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That's...not what I ordered?

Improving customer experience can increase sales and reduce returns. What part does Product Information Management (PIM) play?

Ever ordered something online that wasn’t quite what you were expecting it to be?

The bargain set of garden furniture that turned out to be child-sized. A high-quality set of pure copper cookware that could fit in a dollhouse (but still cost an arm and a leg). That bag of marshmallows that was actually an industrial sized sack, big enough to make your own Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Online shopping fails might make for a funny tweet, but they are not so easy to laugh off when it’s your customers returning those items – and not returning to your online store as a result.

And when it comes to making online a success, the stakes are now higher than ever, as eCommerce now accounts for almost half of all retail sales in the UK. Online purchases spiked almost 20% in 2020 alone, as lockdown drove consumers to internet shopping out of necessity, not just convenience.

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Keeping the customer satisfied

While bricks and mortar retail might see some recovery once the current COVID crisis is over, it’s unlikely that the nation’s shopping habits are going to return to ‘normal’. Why traipse around a shopping centre looking for a toaster, when you can get the perfect model delivered to your door in five hours?

If you can get the perfect model, that is. For eCommerce to be an ongoing success for any brand, customers buying online need to know exactly what they are getting. Accurate, up to date product information is key to every online transaction, and essential to keep customers coming back to your site.

So how do make sure your customers can always see the product information they need on every item – from product details to stock availability? (Hint: the answer is not multiple excel spreadsheets).

The right product information, in the right place.

A Product Information Management (PIM) system enables you to centralise and streamline product data, ensuring that the right information is always available on every product line. With a PIM system, you can have complete confidence that the product details listed online – or in a catalogue, an app, in-store labels, and so on – is reliable, well organised and easy to find.

And, most importantly, so can your customers. PIM might not be the flashiest eCommerce tool out there: your customers won’t even know you have it. But what they will know is that when they order from your platform they’ll be getting the product they wanted.

#datafails (and how to avoid them with PIM)

Here are some of the most common mistakes we see online retailers making – and how PIM can help you to avoid them.

1. "What is this, a chair for dolls?"

Well, yes, actually. And if the customer is shopping for a doll’s chair, they’ll be very happy with it. But if they’re looking for a sun lounger they can sit on without crushing, or a desk that’s suitable for their home office and not their kid's bedroom, they won’t be. PIM ensures you are presenting relevant information in a clear, easy to find way, so that your customers can make informed product choices and you can avoid unnecessary returns.

2. "That is not going to fit in my garden"

You’ve listed your greenhouse measurements as W40 X D60. The item has shown up in a search for ‘miniature greenhouse’. So the customer naturally assumes the measurements are in centimetres: perfect for growing tomatoes on their balcony. Except that those measurements are really in feet, and that greenhouse is actually meant for industrial use. Is it a bargain for the size? Absolutely. Is it any good for a one bed flat in Peckham? Probably not. PIM makes sure that all product data is listed in the units it should be – whether that’s feet and inches or centimetres, UK or European – and that products can be tagged correctly for relevant search results.

3. "I need it now, not in six weeks..."

There’s few things as frustrating as finding the item you want, adding it to your basket, completing your purchase…then finding out it’s out of stock for the next six weeks. PIM can connect product profiles to stock levels in real time, so your customers will know when they will receive their purchase before they commit to buying it.

4. "Santa suits...in spring?"

Still showing that novelty Santa suit in searches for ‘spring suit’? That’s probably not what the customer is looking to wear to their April wedding. PIM enables effective categorisation and tagging, ensuring that products always appear in relevant searches – and don’t appear when they’re not appropriate.

Want to find out more ways PIM can boost your eCommerce plans? Get in touch with our team today. We can talk you through the services we provide to make sure your PIM solution stays relevant and useful to your business – whether that means implementing a PIM system for eCommerce, accessing new capabilities in your existing software to support evolving business needs, addressing data quality objectives or adapting day-to-day functionality.

You might also be interested in our guide, 3 Ways to Boost eCommerce with PIM.