Do you remember the time of choppy online experiences, frustrating product descriptions and clunky user interfaces that refused to load? No? Well, neither do we. That’s primarily because we are all now used to Amazon-like experiences in all our online interactions. The experience economy has become so pervasive that providing compelling product experiences to online buyers is now mandatory. It’s either that or pulling down the shutters.
The State of the Connected Customer report shows how customer expectations have evolved and continue to do so. B2C companies have been quick to reshape these customer trends. They have delivered us to the world of seamless online interactions. The B2B space, though a little behind, has had to also go online as the buyer demographic changes and more millennials take charge of buying decisions. This report shows how 70% of all online buyers expect the said Amazon-like experience. 67% of buyers have admitted to switching vendors because they wanted a consumer-like experience.
Much like the B2C space, ‘customer experience’ has taken center stage in the B2B landscape as well and we cannot disappoint. For this, quality and control across all channels are essential. That is exactly why you need Product Information Management.
In case if you’re still wondering whether to PIM or not to PIM here are some aspects to consider that might help you make your decision.
1. The move towards Omnichannel
The lines dividing B2B experiences from B2C experiences have blurred. Given that most buyers today are millennials, a generation extremely proficient with technology, they want their B2B buying experiences to mimic B2C experiences. The challenge with the B2B landscape is that there are several ways to interact with the principle merchant – you have the eCommerce website, the distributor network, the marketplace, and third-party catalogs.
Like B2C, it makes sense for B2B companies to migrate customers to the omnichannel space. But to succeed you need to first make your products available to the customer whenever they want and wherever they want. And how can you ensure this? That’s by using a PIM solution that helps you organize, manage, and update your product information to customize catalogs optimally and ensure that the product description fits the customer experience designed for each channel.
PIM is a single source of multiple truths. Use it to improve your omnichannel customer experiences.
2. Product data onboarding challenges
If you thought employee onboarding is tough, wait till you see how challenging product data-driven distributor onboarding can get.
One of the main reasons for this is that B2B products are complex and continue to grow in complexity. They come with definitive specifications and all these specifications must be presented correctly to the consumer. If you are wondering “why bother with this” then you should know that 98% of buyers are discouraged from completing a purchase without correct and detailed product information.
Now most manufacturers, their suppliers, and the dealer network have all the technical and relevant information regarding a product. However, more often than not, it is neither readily available nor in a compatible format. Collecting the product data from this network and then making it useful for onboarding becomes quite the task. And we haven’t even accounted for the effort of managing and enriching this data for correct product information for all your channels. Taking manual inputs for product information is tedious, time-consuming, and error-ridden.
PIM manages to solve these problems and alleviates all the issues related to product data onboarding quite easily to keep your cash registers ringing.
3. The growing complexity of product catalogs and the ERP challenge
B2B companies now know that just having an online presence is not enough. They have to create an online storefront that helps them provide consistent customer experiences that drive customer engagement. Detailed product information is a critical piece that can make it or break it for B2B merchants.
It is a no-brainer that today you need intelligent product categorization – this will lead to easier navigation and, consequently, purchase. However, achieving this level of product categorization Zen is not easy, especially so for distributors and suppliers offering thousands of SKU’s.
With a growing product, distributor, and supplier portfolio, it becomes imperative to leverage PIM over ERP to manage this huge volume of product data and also manage the information displays for complex catalogs. With a PIM solution, you can receive product information from multiple vendors (in a format-agnostic manner), you can publish the data on the online stores and also print catalogs of the same.
Given the growing complexity of product catalogs, for this purpose, it makes sense to choose PIM over ERP as an ERP alone cannot manage the complexity that comes with large catalogs of products from multiple vendors. Using an ERP to publish consistently worded product information to any catalog or eCommerce website is also time and effort-intensive. This can impede speed-to-market -something that no B2B company can afford today.
PIM essentially helps you simplify complex product catalogs and manages your data quality effortlessly. It helps you normalize data and ensures that it is consistent when published across channels.
Today an increasing number of B2B buyers (presently 33% and growing) are starting their purchasing journey’s online. The very foundation of such a move is the ability to access a familiar customer experience more conveniently. High-quality, accurate, and compelling product information is the fuel that drives this engine and leads to increased purchases. The lack thereof leads to abandoned carts.
The writing is clearly on the wall in big bold letters – PIM is what will drive your online presence.