Why and How to Expand Your Product Range with Pimberly

Expanding your product range is a key area for accelerating your online growth. It’s an easy way of maximising the potential from your current customers and capturing the attention of new customers. Convenience and ease are dominating the shopping behaviour of modern customers. Providing them with the most and best options on your site ensures the best chance of satisfying these demands.

Benefits of expanding your product range

Firstly, let’s look at a few reasons why top online customers have maximised on their product offerings:

Improving customer loyalty

Maximizing your customers repeat business is a key strategy for sales growth as it’s usually more economical than new customer acquisition. By providing a larger range of offerings for your current customers, they have more options.  You create a better shopping experience and prevent them from visiting your competitors’ sites to purchase those extra products. Companies who cater to these demands ensure repeat business from customers who trust them over their competitors.

Making the most of product relationships

Higher AOV (Average Order Value) is a common objective  among eCommerce companies. It’s a cheaper and easier way of increasing sales than bringing in new customers. And product bundles are a great way of doing this. The more products you have on offer, the better the product bundle. By creating more bundles you  increase the range of products that are already selling well. This means you are providing more choice for your existing customers by encouraging them to add more to their basket.

Maximising long-tail potential

With the gaining popularity of processes like dropshipping, it’s becoming easier to make the most of long-tailing. Dropshipping takes away many of the risks and challenges  of conventional eCommerce and distribution. Not needing to hold stock or manage delivery logistics reduces complexity, giving your business the capacity to manage a much wider product range. As a result, you open up the opportunity of creating more niche product ranges, gaining a competitive edge over your competitors and expanding your brand message.

Increase your customer base

Offering a wider range of products means that you can widen your target audience and open up your customer base. So selling multiple options of a particular product with varied prices means that you minimise losing customers through pricing decisions and maximise on upselling opportunities by easily offering high end options. You can also create ranges for more demographics to extend your brand reach. Retailers who create plus size or budget ranges, for example, are catering for a larger target customer.

What’s holding you back?

When you look at the benefits of expanding your product range, it’s clear why companies are making this a priority. But it’s not always as easy as it seems. Expanding your product range means taking on and managing a huge amount of extra product data and this alone creates problems if not handled effectively.

Let’s take a further look at some of the challenges…

Manual product updates

If product updates are done manually, increasing the volume may not be realistic for teams to keep up with. For example, if just a couple of attributes across a large product range need updating, this seemingly quite simple task takes up valuable time. It can slow down your time to market and impact the power of your product offering. And if increasing your product range means slowing down your time to market this, might simply, may not be worth it.

Infrastructure support

Increasing your product range requires  more reliance on the process you have in place to manage these products. From importing and creating that product information, to optimising it and publishing to your routes to market. If this process is disjointed and hard to manage, it might not be possible to accommodate the increase in product offerings. Product data is often managed in historic systems like complex networks of spreadsheets, or held within ERP or eCommerce platforms. These systems are not designed to manage the complexity and volume of information that is demanded in the current commerce climate. As a result, product data may be inconsistent or inaccurate and unresponsive to market and customer demands. In order to cope, a platform must be rapidly scalable, and have the flexibility to support your product range as it expands into new sectors and product types.

SEO content demand

The larger your product range, the bigger demand there is for creating optimised product content. So if you’re branching out to a completely new sector, this can be even more demanding on existing SEO teams. Keeping on top of optimisation for relevant keywords means working closely with the product data. This can be increasingly difficult if not done efficiently. This also goes  hand-in-hand with site searchability. Teams have to make sure new products have the right attribution to be found by your onsite search functions. For instance, there’s no point expanding your product range if customers can’t find all your shiny new products.

Managing multiple sales channels

Selling across multiple routes to market means tailoring your product information that’s feeding these different markets and sales channels. Your marketing description for your main eCommerce site may be different from your other sales channels, for example: your Amazon listing. It can often be a challenge to keep on top of these different requirements for your existing product range. So before you are in a position to expand this range, you must have a process in place that can accommodate the varied requirements of your sales channels.

Where does PIM come into this?

Product Information Management (PIM) platforms provide a central repository for all product content. They provide a single source of truth for all products, across all departments. Managing products within a PIM ensures that consistent, enriched and accurate product information is populated across all routes to market, automatically and in a fraction of the time.

We’ve had a look at the problems businesses can face when expanding their product range. Most of them come down to a slow, inefficient way of managing large and increasing volumes of products. And this is exactly where a PIM comes in.

Importantly, PIM makes handling large volumes of product data, easy. It removes the challenges around manual data processing and provides the framework for teams to take back control of their products. By creating workflows around data enrichment and publication, there is clear communication between teams and visibility throughout every stage of onboarding, enrichment and publication. Controlling your products through customisable taxonomies and schemas, personalised for each specific route to market, subsequently means that you have the foundation to expand your current product offerings across multiple channels.

