Any business that deals with product information is likely to have experienced some changes in the recent years. In order to stay relevant and reach more customers, these businesses are trying to expand like never before. They need to reach new channels and have unprecedented, efficient control of their data. That's where product information distribution services come in.
"Consumer behavior is changing. Consumers today are active on more channels than ever before. They're on social, marketplaces, search, and even using voice. Enterprises need to be connected to all these channels to meet the consumer where they are - and to maintain the relationship with their customers." -Marcel Hollerbach, CMO Productsup
However, agile expansion can feel difficult when you have thousands of SKUs or complex processes in place. Unfortunately, existing tools like PIM or MDM aren’t designed to meet the syndication needs of modern businesses.
That’s likely why Forrester used their latest report to introduce the concept of PIDS, Product Information Distribution Services. PIDS are more than just the next big “thing” in ecommerce and commerce; they’re a key part of the new product information management landscape.
Who would benefit from Product Information Distribution Services?
- Business in commerce, ecommerce, travel, events, FMCG, real estate, insurance, and others who manage product information.
- Businesses looking to expand their online presence and gain a larger share of business from more digital channels.
- Businesses who want to free up resources and automate, or optimize, their product information preparation, optimization, and distribution.
If you're looking for the next buzzword in product marketing, sales, and management, here’s what you need to know.
Production Information Distribution Services: what are they and why do they matter?
PIDS are all about making syndication easy, but what does that look like in practice? Where do these services really add value? Let’s start with Forrester’s exact description of the service.
“[PIDS] distribute product information to endpoints (retail, marketplace, marketing, etc.). These systems manage both connections to the endpoints and the requirements of the endpoints.” -Forrester, Now Tech: Product Information Distribution Services (PIDS), Q4 2018
That’s a lot to break down.
First of all, what’s an endpoint? In this setting, "endpoint" describes channels like Amazon, Google, or GDSN as well as marketing, search, or sales channels, resellers, marketplaces, and retail onboarding services.
Of course, businesses have been syndicating their product information to these channels for years, often without the help of a service provider. Why should they now start handing this job over to an external provider? That brings us to the second piece of the PIDS description. It’s good to hand off tasks and free up resources. However, that’s far from the only reason to use a product syndication service. PIDS providers are also in charge of managing all details associated with syndication (and there are a lot of them).
Amazon, Google, and every other endpoint will have unique requirements that can change often. PIDS ensure that product information always adheres to these requirements. Thus this isn’t just a service to “make work easier.” It’s a service that ensures product information is reliably cared for and that products are able to always be online and even optimized. Furthermore, new channels and opportunities are popping up each and every day. PIDS make it easy for businesses, who would otherwise struggle to expand, scale to new channels quickly.
Perhaps most important of all, by standardizing the idea of PIDS, businesses can finally begin to see exactly what use cases are available with these solutions and how they can support sales.
PIDS will drive product sales and support more efficient processes
The goal of syndication, whether you’re exporting to Facebook or GDSN, is to share product data that drives sales—and PIDS will make that goal more manageable and, in many ways, easy or automated. Here are just some of the ways these solutions will make life (and work) easier for businesses.
Faster and easier expansion to markets
It’s not easy to get into new markets. Product data must be carefully prepared, translated, and culturally localized. Images and copy could need editing. All of these little details add up, especially for large businesses with hundreds to thousands of SKUs.
As omnichannel continues to take over the customer experience, reaching new markets, and doing it fast, will be critical to success. That means fast moving businesses are getting a leg up on the competition. Luckily, with PIDS simplifying the syndication process, it will be easy for businesses to make quick decisions and conquer new markets.
Less product downtime
Incorrect product information isn’t just annoying; it’s a business problem. Data requirements can change, and that means someone needs to be regularly editing and checking product information. This creates the possibility that users introduce new errors, leading to products being disapproved or underperforming on some channels.
One of a PIDS provider’s primary roles is to stay on top of channel changes and requirements. With a good distribution service, products don’t go down.
Less time and resources spent managing product information
Manual methods of product information syndication take time. Using spreadsheets or manually checking and updating data is a huge waste of resources. There’s no reason for skilled employees to do this kind of work when it can be automated as well as elevated to something much more impactful.
PIDS provide tools to remove a huge workload and replace it with something even better… opportunities.
Increased focus on product performance
Instead of focusing on the basics and keeping product information functional, PIDS make it easy to take product information to the next level. Now, businesses can get a more granular understanding of how product information impacts performance. By cleansing product information and optimizing for sales on each and every channel, businesses can make a real, tangible impact on results.
PIM, MDM, feed management: where do PIDS fit in?
In an ecosystem already filled with solutions, how do PIDS really stand out? Services like PIM have been around for years. Because of this, you may be wondering how PIDS are supposed to take over the space and overturn the existing popular systems. In fact, they won’t. PIDS aren’t a new type of PIM or MDM. Instead, they fill a new role in the commerce and ecommerce world and work alongside existing solutions.
So how do PIDS really compare to similar services? Let’s find out.
PIM (Product Information Management): These are central repositories for all of a business’s product information. However, this is the “golden record” of data rather than a tool for editing and optimizing for different channels. The focus is on collecting all kinds of data (often in different formats and from different locations) and standardizing it. Many businesses will combine PIM and PIDS to have complete end-to-end control of their data.
MDM (Master Data Management): This is used to compile all kinds of critical, organizational data in one file. In fact, it’s another standardized golden record, much like PIM. However, this will include more than just product information. For example, MDM can also cover larger themes like finances or manufacturing.
PDM (Product Data Management): This is used to manage all information related to products. However, while PIDS help syndicate product information to external channels and help with sales and marketing, PDM is more of an internal repository, including CAD files, model information, and documentation.
Feed management: Do you manage product data feeds? Then you’re already using a Product Information Distribution Service! Feed management is one way to describe a certain subset of PIDS solutions. Feed management relates directly to product information being sent to peer-to-peer networks like Facebook and Google. (Read more on this in the complete report by Forrester.)
More than a buzzword
Product information distribute services affect results
Clearly, PIDS is not just a buzzword. Rather it’s a real opportunity for businesses who need to syndicate product information. More importantly, it is the future of both commerce and ecommerce. PIDS will absolutely be a required part of doing business in the coming years. Automation and absolutely reliable, clean product information will not be “nice to haves.” They will be necessities to expand your business, win market share from the competition, and provide the best end-customer experience.