With market demand for products and manufactured goods at a high, being the company that can consistently and expediently deliver your brand and products means the difference between brand growth & accelerated sales or missing out on market share. Yet manufacturing companies have to work in more channels than ever before and being able to deliver the right information and content to those channels is critical. And they have to do it fast.
Manufacturing companies need to manage large product catalogs with an ever growing volume of product information and assets. With such a high volume of materials required, collating data becomes a cumbersome process, and managing their distribution becomes slow at best and a complete nightmare at worst.
You know how this plays out because it’s what your business and teams are slogging through every day as they try to get the right materials to internal teams, to partners, and retailers. A new product is added, or you make updates to existing products, and with those changes come a long list of information and materials that needs to be collected and stored for sharing. Except you have to access this information from various colleagues, someone is on vacation, and another isn’t sure about the most current data set because it keeps changing. The deadline is coming up and your retailer is putting pressure on you to deliver, but they also keep adding more pieces of information that they need, and suddenly meeting this deadline is at risk. It’s a disorganized and slow process to the final delivery of assets and your inbox has a massive thread of micromanaged communication from your efforts to get things across the finish line.
The current methods to try and bring some organization to this challenge is to rely on a combination of spreadsheets, various documents on shared drives, a handful of different systems, and hopefully a wonderful employee who can put it all together so your brand can look good. These options result in little success because of the limitations each option presents since they’re not built to truly solve this unique and multifaceted challenge.
Life without Product Information Management
An Avalanche of Spreadsheets
Whenever there is a mass of information to track and sort, businesses often take to spreadsheets. But, for product information, spreadsheets aren’t up to the task. Sure, you can manage with spreadsheets if you have a very small number of products and don’t have to make changes often. But, for most manufacturing companies, that is not the case. When you’re working with hundreds or thousands of products and have regular product updates, managing it all in spreadsheets becomes someone’s full-time job and every update is slow and error-prone.
This outdated process means your products are slow in getting to market and you risk bad customer experiences from incorrect or inconsistent information out in the market. Nothing is more challenging to a partner or business relationship than trying to onboard or update your product information and what should be a simple and quick exchange turns into a drawn out communication thread that overcomplicates the entire process.
A document that has such easy access also puts the product information at risk. With too many people manually updating and working in the same bulky spreadsheet, it’s easy for data to accidentally get edited or even deleted. On the flip side of this issue is how often multiple or even duplicate spreadsheets or documents are created, sometimes without people even realizing they’ve created a duplicate file. This increase in user error presents a significant risk that can result in the wrong or outdated information being shared with retailers or customers and result in lost sales.
Spreadsheets make it impossible to see the whole picture of how essential data points relate or connect. What does another data point or number even matter when it’s one of a sea of thousands? You can’t easily make the key connections needed and the context becomes less valuable or lost. Spreadsheets are one of the most common attempts at a solution, but they also come with the most risks and numerous challenges for your business.
Shared Drives Full of Outdated Material
Documents getting out into the market with outdated information is a common symptom of a manufacturing marketing team not having a PIM. When there isn’t a single source of truth for product information, key data is pulled from wherever it can be found – typically numerous spreadsheets where it’s all too easy for old information to go without updates which can easily get added to something consumer facing. And without the ability to generate sales sheets with up-to-date information, your manufacturing teams are always underserved.
This is also a major bottleneck every time a component of information is needed as it typically relies on one person to manually extract the necessary data, load and format the new pdf, and then share out to sales, partners, or retailers. This slow down of information updates leads to missed opportunities when materials don’t get to the customer fast enough, outdated documents mistakenly shared with external parties resulting in duplicate communication, missed deadlines, and ultimately lost sales.
Relying on Employees as an “Agency of Record”
The most challenging and risky format of them all, is when you rely on a single employee, frequently one who has been with you from the beginning, who is in charge of maintaining all this information as an “agency of record” for your brand. Yes, it’s amazing that they know it all and can inform you at a moment’s notice of your products specifications, but should anything happen to them or they’re unreachable or unavailable for any reason, your entire organization slows down or comes to a hard stop.
Relying on a single person as your source of truth is a bottleneck waiting to happen, or worse. The slowdown results in an increase of coordination and communication whenever you need to source data for the same product. It also duplicates the risk for errors and slows down business which can mean lost sales and a damaged brand.
All of these outdated ways of managing product information are common, but they aren’t the only way. Onboarding a PIM offers significant benefits for manufacturing teams and we’ve pulled together some of the top benefits below.
