Why PIM is too important to be stand-alone

By adding a native PIM (Product Information Management system) to its Digital Experience Platform, Ibexa further strengthens the capabilities of its end-to-end e-commerce solution.

Customer journeys are no longer linear; even in “simple” B2C they move from channel to channel across a multitude of devices. This mosaic of touchpoints gets even more multi-dimensional in B2B, with its complex and often custom pricing and lengthy sales cycles.

The e-commerce site, any marketplaces you are on, social media, customer support, your warehouse or logistics partner – they all need the same accurate and up-to-date information about products, prices, and delivery.

That’s an awful lot of dots to join.

Combining DXP with Product Information

An advanced Digital Experience Platform (DXP) enables B2B businesses to make those connections and bring them together in an engaging and relevant customer experience.

To state the obvious, B2B buyers come to your site because they are interested in your products. They don’t only come to buy; they want to research you – and it can take many visits before the customer journey shifts towards a decision to place an order. How you present your products is make-or-break, particularly in those initial encounters with the buyer. It will reflect badly on your brand if your product catalog is poorly presented or incomplete; if it is difficult to search and filter you will lose customers.

Product management is challenging, particularly for catalogs with many thousands or even tens of thousands of SKUs. Not all your buyers should be exposed to the entire catalog; you filter and segment according to the customer profile. Pricing adds another dimension of complexity because B2B buyers seldom pay the same price for the same product ­– and so you segment further.

It is not surprising that some of the main anxieties that B2B businesses have about e-commerce is the complexity of their products (“How do we capture and control that?”) and pricing structure (“How do we get the right contractual price to the right buyer in our catalog of 50,000 SKUs?”).

The subject of this blog post is product information management – and the technologies you can deploy not only to control the complexity of your products and pricing, but also to transform search, and meet the expectations of your customers by creating a frictionless buying experience.

The easier you make it for your customer, the more likely they are to buy from you – it really is as simple as that.

The product catalog plays a pivotal role

It is worth pausing to consider what product catalogs were like before digitalization. They “happened” once or maybe twice a year and were out of date the moment they were printed. All your customers or prospective buyers were sent the same catalog, even if only a small part of your assortment was relevant to them. No prices. No manuals (the catalogs were bulky enough already). Searching for product versions, attributes, or SKUs was time-consuming and frustrating.

In the early days of digital B2B, product catalogs were very much like that; the product appeared on the screen, but the mindset was still stuck in print. B2B businesses managing their products on e-commerce platforms, usually an “extension” of a tool developed for B2C, soon ran into all kinds of limitations around automation, bulk edits, and omnichannel delivery.

ERP seemed to make sense as a repository for product information because these core systems are also the source of financial and inventory data. Vendors of ERP solutions began to bolt on Product Information Management-like functionalities which you then synced with the e-commerce platform.

This wasn’t ideal either because ERP systems proved an unwieldy tool for updating and segmenting catalog content. Also, it brought product management to the doorstep of IT who are not responsible for content and the customer experience.

How a DXP can be your source of truth AND create intuitive customer journeys

What makes Ibexa DXP such a powerful proposition is it can deliver product information management and create intuitive and relevant customer journeys from a single platform. In Ibexa the CMS is capable of absorbing the product catalog; manufacturers are usually astonished to learn that. The global leader in industrial adhesives Dymax and DELABIE, a French manufacturer of taps and sanitary ware, are great examples of how vast product catalogs can be made simple to manage while offering an enhanced experience to the buyer.

Just one brief example. Before it migrated to Ibexa DXP, DELABIE had of course digitized its product catalog – but not fully. Updating the catalog still required manual input on Excel, which meant that product data were updated just once a month; they can now be executed in real time.

Manufacturers also deploy third-party solutions to do this: Product Information Management (PIM) software. A PIM is that single source of truth you need to execute an omnichannel digital strategy; it collects, enriches, and distributes product data, creating dynamic and personalized catalogs for all your sales channels. PIMs enable highly automated workflows for content editors and product owners and help orchestrate complex pricing structures for individual buyers across a catalog of (sometimes) hundreds of thousands of SKUs.

Although many PIM solutions do a great job, the market is fragmented, making it difficult to pick the tool best suited to your needs.

Furthermore, as standalone solutions these PIM tools surrender some of their power and versatility when compared with Ibexa DXP which from early 2022 will offer a PIM module as part of its standard enterprise package. Manufacturers re-platforming to Ibexa will have the option to migrate their existing PIM content to Ibexa DXP and reduce their costs; manufacturers exploring routes to digital maturity will be able to implement Ibexa DXP and bypass the expense and administrative burden of a separate PIM.

When you are ready to leverage your digital investments to start selling directly from your site(s), Ibexa DXP can be extended natively to include e-commerce. As we see it, this makes our platform a complete end-to-end solution for B2B e-commerce, merging customer experience, product data and e-commerce capabilities on a single platform.

If you want to discuss how you could leverage your product portfolio on an advanced Digital Experience Platform please do contact us

Businesses need DXPs to respond to change, and to invent the disruption of tomorrow

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