Manual tasks are plaguing businesses. When more than half of managers are spending eight hours a week on repetitive tasks, it’s a problem. Considering that product managers, in particular, struggle with having enough time to complete all their responsibilities, it’s clear where most of their valuable work hours are going.
Juggling multiple products, online storefronts, and sales partners is no easy feat. Ecommerce businesses can get stuck in one bottleneck after the other when preparing product information for publishing. On top of this is the stress of meeting deadlines; 39% of product managers are concerned about missing expected product launch targets.
In this blog, we will understand how a product information management system that automates many essential tasks can make operations more efficient and save you time.
What Do Businesses Waste Time On?
Businesses can get stuck putting in long hours to manually organize product information. Retail and distributor partners are waiting for catalogs that fit their specific requirements.
After publishing, more opportunities to waste time abound, particularly in updating old product information or fixing incorrect data. Manual data entry can lead to a slew of duplications or errors that require continual maintenance. As for updating product pages, businesses must ensure all the platforms and retail partners on which they sell have received the same, latest information.
The result? Product managers begin to feel like they are running a marathon in a hamster wheel: high work output, but stagnant growth.
Businesses could better allocate this time into keying in on opportunities for development; unlocking new channels, for instance, or improving supplier or customer relations, or perhaps creative work on product improvements.
According to McKinsey, about 45% of general tasks in any domain can be automated – including the management of product information. In this case, a PIM system is a go-to solution for automating manual data entry, as well as other added functionalities that save time across your organization.
Automation is the Key to Efficiency: 5 Ways PIM Saves Time
PIM software has grown rapidly in the past decade. Increasingly more businesses are recognizing the value of storing their product catalogs within a database. This is not only for the benefit of organization and optimization, but also for immense time-saving capabilities, which PIM promises to deliver in the following ways:
1. Self-Serve Brand Portal
Often businesses might have a network of partnerships with suppliers, distributors, and other retailers. What this entails is hours spent constantly communicating either synchronously (by phone or in-person) or asynchronously (by email), usually to readdress product data, like dimensions, item number, stock number, pricing, etc. A better system of managing such relationships is with a brand portal.
A self-service brand portal is an online platform that provides external partners (secure) access to the product information and assets you want them to see. Preferring self-service is rising in popularity among B2B sectors, both for partners and buyers. About 39% of B2B vendors favor it, considering its top advantage is time savings, according to Manufacting.Net. Brand portals allow partners to check in on real-time data whenever they want, allowing for fewer delays and faster product retrieval.
2. Recommended Actions Tool
Decisions are what make operations flow. However, processes can run into a wall with every decision or plan of action that requires review. While teamwork does make the dream work, it can also result in moments of members looking at each other and wondering, “What do we do next?”
With a PIM system’s recommended actions tool, you don’t have to ask. The functionality alerts you as to the next-step actions to take regarding any product page updates or improvements. It works continuously, scouring your product database for any content that might require optimization. The PIM recommended actions tool helps you build a checklist of tasks to add to your workflow, reducing precious minutes of decision-making.
The time-saving advantage comes from a) not having to check yourself for what requires updating, but also b) providing laser-focused recommendations that are predicted to best improve product page performance. You can prevent bottlenecks before they appear.
3. Channel-Ready Export
Publishing product information as a multichannel business creates a cesspool of repetitive work. Preparing and sending product catalogs to many sales channels requires that you align the format to each channel. For example, a distributor might need the specifications in a very particular format, or else the catalog will be rejected.
To reduce time, PIM provides automated channel-specific formatting. With a high-light API, you can select the products you desire and directly export them to the target channel. Bulk exporting also facilitates speed-to-market, allowing thousands of SKUs to reach the designated channel in minutes. Getting data channel-ready faster means going to market faster. Naturally, this means you get sales much sooner. Since PIM oversees data quality, you can be sure you are sending accurate, correct information from the start.
4. Workflow & Role Collaboration
With teamwork, many businesses can encounter the pitfall of diffusion of responsibility. In addition, a lot of time is wasted on needless back-and-forth to divide tasks effectively. A PIM facilitates better collaboration regarding all things product data and content enrichment. With workflow functionality, businesses can utilize templates made for projects, be it a new product introduction or end-of-lifetime products.
All users have access to relevant product information, allowing for quick collaboration. Each user is assigned a role with related tasks. Along with being quick to set up, workflows also integrate with email, sending daily to-do directly to the inbox. From there, decision-makers can review and approve tasks, leading to a quicker turnaround time. With clear responsibilities and automatic notification systems, workflow in PIM makes projects move forward to meet target deadlines.
5. Single Source of Truth & Enhanced Search Options
Above all, PIM saves the most time by providing a single source of all things product information. When you store your master copy of product data in one space, it is always ready to be distributed to partners and ecommerce channels, due to continuous updating. Only the latest version of the information is available at all times. The optimized experience reduces time correcting out-of-date information.
Everyone in the organization knows what’s going on. Moreover, they are better able to do their jobs quickly. PIM’s highly complex product categorization system produces better findability. It allows for a detailed faceted search for users. Teams can search for products by attributes, as well as view linked digital assets.
A single source of truth creates a space where there’s no need to question or check how old the data is or where it came from.
Manage Product Information, Save Time
Wasting time is an unfortunate byproduct of managing content at scale—but it doesn’t have to be inevitable. Implementing PIM software can get your business on the right track. Eliminate bottlenecks and streamline efficient product data flow to channels, to get products on digital shelves quickly.
Guest article written by: Ceejay Teku is the Founder of Catsy, a product information management and digital asset management software. He started in the trenches of eCommerce as a software developer and was soon challenged with the complexities of product content that powers eCommerce. This led to the development of Catsy as a product information management system: purpose-built for brands that sell through distributors, retailers, direct-to-customer channels.