For attendees of the Man in the Middle session at ASD Market Week 2017, EnterWorks highlighted the product content imperative for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). The session delved into how to create value for the end customer in a digital B2B2C world.
Many experienced an “aha moment” in understanding how the digitization of commerce has resulted in the need for SMBs to utilize a Product Information Management (PIM) platform to keep up with market demand for content. Specifically, what role product content will play moving forward, and how SMBs can finally get in the game with PIM.
PIM Helps You Prep
As you may know, ASD Market Week is a twice-yearly B2B trade show that brings together a wide variety of retail merchandise, 2,700 vendors, and 45,000 buyers from over 90 countries. It’s a crucial sales and networking opportunity that sellers prepare for well in advance.
In the past, many companies displayed their products with printed brochures and left it at that. Times have changed. Now, it’s not just the show that businesses need to think about. Buyers are laser focused and want to see product information ahead of time in order to be efficient and targeted in their appointments. They also want information on new products that arise between shows. The issue comes back to product content. Do you have it, and how quickly can you provide it? Is it organized in a consumable digital format? Is it accurate, consistent, and, beyond that, persuasive? And how can you keep content dynamic and up to date for every product, plus distribute it frequently to all your customers and prospects?
Tapping into a PIM system helps you prepare for crucial events and selling opportunities. But, as the markets now require, it’s also something you must consider year-round.
Your Never-ending (Product) Story
SMBs are beginning to realize that having a good product is not enough. It must be accompanied by compelling product information. Importers, for example, are accustomed to dealing directly with major retailers and wholesalers who demand a constant flow of rich product information. Therefore, SMBs are now experiencing the trickle-down effect of these content demands. The pressure will only continue to grow.
Even very small companies and mom-and-pop shops should plan to be swept up in the push for product content. In our B2B2C world, consumer demand for persuasive information extends upstream to manufacturers wherever they are in the world. At the same time, with product lifecycles getting shorter and digitization advancing, smaller companies need to consider how to compete on content across their customer base. If you can produce and manage the right content and distribute it across digital channels, you open the doors to new markets and increase your ability to compete.
Where Do We Go from Here?
PIM is not typically on the roadmap for most small business owners. For many, it feels out of reach. Why? Because small businesses often don’t have experience in deploying a PIM platform.
And yet, in order to break through and compete, you need the same kind of content engine that the big brands have. Sellers downstream want very specific product information mapped in complex ways. Furthermore, navigating Global Data Sync Networks (GDSN) that are required by major retailers and complying with Google’s GTIN update is challenging, more so for those without a PIM that enables such connections.
So, given the importance of PIM, where can you go from here?
First, educate yourself about PIM. Then, inquire into product associations for your product category or your wholesaler distributor to see if they can offer you this benefit. Turn to your representative to provide PIM capabilities, or start looking for one that does.
If you’re unsure where to start, you may want to take a look at FITA, the Federation of International Trade Associations. FITA helps business organizations, civic organizations, and governmental organizations who are actively interested in international trade or doing business in the U.S. and/or abroad. You can search the FITA Member Association database for associations in your product area of interest, such as food where import regulations and product information have rapidly evolved in the U.S. (see the Association of Food Industries at https://www.afius.org).
The Bottom Line for SMBs
Here’s the bottom line: You need to be in a group that represents your category well; that can help you sell your product; and can also facilitate product content synchronization and syndication.
We’ve worked with many Member Groups and Associations who provide PIM as a benefit for their members. By utilizing a Member PIM platform, smaller companies can benefit from a central repository of high-quality content to advance their businesses. Johnstone Supply is a perfect example of this, as is the NAED. To learn more, download our Member PIM Playbook that provides insights into this approach.
It was a pleasure speaking at ASD Market Week and sharing EnterWorks’ perspective on helping SMBs get into the game with PIM. Want to keep the discussion going? Comment below or contact me with your questions!