Your products must be findable, relevant to consumers, and consistent in brand messaging. In order to get quality products into a customer’s hands, they must be able to find them on the digital or retail shelf.  

Illustration showing various products listed with the same detail across desktop, mobile, and tablet screens. Products on each screen are represented by red icons (chair, dresser, TV stand, sofa). Black lines under each icon represent product data, and yellow lines underneath that represent CTAs. In the background.

But if your product’s journey from inception to the shelf is not clearly mapped out and optimized, employee work is often duplicated and time is wasted—which means potential sales are lost.  

Often, significant value can be recuperated by taking stock of your product lifecycle journey. Once you have these processes mapped, you can identify the right software to optimize them.  

With a streamlined product lifecycle journey, you can decrease your time to the shelf and capture extra sales. 

Mapping and simplifying your product lifecycle 

Just as each of our individual life journeys are unique to us, a product lifecycle journey is unique to every business.  

However, most product lifecycle journeys have some similarities. For example, most companies have some sort of “origin system” that houses information at the beginning.  

Some origin systems take the form of an engineering software, while others consist primarily of spreadsheets.  

There are many different flavors of origin system software. For some, this may come in the form of a PLM (product lifecycle management) tool, which helps you identify how to turn your idea into a tangible product. 

Many businesses also use some logistical planning, such as an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, to sell products. The ERP holds information such as the amount of product you have, what material is needed to make it, where it is produced, and how much it is worth. 

Illustration showing various systems where product data might originate. On the left are black circles representing each system—flat files, ERP, partners, CRM, PLM, suppliers. In the background are blue, red, and yellow spheres and white arrows pointing to the right.

The first step towards understanding your product lifecycle journey is assessing your current state.  

Are you still using spreadsheets where you could be using automated software?  

What is the state of your data? Is it “dirty” or are there processes in place to ensure accuracy? 

The better versed you are in your current product lifecycle, the better equipped you will be to transform it using PIM.  

Optimize your process 

Once you’ve identified where time is being wasted with your current processes, you will begin to see where PIM could alleviate some of your pain points.  

Working through this process is similar to preparing for a camping trip when you have never been camping before. You could throw some items into your trunk and take off, but you’ll realize later that you forgot some critical items.  

That first camping trip will probably be quite stressful. But if you do some research and create a checklist of important gear, your experience will go much more smoothly. 

Adding a new PIM platform is similar. PIM can be the centralized place for all your marketing activity—the hub at the center of the wheel.  

Illustration representing PIM as a central location for data. A black circle in the middle says PIM and is filled with red, blue, and yellow circles representing various data. Around the outer edges are black circles representing an ecommerce website, mobile app, marketplace, catalog, retail site, and distributor site. Each of these circles is connected to the center PIM circle with single-color dotted lines. This variety of red, blue, and yellow dotted lines indicates data being transferred into and out of PIM.

Adding a PIM system to your product ecosystem helps streamline your process and work through your business’s pain points. A more streamlined process will undoubtedly save you money by eliminating wasted time and getting your products to the shelf more quickly. 

Preventing silos and duplication of work  

Without PIM, product processes often take place in silos, without any communication between departments. Not only can this lead to the marketing team missing out on compelling product stories, but work may also be duplicated and even more time wasted. 

Silos within an organization may be especially troublesome if your business sells both B2B and B2C. In cases like this, you have different employee groups with completely different objectives, and these different groups end up duplicating a lot of work.  

Illustration showing multiple circles. In the foreground are four black circles representing silos of information. Inside one of them, a red circle, the word “retail,” and red arrows. Inside the next, a blue circle, the acronym “B2C.” The next, a yellow circle and the word “online.” And lastly, a gray circle and the acronym “B2B.” Each of these silo circles includes smaller circles and arrows indicating data being transferred within the silo—but not across to other silos.  

This can also become a problem when one team fills in the marketing data for the retail sales and another for online sales. 

You want your products to have a uniform brand message from the digital shelf to the brick-and-mortar store. As all marketers know, misaligned product data can erode a customer’s confidence in your brand.  

This is why it is a great practice to assess and optimize your product lifecycle journey. PIM software can allow you to reuse a lot of the material your employees have already created. Then, their valuable time can be more effectively utilized in other aspects of your business.  

Figuring out your priorities 

Once you’ve documented your current product processes, evaluate which channels you are already using to sell your products. Which of these channels are your top priority? This will help you determine which product data to standardize first, and how to build on that for future channels.  

For example, if the retail shelf is your top priority and B2B is second, you should finetune your product lifecycle from inception to the retail shelf first. Then, you can reuse the stockpile of data and marketing material for B2B sales rather than recreate everything that was used for retail. 

Empowering the marketing team  

In your PIM system, all the key data from your origin systems can come together in one place that is accessible to all departments.  

PIM can serve as the one-stop-shop for updating product data, allowing multiple departments to contribute to an ever-growing record of product data. Your well-versed employees from various departments can then add to and organize this data to create taxonomies, improve SEO, keep all products on brand, and stay up-to-date on trademark registration.  

PIM can even allow for auto-translations, meaning a technical term can be tied to a value-focused phrase. For example, the engineering team can set the term for a specific type of fabric to auto-translate into the word “waterproof.” 

With automations like this in place, the marketing team is empowered to access this data and use it to tell a story that highlights the true features and benefits of your unique product. Ultimately, this is what helps sell your product. So, it’s critical for your marketers to focus here instead of wasting time tracking down the right version of a spreadsheet.  

Illustrations showing the flow of data through PIM. In the center is a large black circle with PIM written inside. The circle includes several smaller red, yellow, and blue circles, indicating different types of data. Connected to this circle via lines are additional black circles that say automate, translate, enrich, manage, and store. These are the functions the PIM can manage. To the left are additional circles in red, blue, yellow, and gray that indicate where data comes from. Some of them are labeled CRM, ERP, and flat files.  On the right are dotted lines in blue, red, and yellow. This represents data syndicating out to each channel, represented by icons of catalog, ecommerce website, and mobile.  

Evaluating your data 

Once your products are for sale on multiple channels, you must evaluate whether they all have accurate data and consistent, on-brand messaging.  

Did you say and do what you set out to do?  

Are your products relevant and findable for your customers?  

Without PIM, product data may be copied and pasted into multiple different systems by multiple employees along the way. And if one employee makes a data entry mistake, that incorrect data could make it to the shelf before anyone catches it.  

Products like inriver PIM’s Evaluate are designed to close this feedback loop and easily help you see what’s working and what is not. They also help you identify any duplicate or incomplete data across your channels—and even identify where and why your competitors are getting more traction.  

Putting these processes in place proactively can ensure data accuracy and consistent messaging. That means your business can get products to market faster, secure more sales, and maintain relevance with your customers. 

However, it is not enough to simply implement PIM and then go no further in optimizing your product lifecycle journey. PIM implementation requires effective change management. It’s one thing to switch out your existing product lifecycle for a more efficient one. It’s a much larger initiative to ensure PIM gets adopted company wide.  

If you are looking for a consulting and implementation partner who can help optimize your product lifecycle and get products to market faster, let’s talk.

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