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Five good reasons to get PIM

1. Does your product information management process look something like this?

If the answer is yes, contact us and we will help you.

tuotetietokaaos

2. Do you want to provide the best possible customer experience?

In that case, the PIM system is a relevant part of the solution. Through centralized product information management, you will be able to provide high-quality, correct and up-to-date product information through one source to all of your channels and stakeholders – both customers and your own staff.

3. Do you want to boost your product marketing?

By using PIM and its automated publishing solutions you can publish campaign leaflets, product catalogues or cards, create catalogues or leaflets, posters, price lists or shelf labels for shops just by a few presses of a button. You can publish in formats such as PDF, Excel, PowerPoint, and InDesign. See examples of publication solutions here  and here.

4. Do you want to be ready for fast, strategic changes?

If the foundation of your product information management is solid, expanding to new publishing channels, applications or new country or language versions is easy. Via PIM interfaces you can offer product information to e.g. your new retailer’s online store or website, to your customer’s purchasing system or any other channel that you wish to employ. There is no need reinvent the wheel every time.

5. Do you want to get rid of unnecessary manual work phases?

PIM allows you to automatize many routine tasks which would take a long time to do manually (and which often are the most tedious tasks as well). From PIM the product information is brought to the right stakeholders automatically. In addition, you can get rid of excessive copy pasting when you can rapidly produce e.g different Office or InDesign format product publications instead of requiring weeks’ worth of manual work.

Google <3 Product Information

Search engines – and especially the most glorious of them all, Google – are gatekeepers to all online content. Your website is virtually nonexistent if search engines cannot find it. Also, the competition for a spot on the first page of search results is fierce – very few have the patience to browse through all the pages, and a ranking on the second page reaps few rewards.

It is thus advisable to take some time to consider Google when setting up a website, online store or a product catalogue. The inner workings of the search algorithm are a well-guarded secret, but certain fundamentals are pretty easy to take care of on product information pages.

Product descriptions

  • Google penalizes you right away if product description is missing. Compose descriptive content that describes the product to the customer – and the search engine – as comprehensively as possible. However, avoid excess wordiness.
  • Always strive for unique content. Google lowers your ranking instantly if the same text is being recycled on several websites. It is worth your while to fine-tune e.g. the manufacturer’s descriptions a little, even though it might be easier to publish it as is. Here too setting yourself apart from the others is commendable.

Extensive, diverse content

  • Diverse content is rewarded: in addition to comprehensive written content, use images, videos, links, attachments…
  • If the page has no images ranking goes down. Pay extra attention to image alt texts, so that your page will appear in the image search results as well.
  • Offer plain language web addresses (URL addresses). In addition to Google, users too like links that convey directly what the page is about – it’s best to forget automatically created nonsense string addresses.

Offer many routes to your content

  • The ranking goes up if the website is referenced from several other websites, because this makes Google perceive your site as more trustworthy.
  • Importers, for instance, may boost the online store of the local wholesaler or retailer by linking to these sites directly from their own site. Take into account, though, that the websites need to be trustworthy (see Section ‘Don’t cheat’).

Invest in usability

  • Google – like the rest of us – loves pages that load quickly. Fast websites get a considerably higher ranking in the search results.
  • There will be a penalty if the mobile users have been neglected and the page does not scale to smaller screens.
  • Search engines also try to rate the quality of your site by monitoring how often users return straight back to the search result page after visiting your website. If Google notices that your website responds poorly to the needs of customers, your ranking will decline.

Don’t cheat

If you get caught cheating, the consequences might be severe: in the worst case you will end up on Google’s black list and your website will not be dropped from the search results entirely. You can earn Google’s disregard by, for instance, doing some of the following:

  • Buying external links referring to your website that typically come from notorious spam sites or social media accounts. If you get busted doing this, your site may be completely removed from the search results. Not a recommendable maneuver.
  • Flooding your website keywords with countless keywords and excessive repetition. Your ranking will likely end up at the bottom end of the results, even though everything else were AOK.
  • Dispersing broken web links that tell Google that your site is not up to date. This most likely will not drop you completely off the search results, but weakens your ranking in comparison to a web page that has working links.

You’ll receive more information about Product Information Management and its possibilities by leaving your contact information and we will get in touch.

Virtual Shopping Is (Almost) Here!

In collaboration with the Myer’s store chain, eBay has published the world’s first 3D virtual online store. This pretty simple concept consists of a cardboard “Shopticals” box, into which a smartphone is attached. An app is loaded into the smartphone which is then viewed through the cardboard box mount.

