Distributors face unique challenges and opportunities as the go-between for suppliers and customers. As such, the common phrase: “with great power comes great responsibility” applies to Distributors in eCommerce. This article explores how Distributors can make the most of eCommerce opportunities and drive revenue using product content.
We’ll also explore the role of Product Information Management (PIM) systems in efficiently preparing products for the eCommerce market. PIM Software includes automated tools for Distributors to collect, manage, enrich, and publish large product catalogs. In addition, PIM makes it easy to share product content across marketing, customer success, sales teams, and distribution among eCommerce sales channels.
Challenges faced by Distributors
No matter the industry, Distributors face unique challenges on the front end and the back end of preparing product content for the eCommerce market. Specifically, Distributors have to manage the aggregation of product content from brands with various data formats. Afterward, they must optimize and tailor content to match specific channel requirements.
From brands to eCommerce channels, Distributors face the following product information challenges:
- Aggregating data from multiple sources
- Lacking a single source of truth for product attributes
- Lacking digital assets
- Difficulty managing product information for every eCommerce channel
The more SKUs a Distributor adds to its catalog lineup, the more arduous the process becomes. Without tools to aid in the process, Distributors risk inaccurate product information published to eCommerce marketplaces and a loss in revenue from painstakingly long go-to-market operations.
The Importance of Distributors in eCommerce?
With eCommerce becoming more popular for B2B, B2C, and D2C, Distributors are tasked with enriching products with necessary content that reaches far beyond the requirements of the reliable product catalog. If Distributors want products to succeed on eCommerce channels, they must commit to a higher level of product optimization and ongoing management.
Even in the B2B sector, customers require an exceptional level of online shopping. Most importantly, product attributes must be accurate and consistent at every point of contact. Thus, every moment of the buyer experience must be considered: from ensuring products appear on category pages to engaging buyers on the PDP, providing user guides and instruction manuals, and training customer success teams.
Distributors can increase revenue and improve the buyer experience by leveraging product content both within the organization and across eCommerce channels. This is where PIM Software comes in. PIM enables Distributors to complete the following tasks:
- PIM ensures quick and easy supplier data aggregation
- PIM for distributors includes DAM (digital asset management), connecting product data and digital assets
- PIM tools for Distributors include a single source of truth, intuitive data governance, channel readiness reports, channel export templates, and more.
- PIM allows Distributors to customize data requirements for brand-wide consistency and naming conventions
- PIM provides out-of-box workflows for team members to effectively collaborate and speed products to market
What is the relevance of PIM for Distributors?
As distributors play a critical role between the manufacturers and retailers, aggregating data and assembling it into a catalog can be tedious, especially as product content requirements evolve.
Suppliers provide product information in many formats, and it is not easy for distributors to assemble this information for their sales teams without a PIM. In some cases, manufacturers leave out product information in original files, and distributors are faced with the ongoing assembling of product information. This process requires continuous product information management, with which a PIM dramatically simplifies for distributors.
Let’s look at a few tactile examples of how PIM helps Distributor leverage product content:
- Aggregation of product content from suppliers that provide data in different file formats: CSV, XSLX, XML.
Numerous channels are capable of providing customers with various products. These different channels include different formats of product information. PIM simplifies the task of managing many channels simultaneously.
The PIM system utilizes an inbuilt channel manager, ensuring accurate data transfer from PIM to eCommerce channels such as BigCommerce, Magento, and Shopify.
When Distributors would like to start selling on new channels, PIM facilitates the creation of various channels and helps adequately map out the different attributes each of these channels require. In other words, PIM creates a hassle-free channel management experience.
- Normalization of attributes provided in different name conventions
Every product has a title. But the title itself may appear as a variation. For example, brands could use “Product Name,” “Title,” “Item Name,” “Short Description,” etc., to describe the same thing: it is a product title.
PIM Software includes import mapping tools that allow Distributors to normalize product attributes upon import, creating a clean, centralized repository for marketers and product managers to work out of (minus the confusion!).
- Connect Images
Suppliers send images as file attachments via email, URLs, dropbox share, or FTP / SFTP access.
For Distributors to use appropriately on eCommerce sites, images have to be reconciled with the following PDP elements:
- Primary Image
- Secondary Image
- In-Use Image, etc.
In some cases, PIM includes a built-in DAM that allows marketers to connect images to product content within an organized platform. Relating product data to digital assets is most useful when carrying out product updates: Distributors can update product information or digital assets once, and updates reflect throughout the entire product record.
- Enrichment & PIM as a data repository for the product’s data
As mentioned above, it can be tricky for distributors to manage the number of products sent by various sources and customers. As the customer’s demands increase and the supplier’s product increases, the distributor may become overwhelmed, leading to confusion.
To clear up confusion and help distributors manage overload, they will require an adequate digital repository to assist in managing the large volume of data. With the PIM system, having a single storage repository is possible. PIM (and DAM) stores all the product content in one location. This provides more accessible access to the data by relevant employees in a company.
- Adequately manage & enrich content for different channels
Eventually, distributors will need to make updates to product data. When products are listed on many channels, making updates individually on every channel would be extremely tedious. Individual updates to product content increase the risk of costly mistakes when done manually. Luckily, the PIM system helps syndicate product updates on all channels.
- Enriching digital assets and products
For customers, seeing is believing. For a customer to trust products, they must first be impressed with the visuals. Images and videos of products cannot be stored on the eCommerce platform’s local system, as overall storage space may be more than a system can handle. Also, that system is vulnerable to crashes and data loss. This is why digital asset management within a PIM system is essential. It helps in the streamlining and simplifying of multimedia file storage.
- Publishing product information to eCommerce channels
PIM makes it easy to publish product information to eCommerce channels. There are two ways to post product information from a PIM: syndication and export.
Syndication is made possible via an API, where Distributors can choose to have changes pushed to channels, hourly, nightly, weekly, etc.
Channel exports are almost as simple, allowing Distributors to export product information in a channel’s required format for seamless upload to that channel’s database.
Both methods remove any manual or dual entry, eliminating the chances of inaccuracies and improving speed to market.
Distributors: Drive more revenue with PIM
As eCommerce evolves, Distributors must have their ducks in a row to bring new products in and push them out. PIM Solutions offer Distributors the opportunity to leverage product content at scale, speed products to market, and drive revenue more than ever before. Many PIM providers offer free trials after you sign up for a demo. Consider a PIM system if you’re a distributor looking to own the digital shelf.