Ultimately, whether you’re making plans to scale your eCommerce business or grow a new one, PIMs are a vital component in maximising your success. To find out more and to see for yourself, request a free online demo of Pimberly here.

Vacancy: Content Marketing Executive

Why Time to Market is So Important and How PIM Can Help

‘Time to Market’ is how long it takes a business to take a product idea, develop it and have it available to buy on their eCommerce site. The quicker a business can get its product to market, the more competitive they can be within their industry. Here we will take a look at how effective PIM (Product Information Management) can reduce your time to market. 

Why Time to Market is important

Whether you are launching a brand new product, restocking a previous best seller or updating an existing product, getting it to market quickly is crucial to your business’s success. As well as making your business more competitive, getting your products to market faster will also enable you to take advantage of the following:

(if you are looking to expand your product range – find out how PIM helps with that too here!)

Reduced stock-holding times

Does your distribution centre often receive products that are not ready to be listed for sale online? The longer they sit there, the more time (and money) is wasted. Speeding up your time to market with more efficient product information management can go a long way in preventing wasted stock-holding time.

Drop shipping

Drop shipping 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, wholesale or another retailer ships the goods out to your customer.

It’s a great way to reduce time to market, however, a speedy product data process is paramount, in order for it to run smoothly.

Increased selling days

Reducing your time to market, through improved, streamlined and automated product information management (PIM), will ultimately give you more time to sell your products. More selling days means increased sales revenues, and you’re more likely to gain a significant advantage over competitors in your industry.

open table showing marketing team planning product release

Improved marketing operations

Creating launch schedules and having better processes in place will allow your marketing teams to plan more efficiently. This is because of the fact that the availability of required information and assets will be sooner and more predictable. Because of better quality data being available sooner and on a more predicable schedule, they’ll have everything they need to create a killer marketing plan for your products. 

Customer loyalty

A great way to gain your customers’ loyalty is to have the newest product first on your eCommerce site. Be one step ahead of your competitors. 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. They will know you’ll be the first to meet their needs.

What affects your time to market?

There are a number of factors that can affect how quickly you can 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 information related to your products can also greatly impact your time to market. Here we’ve outlined some of the potential hold-ups at each stage:

Sourcing product data

When getting data for a product, a number of questions will arise:

  • Where is the data coming from?
  • What format is it coming in?
  • Can your business process that data easily?
  • Does it need converting?
  • How will the data map onto the structure for storing and processing it internally?

Sourcing product data can be simplified using a PIM platform like Pimberly to automate all processes related to data collection, processing and distribution. Creating workflows will allow you to customise and automate any information you would usually process manually, thus saving time, while also enriching and standardising for more accurate product data.

The optimisation process

Optimising data for your eCommerce site can be a lengthy process. Therefore it is a key area to address in improving time to market. It involves gathering all product data (including digital assets like images) and presenting it in a way that is useful to customers viewing your eCommerce site. 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 optimisation for greater visibility
  • Digital asset management – Processing and preparing digital assets can be complex but is essential to improving productivity for processes like copy-writing, marketing and SEO
  • Marketing optimisation – Writing descriptions, optimising content for search engines, performing quality checks, adding extra assets for A/B testing on site
  • Data quality and standardisation – these elements are crucial for enabling eCommerce sites to allow intuitive filter and search features, helping customers find exactly what they are looking for.
  • Category decisions and checks – Products needs to be in the most relevant categories in order to offer a better eCommerce experience for customers

(SEO can be time consuming – learn how PIM helps your products holistically reach better rankings here)

Visibility and Control over your Product Data

It is crucial that you know how far along your product data is in the optimisation process. PIM software will help you to gain a clear picture of completeness. You’ll know which areas you still need to work on, in order to move things forward. This proactive approach to PIM will prevent hold-ups and bottlenecks, ensuring no wasted time or work.

Distribution of data to sales channels

Once you’ve created and formatted product information, it then has to be published to your various sales channels. Again, this can create a number of problems and hold-ups, therefore increasing the time to market. You need to consider:

  • How product information is being published on your eCommerce site
  • Differentiating and formatting your data for different selling platforms like online, mobile, in-store
  • How data is distributed to sales reps (both field sales and in-store)
  • Sharing data to other retailers and across other distribution channels
  • How you will update published product information (should changes occur)

The problem here is that businesses often have different people, teams and agencies all working manually with this information. If they’re not quickly communicating updates, they won’t be on the same page, resulting in hold-ups, duplicate 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 prioritised within schedules.

