How can I implement a PIM system successfully?

When kicking off a new project customers often ask for help with what to do to make their project implementation a big success. We tell everyone that in order to succeed the following three items need to be handled properly:

1. Set Clear Objectives 

Not a single PIM project has started without a compelling business need or objective. For example:

  • “Utilize the working hours of the professionals most productively.”
  • “Strengthen sales and product communications by 300% in online stores, product brochures, seller communications and dealer apps.”
  • “External forces influence change: list product information according to ETIM classification model.”
    Write your objectives where everybody can see them all the time.

2. Message Correctly

The identified objectives and necessary changes need to be communicated clearly to:

  • The Right People – Do you send your messages only to Product and Marketing Managers or do you also send these messages to your Customers, Partners and Prospective Clientele? Have you created an effective and clear stakeholder analysis that makes it easy for your communications to be directed to your target audience?
  • At the Right Time – Does i.e. the management get all the information they need during the project so that they can forward this information to other parties involved?Are the users of the system only involved in the Kick-off and User Training or are they in for the long run?
  • In the Right Way – Will you settle for passive e-mailings or will you be on the road for months at a time visiting every nook and cranny of your organization or will you do something else depending on the phase of the project and your target group?

3. Make a Commitment and Demand Engagement

Only a committed Project Management will be able to enroll and engage an Organization and its Stakeholders into making a change and also implementing any change in the way that the business is run effectively.  Commitment and engagement create deep-rooted and permanent change.

Implementing a system also requires successful definitions and effective communication with the System Supplier. However, these are the easier part of implementing a system.

But hey, we will gladly talk with you about all these things also! Contact us! 

Product information is our most important capital

A few weeks ago, I was with a client who stated that in future, product information will be their most important capital. Products are sold through high-quality product information and it allows them to reach big targets, such as doubling sales revenue over the next couple of yers. For example, maintaining an online shop without the proper processes and tools is impossible for them, never mind further developing their business.

We have been working with product information for several years now and completed dozens of projects. Often, product information and PIM as a term have been completely new to our clients and we have worked hard to raise the awareness in Finland. Indeed, often we have started from the processes involved in automated publishing in relation to product information. These are based on company’s needs and their benefits are easier to grasp. Of course nobody wants to do product information just for the sake of it, that’s why it’s better to see its benefits as soon as possible.

It has been a great pleasure to note that a growing number of organisations has studied product information management, knows the terminology and it has been noted even on the upper levels of the strategy. In many businesses, product information management is part of the daily life. Of course there are more businesses that are only coming around it now. At its best, product information management is seen as one of the core processes that is meant for feeding information into channels that require it. Often, the client realises the importance of product information management as they set up their online shop. The online shop obviously requires quick reactions and real-time updates. This raises some eyebrows as old sales channels may have been functioning through manual processes for years. For example, it may take months to manually produce a printed catalogue whereas it could be produced in a fraction of the time if the process was automated.

Of course, the client’s statement raises their requirements onto a new level. How does one manage product information and more importantly, how do you use it efficiently to reach big targets? What should the processes be and how do the tools support them? These are some of the questions we gladly help our clients with. Take a look at the reference page and see how we have helped some of our current clients with their solutions.

 

Sales, more sales, video  

kissavideo_canter_blogi

Would you rather watch this blog post on video? Image borrowed from https://healthyguide.net/

I admit it, I am pretty lazy. When I’m shopping online, I tend to spend only about 15 seconds on a single page – especially if there is nothing to grab my attention right from the start, or if I’m not finding what I’m looking for. My worst turn-off is badly presented content. Pretty pictures will make it easier to stay on the site, but if for example the photo gallery doesn’t work with the arrow keys, I tend to just give up before long as using the mouse from the bed is too much of an effort. I also read very selectively: large feature posts, sub-headers and maybe the reviews. If I am extremely interested in the content, I just might read the small print and the actual body text.

But how about a video? Those I’ll watch pretty much every single time – especially if they’re short ones. I’ve bought more than enough dresses online because of a compelling product video. Nowadays I know that photos often lie, but I feel that a video is more concrete, more informative and more truthful.

