Social media is undoubtedly one the top technologies impacting global merchants today. The dawn of the social media era has compounded the channels that merchants use to market, sell and support their products. Along with the increase in sales and support opportunities, these new channels have introduced additional complexities in managing product information — and new ways for it all to go wrong.
Expectations are high. Consumers demand accuracy, quality information and speed. Flawed or incorrect product information can immediately tarnish a brand in the eyes of consumers. Consumer confidence is a critical component in driving sales, and merchants must do everything possible to ensure consumer faith in their brands.
In their quest for multichannel success, merchants are under constant pressure to better manage their product information. As product information remains in separate silos across enterprises, there's extra work in managing and approving the information, increased risk of errors, and delays in product introductions. This not only wastes thousands or millions of dollars, but also prevents efficient marketing, sales and customer support. Centralizing product information will help organizations tailor multichannel marketing campaigns and special offers quickly and efficiently across global markets.
When it comes to social media and multichannel marketing, merchants cannot accept partial accuracy as a standard. Merchants that fail to consolidate their product information into a single source remain vulnerable to errors that waste time and resources while damaging bottom lines and company reputations.
Additionally, while consumers may remain faithful to a brand, they're no longer dedicated to one specific channel. It’s expected that people will consult websites, catalogs and stores prior to making purchase decisions. Because there's no longer a “channel of choice,” merchants can’t afford to favor one particular channel. And since online shoppers can’t touch the items they’re buying, product information needs to be rich, accurate and consistent.
In today’s multichannel world, it’s crucial that all sales and support avenues provide accurate and consistent information. After all, there's no point in tweeting a link to a product page or posting an offer to a fan group on Facebook if the product is available at a lower price or as a different offer in a store or catalog.
Failure to ensure consistent product information across multiple channels results in products sold at reduced prices, the sale of incorrect products and headaches for customer support teams. Poor product information drives costly product returns, inventory that must be discounted and a significant hit in customer satisfaction.
Business leaders recognize the importance of centralizing product information, and most are now starting to follow standardized processes to ensure data quality. For example, merchants are incorporating product information management (PIM) systems into their IT and business strategies in order to create centralized sources of accurate information that are accessible by all internal and customer-facing systems.
PIM systems allow organizations to gain global and comprehensive views of product information and digital assets, and then share accurate information across all sales channels — printed materials, electronic marketing tools and social media networks. The consequences of poor product information management have grown too large to ignore.
Merchants recognize that their competitive advantage, brand integrity and customer experience all rely on accurate, timely and consistent information. A clear vision and a defined process for product information management prevents mistakes and ensures merchants can effectively manage product offers — no matter where they pop up. By ensuring the quality and integrity of product information, merchants stand to both grow their businesses and preserve their relationships with consumers at the same time.