Efficient Product Information Management is the key

Without a clear view of the entire product information journey, it is very hard to determine if teams are making progress. Just imagine trying to manage the whole process in spreadsheets. It would be difficult to see what each team was working on. This can result in mistakes and duplication of work. Your teams need a clear path to follow, and an understanding of what work needs to be done in order to ensure product information is ready to distribute to all your channels.

Those operate across multiple channels also need to recognise the specific data needs of each individual sales channel and identify the tasks they need to perform in order to adhere to them.

This is where our intelligent PIM platform will greatly benefit your business. By automating your processes for increased efficiency, Pimberly will, in turn, help you speed up your time to market.

Reduce your time to market with Pimberly

Cut the time it takes to get your new products to market by as much as half using Pimberly. Benefit from faster product onboarding, the ability to adapt to seasonal changes and the growing needs of your customers and the chance to expand your market reach. Like the sound of what we offer? Get in touch today to find out more about how Pimberly will help you reduce your time to market.

How product information is powering eCommerce trends in 2019

Today, it’s not enough to have a user-friendly eCommerce website. Consumers demand better product experiences across a wide range of channels.  So you need to be exploring new markets and utilising the latest eCommerce technologies to make a real impact.

Here we identify 3 key eCommerce trends in 2019, examine how they can benefit your business and finally, explain why Product Information Management is crucial to your success.

 

eCommerce Trend #1: Marketplaces

Did you know the world’s 75 largest online retail marketplaces sold more than $1.5 trillion in 2017? This accounts for nearly half of all online shopping. They’re a force to be reckoned with and something you can’t afford to miss out on.

 

Benefits of joining a marketplace

Joining a marketplace will allow you to expand your customer base and reach new markets quickly.

It’s an excellent option for those wanting to trial new products, without affecting their existing brand. You can also utilise marketplaces for selling off old stock at discounted prices.

 

Benefits of creating your own marketplace

Creating a marketplace is a fantastic way to differentiate your brand and stand out as a market leader. It provides the opportunity to sell complementary products from 3rd parties, which in-turn improves cross-sells and up-sells, thus increasing customer spend. Selling 3rd party products can drive more traffic to your site and may even introduce new customers to your brand.

Of course, joining or creating a marketplace doesn’t come without its challenges.

(You can read more about how PIM can help with boosting Average Order Value here)

Data transfer and matching is tricky

When joining or creating a marketplace, there is a need for successful data transfer and data matching. When listing on an external marketplace, you need to send product information and inventory to the site. If running a marketplace, you need to accept data from multiple sources and ensure it matches your data model and requirements.

Data transfer and data matching can be fiddly and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Speed up the process and ensure consistency using our cloud-based PIM software. Pimberly allows for speedy product onboarding, meaning you can take advantage of extra selling days. Automating key processes can simplify your multichannel eCommerce strategy.

 

Controlling site experience is crucial

We all know how vital product presentation and the buying journey is to consumers. The trouble is, when joining a marketplace you risk losing an element of control and if something goes wrong their end, it could still damage your brand. To avoid this, select your marketplace carefully and maintain as much control over product data, delivery options and product presentation as possible.

It’s essential to offer a consistent eCommerce experience across your brand websites and marketplaces. If you have different teams managing the data for each channel, you must ensure they remain up to date with product and marketing changes. This is easily achieved using our PIM software to centralise product information and deliver a single point for marketing information across all sales channels.

Similarly, if you are running your own marketplace, you need to maintain as much control as possible over your 3rd party vendors’ listings. Select vendors carefully with regards to your own brand and products and have a clear data model in place. Take control and improve customer experience using our UK based PIM software to curate listings that complement your own and can be presented as cross-sells and up-sells, where appropriate.

 

Is it worth the effort?

It’s easy to feel intimidated by the bigger marketplaces. Amazon, by far the most significant player in the space, has 55% of product searches originating on the website. And with news of Tesco’s withdrawal last year from the marketplace, you may be questioning the benefits we’ve previously mentioned.

But what you’ve got to remember is that all of the big marketplaces started small, selling a single type of product. For Amazon, it was books. For eBay, it was second-hand goods. Both grew steadily to get where they are today. With careful product selection, great marketing and efficient product information management, there’s nothing to say you can’t do the same.

eCommerce Trend #2: Conversational eCommerce

Why type searches when we can simply speak them? Conversational eCommerce, utilising smart speakers from the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google, is one of the biggest eCommerce trends for 2019. This means it’s something your eCommerce business could capitalise on.

mobile phone using voice search

Benefits of conversational eCommerce

Voice-enabled assistants make shopping online easier, but conversational ecommerce is not limited to voice chat. In fact, it covers any chat or messaging system that allows interaction between shoppers and retailers. What it provides is something that was lost with the shift from in-store shopping to online shopping, and that is the ability to ask for advice and recommendations. Sure, the Internet has consumer reviews, but even so, many consumers value the expertise of a brand and their in-store advisors more.

