What is time to market?
Time to market is the time required for a business to take a product idea, develop it and have it available to buy in the market. In the context of eCommerce, this may be the time it takes to get a new product available to buy online. Alternatively, it may be the time it takes you to get an existing product available to buy on new sales channels or markets.
Why is time to market important?
Speed to market is a competitive advantage, especially in the fast-paced environment of eCommerce. When you reduce time to market, you can gain vital extra selling days all while positioning yourself as the go-to online retailer for the latest products. Faster time to market is also a key product development metric, so it’s always going to be a priority.
In addition, if you’re getting new products out ahead of your competitors, customers are more likely to return to shop with you in the future. They’ll be safe in the knowledge that they can go to you for the latest products on the market. All in all, when you reduce time to market and have a sleek product launch, you’ll on the path to success.
How to improve speed to market
To ensure a short time to market (TTM), there are several things you can do to facilitate the process. This is what we’re going to be looking at in this blog. So, read on if you’re keen to learn how to reduce time to market!
Whether you’re working on a new product launch, restocking a previous bestseller, or updating an existing product, getting to market quickly is crucial to your success. Of course, the average time to market will vary by industry. However, there are some things everyone can do to ensure products are released ahead of the competition. Firstly, streamlining and automating manual processes is a sure-fire way to increase your speed to market. To achieve that, you need to:
- Work collaboratively across different departments
- Clearly define your product launch objectives with the relevant stakeholder
- Ensure you have a robust eCommerce tech stack in place
- Have eCommerce-ready product data and all promotional materials ready ahead of the launch
The benefits of speed to market
As well as making your business more competitive, increasing your online sales and market share, and improving time to market also means you can take advantage of the following:
Reduced stock-holding times
Do you often receive products that aren’t ready to be listed for sale online? The longer they sit there, the more time (and money) is wasted. Reducing time to market with more efficient processes will go a long way in preventing wasted stock-holding time.
Dropshipping is becoming an ever more profitable and popular way of selling. Instead of keeping goods in stock, you simply transfer your customers’ orders and shipment details to a third party. After that, a manufacturer, wholesaler, or another retailer ships the goods out to your customer.
Increased selling days
Reducing your time to market through improved, streamlined product information management will ultimately give you more time to sell your products. Overall, more selling days mean increased sales revenues. In eCommerce, time to market will be pivotal in getting ahead of the competition.
Improved marketing operations
Creating launch schedules and having better processes in place means your marketing teams can plan more efficiently. Having quality product data and promotional assets readily available and on a more predictable schedule, they’ll have everything they need to create amazing product launch campaigns.
A great way to gain your customers’ loyalty is to have the newest product first on your eCommerce site. Whether it’s a big brand release, with crucial early tech adopters to capture, or the latest fashion trend, being ahead of others in the market will help you gain new customers. And their experience this time will affect more than just this first sale. Keep them happy, gain their trust and they’ll come back to you time and time again. Let them know you’ll be the first to meet their needs.
What leads to a long time to market?
There are a number of factors that affect how quickly you get your products to market. Starting with issues in the development stages, to logistical operations, such as delivery dates. The creation, availability, and distribution of product information will also massively impact your time to market. Here are some of the potential hold-ups at each stage:
Sourcing product data
When getting data for a product, a number of questions will come up:
- Where’s the data coming from?
- What format is it coming in?
- Can you easily process that data?
- Does it need to be converted or translated?
- How will the data map onto the structure for storing and processing it internally?
Sourcing product data is significantly simplified with a PIM platform like Pimberly. Automate all processes related to data collection, processing, and distribution. Creating workflows means you can customize and automate any information you would usually process manually. You’ll save heaps of time, giving you more time to focus on product enrichment and ensuring your data is totally accurate.
The optimization process
Optimizing data for your eCommerce site can be a lengthy process. As such, it’s a key area to address in accelerating time to market. It involves gathering all product data (including digital assets like images and videos) and presenting it in a way that is useful to customers browsing your eCommerce site. It’s also a key consideration for your eCommerce SEO strategy. After all, you want to get your products in front of the right people at the right time!
Product information must be accurate, detailed, and relevant. There are several parts of the process to consider including:
- Product onboarding: Creating technical details (size, weights, dimensions, etc.), product photography, copywriting for product descriptions, translations for sites in other languages, search engine optimization for greater visibility
- Digital asset management: Digital assets play a vital role in the buyer journey and will often facilitate processes like copywriting, marketing, and SEO
- Marketing optimization: Writing descriptions, optimizing content for search engines, performing quality checks, adding extra assets for A/B testing on site
- Data quality and standardization: These elements are vital if you want to offer intuitive filter and search features to help customers find exactly what they’re looking for
- Category decisions and checks: Products need to be in the most relevant categories to offer a better customer experience
Visibility and Control over your product data
It’s key to know how far along your product data is in the optimization process. PIM software will help you to gain a clear picture of completeness. You’ll know which areas you still need to work on to move things forward. Moreover, you can use lifecycles to automatically move your products to the next stage. This proactive approach prevents hold-ups and bottlenecks, which means no wasted time or work.
Distribution of data to sales channels
Once you’ve created and optimized your product information, you then need to publish to your various sales channels. Without the right tools and technologies, this can be a challenge which leads to hold-ups, which will slow your time to market. Therefore, you need to consider:
- How product information is being published on your eCommerce site
- Differentiating data for different selling platforms like online, mobile, and in-store
- Sharing data with other retailers and across other distribution channels
- How you update published product information (should any changes occur)
The problem here is that businesses often have different people, teams, and agencies all working with this information. If they’re not quickly communicating updates, they won’t be on the same page. As a result, there’ll be hold-ups, duplicated work, and crucial time wasted. The process is also continually impacted by changes to launch dates, stock receiving dates, and the availability of samples. You must factor all of this into workloads and prioritize within schedules.
Enhance your time to market strategy with PIM
Efficient Product Information Management will be key in improving your time to market metrics. PIM platforms offer powerful automation, enabling you to streamline processes and reduce manual tasks relating to product data management by up to 80%.
This will massively boost operational efficiency and productivity, as well as enabling you to be agile and react quickly.
You can also use powerful workflows to set requirements for what the quality of the product data should look like before a product goes live. If any elements are missing, the relevant team member will be notified. In other words, this means you’ll never launch a product with missing information.
PIM systems also promote a super collaborative way of working. For instance, multiple team members can be working on different aspects of the product data at any given time. With access control, you can ensure your different team members only see what’s relevant to them and their job roles.
Version control also enables you to see what changes have been made over time, so you always know what team members have been working on. All these factors will contribute to you having quality product data you know is accurate. Massive storage capabilities mean you can lock and load everything well ahead of time so you can launch at a moment’s notice.
By automating your processes and increasing efficiency, you can massively speed your time to market. Overall, you can cut the time it takes to get your new products to market by as much as half using a PIM like Pimberly. Benefit from faster product onboarding, the ability to adapt to seasonal changes and the growing needs of your customers, and the opportunity to expand your market reach.