Understanding the Primary Users of Your PIM

August 01, 2019
By George Dzuricsko,
Developer

Who are the primary end users of a Product Information Management (PIM)? Your customers? No, they will (hopefully) never see the interface of your PIM as they only encounter product information through public-facing stores, eCommerce sites, and third-party vendors. IT staff? No, they may integrate with the PIM, perhaps sending data via a connector (API or otherwise), but they likely will be limited to integrations or some other customization requested. Sales team? No, they will use your product data, but likely aren’t responsible for editing and enriching products. Who, then, enriches your data? 

Akeneo created a great video illustrating just who your primary end user is, capturing the value added by using a PIM to solve common pain points. They did this with a hypothetical marketing manager, named Julia, responsible for enriching product information for a new eCommerce site. Your company may have a different title, role, or name for Julia, but if you have product information you have a Julia. Identifying their needs, pain points, and suggestions early in the design process is critical for success. It is nearly impossible to have a successful PIM implementation without knowing exactly who your “Julias” are. 

Gain Business Efficiencies

The potential business efficiency gains by starting here are massive and often overlooked. What does your current product enrichment process look like? You better bring in the Julias, they’ll tell you! Dozens of spreadsheets shared via email? A single personal dropbox folder? Julia knows where they are and how to find them. Different product specifications organized by third-party required spreadsheets for Home Depot, Amazon, and Walmart? She has those files too.

One of the biggest mistakes organizations can make with PIMs is considering them an IT-driven project. Yes, they have critical back-end integrations into multiple eCommerce systems. Yes, they may need massive ETL jobs to bring data in and send it out in the correct format for your eCommerce sites to load properly. And that clearly matters. But as the old saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” All of the integrations in the world won’t matter if you don’t end up with quality product data. And if your enrichment process is unreliable and scattered, there is a good chance your product data is too.

Start With Your “Julia” 

So what to do? Start with Julia. Ask her about her workflow, what bothers her, and what takes up most of her day. Don’t do this as some long game sales tactic either. Actively listen and document these pain points. Here’s a sample list of some common ones I’ve seen. 
 
Maybe your Julia doesn’t like having to update multiple spreadsheets:

“I’ve gotten very good at excel and copy and paste, but its tedious and can lead to mistakes.” 

Or perhaps you didn’t know that every third-party seller has a spreadsheet that requires similar data with slight modifications: 

“That’s why we have four different product names. Otherwise the name gets truncated by their system and I get an angry call from my boss asking me what happened.” 

It could be that your shipping weight is unreliable in your current system and can cost a fortune due to wasted time and inaccuracy:

“At least twice a week I have to run down the hall to weigh a product, populate the value on the order, and send a file back to our database team to update the value. But I never know if it actually gets updated.” 

Or maybe your Julia has to spend 3+ hours on the only Mac in the office to manually add new product images to each small batch of products:

“I get blocked by other users on the machine, slow upload speeds, typos in the image file name, and old images not being removed automatically.” 

So, what did they say? Maybe, they need a multichannel PIM with localizable product names and a new digital asset management workflow. Then, with some of the time you just saved you can empower them to transform your product experience or tackle a shipping weight enrichment program to update the weights given (or better yet, get your suppliers to update that data for you) that has been on your roadmap for a year. Listening to your Julias early and often in the process should point you to the largest pain points and inefficiencies in product enrichment.

Inefficiency Wastes Time

How much do these inefficiencies matter? Over a hundred employee-hours a week according to one recent analysis of the hours it takes to repeat tasks and old workflows. That’s over three employees working full time a week that can be freed up to work on other data enrichment activities! 

Now, there will be some enrichment activities where automation will show fewer improvements or result in sub-par data. There are also costs associated with training and adapting to a learning curve of new software that should be taken into account. And you will still need to consider what the value of individual requests for new customizations to your PIM are (changes to the user interface that only your internal team see are harder to drive value unless they directly help the team enrich product data better.).
 
What should you do with your Julias freed up from their previous pain points? The growth potential here is endless. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Create a new channel to target a new market currently underserved by your current data 
  • Audit and update any holes with your product assets including images, videos, spec sheets, etc.
  • Create a new project to further enrich the highest margin products with additional data to increase sales
  • Enrich products with new cross-sell and up-sell relationships 

Or…Ask your Julias again! They spend the most time with the data and can likely rattle off the areas to target first for increased growth. What products generate the most requests from suppliers for updated information? What manufacturers do they hate seeing in their email inbox due to inaccurate/incomplete data?

PIM Implementations Are Driven by “Julias”

Our PIM implementations are driven by content/marketing teams made up of Julias. They are in a sense the primary users of your PIM. Their experience and buy-in are critical to the success of the PIM and the future of any business channel reliant on robust product data. Without them, you will be doomed to repeat past mistakes and miss opportunities for a better product enrichment flow.

If you learn anything from this post, we hope its if you’re taking on a new PIM project, make sure your Julias have a big seat at the decision-making table. Let their business needs lead the project and involve them early and often to ensure your PIM implementation is focused on the right pain points. Not only will you avoid losing any employees to “keeping goats,” but you’ll end up with a better PIM and happier employees.