Understanding the management processes involved throughout a product’s lifecycle is a difficult task. Let’s start by breaking down some of the terminologies that often get lost in translation.
Product management vs. product data management: what’s the difference?
Product management encompasses every aspect of the product lifecycle – from development to launch and everything in between, such as pricing, forecasting, marketing, etc.
Product data management (PDM) is software that is primarily used by engineers and developers to track the technical specifications of products. PDM can be used to track the costs associated with developing and launching a product.
The phrase “product data management” is also used in a much more general sense to describe how brands and retailers manage their product information across marketing and selling channels. For example, product data management also describes how companies manage the product information exported to product-to-consumer (P2C) platforms before the enriched feeds are forwarded to the marketplaces, retailers, social commerce platforms, or wherever else the products will be sold.
For the purpose of today, we’re going to focus on product data management in the general sense. Product IDs, size, shape, color, stock quantity, as well as product images or videos are all types of data about products that smart platforms collate and enrich for distribution in marketplaces, ecommerce, and social commerce platforms or anywhere in the omnichannel commerce space.
All commerce is virtual – smart product data management is now essential
We all know that brands, retailers, service providers, and manufacturers package and sell tangible products – even digital-only products in meta environments are minted on a blockchain – but the manner in which these products are sold nowadays and the kind of experiences consumers expect from these shopping experiences are all determined by product data. In a sales and marketing sense, products are dead, so long live product data.
The explosion of hybrid shopping models since the global lockdown of early 2020, like BOPIS (aka click and collect) and Google Local Inventory Ads, means that even traditionally offline businesses on the high street also require high-quality product data to populate their online shopping spaces. Therefore, all products in today’s commerce ecosystem are – in a way – virtual. And with augmented reality and the metaverse set to become the norm for Generation Alpha – Gen Z’s digitally-native heirs– effectively managing this product data should be the primary business objective for commerce businesses looking to future-proof. But is it?
Commerce anarchy and its effects on product data management
With the effects of commerce anarchy overwhelming many businesses below the hyperscaler level – and let’s face it, that’s the majority of companies – boardrooms and marketing teams need to start investigating means of managing their product data more effectively. If all commerce is virtual, and the virtual space is so complex, then how the heck can SMEs expect to compete with the corporations whose resources and budgets swarf theirs?
The answer is simple: next-generation product-to-consumer platforms used for product data management level the commerce playing field and can even offer niche businesses access to over 2,500 channels.
Even large businesses must carefully prepare their product feeds and distribute them to the channels – marketplaces, online stores, hybrid retailers, social commerce platforms – where they expect to meet their consumers. Without smart product data management solutions in place, even large businesses will unnecessarily burn resources as they optimize for each channel or try to onboard new channels.
P2C platforms can quickly create multiple feeds for hundreds of channels and without IT support, effectively leveling the playing field for small, mid-sized, or even big businesses who don’t have the resources to compete with the Gigantic Girls and Boys of the commerce space.
5 tips for product data management
Here are five things you should consider before selecting a new software or solution to support your product data management strategy.
No. 1 Easy access to channels, channels, and more channels
The main advantage of using a P2C platform is gaining hassle-free access to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of sales channels worldwide using the same product information. Product-to-consumer solutions tailor the primary feed to fit the specification of the ever-increasing number of channels.
An easy-to-use dashboard that visualizes product data in a way that allows for rapid mapping to new export channels is a key feature for the kind of product data management businesses need to compete in the all-virtual-commerce space.
No. 2 3D commerce makes for happy shoppers
If 2D commerce describes the traditional product information values chains (PIVCs) – where product data flowed in one direction from the seller to the consumer – 3D commerce describes the circular PIVCs where feedback and customer behavior is instantly fed back into the product information and automatically tweaked to enhance the consumer buying experience on specific channels or marketplaces.
Your product data management solution will have to incorporate AI-backed 3D commerce into its services catalog to be prepared for trends, seasonal fluctuations, or whatever consumer behavior is evolving on our horizons.
No. 3 Best practice tips and channel-specific notifications
One of the biggest obstacles hemming commerce growth is the constant fact-finding and product data updates needed to keep up with the big channels and marketplaces as they optimize their own spaces for their consumers. How many pixels? Video or dynamic ads? Which attributes are required and which are recommended?
An experienced P2C partner will have strong partnerships with the leading marketplaces and channels and automatically update all specs or inform the product data feed managers via notification when they need to make changes. A comprehensive P2C platform will allow for most changes to be made within the platform – via the central dashboards – thus handing back complete control of the product data to the sellers and manufacturers.
No 4. Data enhancement and enrichment capabilities as standard
Not all businesses have the resources to create video content for the likes of TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, or Insta. Good external agencies with the kind of reporting required to onboard and optimize new advertising assets are expensive investments.
Your service partner should have asset or creative enhancement and enrichment capabilities built into its platform, enabling you to get the exact kind of creatives in the precise format for each channel and consumer target group. Bulk editing functions across all feeds, creative graphic enhancement, dynamic ad software, and comprehensive performance reporting are essential for any solution supporting product data management.
No 5. Tailored and dedicated P2C transformation support team
Simple solutions to complex problems require expert guidance. Implementation of your product data management strategy and your first steps on your product-to-consumer transformation journey both require dedicated support. Technical and strategic teams should guide you on the initial technical implementations and the implicit strategic thinking needed to future-proof your business and create sustainable success.
The best way to manage your product data is P2C management
Productsup is spearheading the P2C commerce revolution, offering more than technical solutions. Their goal is to enable businesses to radically rethink their commerce and realize their P2C strategies. Productsup seamlessly combines the latest product data and product experience innovation with strategic planning into one comprehensive P2C transformation package. To learn more about P2C, check out our introduction to Product-to-Consumer.