2018 Retail Trends: Mastering Configurable Products with PIM

The 2018 NRF Convention and EXPO kicked off this week, which means the retail industry is abuzz with the hottest trends and technology. According to an article in Shopify in which industry experts share their top predictions for 2018 retail trends, it all comes down to personalization, data, and a new level of customer and community experience.

As EnterWorks just announced, one retailer is ahead of the game in getting this right. Restoration Hardware is leveraging a Product Information Management (PIM) solution from EnterWorks in support of the retailer’s unique business model that offers customized product orders to customers from among its luxury, curated collections.

Let’s take a look at how retailers can utilize a PIM solution to offer a deep level of customization with configurable products and nail the biggest retail trends of 2018.

Personalization Across Channels

Online retail continues to grow at impressive rates. In fact, 2017 saw an increase of over 24 percent year-over-year growth in ecommerce. Yet consumer desire for personalization is also at an all-time high. The challenge for retailers lies in offering personalized products and differentiated retail experiences across digital channels.

Offering configurable products helps retailers deliver a customized, personalized experience. But, organizations need a deep level of data quality and management to do it.

The Sofa Scenario

Take the sofa scenario, for example. A customer visiting a furniture retailer’s e-commerce site can begin a highly personalized shopping experience—powered by PIM. They begin by selecting a certain category of sofa. This populates options including size, fabric, color, and more. With each selected option, the platform generates features for the customer to select, many of which are based on previous selections. For example, a leather couch may only come in three shades, whereas a linen couch may allow for seven color choices. The process continues with frame options, available accessories, add-ons, etc. At the end of the process, the customer has a product tailor-made for them.

As you can see, without a PIM platform to manage attributes and product information, this process would be fraught with errors. The product information may be incorrect or mismatched. If the selections are not accurate, the customer may end up with a product that isn’t what they wanted.

A PIM platform allows retailers to operate with a trusted, central source of product information and data. Furthermore, with the EnterWorks PIM platform’s unique features, a retailer can store the product information and rules that go along with it, feeding this information directly into a configuration engine.

Three EnterWorks PIM Features that Enable Configuration

  1. “Delayed SKU” support
    Delayed SKU is the ability within the PIM platform to generate a SKU “on demand” based on a unique order. This is a crucial benefit for many retailers. As an order is placed on the website for a configurable product, a SKU can be created on the fly in the PIM based on the options the customer selects. That information can be passed on to an order management system to then fulfill the order.
  2. Syndication and Oracle ATG integration
    Another key benefit is the ease of integration with an ERP and syndication from the PIM to downstream systems, including an order management system and e-commerce sites. The Enable™ platform also offers unique, integrated tools for Oracle ATG support, including asset creation, swatches support, web hierarchies, item master, and variant attributes. In addition, a unique test site feature allows PIM users to view web content in a preview format to navigate and test content before going live.
  3. Simplified web assortment creation
    With EnterWorks PIM, retailers have the ability to slice and dice an assortment of variations to create a more targeted assortment (i.e., leather vs. fabric). Automated SKU association and bulk product creation can be enabled for the web and syndicated to ATG.

The Future of Retail PIM

According to STORES Editor Susan Reda, “The path to consumer nirvana in 2018 will consist of unique experiences, transparency, operational efficiencies, and a vigilance on reducing pain points in the shopper journey.”

It’s interesting to note that all these attributes of retail success are connected to PIM.

Today’s omnichannel retail marketplace is driven by consumers who expect rich product information when, where, and how they choose. Retailers must consider not only the effectiveness of product data but how their product content tells a story and creates differentiated experiences.

Are you ready to begin your digital transformation in 2018? Comment below or contact us to learn more.

Kerry Young

Kerry Young

Kerry Young joined EnterWorks in 2006 when Ennovative, Inc., the multi-channel publishing software company he co-founded, was acquired by EnterWorks. He directs EnterWorks’ operations and leads EnterWorks’ professional services and consulting organization, ensuring effective customer implementations and ongoing success. Mr. Young brings more than 25 years of technology and business management experience to EnterWorks, having served as CTO for a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, and earlier as VP, Information Technology for Marshall Industries, a $1.7 billion industrial electronics distributor. He previously managed information systems for a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Mr. Young holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an M.B.A. from California State University Fullerton.