3 Keys to a Successful PIM Project in Distribution


Distribution is now digital-first and people-centric. For PIM project sponsors in distribution, here is what to plan for and what to avoid.

It’s all about making your customers’ jobs easier. From real-time inventory to 24/7 ordering and automated support, digital capabilities and agility are either your advantage, or a threat to your survival.

How PIM helps distributors thrive:

You’ve witnessed the chaos that ensues when your team produces a catalog and updates products for the online and/or paper versions. You’ve heard from your customers that they want to easily compare, select and purchase your products without the hassle of contacting your sales/store/customer service reps.

Read about the opportunities of melding print catalogs and eCommerce.

If implemented well, Product Information Management or PIM, is an enterprise solution that will help your teams efficiently improve customer experiences across digital and physical touchpoints.

Forty PIM implementations and 8 million SKUs later, here are 3 things most of our clients would have done differently before their PIM implementation:

  1. Plan to spend more time organizing your data.
  2. Look backwards to look forward
  3. Be inclusive - it will help adoption

1) Plan to Spend More Time Organizing Your Data.

You already know you need to gather, organize and clean your data. From our experience, a whopping 60% of clients are surprised that they need to enrich their product information. But even before you get to enrichment, have you estimated the amount of time it takes to tap internal resources with questions on product data?

The more people involved, the more time you need, and more possible approvals from the boss. This type of exploration can’t happen over a simple phone call or email. Plan for the back-and-forth to solicit those resources from the get-go. This will eliminate big timing headaches once you start your integration.

2) Look Backwards to Look Forward.

Part of getting your product data under control is understanding the processes that surround its creation and enrichment. When one member of your organization needs data, they likely look at their own system requirements (“can it handle dashes and spaces?”). They will then look for data attributes that resemble what they need and possibly build whole new attributes. That creates duplicated data and variances. It is tricky to gauge how much time it will take to address this challenge.

It might be tempting to ignore your status quo but understanding where you are coming from is a necessary first step. Analyze processes, people, systems and time spent on a day-to-day basis. Then pay attention to “best practices” and “data governance” - if your data governance is non existent or has gaps, you’ve not fixed the problem

A review process will further allow you to:

  • identify training needs.
  • draw up a good list of requirements.
  • find the PIM solution that best meets your needs and most importantly, those of your end customers.

3) Be inclusive - it will help with adoption

What do you need everyone in the organization to agree to?

  • They will use the tool
  • They will come forward with the right data
  • They will be an active participant in the workflow and in data governance.

You can get to those agreements by being as inclusive as possible as early as possible. From discovery up to project roll out and beyond, set up a solid collaboration across IT, business, PMO and relevant business units.

Signs That It Has Gone Wrong

When IT builds a system and then asks the business to get on board, you’ll hear pushback like “I haven’t been trained” and “why didn’t you involve me before?”. An IT-only approach hurts company-wide buy-in and adoption. The same dynamics shows up across business units, when one BU tries to bring in another to split the costs.

By fostering inclusion at the outset, you’ll build a better system and encourage adoption. Instead of pushback, you’ll hear stakeholders saying “yes! I’ll be a part of that!”

This approach requires change management and presents the opportunity to create a true enterprise transformation.

Make Sure it Goes Right

Contact us for 30 minutes of free consulting. We will go through these 3 points to help make sure you have everything in place for a successful implementation.

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