check data quality at every step, you will not be able to convert potential customers smoothly – or worse, lose the existing ones.

Wrong decision calls

With wrong data floating in the system, decisions are hampered at every touch point. The relationship between data quality, and decision accuracy is tightly knit together.

The departments entrusted with the strategy-making for the company’s future will rely on data to make these decisions. When the data itself is wrong, the decisions also do not serve any purpose. Wrong data does not point you in the right direction.

Historical data and current data is mighty useful in learning buying patterns, cost breakdown & predictive analysis amongst many more.

Geographical management of data

When your brand/store is big and covers many geographical locations, using a PIM makes more sense.

Managing spreadsheets across various departments, spread across locations with the content being updated constantly, the human is bound to make an error. This can be especially challenging when the sales teams are handling the clients directly face2face.

The volume and consumption of data has increased to great lengths in the last couple of years.

In the age of digital transformation high quality, accurate , standardized, properly formatted data is necessary for you to have a competitive advantage over other retailers.

Using a PIM, helps you manage SKU numbers, description, pricing, images and much more product information across many channels. Altius Technologies specializes in setting up the right PIM for businesses.

 For a free consultation about setting up your PIM.

 

 

 
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Akeneo PIM Summit since Its Inception

Within the next few weeks, Akeneo PIM Summit will be held for the third time in Paris. Like always, the year 2020 will also gather all the PIM implementation partners, marketing teams, IT product managers, and eCommerce teams, and discuss the various trends in Product Information Management (PIM) industry.

In the year 2018, on January 17 & 18Akeneo conducted its first annual summit. This was the first time when customers, partners, and experts from the industry came together to network, discuss, and of course, party.

Visitors from more than 17 countries were part of the 2-day summit. It had a highly engaging and informative agenda for the visitors, which made it a grand success. Likewise, the summit held on 6 & 7 February, 2019 was also successful and was dedicated to Akeneo’s customers and partners.

Every year, during the summit, Akeneo also makes new product announcements, and at the end of the 2-day summit, Akeneo awards some of their customers and partners prizes for the best B2B and B2C Akeneo projects.

This is to encourage innovation and promote better business ideas and opportunities. They also give away the Rookie award and the Audience award.

Over the years, Akeneo has had a simple aim of offering a platform to their customers and industry experts wherein everyone can learn about Akeneo’s vision for PIM, the role of PIM in product experience management, and discover the latest trends in the PIM industry.

Altius Technologies is excited to be a part of the Akeneo PIM Summit 2020. We have been one of the PIM implementation partners of Akeneo and are eager to network and exchange our knowledge with customers and industry experts.

Altius Technologies offer customizable B2B and B2C eCommerce consultancy services. Akeneo PIM Summit 2020 is a unique opportunity for our customers to meet us and discuss their eCommerce requirements.

With so many offerings and a platform to learn and engage, Akeneo PIM Summit is an event to look forward too.

No matter if you are a CMO or the head of eCommerce, register yourself for the summit now and let’s meet up to discuss more on eCommerce marketing strategies and PIM trends.

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How Product Information Management is Changing the Face of eCommerce?

Customers are highly demanding these days, and to satisfy their demands, one must be innovative and updated with the latest market trends. Customers want to save their time and efforts and prefer online mode to choose their required services. Hence, every business must rapidly adapt to eCommerce and online technology. One great combination of eCommerce and Technology is Product Information Management (PIM). Before the advent of this technology, the product management team would spend days together to gather and showcase all necessary attributes of their products. This would take days before the product brochure would be made available for the customers. This was a manual and time-consuming process. Thanks to the advancement in technology, businesses have been introduced to the Product Information Management Tool. This tool can effectively manage the entire information of products meant for purchase or sale through the various distribution channels. The PIM tool can gather all the attributes of the products and showcase them systematically in a single catalog. Since all the product information is available to the customers on a single window, the overall shopping experience becomes simpler and faster, saving customers’ time and efforts. It becomes easier for the customers to locate their desired product due to the presence of accurate product descriptions online. The modern e-shoppers tend to visit a variety of e-stores before deciding which product to purchase. PIM tool makes it easier for the store owners to collate and update all the information of their wide variety of products. A PIM tool can store the following information and more:
  • Product data like name, title, description
  • Product attributes like cost, SKU, and pricing
  • Other product specifications like dimensions, packaging, warranty, and more
  • Information in multiple languages
  • Information of multiple stores
  • Specific store information
  • Product images and videos
  • Omnichannel product information
  • Supplier information
In addition, PIM tool plays a significant role in enhancing brand visibility and SEO results. Since the product information is accurate, the page starts to rank higher on the search engines. Meanwhile as the tool manages high data quality, the efforts needed to update or alter the product information is minimized, resulting in increased productivity of the product management team. Altius Technologies offers customized eCommerce solutions to its customers with the help of a wide array of services like Product Data Management ServicesDigital Marketing ServicesSoftware Services and more. Our PIM products have been successfully implemented and have shown great results for several clients across a variety of industries like, inRiver, Akeneo, Salsify, Stibo, and more. Our consultants analyze your data patterns and assist you in unifying all the data across the eCommerce stores. This is done with utmost precision and accuracy. Experts from Altius Technologies will be participating in the upcoming event held by inRiver – the PIMpoint Summit 2020. We will be showcasing our offerings, and networking with young entrepreneurs and industry experts. This is your chance to connect with our experts and other industry leaders, discuss your business needs and the PIM tool implementation strategy.