Me and I’m guessing everybody else never reads a manual, but when I’m having problems I always have some time for few minutes long how-to video. With the advent of multiple new channels and everything becoming social, the end users are creating these videos themselves as well. You can find out how the product actually performs by watching a short YouTube or Snapchat video someone posted.

I believe that most people are like me – lazy, who believe when they see. Moving images work better and demand less from us. According to recent case studies, product videos can increase the conversion rate of a web-store by up to 85%. Google is also giving higher search result ranks to sites with videos. Maybe my next blog post too should be a video…

Videos are an important part of enriched product information – in addition to being informative and sometimes even entertaining, at best they can be the factor that makes the customer decide to buy the product, and increase your sales. Does your company already have a solution to tackle this new frontier? Look into Adeona PIM solutions for product information management and publishing.

Could you utilize existing data more, so that the customer experience would always be high quality? 

This title is a direct quote from the Trade Union’s e-commerce education presentation by CGI’s Mikko Kuusisto. We were participating in a training of experts involved in e-commerce. The discussion in this event proceeded very fast into customer experience and its improvement. This topic is popular right now, and for a reason. Both good and bad service experiences spread faster than before and reach across multiple channels to ever increasing audiences. All of these experiences are also shared more daringly.

How do product information and customer experience in an online store relate to each other? The picture below tells the story. The most important parts of an online store are considered to be the product image, product features, product description and product reviews.

All of these details are associated with product data. Often this product data is stored in several places, based on each user’s preferences. One person’s excel looks one way, another person’s word file another way, and somebody else’s files look distinctly different. Product photos are stored in each user’s personal files, on the desktop or “where they are easy to find.” In a rush a wrong picture might be published with wrong information. If a customer cannot find what they want, there will be no sale.

It is possible to vastly improve the customer experience with already existing product data. Compilation of information in one place, for example in the PIM system, makes updating the product data more systematic. This way nobody has to look for “the right image” or wonder about a suitable marketing message. When product information is aggregated in one place, product data enrichment becomes easier. Everyone will have access to the same information in one place. Also, this way errors will be minimized.

Some of our customers have faced challenges with product data management.  You can view the solutions to their problems here.

Demands for Product Information are growing

Digitalization creates pressures concerning product information within an organization. Ever more extensive product information in a standardized format is being requested and demanded. During this fall I have had discussions every week with clients who are confronted with this challenge.

Wholesalers have set up their own e-commerce and supporting PIM systems. The goal is to create a process where product information is available collected from suppliers easily in a uniform structural format. This way, the products may be opened quickly in the systems and are ready to be ordered (time-to-market), and own work for collecting product information is minimized.

Suppliers experience this as pressure. Different retailers need product information – each in their own, slightly varying format. Filling Excel spreadsheets with information from thousands of products or offering product images named with EAN/GTIN codes or the client’s codes requires extremely heavy manual labor or may even be impossible. The challenges are very similar, independent of the size of the company. An enormous amount of energy is consumed doing routine work and the end result contains a considerable amount of errors.

Simultaneously, the company should also invest in its digital visibility and marketing. How to find the right balance and make use of work that has already been done? The unavoidable question arises, whether the time consumed in manual Excel use could be used more efficiently in increasing the visibility of the organization?

We have already succeeded in addressing these challenges with several clients, and the results have been magnificent. Besides mandatory product information listings, it is, for example, possible to automatically produce impressive client specific price lists with images – with the clients range of products assortment and prices. One of the successful examples is our client, Amo.

Watch the video and read of how the importer of toys Amo solved the challenge.

Customer needs are concrete in nature

Often, the customers’ needs regarding product information management or publishing automation are very concrete and their benefits directly observed. I was visiting a customer who produces instruction manuals for their products in numerous languages. At the moment, these manuals are produced fully manually, which means that the text and images are laid onto an InDesign document which gets converted into a PDF-file. The finished instruction manual gets saved onto the system as a PDF, which then gets shared onto websites etc.

