In our last blog post, "What is Product Information Management (PIM)?" we discussed the concept of product information management (PIM), what it is and how it can transform the previously manual-intensive task of managing product information – across sales channels, teams, and order workflows – via a centralized platform.
But why does this matter to the commercial equipment manufacturing industry and why should you deploy a PIM solution?
Consider the status quo:
The Product Information Management Cycle Today
Take, for example, the first step in the customer purchasing process – researching products. In the commercial kitchen equipment and restaurant supply world, paper catalogs are the de facto source for product information. Yet, these expensive and often outdated materials add costly cycles to the buying process.
Why? Product portfolios, information, and specifications change constantly, quickly invalidating paper catalogs and requiring costly updates from the manufacturers that produce them.
Similarly, accessing up-to-date product pricing adds to the growing mountain of paper. In order to keep pace with price changes and special discounts, manufacturers typically maintain price lists in a separate booklet to their product catalogs. As promotions arise, more time and money is spent sending out paper flyers to dealers featuring the manufacturer’s latest specials.
It’s a costly and cumbersome process for all involved – it’s also out-of-date and out-of-step with how consumers research and purchase commercial kitchen equipment and other restaurant supply goods.
Content is King
In today’s marketplace, content is king. People are doing more and more online research before they buy. And it’s not just in the B2C space that content matters, according to Forrester, 74% of buyers in the B2B marketplace research at least half of their work purchases online and they want access to rich product information from a single source.
“B2B buyers continue to expect an ‘Amazon-like’ experience despite the space’s increasing complexity...They expect a real-time interaction, extensive price and inventory transpar
ency, and robust guided selling as a condition for them to engage in a purchase channel shift.”
Meeting these expectations is critical to any forward-thinking commercial equipment manufacturer’s multi-channel sales and marketing strategy. Establishing clear and compelling content across a variety of channels is necessary for effective communications with restaurant equipment dealer partners, suppliers, distributors, and ultimately end customers.
Yet, without an online showroom to sell their products, let alone multiple channels on which to sell (e-commerce, online, and mobile) it becomes harder to reach this new breed of customer.
Your Staff Expect More
It’s not just buyers who expect a digital experience. Product managers and marketers need and expect access to user-friendly tools that let them manage the product information with accuracy and transparency, so that they can get products into the hands of customers quickly.
Today’s manual processes hinder that goal. In its research on PIM, Forrester has even observed, that while homegrown processes may have worked for staff in the past, there is evidence of “a considerable uptick in client inquiries asking about how PIM solutions can replace this status quo.”
A Lack of Transparency into Order Processes is Costly
Manufacturers of commercial and restaurant equipment are also bogged down by a lack of transparency into the order process. According to the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA), 50% of calls to manufacturer customer service reps are about order status. When you consider that the cost of distribution represents 10% of a manufacturer’s revenue, and that most of this is tied up in customer service labor costs, the numbers quickly add up.
As you can see, the management of product information, or lack thereof, has far reaching consequences for commercial equipment manufacturers. In our next post, we'll explore the benefits of a PIM solution.
Do you agree that today's processes are out-of-date and out-of-step with how consumers research and purchase commercial equipment? Let us know in the Comments section below.
 The Forrester Wave™: B2B Commerce Suites, Q2 2015