PIM: Let the System Take the Strain

Morag explores the world of complex product data management for some of the world's major consumer goods brand by the experts at Kwikee, a SGSco company, including how they are looking to tackle the newer challenges for PIM posed by voice technology in the market.

  1. chevron left iconPIM: Let the System Take the Strain
Morag Cuddeford-JonesJuly 16, 2019
  • Product Information Management

A recent success story from censhare customerKwikeehas got us excited. Not only does it highlight how this company manages product information for some of the world’s largest consumer brands, but it also hints at the possibilities ofProduct Information Management (PIM)for voice technology. And guess what? It is not only the customers who will benefit, but also the marketers, creators and curators of product information. So, let’s talk about it.

The information needed to support even the simplest ecommerce or retailer website, its output and input channels, its integrated systems and related platforms, is phenomenal. And of course, keeping it up to date and in order is a mammoth task. A single brand may have a variety of products range on sale across numerous retailers and countries, and undergoing endless iterations and innovations. Every change has to be fluidly and accurately logged, distributed, and published. And equally, every redundant asset has to be found, and either removed, archived, repurposed or even deleted for good. Just thinking about it all is enough to give you a migraine.

But the management and distribution of complex product data is exactly what Kwikee was made for. Its purpose is to ‘synchronize your physical and digital shelves’. It’s not just a tool for small fry who can’t manage the process themselves. Huge, global brands like Kraft Heinz, Unilever and L’Oreal use it to keep their product inventory sharp and current across their massive international network of major on and offline stockists such as Walmart and Kroger.

For example, if just one client wants to refresh the data Kwikee holds on its product range, the subsequent data download used to take up to an entire weekend to complete. With censhare, however, it now takes only the much improved time of 20 minutes – a revelation for the both the company and its clients. The tech works overtime for 20 minutes while the rest of us get 47 hours and 40 minutes of our lives back.

The emergence of omnichannel customer experience, and all the product content an information required in order to support it, has made the need for such technology to become the order of the day. It is, of course, not solely down to the technology to ensure that the right product information and content gets in front of the right customer at the right time, but it most certainly helps.

The pressure is on us to manage data more accurately, to work with the technology available in order to come up with coherent, coordinated product information processes which facilitate better tailoring, targeting and personalization for the end user – be they a part of the internal team or external network, or the customer.

It’s not possible to underestimate the importance of managing data according to best practice and with an eye on the future - the way in which products are created, distributed, sold and delivered is always changing and brands and retailers need to be responsive, not just to today’s challenges, but tomorrow’s too.

Take, for example, the voice assistant. Sales via Alexa, Google Home, Siri et al may yet be quite small but the rise of voice is inevitable. Learning which product, brand and associated data is needed in order to effectively feed these emerging sales channels, and how to best target this information is imperative.

Kwikee is tackling this by educating its clients on how to create these targeted data sets for their retailers, and has set up Kwikee Labs, an R&D team looking to develop new capabilities such as an Amazon Alexa skill that calls on the censhare API. With it, consumers call up a product and ask for information about it, for example the nutritional information of the classic Kraft Heinz Tomato Ketchup or which hair types are best suited to L’Oreal’s latest styling product. In the future Kwikee intends to extend these capabilities towards customizing the censhare API based on brand requests, which would allow customers to query products based on even more specific product data or brand attributes.

And yet these examples only come from the limits of our known unknowns. To paraphrase dear old Donald Rumsfeld, there are many unknown unknowns yet to confront us that will challenge the limits of our capabilities that we are already aware of. The more we can do to prepare for the next challenge round the corner, the better.

Morag Cuddeford-Jones
Morag has been a marketing journalist and editor for 20 years but is still trying to convince herself that she doesn’t look it. She came to journalism after a brief flirtation with the music and entertainment industry, which ended when she discovered that she nurtured a passionate dislike of any tunes not produced in 1985.

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