In a virtual store there is no need to click the mouse. All the choices and navigation are accomplished by aligning the gaze. If you look at a certain item or a product for a while, more detailed information will be listed. The store has 3D images of the most popular products in each product category. Right now the virtual store is available only in Australia, but surely we will soon have something similar.

Virtual shopping and the 3D world present new challenges for listing product information and sharing this information via different channels. 3D product images are clearly the first milestone, and maybe in a few years there will be product content for the other senses as well – like scents, virtual touch and feel and sound.

When product information and its foundation management are done right, it is easier to share information and refine this information toward new technologies and distribution channels. If you feel like your company’s Product Information Management needs to be improved, do contact us!

More information:
Manager, Customer Relations
Katri Koskentalo
040 167 8971
katri.koskentalo@canter.fi

Read also “Product information and buying”!

Helvar polishes product information management processes with Adeona PIM

Specialised in energy-efficient solutions for the global market, Helvar will centralise its product information management with the Adeona PIM solution.

The lighting technology company publishes product information on its website, in printed product catalogues and in brochures, price lists and Excel spreadsheets targeting various resellers and market segments.

In the past, the company’s product information was scattered across different systems: on the website, in printed catalogues and in local area network shares. The major challenge has been managing the different language versions, which, with the eight languages to maintain, is not a surprise. Although the majority of the content is the same regardless of the language, it still needs to be updated separately for online publishing and for the printed catalogue. In addition, images and other documents had to be copied to the website and also to a separate media bank service.

The new media bank was published in April. Now the images and documents are automatically updated by Adeona PIM and the changes are reflected both on the website and in the media bank. In addition, automation can make industrious steps easier, such as updating product information in price lists and product catalogues with finished layout.

Are you interested? For more information about our PIM solutions, please contact:

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

 

Helvar is an international lighting technology company specialising in energy efficient components and solutions for lighting and lighting control systems. We aim to bring continuously more intelligent, easy-to-use, reliable lighting solutions for the different needs in the marketplace. Strong growth in LED and lighting controls will continue with a growing emphasis on the opportunities digitalisation will provide, the internet of things (IoT), human centric lighting and energy efficiency being key elements in the future of lighting.www.helvar.fi 

Canter provides their clients with Adeona product data management solutions. With Adeona, it is possible to save all the information centrally in order to update and share them faster. Getting your product to the market becomes faster, and the results can be seen in the increase of customer satisfaction. You can read more about the company at:https://www.canter.fi/en/company/

 

Product Information and Buying

This summer, our company will move to a new location. The renovation has just started, and I hope we’ll be in a shining new office that has been designed according to our needs. I’ll certainly write more about the new premises in our blog at a later time.

I have participated in the design of the new office, dealing with everything from the layout plan to cabling. During this process, I have learned about dozens of products and services that were new to me. As examples, I could mention glass walls, acoustic solutions, teamwork products, wall drawing boards, furniture, and AV technology, which all have become more familiar to me. Not everything has been a walk in the park.

In particular, companies that do B2B trading, product information availability varies greatly. Be it an online store, a website, or a product catalog, many businesses seem to assume that the customer will ask or know what they are looking for. With many products, even the basic data isn’t shown properly. This is my list of information I want to see when I’m looking for products:

  • Price: If the price or service is customizable, information on the effect on price
  • Availability or delivery time
  • Product properties: Technical specifications, dimensions, etc.
  • Product description: Where and what type of use the product is suitable for, e.g., consumer vs. office product
  • Images: If the product is related to interior decoration, illustrations in different environments
  • Services: What services are related to or available for the product: g., design, installation, transport, etc.
  • Where to ask, who to contact for details: For many products, I would have been a sure customer if the product page had had readily accessible information on which expert I can contact when in doubt
  • Reviews: What other customers are saying of this product

There’s been a lot of talk about how B2B trading is changing, and clients that are used to consumer online stores are expecting rock solid purchase and service experience also when buying online. The world definitely isn’t finished in this aspect. Products that don’t have complete information don’t sell. Fortunately, there are already some positive exceptions that stand out from the crowd. As for myself, I’ll do my business where the product information is extensive and up-to-date, and in this case the price isn’t always the decisive factor.

Read more about our solutions for product information management.

Product Information Management in Excel

I regularly visit clients to advise them on product information management and publishing automation. It may be a client who is just planning to obtain a PIM system, and it may be an experienced one with fine-tuned processes. Quite often when I am doing a consulting or training call, they ask me,

What is the usual way for solving product information management?

