Improve Customer Experience with a B2B Product Information Management (PIM) Solution and eCommerce

Play Video

Knowing that we have some marketers on the call today who have responsibility for managing the launch and promotion of products… the question that we have here is you know, what would you say to them about the impact of a strong PIM commerce solution? Johan, let’s start with you on this one. Now we look at the customers’ results, content really really is one of the big differences because we see a dramatic improvement in online catalogs but we shouldn’t forget that we can also see a dramatic improvement in printed catalogs, in spare parts list, price lists and a lot more other different channels. They’d also gain shorter time to market and better customer service both online and offline. So, it also makes it easier to enter new markets and new market segments and today, in the only channel world they gain consistency across channels because they reuse and repurpose the content across all the sales channels and of course all this leads to increased revenue because better information sells more products and faster. And last but actually not least, the customer loyalty improves because of all the services and a better content that they can provide. Okay so while I’ve got you on a roll, what about the quality and integrity of Product data that a combined solution that you’re describing would bring? 

Yes David, you know it’s one of my favorite subjects. You know all these siloed systems and the compartmentalized organizations, they create something that we call content spaghetti syndrome and it’s mainly driven by Excel spreadsheets that go back and forth through email and content spaghetti really drives a lot of unnecessary costs and it leads to a long time to market. It leads to lack of consistency across channels and not to mention the frustration it causes. So, our combined solution gets rid of the content spaghetti and lowers the costs, shorten the times to market and of course relieves some of the frustration that comes from working in an uncontrolled process like this. Got it okay. So perhaps you can explain then how that marriage happens between PIM and e-commerce solution? Well, you can say that the PIM acts as a hub between the ERP systems, the PLM systems, the suppliers and other sources and it connects them with the e-commerce solution, with the CMS, with the printed catalogs, the distributors and other channels. So, in short, you can say that it bridges the gap between back-end sources and sales and market channels. And in the omnichannel world, e-commerce is one channel, a very important one but it’s one out of many and InRiver can also be used to produce printed materials and support the traditional marketing and sales channel. So, InRiver gives support for producing and managing product related images, attributes and texts and so forth localized for each market and ready to be published both online and offline. And the process starts with supply where we gather the basic data and then it goes on to enrich where all the missing information is added, on to plan and release where we create the assortments and the promotions, and the campaigns for all channels and then over to publish where we hand over the baton to Insite and I think Brian can talk more about what will happen then when we have hand over the baton to Insite commerce.Yeah thanks Johan and this is where the persona development is so important because we’re defining the people that will consume the content and the reason I like this image is because it doesn’t just talk about one type of user. Doesn’t just talk about a B2C user. We have this tendency to focus the word e-commerce on the consumer and if you think about it, in B2B, there’s so many different consumers of content. Right? You’ve got distributors that may need to leverage the content for their own websites and this is where InRiver is such a powerful solution and it can provide for that. You’ve got a marketing department that needs to consume your contents for print publications and perhaps for other types of promotions and then you’ve got the e-commerce site which is shown on the right-hand side here and obviously the users that need to buy from you whether that’s a consumer or a specific type of B2B buyer. An engineer for example, they’re all looking for specific data, a great search, they want it to be merchandised properly and I can go down the line and it’s all of these features that are expected. They aren’t nice to have. Today, they’re a must-have when it comes to the online experience. So, this is again a great way to demonstrate how on the left-hand side, the PIM can prepare that data and on the right-hand side, it flows seamlessly into an e-commerce experience. One thing that is important to address is how a combined solution like this can complement existing or legacy systems that manufacturers may already have in place and you know in minimizing the impact on doing so. Brian maybe you can speak a little bit to that. 

This is a great slide David. You know it really shows the complexity but more important it shows where we’ve been. You know very often I’ll talk with a marketing executive or an IT leader who says you know over the years we’ve had to build these different types of sites custom and we’ve had to integrate them to all of our back-office systems. Well, I call it the problem with too many apps. We seem to have become so, you know, kind of app aggressive that we’ve created apps for everything not realizing that our users really want a single integrated approach and you know that becomes the real challenge. So, if we go to the next slide, I would argue that there is a new way of doing things and certainly in the past, out of necessity, because there weren’t great solutions that could help us consolidate all of our content and consolidate all of our commerce functionality. We had to go off and buy separate solutions but you know I would argue that an organization needs to create a roadmap or work with your digital consulting firm to create a roadmap but across the top, we’ve got, what are the different sites and what are the different personas that your organization needs? And let’s think about each one of them in exactly how they need to do their job better and then you’ve got the different data tiers right? You’ve got the marketing tier with you know what content management and email. You’ve got the core system’s tier which includes the PIM in all of that content that InRiver can help us consolidate and manage but also the ERP, the CRM and in the middle, you’ve got all of this commerce functionality that needs to eventually manifest itself on this websites and instead of building a custom, I would encourage you to think about a roadmap that really outlines how this data will flow from the bottom, up, to these different types of users. So, Brian let me ask you. How do you get started with this type of implementation? The first step is always a plan and it’s important to ensure that you don’t jump too quickly because I think organizations have a tendency to, you know realize that they’re behind and then they run off and start buying software and I know it might be strange for a software company to suggest that you don’t run off and buy software but what I find is that oftentimes organizations make the wrong choice and that can set them back months or even years. So, our recommendation is that you first layout that plan. In my last slide I mentioned the roadmap and I think that’s important. I think you need to create a roadmap that specifies the projects but not with an end date. More with the versioning approach that says, all right what do we need for our dealers in version or phase one? What do we need for our consumers? What do we need for the sales team? Once you have the plan and it gets important to secure the team. Most manufacturers and distributors B2B companies do not have a strong digital team. They have to build one and, in many cases, it isn’t realistic that you’re going to hire all of the people you see here below, you know as a full-time resources. And so that’s where relationships with organizations like Perficient can be very valuable because they can supplement with these sort of digital leaders on an as-needed basis. Once that team is in place, you know that’s when it’s time to start creating the solution and that’s going to be a combination of you know the software that’s needed, the design that’s going to be used for the interfaces and the integrations and then finally deploy and again as I said deploying, we never consider this done. This really should be a circle because you’re going to get feedback from your users and you’re going to want to continue to iterate or revise these sites until they truly satisfy the users.

Video Credits to: Perficient, Inc.