As the brand image has recently changed, the instruction manual’s back cover needs updated, meaning that the change will apply to all instruction manuals. There are not overwhelmingly many of the products that require these manuals, only around 500. However, they get translated into several languages so the overall amount is significantly larger. Let’s assume that there are five languages, which then makes the overall number of these manuals around 2500.

The manual changing process goes as follows:

  1. The original file gets downloaded from the system onto the user’s work station
  2. The user replaces the back cover or adds the necessary changes
  3. The instruction manual gets converted into a PDF-file
  4. The produced PDF-file and its page layout file get saved into the system where it can be used again for websites etc.

This process takes around 5 minutes per document. Going through all the documents, this will take 12,500 minutes which is over 200 hours, or 30 full working days. In practice this means that one individual in the business would be making these changes to the documents for six working weeks. Thus, the job that seemed so insignificant at first actually takes a significant amount of time. In reality, the documents are translated into many more languages than given in this example.

This problem can be easily solved through publishing automation. These instruction manuals could be produced and saved automatically which would also mean that the updated documents would be quickly available in the system as the changes are processed.

An example of one of Adobe InDesign-based publishing automation:

The new online stores of K-rauta and Rautia are taking advantage of Adeona’s rich product information

During the current year, Rautakesko has expanded its e-commerce activities in Finland. In April K-rauta e-commerce was published, in May it was Rautia’s turn and in June the new K-maatalous redesigned website was published. In Sweden, K-rauta e-commerce was published in the summer of 2014.

Foundation and processes that cover the comprehensive product information are built in Adeona carefully, which has facilitated the renewal of all network services. Data accuracy, speedy access and distribution ensure high quality of product information and distribution in all of Rautakesko’s online services.

Adeona supports the improvement of the customer experience by providing the network services with high-quality product information. Adeona also serves as a background for search operations services, and plays an integral part in filtering information or finding alternative products. In addition to online services, Adeona PIM’s maintained and controlled product information is also used in traditional marketing, on printed materials, as well as in stakeholder services. With Adeona, the “do once, benefit forever” -principle is realized – even with hundreds of thousands of titles. Rautakesko’s Global Development Manager, Antti Sarkkula, describes the importance of product information:

We are able to improve our online store customer experience, because our foundation is in order, in  example, in regard to the product information.

Kesko tuotetiedonhallinta

More information:

Katri Koskentalo
Manager, Customer Relations
+358 40 167 8971
katri.koskentalo@canter.fi

The uniform appearance in the IKH price tags with Sales Tool

IKH implemented Adeona Sales Tool in over 130 stores all over Finland in order to uniform their price tags and make them appear more professional. It has made the creation of price tags fast and easy, saving money and headaches!

Prior to the implementation, each retailer handled the creation of the price tags, excluding chain-wide campaigns, themselves. This created varied tag layouts. With Sales Tool the layout creation and manual fetching of product information has been automated. Never the less, it is still possible for the retailers to alter the price of the product or the product information manually, if they so desire. All price tags also include a QR code, which the buyers can use to look up more detailed product information online while shopping.

Feedback from the retailers has been positive, and the new system has been received with joy:

I want to recommend the Sales Tool system, and extend my thanks to the marketing department for it! It works perfectly, and the overall look of the store has improved with the unified price tags. It also saves a ton of our time!

 

More information:

Katri Koskentalo
Manager, Customer Relations
katri.koskentalo@canter.fi
040 167 8917

Amo increased their sales with Adeona Sales Tool

The role of brand owners, importers and merchants has changed from logistics partners towards information logistics each day and their customers require better and more accurate product descriptions that have to be exactly correct. Online and multi-channel sales only add to this challenge. With Amo, many retailers are developing their own information processes and they wish to receive the product information in the format they want.

Corporate and product brand management and efficiency to produce materials are important when the sales personnel are preparing their sales presentations, offers and other sales material to be distributed for their customers.

Sales Tool has fulfilled our expectations and the visual materials have even exceeded them. The tool has been very easy to use and thus the deployment has been a breeze.

