In the second piece in our series on Product Information Management (PIM) systems, find out how to best implement PIM in your business
For a PIM implementation to be successful it is critical for all departments of the business to consult with both their PIM supplier and Systems Integrator (SI). They’ll need to ensure that implementation planning covers everything from purchasing, merchandising, marketing, sales and customer service to create a continuous customer experience across all channels. For multichannel retailers, a robust PIM system is essential for success.
How can you execute a PIM solution that will benefit your business now and into the future?
It’s best to think of this in three stages: discovery, delivery, and ongoing development. Alongside a strong SI and PIM provider, these key phases are vital for the success of your PIM implementation.
The discovery phase is an important step in your PIM journey. The purpose of this process is to work out exactly what your business requires from a PIM system, as well as examining how this can benefit your organisation. As such, make sure that you involve your entire business in this phase since a strong PIM solution can be of use to every area of your company.
For example, it’s important to consider your brands’ product data hierarchy, what data needs to be provided and from whom in your business. Use this as an opportunity to ‘cleanse’ your data – part of any PIM implementation should involve identifying relevant information to keep, discarding ineffective data and establishing future data requirements. Your technology roadmap, infrastructure and dataflows all need to be considered, alongside data governance guidelines, and built in to an effective PIM system.
Don’t cut corners during this process – doing the groundwork and investing additional time at this stage will significantly benefit the efficiency of your solution later down the line.
After discovering exactly how and why a PIM solution can contribute to your business, now follows the delivery phase. During this stage, your SI should work collaboratively with you to ensure that your system is implemented successfully.
A key component of this phase is transparency from your SI to keep you up to speed with developments. There ought not to be any ‘dark periods’ where you aren’t aware of what is being implemented and getting sight of the solution in a test environment will give you confidence that the final delivery is in line with your requirements – make sure your work with an integrator who will bring you onboard at every step. They should work to the plan made in the discovery phase, implementing your requirements to make sure your solution performs optimally.
From the initial build and preparation to implementation, testing and the final launch, make sure you’re confident that the decisions being made will contribute to the success of your business. All channels need to be supported by your solution and thoroughly tested to achieve your PIM goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Support & Development
With your PIM system delivered and functional, ensure that it is supported, tested and maintained on a consistent basis. An SI with a deep understanding of the PIM product you have selected is vital here.
In practice, your PIM solution will likely see the need for further updates and tweaking as it settles into the day-to-day operation of your business. This is to be expected but without the consistent support of an SI, monitoring the solution daily to spot pain points early, and heading off teething problems can prevent some big headaches. A proactive support and monitoring team such as those deployed by many SIs as part of their managed service offering can ensure that your PIM system continues to run effectively for all channels, at any time of day.
In addition, it is worth considering the option of evolving or developing your solution after the initial launch. Are there additional channels you may expand into? Another product range, data stream or even an acquisition that needs incorporating into your PIM system? There will be occasions where you will need to add to your solution as your business or range of products grows. A flexible ongoing development team, ideally including those who worked on the initial implementation will allow changes to be made quickly and cost effectively.
A clear way forward
By enabling your teams with access to accurate, rich and relevant data about products and solutions, more effective marketing campaigns, improved operational efficiency and an improved customer experience will result – all of which will drive increased loyalty, and ultimately, profit.
Other PIM articles in the series