The Top 6 Benefits Manufacturing Teams Gain With a PIM
1. A Single Source of Truth
With a PIM, your team has one single source of truth for your full product line and all the related product information and content. By having one universal source for materials and information your team can trust what they’re sourcing and sharing is accurate, current, and ready to share.
Updating information and managing versions becomes simplified with one location as the source of truth. This helps ensure that brand and product information is maintained throughout employee transitions or expanding product lines.
2. Prepare for Omnichannel Delivery
When you create a single source of truth for your brand and products in a PIM, your company is set up for delivering your brand’s assets and product information to every channel in the right way. For manufacturers this becomes especially impactful due to the volume of channels manufacturing companies need to show up in to compete in an ever growing and crowded e-commerce, retailer, and market spaces. A PIM ensures easy management for all product data and digital assets for any platform, team, or partner.
This omnichannel acceleration of brand and product delivery ensures easy management and updates too. Product information management (PIM) removes the need for teams to rely on dozens of spreadsheets. With PIM, product changes can be made in the system and those changes get pushed out everywhere they need to go.”
3. Expand Product Offerings
In manufacturing, products need to be added at an accelerated rate to keep up with customer demand and to meet your company’s growth goals. A challenge in both juggling high volumes of product data without mistake, and in employee work hours to oversee and manage the data entry.
A PIM as your centralized source for all data adding or editing your packaging and product information. This turns a cumbersome and outdated process into an easy and accessible solution for all. Reduce confusion and errors as new products are input and distributed and give your teams the confidence to act on the most up-to-date information as they build a roadmap for new product launches and sales.
4. Easier Asset Sharing & Information Distribution
One of the most significant opportunities for manufacturing teams is how your business delivers your brand materials and product information into the right hands. This key step is especially important for collaboration between marketing & sales teams, retailers, and influential partners who are working to sell or set up your products for distribution or sales.
Without a PIM, manufacturing teams are left trying to manage and organize the necessary product information in dozens of custom built spreadsheets to meet every individual retailer’s requirements. This process slows down the time to delivery and generates exponential opportunities for misinformation to spread from spreadsheet to spreadsheet. With a PIM, your data is structured automatically to meet the needs of any retailer.
5. Put Product Data in Context
Your team finally sells into a new retailer or lands a new contract and they’ve worked hard to gather all of the information and materials needed to get set up. They press send on the materials needed only to discover weeks later that an outdated asset or number was sent by mistake risking the relationship and costly sales.
It’s a common error that happens when manufacturing businesses are juggling such a high volume of product information, but definitely one that can be prevented. With a PIM in place, it’s easy to deliver the correct versions of product information and assets for the specific channel needed, every time.
6. Improve Your Customer Experience
All of these PIM benefits improve your customers’ experience with your brand and products by ensuring a faster time to market, the most current and accurate product information, and a more consistent brand experience at every touchpoint.
For example – an e-commerce buyer sees the right product information and product images on an ecomm site and knows this is the right product to buy. Your competition is showing missing images, limited or conflicting information, and therefore can’t be trusted. A PIM helps to give your customers a better user experience by ensuring they have the confidence in your brand and products.
This is also helpful when partnering with retailers who are able to receive all the information they need to sell for you. They don’t have to keep coming back with questions or for more content to get your products set up to sell. A PIM ensures a smooth delivery of your product information, and deadlines to meet sales goals are achieved.
A PIM offers clear benefits for centralizing the significant amount of product information for manufacturing teams. However for manufacturing teams to truly accelerate delivery of their brand, requires more than just a PIM.
Deliver Marketing Everywhere: More Than Just a PIM
A PIM offers an essential solution for manufacturing marketing teams by offering a single source of truth that organizes and centralizes the ever growing volume of product information and helps businesses accelerate their time to market. It makes sharing your product and brand materials easier, improves your customer experience, and helps accelerate sales. But, product information management is just one small part of a greater whole, and just having a PIM alone won’t get your business everywhere you want to go.
Here at Image Relay, we’ve seen and experienced the challenges facing marketing teams at manufacturers and built a single unified platform that truly changes how you go to market. We combined the best of product information management, digital asset management (DAM), and creative operation tools all into one holistic and easy-to-use solution.
We call it Marketing Delivery. And it helps get your marketing to market faster than ever before. Instead of tackling an individual challenge, we built Marketing Delivery as a comprehensive solution to address the lifecycle of how you deliver your brand.