How PIM and DAM are essential to Retail E-Commerce success

E-commerce is here to stay. No one can argue that we’re ever returning to a predominantly brick-and-mortar retail experience. Even before the pandemic supercharged the trend, ordering products and services online had become the norm for millions of shoppers. The real questions are: How does the e-commerce experience inform retail marketing and advertising strategy? More importantly, what tools will help retail marketers and advertisers succeed across multiple channels?

The key to both questions is in the use of product-related information. By that, we mean not just the attributes (e.g., size, color, or weight) of each SKU but also how customers experience it. The good news is that e-commerce can provide this information – loads of it – if only we can learn how to use it well.

Retail Moments of Truth

In June 2011, Google’s Managing Director of U.S. Sales, Jim Lecinski, published Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, a free eBook that rocked the marketing world. In it, he highlighted the importance of a customer’s online behavior – long before becoming aware of their need for your product. This revelation was a new twist to Procter & Gamble’s version of Retail Moments of Truth, which roughly goes as follows:

  • The First Moment of Truth is when a customer first sees a product on a shelf or online.
  • The Second Moment of Truth is when they purchase and use it.
  • The Third Moment of Truth is when they provide feedback, preferably positive, share their experience, and hopefully become fans and promoters.

Lecinski asserted was that feedback from the Third Moment ultimately ends up as part of the vast universe of social media posts, reviews, photos, and videos that would-be customers inhabit every day. People learn about a product and its reputation through deliberate searching or random interactions with family, friends, and online connections. From that awareness, that “Zero Moment of Truth,” they eventually decide to buy – or not.

E-commerce accelerated this phenomenon, making it easy to tag a product with star reviews, comments, and photos that populate not only e-commerce websites but also the labyrinth of social media. Such a flood of product-related data is both an opportunity and a challenge for retail marketers to channel that feedback into campaigns that increase e-commerce and traditional sales.

Product Information (and Product Experience) Management

Traditional Product Information Management (PIM) systems are the central data repository of everything related to an individual product. The data comes from both the product manufacturers and the retailers who sell their goods, who may not always agree on metadata convention or what to label each field. But the retailer’s eventual goal is to have a complete and consistent view of all the variables for every SKU. Therefore, the PIM system should also be related to price, inventory, forecasting, and even customer loyalty databases to efficiently manage each item’s sales and marketing process efficiently.

Of crucial importance to marketers, the PIM system should also be connected in a meaningful way to a robust Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. This system is the repository of potentially public-facing digital content for each product, such as photos, vector images, and videos. It can even potentially contain user-generated images and videos related to their experience with a product – especially if the retailer’s e-commerce site collects and readily shares information provided by the buyer.

To be sure, all this data (including digital assets) must be curated honestly before inclusion in a production workflow. However, when they are, such data can become meaningful marketing information, part of a process known as Product Experience Management (PXM). As Lecinski and others have shown, customers prefer to buy products with which they have some connection. That identification can be greatly significant when a product’s data and digital assets include images, text, review results, and other relatable data that help the marketing team fine-tune the relevant advertising.

Going Full Circle

Of course, all this does not happen by accident. Once a product’s public-facing data (including customer-provided and customer-influenced text and images) are in the DAM & PIM environments, they must be managed in a marketing production system and ultimately used to direct specific, multichannel campaigns. This process is the role of Comosoft’s LAGO solution.

LAGO coordinates practical DAM and PIM assets and data for each SKU and gives the marketing team a strategic overview of a product’s value to a campaign. This data includes traditional factors such as profit margin, inventory levels, and regional availability. But it can also have meaningful user experience data, such as a product’s popularity in certain parts of the country or among certain demographics. Based on this knowledge, marketers can select the best products for a campaign, including regional or demographic variations. LAGO can automate the creation of product catalogs and other marketing material, including multiple variations and digital output for e-commerce sites and mobile apps. Best of all, it gives marketers the tools to evaluate the results of a product’s inclusion in a campaign.

This is next point is where the process goes full circle. By collecting user experience data at the e-commerce site (the Second and Third Moments of Truth), a retail marketer can, in turn, use that data profitably. With the tools provided in Comosoft’s LAGO, they can create e-commerce campaigns that coincide with the “buzz” surrounding any product (the Zero Moment of Truth). In a world where e-commerce rules, it’s the secret to success.