Chasing data. Wading through spreadsheets. Ten different systems to manage your new product launch. If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
To bring your new or improved product to life, you need quick access to product data. Getting this information shouldn’t feel overwhelming — but it often does.
The good news? There’s a clear path to fix even the most complex data problems. In this article, we’ll share helpful tips on using product data management to support a painless product launch.
Brand marketers, ecommerce managers, and merchandisers have similar needs. To improve sales, they require product data to optimize product pages, promotions, and search/filter features.
Here’s the problem: the data you need isn’t in one place. Instead, it spans multiple spreadsheets and systems — many of which aren’t searchable, intuitive, or purpose-built.
An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a common culprit. While an ERP is useful, it’s not a system designed for data enrichment. Users often find workarounds. But ultimately, that makes matters worse.
Searching and sorting data can drain your time and resources. Thankfully, there are ways to free you from the minutia of product data management. Let’s look at four ways to improve your data processes — so you can return to the high-value work that matters most.
Chasing down product data? Your product launch plan needs a single source of truth.
If you’ve managed a product launch, you know the work starts early. Often seasons in advance. Sometimes years. As your plans grow, so does your data — typically resulting in a trail of information.
Consider the clothing product manager: Let’s say you stumble on a spreadsheet with data about your best-selling shirts. You feel excited. But as you scan the sheet, you realize you still have questions, like: Where did the data originate? Who is the data owner? Do they still work here? Is the data accurate and complete? How can I get this data where it needs to go next? Before you know it, you’ve spent a week trying to find answers instead of planning and creating your new fall line.
Part of the issue is the system itself. You need a single source of truth — and product information management (PIM) is an ideal choice.
Why PIM? Because it serves as a hub to centralize, manage, and enrich your product information. PIM is purpose-built for data processes and workflow to make your life easier. It’s also designed to distribute your product data across multiple channels and touchpoints—helping you deliver a product experience that’s accurate, consistent, and compelling for your customers.
Worried about getting product content to the right upstream and downstream channels? Find your data flow.
PIM software is an essential part of any product-based, omnichannel business. But it’s only one step. There’s more to understand and more efficiencies to unlock. That’s where a holistic view of your product data ecosystem makes an impact.
Product data lifecycle mapping helps you understand the flow of your product data. You can find answers on:
- Which product fields reside in which systems.
- If and where any duplication exists.
- Which processes can and should be automated or updated.
- When each field is ready for deployment to your PIM or other output.
- Gaps where other systems should go.
Ultimately, a product data lifecycle map can help you uncover ways to work smarter and faster during your next product launch. And beyond improving efficiency, it also helps deliver the best possible product experience wherever customers interact with your brand.
Struggling with errors and inconsistencies? Start with a product data audit.
Inconsistent data is another major pain point during a product launch. When you lack standardized data, tasks like building product pages can feel overwhelming.
Sticking with our clothing example, some employees may label a sweater as a crew neck. Others call it a crew neckline. And similar irregularities exist across multiple products, attributes, systems, and years of use.
Data inconsistency wastes time, but it can also cause costly errors. Inaccurate product data can lead to unhappy customers, a rise in returns, lost revenue, higher costs, and even regulatory fines. Businesses must standardize their product data to reduce these risks. But with potentially millions of data points, where should you start?
Whether or not you have PIM, a product data audit can be a transformative first step. This actionable analysis gives you insights into:
- How your current data scores in areas like segmentation, duplication, consistency, completeness, and marketing.
- Suggested data points to capture (with the ideal source).
- Whether your data is ready for PIM, or if it needs cleansing first.
- How to prioritize improvements (including areas to automate or apply a manual fix).
An expert-led product data audit can help you gain a clear understanding about the state of your data — plus the right improvements to support initiatives like your product launch plans.
Can’t collaborate? Align your product launch strategy with data governance.
Finally, every product launch takes teamwork. Any roadblocks to collaboration can seriously slow you down.
For example, what if you need to create a new product category for the launch? You may have 10+ people chiming in with no agreement on how to structure the category or which naming conventions to apply.
Worse yet, you may lack complete control over your own product category. This can happen when IT or other departments take the lead on data decisions, even though they’re not experts in product management.
That’s why a data governance model is a must for aligning your data and business objectives. Steered by a cross-functional committee, this model provides visibility and sets documented processes for managing your data (existing and new). It also establishes a common language that keeps everything running smoothly, no matter how many new products, acquisitions, or organizational changes you encounter.
If you’re interested, here’s more about how a data governance model works.
Ready for a time-saving product launch plan?
Every product launch brings unique challenges. But time wasted due to poor data processes? That’s fixable.
At Ntara, we talk to groups like yours about the different systems and processes you use for product data. Our consulting offerings uncover what’s working and what isn’t. Then, we can work with you to help standardize your product data, select or optimize your PIM software, and create a governance committee to keep your data and processes on track.
Let’s talk product launches.
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