In today’s competitive online shopping environment, retailers need to focus on making the shopping experience as easy, personal, and relevant as possible. Here we look...
What is an agile business strategy?
Having an agile business strategy means you can respond quickly and effectively to changes in your internal and external environments. Overall, the culture, the leadership, the governance, and the strategy as a whole will influence business agility. All these factors will influence how quickly you can respond to changes in uncertain and complex market conditions.
Having an agile digital strategy in eCommerce
In eCommerce, agile product information management will help you be proactive and reactive in all areas. From purchasing and new product promotion to pricing and marketing, PIM promotes an agile digital strategy that gives your business a true competitive edge.
For instance, these are some of the things you’d want to be able to react to:
- Weather conditions: if there’s a torrential downpour, you’d want to be able to quickly set up a flash sale on umbrellas
- Specific events: you might want to create a promotion for certain products ahead of a big event
- New trends: you may need to tweak a product vision so it clearly reflects upcoming trends
- New product releases: getting products out to market quickly so you can gain vital extra selling days and an enhanced competitive advantage
- Up-to-date technology stacks: put digital transformation at the heart of your strategy
All in all, when you have an agile business methodology, you’ll sell more products, increase ROI and build brand loyalty. But, to make the shift towards being proactive, you need to examine what affects business agility from a product perspective.
Common challenges eCommerce businesses need to overcome
Outdated technology stacks
It’s worth thinking about how you manage product information within your current technology stack. Are you relying on a legacy platform like an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) to manage product data? While ERPs are a great tool to manage stock levels, they’re not designed to manage enriched product data.
To guarantee the best possible customer experience, you need rich, high-quality product data that you can publish quickly. An ERP won’t be fit-for-purpose as you’d likely have to store and manage enriched product data in a different system. Having disparate systems doesn’t promote an agile way of working as it considerably impacts productivity and slows time to market.
Alternatively, you might store and manage all your product information in excel which is super time-consuming and labor intensive. Again, this will slow your time to market and will present challenges when managing large volumes of complex product data. Automation in business massively contributes to business agility, so having the right technologies in place puts you in a strong position.
A lack of understanding of customer buying behavior
Slow reactivity around a product strategy is disastrous in a quick-paced eCommerce environment. There are multiple factors that affect customer buying decisions every day and in real-time. Events, weather conditions, and key seasonal dates are just a few examples.
To gain a true competitive edge, you need to pre-empt these events. Once you which products they’ll be looking for or what solutions they’ll need, you can tweak your product roadmap accordingly. Gaining insights into customer behavior well ahead of time will give you more time to craft winning product promotions that will resonate with your customers.
For example, an outdoor retailer could run a discount sale on tents when tickets for a festival are released. They know customers will need camping gear, and they could tailor the messaging specifically for festival goers. If you have all promotional assets ready to launch at a moment’s notice, you can position yourself as the go-to eCommerce business for everything your customers need – just when they need it.
Lack of business automation
Another common challenge is a lack of automation in the product management process. Agile product management runs right from sourcing components to doorstep delivery. In other words, making sure each step of the process runs smoothly will be key in making sure you’re as agile as possible. This is where technology will play a key role in helping you automate as many of these processes as possible.
The right technologies will help you save valuable time every step of the way, and the benefits of this will be two-fold. Firstly, you’ll save tons of time automating what would have been manual processes. Secondly, you’ll have more time to focus on delivering tailored online experiences that truly resonate with your customers.
Overall, having an agile strategy will require an investment in new technologies, but this will soon pay off. You’ll gain complete control over the journey of your products as well as the quality of the online experience you deliver. This is where Product Information Management (PIM) will help.
PIM for business agility
From a business agility perspective, there are several advantages to using PIM:
Easy to access cloud-based software
Cloud-based solutions are gaining popularity because they can be accessed anytime and anywhere if you’ve got an internet connection. Some PIM solutions are hosted in the cloud, meaning team members have fast access to product information. Any changes made reflect in real-time, so you can stay on top of unexpected shifts in the market.
If your product data is stored in disparate systems, making changes or taking action will be much harder. Without the right integrations, it can be hard to know which is the most accurate and up-to-date version of your product data. As a result, your customers and internal departments may end up with incorrect information.
PIM systems integrate seamlessly with other internal and external systems like ERPs and eCommerce platforms. This means you’ll be able to achieve operational excellence with totally streamlined data management processes.
Within the eCommerce industry, there are certain changes you can anticipate like:
- The change of seasons
- Price fluctuations
- Key events
- Stock availability
PIM software enables you to plan for these changes by creating automated workflows.
These automated workflows enable you to set up rules for when certain product data should be published. For instance, you can specify when a certain product promotion goes live and determine how long it should run well ahead of time. As a result, your products are automatically published, and you can drastically speed your time to market.
Increasing sales for old stock
In addition to increasing sales for new products, you can use your PIM to clear old stock. In the context of business agility, it enables you to quickly identify which items aren’t selling well. You could then look at your top-performing sales channels to sell the maximum volume. Then you can set rules of the prices your items should be sold at depending on stock levels. This will mean you sell every single item at the optimal price all while clearing any potential product backlogs.
PIM gives you the opportunity to be flexible with your product data. This flexibility means you can tailor the information to a variety of audiences and channels. For example, a personalized gift retailer could use PIM to create a product offering for Mother’s Day. They could also generate a weekend offer based on an event in the local area.
PIM and agility
To be truly agile in business, you need to have the right data at your fingertips. Ongoing analysis ensures your team can respond to unforeseen circumstances. By having access to detailed product information and customer insights, you can create online experiences that meet and exceed customer demands, no matter the occasion.
Product Information Management (PIM) systems are becoming an increasingly important tool for eCommerce businesses. Powerful automation, coupled with in-depth insights into how your products are performing across sales channels means you can make data-driven decisions. Because manual tasks are significantly reduced, you can make changes in real-time to bolster online performance and drive business agility.