Why Product Information Management is Fundamental to Omnichannel Success
B-to-B organizations aren't immune to the omnichannel trends impacting the B-to-C space. A recent inRiver survey found that 80 percent of B-to-B organizations are facing more competition than five years ago, requiring companies to transform and deliver experiences that stand out from the crowd. However, something is hindering businesses from achieving this.
The amount of product content needed to support omnichannel experiences is unmanageable with traditional practices, which is why new technology solutions should be used to deliver accurate and reliable product information from the beginning of the supply chain to product delivery.
The B-to-B Product Information Problem
B-to-B marketers have to prove their ability to remain agile in the face of omnichannel demands. Businesses need to adapt merchandising strategies faster than ever before, against greater competition and across more channels. But for 52 percent of B-to-B business leaders, accuracy is the most challenging aspect of a product launch. When supporting omnichannel efforts, marketers must recognize the negative impact that product launch delays can have on business results.
There are two key statistics that point to this B-to-B product information problem. First, the survey found that 33 percent of organizations have pulled products from shelves or delayed launches because of inaccurate product information. Second, half of respondents said that creating and/or updating product content takes between six months and 11 months.
In an age with more competition, channels and higher customer expectations, these challenges are enough to hinder any organization's transformation efforts. Eighty-seven percent of B-to-B business leaders resonate with the statement that "while marketing is a common business term to grow the relationship between brand and business, merchandising is the activity to encourage that growth and encourage sales. It's how the customer feels when they see the product before they buy. It's trusting they will get what they're purchasing."
The existing marketing tech stack isn't equipped to streamline customer experiences from a product content standpoint. Most marketers are fighting against outdated Excel spreadsheets and operations to keep product information updated. This is why it's so essential for marketers to upgrade the marketing stack with more sophisticated data and solutions. By alleviating the burden of having too much product content to manage, marketers can create a smoother shift to omnichannel retail and improve alignment with sales, engineering, product teams, customer support and IT.
Transforming Product Information Management for Omnichannel
B-to-B retailers are racing to see which brands can deliver the omnichannel experiences that customers demand. When dealing with tens of thousands of products, copying and pasting inventory pricing and other pieces of product information across hundreds of channels is a significant waste of marketing resources — even more so when operating in upwards of six global markets. To win the race, 89 percent of decision makers say they're bringing new levels of automation to product information management.
If modern solutions for product information management are tools in question, businesses should consider a few things. Can a product launch be successful if products are returned due to unmet expectations? What do you do when unmet expectations become the leading cause of customer dissatisfaction? Can your company risk losing a major distribution deal or reseller agreement due to inaccurate product content?
Modern solutions can provide the following for marketers struggling with these questions:
- Faster Time to Market: Gain full control of product portfolios with central management and single versions of product marketing data regardless of channel volume.
- Modern Customer Experiences: Publish consistent and complete product stories that reduce return rates.
- Solidify a Global Presence: Scale quickly and easily across marketplaces and channels with seamless translation and adaptive workflows for greater efficiency.
Transformation in B-to-B retail can't succeed without fixing inefficient product information management practices. Executing this shift might be challenging for marketing teams, but it will prove more rewarding as the overall business is able to adapt to modern buyer demands.
Johan Bostrom is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of InRiver, a provider of SaaS product information management (PIM) solutions.
Related story: How to Prepare for the Next Generation of Shoppers
Johan Bostrom is the co-founder and chief product officer of InRiver, a provider of SaaS product information management (PIM) solutions.
Johan is one of the founders of inRiver and a senior business leader with two decades of experience leading international technology companies. With a strategic mindset and a passion for customer experience, he helped transform inRiver into the powerful and robust product information management platform it is today.
Before inRiver, Johan took the lead in starting new businesses and held leading positions at DDMM, Sema Group, and UDK. He has worked internationally with software development and strategy for eCommerce and content management since the mid-1990’s in North America, and across EMEA. Johan studied data communication, system development, and philosophy at the University of Umeå.