Think for a moment about how you go about shopping online. You likely analyse product images and rely on descriptions to gain a clear understanding of the brand and product you might want to purchase. If you visit two e-commerce sites to compare prices, you might have noticed that occasionally the same branded product has different images on different e-commerce sites, and perhaps the product description is different too, or there is more information. One site might also contain more supporting content, such as ‘How to use guides’ or technical manuals, and others don’t.
The problem here is often an issue with how the manufacturer or brand manages their product information and content and how they supply it to wholesalers or retailers. Manual processes in the digital content supply chain, duplicated data and siloed content systems have likely combined to create the discrepancies you see. If these sound like issues experienced in the way your brand and products are represented, it might be time to invest in and integrate your Product Information Management (PIM) and Product Content Management (PCM) systems.
PIM is a core tool for managing and maintaining product specification data, but PCM is essential for managing the creation, storage, and distribution of product content, such as images, videos, descriptions, manuals and how-to guides. If you need to streamline content operations and deliver personalised customer and company experiences, it is essential to understand how they differ and complement each other. Enriching core product information for specific channels and leveraging first-person data can only be done if you integrate the two and leverage their combined strengths.
Defining Product Information Management
PIM centralises, manages and maintains product specification data, such as price, dimensions, packaging, volume and description. It streamlines the process of handling product data and ensures the accuracy and consistency of this information across all channels, such as e-commerce websites, print catalogues and marketing materials.
PIM platforms integrate with various systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and e-commerce platforms, to automate data management tasks and minimise errors created by manual data entry. For example, if the price of a product changes, you do not need to update this across every platform; the PIM system will handle this automatically.
The system allows users to store, organise, and update product information in a single database, making it easier for teams to access and share data, improving efficiency and consistency. PIM solutions also include features such as data enrichment, validation, and distribution, making it a valuable tool for organisations looking to improve their PIM processes when collaborating with distributors and partners.
A key point differentiating PIM from PCM is that it primarily focuses on the product journey and improves how you manage that within your organisation. PIM supports the product journey by:
- Shortening time to market: PIM can streamline the product launch process by ensuring that product information is readily available to your team and any distributors you work with.
- Improving how you manage product information: PIM ensures product information is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date, reducing the risk of errors.
- Supporting collaboration between teams: PIM creates a single source of truth for your product data, enabling teams to collaborate more effectively on product content because they have access to the same information.
- Improved search results: PIM platforms enable teams to categorise products in a way that makes sense to customers. This can include size, colour, material, style and more complex attributes like compatibility with other products.
Defining Product Content Management
PCM manages the creation, storage, and distribution of product content, such as images, videos, descriptions, manuals and how-to guides. PCM helps your organisation streamline PCM processes, improving consistency, and making it easier to enrich and share product content for omnichannel content delivery across online stores, social media, print catalogues and online advertising. You can leverage assets stored in the PCM platform to create tailored customer experiences, such as product recommendations, targeted promotions, and personalised product pages.
The PCM system integrates with other systems, such as PIM and at the core, has a Digital Asset Management (DAM) capability to provide a centralised repository for all product-related content. It differs from a standalone DAM platform because it allows the creation of entities to conform to the product hierarchy and relates assets and content to represent the product structure for omnichannel distribution. It enables teams to collaborate on creating and managing product content, with built-in approval workflows and version control to ensure accuracy and consistency. This makes enriching and personalising content for consumption easier, as the right information is easily accessible.
PCM can significantly impact and influence the customer journey by improving the quality and accuracy of the product content customers see during their shopping experience. Here are a few ways PCM supports the customer journey:
- Personalising customer experiences: You can ensure that the product content displayed on websites and other channels is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date. This can reduce customer confusion, leading to better experiences with your brand.
- Maintaining consistent messaging: PCM ensures that brand messaging is consistent across all channels, helping to reinforce the brand image and enhance the customer experience.
- Enhancing product discovery: PCM improves product discoverability by making it easier for customers to find the products they are looking for and those similar to them. With accurate and detailed product information and content, customers are more likely to find the products they want, reducing the likelihood of them giving up and going to a competitor's site.
- Recommending similar products to customers: PCM can help your organisation provide personalised product recommendations based on their past behaviour and preferences. This can help to improve the customer experience and increase loyalty.
How do PIM and PCM work together?
The two systems work together by integrating product information from the PIM system into the content creation process in the PCM system. PIM systems provide the central repository for product information, while PCM systems provide the content management capabilities to distribute that information to various channels. This integration ensures that product content is based on accurate and up-to-date product information, making it easier for your organisation to create and distribute consistent and compelling product content.
By integrating PIM and PCM systems, your company can streamline product data management processes, improve the accuracy of product information, and ensure that product content is consistent and up-to-date across all channels within your own digital ecosystem. As a manufacturer, it provides a downstream automated feed to your suppliers of accurate and up-to-date product content and retailers, ensuring brand consistency and a better experience for new or returning customers.
Creative Folks can deploy the PCM solution you need
Creative Folks understand the nuts and bolts of the product lifecycle and can help you implement the technology and processes to manage product data and omnichannel content delivery. We have experience implementing solutions, like Sitecore Content Hub, for our customers and have delivered solutions aligned with their marketing and organisational strategies. Please visit our Product Content Management page for more.