The ability to quickly access product data is no longer just a “nice to have” thing for brands and retailers. It’s an industry standard. As customers continue to value product use cases over brands, data is taking center stage as an independent asset that’s critical to retailers’ ability to solidify sales.
In a recent Google study, 85% of shoppers said that product information and pictures are important to them when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from. So, why do so many brands fail to provide retailers with the product data and images that they need to sell products? The answer is more complex than it appears at first glance. The reason being that, without looking at an individual retailer’s supply chain, it’s impossible to know where product data is getting tied up.
Let’s take a look at the most common reasons data becomes mired throughout the production, shipping, and sales processes. And how brands can remove the obstacles that prevent their teams from accessing the data they need.
Common obstacles to product data management
If product data management were an easy process, every retail business would be doing it. But that’s not the case. Compiling, accessing, and sharing product data are some of the most time consuming hurdles retail businesses need to scale. There’s a reason the global product information management market size is growing at the incredible CAGR of 20.33% between 2022 and 2030.
So why are brands and retailers investing a rapidly growing $15.49 billion a year into product information management alone? Because product data management helps them free essential product data from Excel sheets, emails, and text communications; instead putting product data in a safe, centralized hub where it’s always accessible to those who need it.
At Surefront, we polled our platform users to see which issues inspired them to seek out a retail PLM. Here are three of their most common answers.
Not enough of a product overview to plan inventory effectively:
A huge part of planning inventory is identifying the gaps in existing and future offerings. Emails and spreadsheets don’t give brands the necessary overview to make informed purchasing decisions. That’s why an increasing number of brands are gravitating towards retail PLM tools with internal digital catalogs.
The right data isn’t available in real-time:
Product orders can take months to negotiate. In some cases, however, the sale is confirmed within the timespan of a single phone call. Production and sales teams need the ability to visualize, select, modify, and export data products in real time to function at maximum efficiency. Excel sheets just don’t cut it in today’s fast paced retail world.
There’s no insight into historical design and order data:
It’s no secret that historical data needs to inform purchasing decisions. But, all too often, brands and retailers only have a glimpse into design and order data from previous years. A lot of factors impact how well specific inventory items will perform, including weather events, local celebrations, and industry trends. All of these factors need to be taken into account to source effectively.
Mo’ products, mo’ problems
There’s a reason retailers try to avoid understocks. Product variety is a key selling point for the vast majority of customers. A whopping 88% of shoppers say that product variety is an important factor when choosing which brand or retailer to shop with. Retailers can’t afford not to stock the variety of products that customers desire, but they have to walk a fine line between overstocks and understocks to get there.
Most retailers can’t afford to hire a data product manager. Even those that do hire a data product manager risk their new hire being mired in repetitive clerical tasks, rather than using historical data to strategically source inventory. When it comes to managing product data, the retail PLM a brand chooses to onboard can be as important as the person they assign to the task.
The reason? The applications for product data go a lot farther than just sourcing inventory. The right product lifecycle management solution can make any portion of product data accessible to anyone who needs it, at any phase of the product lifecycle. With a retail PLM, manufacturers and buyers can access data to confirm product orders. Retailers can access what they need to create successful displays on the selling floor. And marketing teams can access the right product data to create compelling, product centric campaigns.