Product Information Management: Provide Excellent Experiences and Convert More Sales

This past Christmas, my wife surprised me with a snazzy new stereo for my truck.  I’d been griping about the OEM stereo in my old Tundra for years, and I guess she’d heard enough.

I was excited to install the stereo and upgrade my driving experience to the 21st century:  Bluetooth connectivity, streaming music, maps and navigation.  I was going to have it all!  So, I carved out a couple of hours on a Saturday to do the work.

Now, I am the master of stretching a two-hour DIY project into a full-day – or even a full weekend.  And this “simple” car stereo project was no different.  To abbreviate a long, boring story – the stereo harness that the retailer recommended to my wife fit MOST models of the 2005 Toyota Tundra.  But it did not fit mine.

I spent a couple of hours searching online forums and found that other people that had run into similar challenges.  But as is typical with online forums, there are long threads of “me too” comments.  A few solutions were offered, but they were overly complicated and impractical (No, I did NOT want to completely rewire my truck).

I concluded that the only practical solution was to return the stereo to the retailer and reinstall the old OEM model.

But then I found Crutchfield (www.crutchfield.com).  I dug around on their site a bit and got the sense that they knew a thing or two about car audio.  They had me enter the make, model, and year of my truck, and asked a couple of questions about the interior and the configuration of my speakers.  I had gone through similar processes shopping for auto parts online, and it gave me some confidence that they could sort out my weird configuration and offer solutions.

Crutchfield did have a solution, and it was simple and easy.  When the new harness arrived, I had the stereo installed and working in about an hour.

Can you guess where I’ll be going when I decide to buy new speakers and an amplifier?  Can you guess where I’ll be sending my friends and neighbors when they ask for recommendations?

Now my intention with this post isn’t simply to provide a glowing review.   I want to draw attention to HOW Crutchfield is able to provide such stellar service.

Crutchfield delivers the right information to the right buyer at the right time.

  • Crutchfield has a vast repository of facts and knowledge – both on the products they sell and the vehicles in which their products are installed.  They delivered that information to me – information that no other retailer could provide – and closed the sale.
  • Crutchfield excels at Product Information Management.  And if you’re selling goods online, PIM is something you should seriously consider. In a time where retailers are struggling to build relationships and compete with the giants, PIM offers the opportunity for your business to carve out a niche and showcase your expertise. 

What is Product Information Management?

Product Information Management (PIM) is a set of business practices and a category of business applications focused on managing product information for use across an organization from the supply chain to commerce to customers.

A PIM solution provides a single place to collect, manage, and enrich your product information, create product catalogs, and distribute information to your sales and eCommerce channels. With PIM, marketers can dramatically improve product data quality, accuracy, and completeness while simplifying and accelerating product catalog management. As a result, enterprises who use a PIM solution can more easily and rapidly create and deliver the compelling product experiences needed to drive good customer experiences, reach more markets, improve sales conversion rates, and take advantage of new sales channels.

Crutchfield certainly provided me with a compelling product and customer experience.  And in the process, they converted a sale (and future sales) that undoubtedly would have gone to one of the online giants.  Here’s how they used PIM to get my sale:

  • They provided technical information: the product they presented fit my specific make/model/variant of car AND the stereo I had purchased.  Images provided with the product listing verified what I read.
  • They provided usage information: They provided customized installation instructions and diagrams that were relevant to my automobile, stereo, and the wiring harness.
  • They provided emotional information: The instructions were well written, well-illustrated, and concise.  The content they provided – before and after the sale – gave me confidence that I could get the job done.

What Can PIM Do for Your Business?

The short answer is this:  You probably have a couple of people in your business that know it all – the people your customers ask for by name.  They know the answers to the hard questions – and know the right questions to ask.

Those kinds of people are extremely valuable, but they can’t be everywhere at once.  With PIM, you’re seeking to offer that level of expertise and service at all times and across all channels of your business.

The three main benefits of PIM include:

  • Sell More with Fewer Returns – Why sell the harness that works for “most” models of the 2005 Toyota Tundra when you can sell the right one?
  • Boost Team Productivity – Imagine how much better your team will perform when they have the facts at their fingertips? Their job satisfaction and enthusiasm increases, and your customers will notice!
  • Expand Products, Channels and Markets – You’ve considered expanding, but adding new products and entering new markets is intimidating. Your current business keeps you busy enough!  PIM allows your team to spend less time managing your current products and makes it easy to manage more.

Want to Learn More about PIM?

Here at Alpine, we’ve spent the past two decades helping clients build and manage their eCommerce environments.  Managing product information has always been a big priority, and we’ve spent a lot of time discussing the challenges with our clients and researching the marketplace.

In the early days, clients were forced to build their own solutions or make investments in large enterprise packages.  Both options were intimidating and expensive.

Over the past five years, a new generation of PIM solutions have entered the market.  They are robust, economical, and easy to use/manage.  One of the solutions that impresses us (and more importantly, our clients) the most is Akeneo (www.akeneo.com).

Akeneo’s website provides a great variety of white papers and case studies that illustrate the benefits of PIM.  We’d suggest starting with Product Information Management 101.

And if you’d like to dig deeper into PIM – and the unique benefits it can offer your business – we are more than happy to chat.  In fact, please set up some time on my calendar!

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