Conversational ecommerce allows consumers to get that ‘in-store connection’ online and receive personalised advice. This can go a long way, not only in boosting sales but improving customer trust and loyalty.

Utilising chatbot systems or mobile apps like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp enables two-way communication between a brand and customer. It’s more instant than email and can help create a much more personal relationship between you and your customers.

Harvey Nichols is an excellent example of a big brand utilising conversational eCommerce technology. Their online chat system connects customers to an in-store advisor, allowing them to get personalised recommendations based on their needs. It’s a fantastic way to utilise shop floor staff and their expertise while providing an improved online customer experience.

 

Conversational eCommerce can be complicated

It’s fair to say that conversational eCommerce integrations can be complicated. Much of their success comes down to efficient product information management.

For conversational systems to work effectively, they need to be able to quickly search, find and return relevant products from your database. You may also find that you need multiple versions of product details for different communications, as text descriptions and audio descriptions will require subtle differences in order to sound authentic.

Well-structured product information is essential to the success of any conversational eCommerce system. It’s far easier to both produce and manage with the use of our effective, customer-centric PIM software.

 

eCommerce Trend #3: Immersive eCommerce

Finally, we have Immersive eCommerce, which as the name suggests is all about bringing an immersive visual aspect to the online shopping experience. It utilises both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, both of which have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Most smartphones are now capable of displaying VR technology, and some are now able to process AR content too.

Many brands have already successfully implemented immersive eCommerce through their apps. For example, IKEA allows shoppers to see furniture in their own homes and Specsavers’ online customers can try glasses on their face, without needing to visit a store.

 

Benefits of immersive eCommerce

The key advantage of immersive eCommerce is that it allows consumers to make more informed online purchases. This improves brand loyalty, as well as sales. It brings the ‘in-store shopping experience’ online. It gives consumers the opportunity to browse and try products just like they would do in a shop but from the comfort of their homes (or wherever they may be.)

It’s a fantastic way to make your brand stand out from competitors. But it’s worth noting that to work successfully, there must be a real ‘customer need.’

mobile phone augmented reality ecommerce experience

Immersive eCommerce isn’t cheap

As with conversational eCommerce, immersive eCommerce integration can be complicated and costly. You need to decide on your motivation. Are you considering it to make you look like innovators in your industry? Or is there a tangible need for an immersive experience, making it something your customers will really benefit from?

Preparation is key, as well as being proactive with your data management. Using PIM software can go a long way in ensuring success. By automating key data management processes, you can save valuable time that can be spent elsewhere, such as integrating immersive eCommerce technology to improve customer experience.

 

Take advantage of new technologies with PIM

There are many advantages to considering the new eCommerce trends and implementing technologies we’ve highlighted. However, their success largely weighs on your ability to produce and maintain accurate and organised product information. We’d go as far as saying efficient product information management is crucial to achieving a high return on your investments.

And this is where Pimberly comes in. We are a UK based, fast-growing business, offering a unique approach to product information management. Utilising our unique, cloud-based software, you can create, manage, organise and structure your product data to easily take advantage of new marketplaces and emerging eCommerce technologies.

We can help you take control of your product information and save time with streamlined, automated processes. Generate business faster and improve your overall customer experience with Pimberly.

 

Want to know more? Request a free demo today.

Announcement: Pimberly Acquires Open Range

Pimberly is pleased and excited to announce the acquisition of Open Range, the UK’s leading provider of Product Information for the IT and Office Supplies industry.

Open Range, based in Redditch, near Birmingham, provide a database of over 1.25 million fully enriched and eCommerce ready product records along with associated imagery from over 500 world leading manufacturers. This allows its customers to have the most up to date Product Information in a “plug and play” format for their eCommerce platforms. Open Range is proud to support over 250 customers in the UK and Ireland.

They also perform bespoke managed services, covering the creation and enrichment of Product Information for most of the UK’s leading IT & Office Supplies manufacturers/distributors.

From our CEO, Martin Balaam:

“We are excited about Open Range joining the Pimberly team.  This move will allow us to cross-sell our Pimberly SaaS platform to more of the UK’s IT & Office Supplies manufacturers, distributors/resellers and also to be able to provide Pimberly customers with a valuable Product Data managed service. Open Range will be moving its 1.25 million product database onto the Pimberly platform making it even easier for Pimberly customers to have access to great product content”.

Jane Howarth, Open Range’s Founder & Director said:

This is a great opportunity for Open Range’s customers and staff to be part of Pimberly’s amazing growth story.  We are really excited at the increased functionality combining Open Range’s database and service offering onto the Pimberly platform and to be able to look at other sectors to expand into.