Johanna Vesterinen, Business Planning Manager, Amo Oy

Adeona Sales Tool provided Amo with ready-made solutions for challenges produced by the back-office needs. With Sales Tool the production of different types of publishing can be done easily and effortlessly lessening the manual work and the errors coming with it and providing the customers with higher quality product information and material faster than before.

The service allows automated production of material such as:

  • easily managed sales information brand by brand for the sales personnel
  • product information and photos in the required format for both retailers and customers
  • formal offers and stunning brochures
  • other publications for customer communication, e.g., customer-specific pricing and photo catalogues

Using Sales Tool has made the production of sales materials and offers a lot more easier, leaving more time for making the actual sales and polishing the offers instead of searching for product images and descriptions or copy pasting.

Johanna Vesterinen, Business Planning Manager, Amo Oy

The foundation of operative product marketing for Amo is solid: the product information is managed with Adeona PIM and the Amo ERP-system (Digia Enterprise). The roles of the systems were strictly defined during the development so that the principle of single input is achieved with all the information and that all the information is kept up-to-date automatically within all the sales channels and services.

During the development of the project Adeona Media Bank was also updated to the latest version. Via the media bank Amo is able to easily share content, photo material and selected product information to their clients, stakeholders as well as their own people. Flexible user access policies and content sharing allows for only the people with correct credentials to have the access to the material.

Product information enriched via Adeona PIM is automatically transferred into a customer-oriented aarrekirja.fi service.
More Information:

Johanna Vesterinen, Business Planning Manager, Amo Oy, johanna.vesterinen@amo.fi
Patrik Palatz, Managing Director, Canter Oy,  patrik.palatz@canter.fi
Johanna Vesterinen, Business Planning Manager, Amo Oy

Sormat’s product catalogs automated in 11 languages using Canter’s technology

Sormat’s bolts, anchors and other fasteners assembled into a catalog in 11 languages

Sormat’s product catalogs are actively used in construction sites and offices in 11 different languages throughout Europe. The new polished appearance and rapid layout process significantly enhance the company’s product marketing and essential product information distribution. Using real-time search functionality, product information is retrieved from Sormat’s system into an automated InDesign layout provided by Canter. A two-hundred-page catalog is now produced within hours instead of months, and content is simultaneously updated into the website and product catalog.

The technology for the layout automation is directly integrated with Sormat’s new product database which provides all product-related and product-category-related texts and images. The new catalogs contain 14 different types of charts for the distinct presentation of different types of products.

 

We decided to go for the technology provided by Canter as we wanted to enhance and speed up the production of our print publications, our product catalogs in particular, and prepare ourselves for the already rapidly accelerating proliferation of digital printing as well as generally have more flexibility and cost-effectiveness in our publication process. Our new tool enables us to purely concentrate on the content and interpretation of our own expertise with a focus on our audience instead of wasting valuable resources in practicalities such as chart layouts and spell checks.

Matti Koukka, Marketing Manager, Sormat Oy

 

The project was preceded by a workshop led by Canter in which the conditions for automation were examined and a common understanding for the structure of the automated product catalog was formed.

 

From time to time, it is a true pleasure for Marketing Manager to find a partner who is genuinely skilled in their own business and furthermore, who is able to efficiently share their know-how with their clients. The preparatory two-day workshop for the introduction of Canter’s layout automation technology did not try to get the “client to realise what they had always known”. Our learning curve rose continuously at an accelerating rate and with a tight angle towards the top right corner. A practical, well-prepared and comprehensive workshop enabled us to get a deeper understanding of the structure of our product information and particularly streamline our complex and technical charts.

Matti Koukka, Marketing Manager, Sormat Oy

More information:

Matti Koukka, Marketing Manager, Sormat Oy, matti.koukka@sormat.com
Janne Costiander, Development Director, Canter Oy, janne.costiander@canter.fi

Sormat Oy (Ltd)

Sormat was founded in 1970 and is Northern Europe’s leading international-level domestic manufacturer of fastening materials operating in over 40 countries. Located in Rusko near the city of Turku in western Finland, Sormat employs nearly 90 people and partners with many of Europe’s and the world’s largest industrial and construction companies. Sormat’s turnover in 2013 was 19.3 MEUR.

www.sormat.fi