Retailers must transform how they handle product data to build better customer relationships, says OneTimePIM

Product information has become increasingly important in retail over recent years, with its criticality growing further as the pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping. However, many retailers still struggle to correctly store, manage and understand this data, and are missing out on truly maximising customer relationships as a result. To overcome this challenge, it is imperative that retailers take steps to break down data silos and bring unstructured data together. This is according to OneTimePIM.

Customer expectations have soared in recent years and with more competition than ever before, it is easy for consumers to jump ship and shop elsewhere if their experience is anything less than excellent. Poor-quality product data makes this scenario much more likely.

Dr Pat Violaris, Managing Director at OneTimePIM, said: “The problem with many retailers is that their data is not properly structured or unified in a way that makes it fully visible and easy to manage. It often is handled by different people from different departments and exists in different formats, such as Excel, PDF or many others.

“In fact, we have seen cases where organisations’ best data exists in their catalogue and is locked in there, which makes it difficult to get it onto the website and other platforms. The struggle is trying to collate all of the product data from different sources, while making sure you have the most up-to-date version of the data.”

To remedy these issues, Violaris believes that taking the time to overhaul data management processes is crucial. One way of doing this is to embrace product information management (PIM) systems.

Systems such as PIM do the job of unpicking, integrating and enriching product data, ensuring that companies can display all relevant information pertaining to any product, and better understand all the underlying data they hold across their various repositories and sources. This helps reduce complaints and returns due to retailers being fully transparent with accurate, up-to-date product data.

Dr Violaris continued: “Poor and incomplete product descriptions, media and technical data can lead to customers feeling misled or misinformed. By providing complete and accurate product information, the consumer is always fully aware of what they are purchasing, which ultimately makes for happier shoppers, while giving retailers a much richer understanding of the value of their data. Meticulously organised data can also reduce delays in launching products, therefore shortening the time to ROI.”

He concluded: “If such a system works well, it will become almost unnoticeable. Staff get their work done without thinking about it and the anxiety, frustration and tensions associated with managing product information disappear. Data changes can be made knowing that the website, catalogue, brochures, datasheets and partner data feeds are all silently being updated automatically, with everything accessible through a single interface. In an industry as competitive as retail, this can make a world of difference.”