This won’t change things over at Pimberly HQ – Open Range will continue to operate as a separate business under the Open Range brand from its Redditch offices and there will be no change in staff or processes.

Over the coming weeks the Open Range system will be migrated to the Pimberly SaaS platform and Pimberly will be communicating to all joint customers the additional value added solutions the combined businesses can offer.

 

A bit more about Open Range

Open Range has been serving IT resellers since 2001 and is currently the only independent supplier of product data covering product ranges from all major suppliers in the Office and IT sectors.  Get-the-Spec delivers content in a single unified data format, which massively reduces the costs and work required to populate and maintain web stores with quality product information and media.

The unique Get-the-Spec data structure enables developers to provide advanced web store functions, such as filtered product searches and enhanced navigation, to improve the customer experience and promote increased on-line sales.

www.open-range.com

 If you’re interested to hear more about how this news can benefit you and your company, feel free to get in touch

Reducing returns – prevention rather than cure

Product returns cost the UK retail industry a whopping £60bn every year – £20bn is derived from online sales alone. That’s a lot of money… and also a huge headache. For this reason, the industry has spent years looking into improving efficiencies around returns, cutting delivery costs, and simplifying the whole process for consumers.

Here is the problem though; as soon as an item is delivered it has lost the majority of its value. Because, in order to make that item sellable again, it must go through the fulfilment process once more.

The nature of online shopping has meant that the return rate for online purchases is around 30% – much higher than 8.9% with instore purchases. This has almost been accepted as an unavoidable reality of ecommerce.

Wouldn’t it be great, though, if the customer didn’t need to order 3 of each size in the first place? What if product information was always as it should be, and a shopper had the sizing details they needed? Why don’t retailers focus on how to reduce returns, rather than how to simply improve the process? Almost ¼ of all returns are as a result of the “product looking different” when received.  This issue can be directly addressed by improved product data – opening the opportunity to reduce returns by 25%.

Let’s start talking prevention rather than cure. Here are some key areas of product information to look at if you’re serious about reducing your rate of returns.

Accurate and comprehensive product information

Many ecommerce businesses often have very relaxed returns policies – think free returns, and convenient processes. This means customers are more likely to make unnecessary purchases because they can simply ‘send the other one back’. They often order multiple sizes like they would in a fitting room.

Giving the customer all the product information they need reduces uncertainty and increases the chance of a purchase. Sound sensible? Well you might be surprised how many retailers ‘fall at the first hurdle’. Getting the basics of your product information right is the first step to winning your customers trust and confidence. Start with descriptions and colours and don’t forget:

  • Sizing is especially crucial for clothing. Give the customer confidence in their purchase with size guides and comparisons. ASOS is an excellent example with their tool that tells you ‘85% of people in your size range bought this item and didn’t return it’. Size charts are really useful here so the shopper can find out what the dimensions of that generic ‘medium’ actually are.
  • Dimensions are especially important for furniture. Does it come already assembled in its final size, or does it come packed in a smaller box that would help them in the lift or up the stairs? They want to know if the wardrobe will fit in the bedroom but also whether it will make it up the stairs!
  • Care instructions are often overlooked. Many people will not purchase an item if it isn’t easy-iron, for instance. Equally, if a garment is dry-clean only and the shopper only finds that out once it has arrived, a return is more likely.

Informative imagery

  • We know the importance of high quality imagery is nothing new. Good product images mean online customers are more likely to get what they expected. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words! It’s imperative to include images but, crucially, to question if they are as helpful to the shopper as they could be. For example, are they providing an accurate portrayal of colour, perspective and proportion?
  • Think carefully about which images are important to display. If you don’t have an interactive zoom capability, ensure there are close-up shots of the details listed in your product description.
  • Feed your shoppers imagination by providing lifestyle products in a contextual scene – perhaps in the garden or home. This reduces the chances of something being ‘not what I imagined’, and may also provide bonus opportunities for upselling.

Utilise user generated content

Gathering feedback and displaying this confidently doesn’t only increase consumer trust in your brand.  It also allows consumers to gain insights from like-minded shoppers. This style of product information builds trust and allows them to make an informed decision based on real opinions, rather than being reliant on your marketing copy.

To improve the effectiveness of customer reviews, you might want to consider contacting customers post-purchase, asking them to review the items they ordered. Note of caution – just make sure the order has actually arrived! You’d be surprised by the number of retailers who make this mistake. Ask verified purchasers to provide a review, however, and the exercise will yield a far more persuasive, trust-building and impactful result.

Think about the way your site visitors will see review content. Are the most helpful reviews being displayed first? The ability to sort the content by rating, for example, can help create trust in your brand by showing you’re not hiding less favourable reviews.

