Connor O'Toole - Principal Consultant
Online sales are not only booming, their meteoric rise doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In fact, annual retail eCommerce sales alone are projected to reach $7.4 trillion by 2025.
But grabbing a piece of the pie, whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, is not without challenges. Asset management and publication, for example, can be a major hurdle to success.
If you touch product information management in any way in your day to day responsibilities, you have likely felt the pain of data disorganization—too many spreadsheets across several teams and countless people; Multiple file-sharing systems vying for dominance; Inevitable version control issues.
Trying to manage the madness can be exhausting.
Thankfully, the SaaS sector has developed some great data management solutions for digital sales assets, including a one-two punch combination of a solution, Pimly, which combines the benefits of a PIM, like Salsify, and Salesforce B2B commerce.
In my experience, the biggest benefits of these systems boil down to three points. But before we dive into those, and whether or not this solution makes sense for you, let’s cover some background first.
What is a PIM?
In short, PIM stands for product information management. A PIM system provides all of your teams with on-demand access to one central, cloud-based spot for all your sales content and assets (images, videos, specs, etc.).
If you have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you can also integrate the two structures and use your ERP analytics to further enhance your product content.
Finally—and for maximum value—a PIM can also connect directly to your customers. But we’ll get into that more later.
What is Salesforce B2B Commerce?
Salesforce B2B Commerce takes the entire business-to-business buying process and packages it up into a sleek, consumer-like shopping experience, making large-volume online purchases easier than ever.
In addition, it also allows you to provide customized pricing, discounts and promotions by region, as well as specialized check-out experiences, depending on which customer is accessing the system.
At the same time, Salesforce B2B Commerce also delivers a more streamlined experience than the typical online B2C transaction. And that’s by design. Because a bulk business buyer doesn’t need to be bombarded with marketing—more often than not they know exactly which product and version they need to order.
Three online sales pain points a PIM and Salesforce B2B Commerce alleviate
So now that you know what these systems are and the gist of what they do, let’s explore the three main reasons why they might be difference-makers for your organization.
1. Your data is disparate.
Do you manage a large number of brands, products and/or subtypes? Do your products come with a lot of technical specifications (colors, dimensions, etc.)? Does your organization support multiple retail and/or manufacturing partners?
If you said yes to any of the above, and you don’t already have a PIM, odds are good that your product data is scattered to the organizational winds.
But with a PIM on your team you can get all that critical content—images, specs, videos, etc.—out of mystery spreadsheets and siloed shared drives and into a single source of accurate, easily accessible truth.
2. Asset storage and sharing is inefficient, time consuming
Even if your data is within one source of truth, the processes and standards around sharing that data may be inefficient and time consuming. And that translates to money wasted.
However, with a PIM such as Salsify, you can easily streamline and automate asset syndication for your eCommerce products.
Imagine hitting a button and simultaneously pushing the same, accurate product pictures, videos and descriptions to all your retail partners, including Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart. That’s the type of powerful workflow automation a PIM delivers—a time-saver that also gives your brand consistency and shopper experience a healthy shot in the arm.
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that not every PIM syndication philosophy is created equal, so you’ll have to make some assessments regarding what’s best for your business.
For instance, while some PIMs don’t come with automatic connections to major retailers, they will allow you to create your own, or turn the process over to a third party.
With Salsify, however, right out of the box you can easily tailor product assets and descriptions to specific retail partners—for example, only Target gets the photo of the purple coffee maker.
3. Customers struggle with the ordering process
While on its own, a PIM such as Salsify will help ensure B2C customers find accurate product information no matter what retail site they shop. Today’s B2B customers increasingly expect an online purchasing experience, too. And that’s what Salesforce B2B Commerce can help you deliver.
For business customers, Salesforce B2B Commerce can provide a functional and slick “digital shelf” (i.e., your online product listing, complete with specs, ratings, photos, videos, etc.) similar to what they’d see when shopping Amazon or Wal-Mart, but without all the unnecessary marketing.
This is a particularly big step up from the antiquated, yet all-to-commonplace B2B ordering process of placing a phone call.
A PIM or Salesforce B2B Commerce: What to do first
If these benefits sound enticing, your next question might be, “Where do I start, a PIM or Salesforce B2C?”
Either way, PIM first or Salesforce B2B Commerce first, you’re going to have to organize your asset data and product content in a way that’s importable to a sales platform. And for a lot of companies, that can be a really messy, difficult experience.
But if you choose to start with a Salesforce B2B Commerce implementation and then want to onboard a PIM in the future, you’ll end up having to go through that asset organization process again, attempting to marry data that is likely out of alignment.
But if you have your product data living in a PIM first, with accessibility across different teams, you’ll be able to then push that guaranteed-accurate data from your PIM to Salesforce B2B.
Starting with a PIM is definitely the less-painful route, and my recommended path.
Open to exploring what Salesforce B2B commerce or a PIM could do for your brand? Talk to an Aleysian eCommerce expert today to start planning. Or simply learn a bit more about what Aleysian can do to help your products and services fly off the digital shelf.