My usual response is showing them a picture:

tuotetiedonhallinta_excel_english

But there is a truth to the joke. Too often product information management issues have been solved with several parallel and overlapping Excel files. Sometimes the process has not been thought out or no one knows of anything better.

Excel is excellent in many places. Even our PIM product allows for mass updating product data or retrieving product information for refining or running reports on it using Excel files. Excel can be used as a CRM system, a BI tool etc. Excel is also certain to be the most used PIM system. It is easy to understand why Excel would be chosen as the tool: it is inexpensive, and the data model is flexible and familiar to many. It is also relatively easy to use it to transfer information to other systems.

However, Excel is not for everything. As a centralised product database is rarely works even to an adequate degree. Here are some reasons why:

Information security How is it ensured that the product data master has been backed up? Are backups made of the Excel files? Does the entire company’s product information travel around the world in a single user’s laptop? If a user makes local changes, is the workstation backed up? If the user accidentally deletes an entire worksheet, what happens? Are modifications logged? Can it be traced who modified what and when?

Data model
Although it is possible to model a variety of information types in an Excel file, how easily will it support:

  • modelling the different data models of different products (and guiding data entry accordingly)
  • defining inter-product relations and links
  • adding and managing product images and attachments
  • managing categories, groups and classifications

It is also industrious to build different rules and logic sets in Excel. How is it specified that some element is required?

Multi-user support
How does an Excel file support multiple people using it concurrently? Is the information required by different roles in different files? How is the information kept up-to-date? Is the latest information always available in the shared workbook or do users have a local copy of the files?

Images
How are product-related images managed in an Excel PIM solution? Probably in a separate shared folder? How are suitable versions made of the images for different channels? Automation, even in the simplest of tasks, will become difficult or impossible.

Searchability
How easy is it to find the products in Excel? If the data model is the slightest bit complex, information has probably been distributed across several files. If there are dozens or hundreds of thousands of products and each has a couple hundred attributes, you will end up with dozens of millions of cells in Excel. Not very excellent.

Integrations
How easy is it to create genuine system integration between Excel and an online store? A modern PIM system provides interfaces that Excel users can only dream of. For example, a JSON-based REST interface provides marvellous opportunities for easy system integration.

Usability
Is the Excel user interface developed for efficient product information maintenance? Hardly.

Channels
In the world of PIM, we talk of channels. This means how product information is used in different sales and marketing channels. How easy is it, for example, to get information from Excel to electronic channels or automated material printing processes?

Contact us, and we’ll tell you more about a real solution for product information management.

Distributed or centralised product information management?

Often when a client is about to commence product information management rollout, we discuss the model of management and the processes used for it. There is no universal, correct answer to this question. Naturally, there is a vast range of options for the process, but here we will make the division into centralised and distributed management.

In the centralised model, product information is entered into the system by a few employees who specialise in this task. They receive product information from other actors in the organisation, such as product managers, buyers or the marketing department, and then refine that information as needed before it is entered into the system.

In the distributed model, the maintenance tasks have been distributed among several people across the organisation. In this way, a single person will not spend that long carrying out the task but, on the other hand, consistency may be compromised. Should the product descriptions sound like your company? The product information refining process is closely related to the ERP product process, and thus it is worth thinking of these two as a whole.

In addition, note the following:

  • are there country-specific variations in the assortment or products?
  • how has the translation process been managed?
  • quantity and quality of product information to be saved:how much and what type of data is collected for the products?
  • where, in what format and in how “finished” a state is product information obtained:how much is there a need to modify the data before entry into the system?
  • what differences are there between product groups in the data to be refined?
  • what are the desired and possible organisation methods of information management?
  • information supply chain management (ISCM) and authority relationships
  • how often is the product assortment updated, new products introduced, old ones updated or deleted?

Which model would work better for you? The choice is partly influence by the competence and existing roles of the personnel. Will product information be available from vendors or manufacturers or will it be mostly produced by you? In many cases, there are different responsibilities for different product data. For example, a product manager is responsible for the technical data of a product while the marketing people are responsible for the images. The marketing texts may be a shared responsibility. Making process choice can be a strategic or tactical decision. What is the goal? Are you seeking long-term benefits and differentiation or efficiency in the beginning?

Whichever your company chooses, we are the supplier that will walk with you all the way, from the beginning. We will support you, help you and together with you find the model that best suits your needs.

Are you interested? Ask for more:
Janne Costiander
janne.costiander@canter.fi
+358 50 552 1054

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

ecommerce_productinformation

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.