The Better Your Product Data Is, the Shorter Your Time to Value
One of the most important kinds of value for marketers revolves around what we get out of the technology we use every day to reach customers. CMOs and Marketing Directors have to focus on time to value, how fast acquired tech will pay for itself: the shorter the period is, the faster you can grow revenue and prove your ROI.
When evaluating new tech, the fuel you need most is data. The best platforms should allow you to load your data fast, but more importantly, they should also come to you with some kind of intelligence already inside, because in theory that pre-loaded data should help you launch automations faster. When you match up product data and customer data with use cases built on proven e-commerce tactics, your marketers will realize the value and return on investment much quicker, to the dismay of your competitors.
But first you need to get your own data ready to drive that new platform or software. In e-commerce, product information management should sit at the center of the business. You want customers to not only be able to browse and purchase seamlessly, but you also want to leverage your data to provide the most personalized experience possible.
This post looks at Product Information Management (PIM) and how a platform with a short time to value makes it easier to serve your customers and shows leadership how quickly your tech investment will contribute to the bottom line.
How Product Information Management (PIM) Contributes Value?
Product Information Management impacts e-commerce in a profound way, especially for those omnichannel businesses that have to be nimble to engage customers in the moment when they’re searching for products they want to buy. As the number of channels and touchpoints rise, PIM solutions will become even more vital.
Think of It as a Dynamic Product Catalog
E-commerce PIM solutions connect the ordering process with an inventory management system, and marketers manage these systems through a web-based interface. Essentially PIMs are the modern version of print product catalogs, except with so many online channels, it’s getting easier to manage and update the entire inventory. E-commerce procurement programs and marketplace platforms are all fed by digital versions of a product catalog and can include a product description, various sizes or colors, and availability.
Legacy Tech Dramatically Complicates Optimization
PIMs supply inbound and outbound data in various formats, but they also can require an incredible amount of work to get them integrated properly into your existing tech stack. When you have 12, 28, or 50+ pieces of tech in your stack, it’s going to complicate your PIM system.
For a PIM to work best, it has to sit at the core of your product-fed data flow, content hub, website, customer service, and operations. Compare the long-term impact of building a PIM system on top of so many technologies (some built in-house with limited functionality) with finding a platform that’s already been constructed to prioritize product data. Worse, imagine having to use multiple PIM solutions.
The Cost of a Poorly Planned PIM System
If you go with the cheapest option, you’ll never be able to realize the true value of the tech, because you’ll constantly be customizing new patches to provide customers with accurate product data. Best case, it could take months to get things to work right. Worst case, integration could take two to three years. A PIM system that takes that long to realize value can cripple your organization as other brands figure out how to do it faster.
Putting the Data Together to Create an Unforgettable Customer Experience… Fast
In the world of B2C e-commerce, the goal is to sell a product to a person, and yet despite the innovations in tools to better understand products and people, data sets often live in silos, making personalization and prediction difficult and significantly lengthening time to value as your marketing team has no choice but to manually load data into the platform.
However, when you put three particular data sets together — something still uncommon for many brands — you’ll see the enormous opportunity in applying the resulting insights to grow revenue, customers, and profits.
Product Data (The What)
You might find it hard to believe that marketing teams and platforms are not yet leveraging the power of product data (crucial real-time details like availability, stock level, price changes, and product lifecycles). The technology is there but perhaps not always in a way that’s easy to exploit in campaigns. However, using product data can present a huge opportunity to drive conversions and repeat purchase rates.
Behavioral Data (Search Intent)
Behavioral data is information about the specific ways that customers browse websites, how they respond to mobile, web, and apps, and how much they engage with email or digital channels. Once you glean insights from that data, you can then choose the right tactics like Abandoned Cart or Browse Abandonment, pretty standard campaigns for any team with an e-commerce site.
Purchase Data (Buying History)
Using purchase data in marketing is no longer just a best practice — it’s a must-have. Customer intelligence has come a long way in helping teams plan better CRM and Customer Lifecycle marketing activities based on past-purchase behavior.
The Value of Real-Time Data
When consumers fail to complete a purchase, it’s usually because the product isn’t available — perhaps in the size or color they want or just not at all — or they’re looking for a discount or a sale before they buy (right product, wrong price point).
Both of these situations can be satisfied automatically by leveraging your product data effectively in marketing tactics: Back in Stock and Price Drop campaigns translate lost purchase opportunities into recaptured revenue by meeting the needs of the customer in real time.
Stock and Price Changes
When sent to the right audience, Back In Stock campaigns and Price Drop campaigns can convert at more than five times the rate of your standard promotional campaigns, but they are notoriously hard to implement and automate.
Creating campaigns to reach customers who have viewed or shown an interest in a product but not converted has been hard for the digital ads and communication teams to execute because they don’t have ready access to the right data, nor do they have the insights into the upside of these potential tactics to justify the investment of IT or development time to create new data views or query strings to execute. Again, if you have your data already in a single platform, these types of campaigns will complete their time to value much more quickly.
Product recommendations are critical for any e-commerce business, and they’re by no means a new use of AI. Delivering recommendations requires a brand to use browsing and purchasing behavior to determine whether a consumer is likely to engage or purchase a product, but it also accesses the product information to make sure you’re not promoting products that aren’t in stock or have low stock numbers that can’t support large audiences.
But using these data sets within marketing teams and campaigns is less common than in using them within individual technology capabilities like recommendations, retargeting, or onsite merchandising. Going with a platform that merges these kinds of data best will also positively impact your time to value.
Brands Using Product Data for the Greatest Value
If you need further proof of how powerful product data is, consider the new tools offered by Facebook and Google to better onboard inventory and stock into product feeds. Real-time product data benefits conversion rates like little else can, but it’s a highly technical and complex task that needs investment.
At Emarsys Revolution in London last year, there was an emerging pattern with some of our most successful clients and their presentations. These businesses have invested in and are succeeding at connecting product data with their customer data to create new automated tactics that drive growth.
Bulk Powders and Sally Europe talked about Replenishment and Re-Ordering. Brands like OutletCity talked about Price Drop and Low Stock campaigns to their customers to drive urgency, and Salling Group talked about automatic price updates which enables them to quickly modify and execute campaigns.
Emarsys has been working with thousands of brands to connect their customer, product and behavioral data sets as part of our e-commerce solution to deliver predictive product recommendations, but our clients don’t simply rely on our AI solutions to open new revenue opportunities and better experiences for their customers. Marketers use the platform to answer fine-tuning campaign questions like: How are we impacting revenue growth? Is it driving revenue from new customers or existing? Can we create urgency with Price Drop emails and improve purchase frequency outside of scheduled sale periods?
As part of our latest enhancements to the Emarsys e-commerce solution, we’ve invested in connecting this data used within the platform for new use cases to create more opportunities for marketers to execute new campaigns based on product data changes, but we also make it possible to measure the impact on their business results.
By having time to value, especially as it relates to product data, as a core part of the Emarsys platform, marketers can activate campaigns in a day for existing clients without additional integration.
Our commitment is to look at new ways to help brands be more data-driven, without needing new integrations and new implementations and to look at how to better leverage existing data sets for new use cases.
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About the Author
Mark Enochs is Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Emarsys, where he specializes in content on machine learning, the Emarsys marketing platform, and digital technology subjects for end users and decision makers.
Connect with Mark: LinkedIn