26 September 2012

PIM Business drivers and insights


For some time now, I have reflected on the business drivers and the value we as a company, and of course our product, give to our customers. I have distinguished 3 areas that I would like to share with you.

Customer Experience, Time-to-market and Operational excellence. Let me elaborate a little bit around these areas.

Customer Experience
Of course every company would like to provide a great experience for their customers. A happy customer is a returning and a spending customer. However, the areas to improve are many, and resources are limited. All this is well known, and various research supports it.

I believe that many companies are overwhelmed by all the discussions about multi-channel sales. Just speaking about the more traditional channels such as stores, online, catalogs, marketing and advertising can be quite a challenge. Add "new" channels such as mobile, social media, price comparison sites and similar, it could indeed become hard to manage.

The problematic part is that many companies still struggle with getting the traditional market channels synchronized. Some succeed, some fail. The resources needed to succeed in this area are often large in terms of human resources and high in terms of expenses. But companies that make this investment and give a relevant and unified message to their customers will both prevail and prosper compared to their competition. Just think how you would react - if you first saw an ad telling one thing, then check their website and receive quite a different message. Would you consider buying something from them?

Great customer experience is hard to achieve but if you start with showing a relevant and accurate product offering when the customer is in the decision process, you are on the right track. The next phase is to take each touch point step by step and re-use the information and the knowledge to gradually build a foundation for a great and long-term customer relation.

Time-to-market
Can I have it delivered this afternoon? Supplying the product is of course vital, but what many companies miss out on is that if you don´t have correct and relevant information about your product, you simply don't sell.

Many companies do large investments in getting the product to the customer. And this is of course important but it is more important to have an accurate product offering so you CAN sell the product in order to deliver. However, I am pleased to see that companies by now understand that promoting an accurate and relevant product offering is a precondition for selling. If companies sell online it is even more important - the customer/consumer can only too easily browse to a competitor’s website if they don´t find what they are looking for.

By embracing existing technology and establishing a collaboration point where you can work with the enrichment of your product offering is by now essential. This will help in getting your products out onto the market faster than before. I’m not saying that people working within these areas do a bad job right now – I’m saying that if a skilled carpenter uses a nail gun instead of a hammer he can produce more in a shorter time. Building a house is team work. Better tools together with skilled people produces great results.

Operational excellence
Speaking about people, I have met people producing great things within merchandising, sales and marketing. However, the issue is that they are swamped with work, this all relates to the fact that they are the ones who people turn to when they need information or to get something done. It is truly wrong when an Art Director or an E-commerce manager puts 30-40% of their time into finding information and then copy/paste it to a site or document. A total waste of resources. I'm sure that their time is better spent working on how the site or document should be optimized to sell better.

Another thing is that the "old" way of working limits the ability to re-use information, resulting in poor efficiency that impacts both time-to-market and customer experience. It is time to think lean within product marketing, and giving the organization the right preconditions to perform great things.

I'm sure that the right people already work within your company and that you have smart processes (even if they are manual). But give your people the right preconditions, give your carpenter that nail-gun, and you will have the ability to meet your customer in different channels with the relevant information and still have time to think about new ways to communicate with your customer.