Informed staff = informed shoppers

Providing a personal touch point is a great opportunity to build a relationship with a customer – or on the flip side chance to spoil it by misinforming them before they make a purchase. Here are some steps to consider from this respect:

  • Providing your staff – instore and online – with complete and accurate product information means they will be able to keep your customers well informed. Easy access to information will also make this process far more efficient and cost-effective.
  • Having an informative and automated customer service function is useful for new and existing customers. LiveChat, either operated by humans or AI, is underpinned by excellent product information and can provide shoppers with the ability to ask about any aspects of the product they wish.

Take back the power with PIM

In an ideal world people would always purchase the right product and never have to return it. But put yourself in the mind of the consumer. People usually return items because there was something they didn’t know. Whether it was size or its appearance in real life. You need to relay that information to them, through your sales team, your reviews and most importantly your website product information.

Webrooming. How do your customers shop?

It’s not surprising that consumers are increasingly opting for the convenience and accessibility of online browsing. But many are also still drawn in by the immediacy and experience of in-store purchasing.

Combining the benefits of both online and in-store shopping, webrooming has become a popular trend with modern shoppers. Some people feel more comfortable buying certain products in person, where they can physically see, touch, try on or test the merchandise.

Many shoppers still like to go to a physical store:

  • To physically touch and see the product
  • Certain things like clothes need trying on or testing
  • Physical retail gives you the instant gratification of taking home your purchase there and then, be it through necessity (last minute gifts for your friend whose birthday drinks later you’d totally forgotten about)… or just because sometimes it’s nice to get what you want quickly.

Stores also provide a physical connection with customers, and the opportunity for face to face interactions with your products and your staff. That’s an opportunity not to be missed.

The rise of webrooming and ROBO

In some industries, showrooming is a standard practice. Where consumers will go into a store to view the range, gather information from staff, and then make orders online for convenience or to take advantage of a deal. This is common for high value or large goods, for example furniture and white goods.

However in recent years, it’s become more apparent that while a lot of shoppers have moved their browsing and research activity to online stores, the benefits they get in a physical store mean that in many cases they will purchase there instead. This practice of browsing online and purchasing in store has been dubbed “webrooming”, or ROBO (research online, buy offline).

 

Shopping is about gathering information

The product experience you provide across your online platforms and in store relies on a number of factors, and the skills and expertise of many departments. From designers and stock control to eCommerce and visual merchandising, collaboration is key. You need the systems and processes in place to allow your team to deliver those experiences.

Don’t forget – The process of shopping is about consumers gathering information about products in order to make a decision.

Don’t forget – the process of shopping is about consumers gathering information about products in order to make a decision. Retailers and brands are racing to provide their customers with the most seamless and integrated shopping experience across all platforms. What they mustn’t lose sight of is the product experience must be driven by the quality of their product information. Key to getting this right is the smooth integration of business systems and processes.

A solid CRM system helps companies provide high quality customer services and marketing messages. Your product information needs the same attention to support the efforts of all sales channels.

Without good product information, a fancy new eCommerce website design will go to waste. Customers who find conflicting information at different touchpoints will lose faith in your brand. Ensuring that your product information is up to scratch will also improve your SEO. This makes sure that customers can find you in the first place.

For customers who love the instant gratification of taking home their purchase today, good product information is even more vital. Without it there’s a greater chance they’ll have to come back next week to return something that isn’t what they wanted. Goods needing to be returned or replaced lead to unsatisfied customers and lost faith in your brand, not to mention the time and money needed to correct the situation.

Benefits of rich product data in ecommerce

Expanding the shopping experience with rich product data

When it comes to standing out from the competition, you’re no longer just competing on price in order to grab a customer’s attention. As the retail game is changing and buyer habits constantly evolve. Brands have got to keep up by adapting and innovating, and providing something new. Many stores understand the need to provide more than a shopping experience, and that customers aren’t just there for information. They’ve most likely made most of their buying decisions online.

Many brands are bringing technology into the retail experience. Gadgets and gizmos to detect your perfect makeup shade or help you understand what type of running shoes you need are more and more common in the modern shopping experience. Even the seemingly simple (but realistically tricky) task of arming sales-floor staff with the information customers might ask them for. It’s rich, accurate product information that powers these technologies.  These experiences are what allow retailers to maximise the value in all their store space – both the virtual and physical.

 

Adding value to webrooming with PIM

A seamless and engaging customer journey now involves many touchpoints. A great online experience with ease of comparison and plentiful information on all products allows customers to self-qualify.

By the time they are in your store they are primed and ready to purchase. The hard work is already out of the way to allow a smooth transition from visitor to customer.

By creating an enjoyable and interactive environment, you can maximise the opportunity by enticing them into impulse purchases or complementary products (that they may already have encountered on your website).

