Product content management is a merchandising discipline. It is content strategy, retail merchandising and digital marketing all rolled into one single discipline. PCM is also considered the right tool to execute what has been charted out as a content strategy.
Forrester defines PCM as the tasks of content creation, aggregation, categorization, scheduling, staging, publication, and syndication. Beyond the core product content assets, it also incorporates the assignment of attributes such as category, price, and promotion eligibility.
Product Content Management has spawned from its bigger cousin, Product Information Management (PIM). PIM is a mature system that manages all of the data required to market and sell products through different channels and marketplaces.
A PIM is mostly PCM with additional features like aggregation and data quality. Aggregation makes it possible for you to collect and combine all product information from different sources and different formats into a single master source. With data quality, PIM is able to normalize and enrich product content giving it a consistent look and feel across channels. You will still find, in most cases, businesses using a Product Information system as a content management system. Though this works, it is not specific to the compelling needs of content management in merchandising and retailing industry.
A product information management solution usually offers the same as a PCM, with some additional components like aggregation and data quality. Aggregation allows you to collect and combine product information from various sources and various formats into a single source of information. Data quality refers to the ability to normalize and remediate any problem data. With a PIM, you will typically pay more for the added components.
Every successful e-commerce business has a well-established PCM solution to manage, update, consolidate and distribute product data across all their sales channels.
PCM is the answer to a long wait for a system that allows you to catalogue, your product portfolio efficiently enabling you to grow your online sales at lower costs while maintaining a multi-channel approach, helping you build a brand identity which is coherent at all levels of branding, marketing, and sales, offering a consistent brand image to your customers.
Let’s look at what a PCM should be able to offer
Data Management for Products
PCM offers data management features that help you maintain your master product catalogue, consistent with the brand strategy and identity. It also helps you generate a single cohesive catalogue from multiple suppliers or manufacturers with a huge variation in data structures, and data quality. With an influx of data from multiple channels, it is difficult to maintain data cleanliness and accuracy without a dedicated system like PCM. There are relationships, assortments, kits and collections that need to be appropriately derived and represented to be able to personalize the shopping experience, maybe even adding a product recommendation or two, which a PCM solution can effortlessly handle.
Product Lifecycle Management Workflows
A PCM is equipped to handle all product information from end to end. In other words, a PCM can handle the addition of new products, maintaining existing products, pushing products through multiple sales channels and when required sunsetting products. It includes workflow definitions and tools to facilitate the execution of those workflows. The whole intent is to have a system that graciously scales up and helps avoid chaos or mess when the number of products increases to unmanageable levels, which a PCM is designed to do.
Akin to CMS (Content Management System) for web content publishing, a Product, Content Management system, will be able to publish products to multiple sales channels. Although you could manage your product within e-commerce building applications like Shopify, they have their limitations like inability to expand on the sales channels, inability to handle huge datasets from large catalogues and inability to merge multiple supplier catalogues. Product Content Management systems tide over these problems and provide a seamless way to publish your product to exactly the sales channels you intend to publish.
With a central repository for all your product catalogues complete with product information, descriptions, and rich media assets like images and videos, your product team, including marketing and sales is more focused on the product than administrative tasks of arranging and tracking down data and maybe even duplicating work.
PCM is future-ready, with built-in scalability allowing effortless addition of new products with minimal efforts and time.
A PCM help will help you publish a consistent view of the product across all sales channels.
With a consistent view across all sales channels, a PCM will help to enhance the customer experience.
With built-in workflow, a PCM helps add or update product content in the house without having to outsource it to an external partner.
With PCM, you can push your products through multiple sales channels looking consistent across all of them, creating a single,
clear brand identity.
In a global deployment, PCM can provide multi-lingual support for a truly global product.
Generate a single, comprehensive view of the product after aggregating from multiple sources.
PCM allows you to store, structured and unstructured digital assets in a structured and organized fashion reducing complexity.
A PCM will offer an intuitive user interface to help in rapid product setup and mass edit of content for product enrichment.
Product content management system becomes necessary in a business if your systems are inundated with digital content for the full range of products that your business features. Here are some tips that you should consider before you start on your PCM deployment.
Let your team in on the product’s entire lifecycle from design to manufacturing to marketing and product launch. Your business goals should reflect on what you intend to derive from the PCM setup.
Without the right team that uses the PCM, it is difficult to reap the benefits it offers. Ge the workflows defined, and tasks and responsibilities sorted out, assigned appropriately to get the best out of your PCM.
Having a strategy on how PCM should be leveraged at each stage of the workflow can go a long way in gaining maximum benefits out of your PCM setup.
You and your team should be completely aware of the sources of information, and maybe they should be well documented for a quick PCM integration.
A PIM brings in the aspects of data quality and normalization to the scene, complementing PCM features. While a PCM is vital for a feature-rich product life cycle management, a tool like PIM can efficiently manage product information and help in maintaining quality across the board. PIM brings in data quality and validation tools, helping you keep your product catalogues error-free.
In the digital world, there are umpteen solutions designed to help run all kinds of businesses. It is no wonder there are many when it comes to managing product catalogues. There are a bunch of software tools that go by different names but at their core offer almost the same set of features. As something that we have already discussed, a PIM comes close to what a PCM offers; in fact, the PIM feature set is a superset of PCM features. Generally, PCM will offer you tools that help with data enrichment and life cycle management, allowing you to add or edit product descriptions, digital assets like images and videos and categorizations from one central location. PIM offers additional components like data aggregation and quality. You would typically have to shell out more for a PIM system against a PCM, for those added features.
To add to the confusion, there are more solutions on offer when it comes to the management of digital content of products. Some of the common solutions you may find are :
With a multitude of PCM solutions available, both on and off the cloud and with more and more businesses adopting the PCM or PIM way of managing product life cycle, it becomes necessary to evaluate the best solutions before settling on one.
According to research, by 2021, over 50% of businesses would have adopted a PCM/PIM solution, making it tougher for the rest of the competition.
Your business strategy, goals and present size will determine which one of these solutions suits you the best.
Akeneo is a well-known name in the product content and information world. It is designed to be able to handle large quantities of product information, omnichannel and cross-border commerce initiatives. To give you an idea, it can take upwards of hundreds of thousands of SKUs and hundreds of product attributes.
Offerings: Akeneo comes in two flavours of Community and Enterprise. The Community version is free and open source.
Target: Businesses of all scales can benefit from Akeneo.
A cloud-based solution, Salsify easily integrates with major ERP and e-commerce platforms. Being on the cloud, it is accessible to everyone on your team from anywhere across the world.
Offerings: Salsify does not have a community edition and thus comes at a cost even if you would like to try it. You would have to get in touch with its sales team.
Target: With audit history, collaborative tools and flexible permissions, it is perfect for big teams with frequently changing product data.
Riversand is an enterprise-scale solution offering product life cycle management with workflows from initial product design to marketing to product launch and sales. The data management tools on offer make up-to-date information available for multiple retail businesses.
Offering: No trial or community version; you would have to get in touch with the Riversand sales team get a quotation or trial version.
Target: Riversand is designed for the enterprise scale.
Plytix is multichannel marketing equipped PIM system, offering DAM, product data syndication, analytics and brand portals.
Offering: Plytix offers a free version with limits on storage and the total number of SKUs.
Target: Suitable for all scales of businesses.
Product Content Management is a tool that will help you scale up your business only with the right team to back it up. Ensure that your team working closely with the tool is well trained to take advantage of all its features.
If you wish to learn more about Product Management, our 6-month online PG Certificate Program in Product Management with IIM Indore is the reflect option for you! Check it out today.