E-commerce changed the retail landscape from brick-and-mortar to click-and-order. Omnichannel further extended the game with flexible delivery models like BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick up from in-store) Try-on-in-Store, Ship-to-Home (TOSSH), on-demand delivery and much more. In fact, mobile-driven omnichannel has blurred the lines of difference between online and offline shopping.
The Rise of the Omnichannel era
Over the past few years, retailers have become more informed and matured about delivering omnichannel experiences to their customers. They are banking on digital commerce technologies to help customers find, compare, purchase, return and also have a smooth after-sales experience across all channels – online and offline.
While all this ensures a longer Customer Lifetime Value, there is one thing that nags retailers the most. Retailers have to sell through brick and mortar websites, online stores, multi vendor marketplace stores, affiliate stores, franchise stores and so on.
Maintaining product information consistency across all the outlets is quite a challenge. Using spreadsheets lead to confusion, especially when there are too many versions involved. Not to miss mentioning that they can be crashed or deleted accidentally taking all the data down with them.
Enter, Product Information Management (PIM)
Delivering a seamless shopping experience across a physical store, mobile store, online websites, marketplaces, affiliate stores, everywhere where the customer could be shopping is definitely not easy. Product information management has the key to unlock the challenges and gain economic value for omnichannel retailers.
PIM systems help a commerce business consolidate data from diverse data ecosystems and create a single product information repository that can be used across channels.
PIM can facilitate better product discoverability for customers and help retailers deliver a seamless shopping buying experience. In other words, it weeds away the product data inconsistencies that retailers have to often confront when they use data from varied sources.
Let’s dive deeper into how PIM facilitates a better omnichannel shopping experience throughout the four stages of the customer journey.
How PIM closes the gap in the customer journey
In between finding the product to buying it, at each phase of the omnichannel journey, the customer interacts with the product information in a different way. The interaction at each stage plays a key role to make or break the buying decision of the customer. Here is how PIM helps sell better at the research and shop phases where customer attention and interest is at its heights.
Research – The Initial Attract Phase
The customer’s first point of contact with the product/service happens in the research phase. They see the product advertisement, find the product by running an online search or get the recommendation through word-of-mouth. Alternatively, the customer might also get an offer through mobile or SMS making them consider buying the product.
Wrong product information or specifications at any of these phases can lead to a lost sale. Product Information Management negates such a scenario by ensuring consistency of product information across all channels.
Shop – The Final Decision Phase
The shop is the consideration stage where the customer goes deeper into exploring the product and its feature-list. Rich product information like demo videos, 360-degree images, user guides, specifications list, etc. are needed to help the customer make an informed decision.
A Product Information Management system can help the business exhibit all of its product features and metadata using varied assets. It also helps in organizing and managing the product information seamlessly helping customers see one picture of the product across all channels. With a PIM system there is no need to maintain separate product image galleries, video folders, etc. Every single product metadata information can be stored and accessed easily using a PIM system.
From a retailer’s point of view, omnichannel selling offers both a treasure trove of opportunities as well as challenges. Tackling product information complexity can help suppress the challenges and render a smooth customer journey that will groom higher conversion rates and brand engagement. Product information management will also help iron out the gaps in product information across all channels thus facilitating better inventory management, marketing and selling across all channels.