Consistent marketing messages and clear branding is important, but no longer enough to convince savvy modern customers of your brand and values. If you improve the way you manage information across your organisation, you’ll give your customers the confidence to browse and purchase across your channels and never worry they’ll be let down.

 

If you’d like to find out more about how a PIM system can enhance your customers’ product experience, contact us!

 

 

Pimberly completes Series A funding with £2m investment from Nothern PowerHouse Investment Fund (NPIF)

Pimberly has completed our Series A funding round after securing an investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).

This £2.0million funding announcement follows 16 months of rapid growth for us here. It will allow to look forward and focus on product development, customer success and new business development.

Our PIM platform enables users to harness and enrich increasing volumes of product data across multiple channels, with high-profile customers including Moonpig and Ellis Brigham.

Martin Balaam, CEO of Pimberly, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have attracted such prestigious investment. Reaching this Series A funding milestone so quickly is an achievement for every member of the team and underlines the exciting potential of Pimberly. I am also proud to be showing that the North of England not only has a heap of great talent, but crucially has the funding available to help its businesses scale and grow.

The growing Pimberly team in our Manchester office!

“We created Pimberly because, as eCommerce continues to grow, so too does the need for companies to enrich their product information, handle an increased volume of data in multiple formats, and present it all to the consumer in a way that improves the overall shopping experience and encourages them to buy. Securing this investment gives us the impetus we need to scale up the business in line with our customers’ needs.”

Dr Graham Davies, Investment Director at Mercia Fund Managers, said: “Pimberly is a great example of the innovation and leadership that is fuelling the Northern Powerhouse. Its innovative technology is already disrupting the market, and we look forward to seeing where this exciting Manchester business can go with this funding.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “This is one of the larger equity transactions from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and it highlights the strength of the region’s software sector. Pimberly has the potential to disrupt in the UK tech market. We look forward to seeing the business develop over the next few years.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It’s part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

To find out more about Pimberly contact us here or email: info@pimberly.com call: 0161 804 1850

 

 

Demanding Demographics Part 2 : Baby Boomers

Don’t miss out on the spending power of baby boomers

With all the talk in the retail world of keeping up with millennials, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the ‘baby boomers’, typically defined as those born between the late 1940s and mid 1960s, are not as engaged in an increasingly mobile retail environment. But it’s not quite as black and white as that.

As ageing members of the population with a higher proportion of disposable income, baby boomers are an increasingly important target market for retailers. But for many reasons, and in a variety of ways, the shopping habits and expectations of this group vary from other specified demographics. Considering all generational shopping habits in retail is vital when it comes to appealing to the widest set of consumers you can – and not missing out on the custom of those with, typically, more money to spend.

The omni-channel experience

 According to research by Oracle, 20% of baby boomers place importance on seeing or touching a product before making a purchase, compared to just 8.7% of millennials. But that doesn’t mean that this demographic is not browsing and purchasing online – 49% of people aged 52 to 70 spend at least 11 hours a week online, according to the 2015 State of the User Experience report from Limelight Networks. They rank research and shopping third and fourth in what they spend this time doing, after checking news and social media.

This means that, while an in-person experience is important to them, online is also important when it comes to shopping, and the options of how to interact with your brand should be made clear and accessible to them. So how do you do this for each touchpoint?

Online:

Make sure your products are flagged as in or out of stock at your customer’s closest stores, so they know if they can go and see it. Also ensure that shipping and delivery options are clearly displayed, as well as your returns policy and ways to get help in person (baby boomers typically prefer face-to-face communication).

In store:

Are your salespeople armed with relevant, accurate product information to answer any customer questions with? And perhaps more importantly, is this consistent with the information that was available to customers online? Being sent back to the website for answers is frustrating, and may exclude some older shoppers.

Additionally, making unique produce codes or scannable QR codes easily accessible in store means that your customers can easily find it online later, should they wish to complete a purchase.

Trust issues

When it comes to baby boomers, these older shoppers tend to shop online and on mobile devices less frequently, so are less familiar with eCommerce platforms. It’s key that your customer journey is easy and intuitive to navigate, and that all your products and online functions are clear and accessible. Incorrect or badly organised product information can be confusing for anyone, and is the quickest way to destroy trust in your brand.

Easily accessible user manuals for products can help shoppers feel more at ease when navigating your eCommerce spaces, and ultimately making a purchase. They can give your customers an insight into the usability of a product, and better yet, demonstration videos and other rich content can reassure those who might be on the fence about making a purchase. Additionally, keeping your product data consistent across all channels will help your customers feel like they’re not missing out because they don’t want to shop online (for example, making sure deals and promotions are available on all channels).

Knowing your product ranges

While trust and loyalty in your brand are vital factors across all demographics, you need to address it differently in each case. Of course, it’s possible that you’ll be marketing the same product lines to both millennials and baby boomers, you’ll probably find that there’s not a lot of crossover. Knowing your product ranges inside out means that you can accurately target multiple generations, by tailoring your product information to the consumers who are most likely to be interested in that range.

