How Distributors Can Enhance the Buying Experience with PIM - Modern Distribution Management

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How Distributors Can Enhance the Buying Experience with PIM

MDM's latest webcast explored how distributors can leverage PIM software to provide customers with a better buying experience.
PIM Product information management

As we’ve seen over the past decade, and especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, distributors are now committed to providing the best possible buying experience for their customers. (At least the successful ones are.)

Creating an effective yet convenient buying experience requires more than simply having the correct product information in place. The modern customer expects personalized and accurate content, no matter where their touch points are with a company’s products.

Data indicates that a relatively small portion of businesses are meeting their customers’ buying expectations, however. While 73% of B2B customers expect a personalized buying experience, only 22% of B2B customers indicated that their last online experience was personalized and tailored to the extent with which they were actually happy with, according to a survey of roughly 1,000 businesses and their customers by research and advisory firm Forrester.

MDM’s March 22 webcast, “How PIM Powers the Buying Experience,” discussed how distributors can better meet customer expectations by using Product Information Management (PIM) software, as well as how they can navigate the challenges that come with implementing PIM. The webcast featured a panel of Brandon Snyder, Head of Online Customer Experience at City Electric Supply; Alexander Semrl, Managing Director at Contentserv; and Rob Neumann, Chief Digital Strategy & Marketing Officer at CSS Commerce.

Semrl started by noting that B2B buyers’ expectations are “consistently changing,” and it is predictably difficult to cater to such expectations. However, if a company can provide a quick and painless buying experience, customers are more likely to come away satisfied and buy from the company again in the future.

“B2B buyers are expecting the same level of service and quality as with their other online purchases, making it easy, seamless, maybe traceable, and transparent, and being able to find the right information quickly without losing time,” Semrl said. “My view is that buyers are expecting a more loyal, consistent experience, which the business is offering them by the purchase journey, both pre- and post-purchase as well.”

PIM software ideally has access to all of a company’s data and displays that data in an accessible, organized fashion, giving the customer the convenient buying experience described above. If a company doesn’t have a well-defined “hierarchy of data” for its product catalog, though, implementing PIM software might present a challenge.

“How do I actually build that bill of material? Well, I start with the product I want. Here’s the options that go into that. Here’s the set of parts or the set of key features I want,” Neumann explained. “And then what are the actual assemblies, parts, kits that make up those options that they want to put together? That provides either a configurable product that we can price automatically, or kick it back for a custom quote, if that’s your business. That’s where hierarchy is a benefit.”

Snyder added that automating PIM using artificial intelligence (AI) can help make the software even more efficient, but it must have good data to work with.

“When you have a customer and you’re talking about personalization, they log into their account, and they’ve made the same search 10 times. They’ve clicked on the fourth result eight times, and that result moves to the top — that’s not going to be possible without AI,” Snyder said. “The data has to be clean in a higher gets in between for that to be possible. But it helps personalization.”

Catch the full free webcast here on-demand.

Meanwhile, don’t miss MDM’s upcoming April 6 webcast, “Data Driven Sales — Leverage Analytics Like Your Peers,” which is moderated by Executive Editor Mike Hockett and will walk through our exclusive new research about how, where and to what extend distributors are applying data analytics in their sales operations. 

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