It no longer matters whether you are a B2C or a B2B business – digital marketing and eCommerce is booming and now mission-critical. Many manufacturers must now incorporate eCommerce into their sales strategy much more than previously, and the marketers will usually work through a mix of eCommerce channels: direct on their own websites, plus third parties such as marketplaces and distributors. The only way they can optimize the customer experience through all those channels is to pay much more attention to the Product Information Management (PIM) process, which has historically been an obsession in IT and product management departments, but less so in marketing.
In this digital world, companies require high-quality and unique product information on an increasingly large scale (number of SKUs and variants, plus number of channels), for all these reasons important to marketers:
- To have direct influence on conversion in the buying process
- To reduce the number of returned goods
- To gain higher visibility through search engines
- To leverage higher website traffic
- To reduce resources spent on individual customer queries
- To optimize the product and customer experience, resulting in customer loyalty
PIM ensures the quality of your product data
The right PIM system improves the quality and accuracy of all product data, which leads to the optimization of all digital marketing business processes. It will become the central place for all product-relevant information, specifications and digital files and the feed for the countless digital channels to be deployed by marketing.
The basis of success in the sale of products and services is top-quality product data and that would be difficult enough even if each company only sold directly to customers. But product information must now be provided by manufacturers to their sales forces, distributors, retailers, marketplaces, and more; all digitally and essentially in real-time pace. Manufacturer specifications must fulfil legal requirements, but also be comprehensible.
I could go on … but you get the point, I hope. This is why I found it suitable to do my latest Vendor Selection Matrix research on the process of PIM.
I did my usual survey of 1,500 business decision-makers, presented them with my definition of PIM and asked them to name and score their feedback about the vendors they knew enough about in that context. The survey discovered fifteen vendors rated often and highly enough to be included in the report.
Who is in the PIM Vendor Landscape ?
These are the Market Leaders, having both a Strategy and Execution score of over 4 out of 5:
AKENEO, CONTENTSERV, INFORMATICA, PROFISEE, RIVERSAND, SEMARCHY, STIBO SYSTEMS, TIBCO, and VIAMEDICI.
The full list was completed by these vendors: ATACCAMA, IBM, INRIVER, RELTIO, SAP, and WINSHUTTLE.
The public version of the report is here. We do not reveal the individual scores but you can see ratings for Market Presence, Growth Rate and Customer Traction, and see summary profiles. The survey respondents have received a full copy and out marketing automation research panel (ca. 90,000) can also check it out.
PIM or MDM ? – Depends on who you talk to
Now, the overall data-management process in companies is historically called Master Data Management (MDM) and is usually a family of processes managed out of the IT department. Those companies who do not even have MDM set up usually manage their product data within their ERP system.
Indeed, many of the vendors we discovered in the survey do still market their solutions as an MDM solution and are more focused on covering the requirements for data projects as specified by the IT department.
My research clearly found that marketing professionals are now much more involved in using PIM for digital marketing and eCommerce to complete the digital experience. This is a much more business-oriented population, with job titles such as eCommerce brand managers and merchandise designers. So even those vendors who have been selling PIM for decades should extend their solutions and messaging to match the new needs and, most importantly, the different language of these users – and I paid particular attention to this in my briefings with the vendors. Plus, PIM must now integrate to other enterprise systems such as eCommerce and DXM.
There is going to be significant churn in the PIM software market: 29% plan to consolidate their PIM systems; 29% plan to replace what they have; and another 17% are investing in PIM for the first time. This varies across regions: 43% of North American respondents are in replacement mood while 45% of European companies, where PIM is more mature as a process, are planning consolidation projects.
Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.
Always keeping you informed ! Peter