Why Agile Product Information Management is Key to Serving the Connected Customer

The e-commerce market is developing constantly. New demands from the connected consumer, or connected B2B buyer, are being thrown at us all the time.

Just look at the speed at which the market has shifted towards mobile. Are you ready to serve the needs of visitors to your site when they want to interact with you on a mobile device? The globalization of e-commerce presents further challenges; are you prepared if an international competitor moves into your market?

The implication for businesses is that you need to be able to improve your customer experience continuously as the e-commerce market evolves, and take advantage when new business opportunities arise. And in order to be able to do that effectively, you need to be able to move fast. And in order to move fast, you need an agile approach to product information management.

A B2B commerce example

Let’s use an example to demonstrate what a swiftly developing e-commerce market practically implies for a business.

Take Company X, a typical B2B commerce organisation. Now Company X once just had a printed catalogue, but a few years ago it recognized a need to implement a new strategy for growth that allowed for content and media management across both print and digital channels. To that end, it brought all the product content from its entire catalogue onto a centralized PIM solution which allowed for the products to be displayed on its website. 

This was fine, for a while. But Company X soon realized it was missing out on additional revenue by not actually selling its product online, direct to customers (B2B organizations can add an average of 31% to revenue via e-commerce). Simply listing products online was no longer enough. 

Soon enough, contextualization and adaptation based on visitor behavior became a further necessity when selling the products online. Then with the increase in smartphone and tablet usage, the site and its products needed to render well on mobile. 

To add further complexity, Company X wanted to take its online proposition to the US market, but its home market is the UK and the range, pricing and proposition is different.

These are all standard challenges for an evolving e-commerce business. The problem is that adapting to all of them is incredibly difficult if Company X hasn’t started with the right system for managing its product information. To speak nothing of the challenges that may come in the future as the business grows and customer demands develop further.

So as an e-commerce business, how do you set yourself up to address this challenge?

Be agile and test, test, test

Choosing the right product information management solution is one of the most important considerations for any e-commerce site. To make the most of the catalogue as you take it online, both your content and products need to be treated equally, from the start. 

With this approach, risk is reduced as you learn from visitor behavior and start to gather a view of how your customers want to interact with your business and buy your products. It leaves you able adapt to that learning and integrate to add on products to better understand behavior and improve conversion levels.

Driving traffic is also important, and with the Episerver Add-On Store you can integrate tools like Episerver Social Reach to optimize social sharing and SiteAttention for search engine optimization.

Be channel agnostic

Just as no one could have predicted exactly how the mobile commerce market would develop five years ago, we do not know how this or other channels will develop in the future.

Recent research from IAB reveals mobile is now the device of choice for product information. This is why it is so important to build your product information and choose a solution to manage that information that is independent of any channel. By picking solutions to address a specific channel you are inevitably taking yourself down a path that you may not be able to walk back on.

Seize new business opportunities

With an agile e-commerce set up you should be positioned to jump on new business opportunities as quickly as possible, capitalizing on market opportunities to drive revenue.

Going back to our B2B commerce example, Company X wants to roll out a new product just to its US market. With an agile product information management solution in place, this can be done quickly and efficiently, across all platforms, with unified messages, information and pricing.

Episerver’s product information management solutions in its Add-On Store, Agility and Perfion, enable you to control the way products are managed and displayed in this way.

The price is right

Assuming you’ve solved the not insignificant cross-platform product management solution issue, the challenge does not stop there.

Firstly, most e-commerce businesses have a dynamic pricing structure. On the B2B commerce side pricing is often dynamically structured within one market, offering set prices for different products to different customers. B2C commerce often has to tackle this challenge too, as prices will frequently differ across global markets.

An agile system should allow you to integrate with your local ERPs, allowing you to price dynamically, meaning that the right price is displayed to the right customer at the right time.

Expand as your needs expand

This speaks to another issue many e-commerce businesses struggle with; the growing pains of expansion.

Whether it is global expansion into a new market, or a new site or offering on a different channel or packaged differently, an agile product information management solution will grow with you. If you are set up to adapt to new channels, you will also be set up to adapt to new markets.

We don’t know exactly what the future of e-commerce holds, and you are unlikely to know exactly what the future of your business holds. So ensure that your e-commerce strategy is set up for whatever channels, markets or customer demands come along by adopting an agile product information strategy.

Episerver offers advanced product information management via its full integration with Agility Multichannel, offering customers a best-of-breed joint solution will provide a highly efficient way for businesses to create a consistently engaging customer experience across all channels, using consistent product information (online, marketplaces, print, in store) to maximize sales.

Agility Multichannel can be found in the Episerver Add-On Store.