How PIM can help

In order to capitalise on the spending power of baby boomers, retailers must pay close attention to the way their eCommerce sites are being used by different customers, giving insight in to how to maximise the returns on these interactions. Trust and consistency are key issues for older generations, especially when it comes to navigating the various retail touchpoints now available.

By ensuring that your product information is clear and accurate across all sales channels, you can make sure that no one is left behind. PIM can make it easier for staff in all departments to tailor their omni-channel offering to particular target segments, by streamlining processes, creating an efficient workflow and freeing up people to spend more time creating engaging content for the right customers.

To find out more about how Pimberly can help you successfully target multiple generations of shoppers, get in touch with the team by calling 0161 804 1850 or emailing sales@pimberly.com.

The Pimberly Way Part 3: 4 Key Pillars of PIM

Choosing and implementing a PIM that’s right for your business can be a lengthy and difficult process. With so many potential hurdles, conflicts and stumbling blocks, it can even lead some companies to give up altogether. Some might even abandon the project.

We understand that this process can be a hassle. Our people have a unique insight from years of experience combined with a fresh and open-minded attitude. This means we’re perfectly equipped to guide teams through the process of setting up a PIM system. We address their specific business needs: ensuring a speedy ROI.

It’s important in a project like a PIM implementation that decision makers are not distracted by bells and whistles. It important to focus on what it is that they are specifically looking to achieve.  With that in mind, at Pimberly we built our solution around the following four key pillars of PIM that businesses need to consider when implementing PIM:

  • Flexibility of data model to fit with your data.
  • Digital asset management (DAM).
  • Integration with existing systems.
  • Workflows and product process orchestration.

 

1. Flexibility of data model to fit with your data

Because every business is unique, we build Pimberly so that it allows you to implement your own data model. Not only is this necessary across different businesses, but individual businesses will change and grow over time. You need a system that’s going to be able to adapt!

This flexibility allows each company to totally customise their PIM system, adding and changing data and how it’s organised to best suit your needs, and adding as much rich data as you like. A one-size-fits-all solution is just not practical in the world of PIM, and we want to provide our customers with a flexible solution that’s going to be right for them.

2. PIM Integration with existing systems

Your PIM must integrate with your existing internal systems, or you’re going to have a lot of disgruntled IT staff on your hands, not to mention a drop in productivity. Your new PIM is going to need to talk to your internal systems including ERP and e-commerce along with external systems for suppliers, manufacturers, resellers, photographers, designers etc.

Cloud based platforms allow you to integrate without the risk of opening up your network. Allowing for ultimate collaboration both internally and externally to your organisation.

Pimberly has a simple UI that enables the business to decide which information they want to be presented to which system, user or sales channel. So there’s no need for lengthy and complex IT changes.

 

3. Workflows and product process orchestration

The whole point of implementing PIM is to enhance the way your business runs. Managing product information is something that companies are already doing. PIM software such as Pimberly allows you to do it better and more efficiently. Product information and the processes that go alongside it are complex. Your PIM software must be capable of effectively managing these processes.

The ability to set up your own workflows puts you in total control of how information moves around your business. This helps you to reduce time to market and onboard more products more quickly. These workflows are absolutely vital for realising tangible business benefits, and are essential in quality control of data. Validation and approval-style workflows take care of the quality of your data, taking some of that stress away from you.

 

4. Digital asset management

Digital asset management (DAM) is a key element in providing great product experience. From sample shots required to start copywriting, to videos and 360 views, it can be overwhelming. Furthermore – all these comes from multiple locations i.e. photography shoots, international suppliers, in house photography agencies, film studios etc. Eventually all these assets need distributing to the right channels in the correct format.

Pimberly makes this easy. As it’s a cloud-based platform, you can upload assets from any location and automatically related to the correct products. Then it automatically moves through workflows and enrichment processes.

Assets in Pimberly are stored directly with product information. Because of this they also go through the processes of enrichment and quality control as your product attributes do. You can tie them into your workflows, streamlining the entire process. Allowing you to focus more on enriching your data to create the fully rounded shopping experience that modern customers demand.

 

Pimberly and the four pillars

Pimberly’s cloud-based platform allows for all the flexibility and integration options you could ask for. It also has powerful workflow and DAM features that can help end your product information woes. Our dedicated and friendly team are on hand to help you and your staff choose the right option to suit your business, and comfortably tick off all four of the key pillars that make up a successful PIM.

 

Want to know more about how our specialists can ensure your PIM implementation is a success? Head over to our expertise page for more information, or get in touch with us by calling 0161 804 1850 or emailing sales@pimberly.com.