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Navigating the Digital Top 3: Content, Commerce & PIM

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By Ryan Dellolio, VP of Shift7 Digital

As manufacturers look to the future with the goal of optimizing their digital experiences, there is much more than meets the eye. While a shiny new website can help to modernize the business and achieve some goals, there is more beneath the surface of a webpage that should be addressed. 

Because these backend elements are not front and center, they often get overlooked or intentionally disregarded, thinking that they must not be that big of a deal. We’ve had a number of clients who do not realize the true importance of their commerce and product information management (PIM) systems until we have a chance to educate them on it. And even then, there is still a learning curve. 

Sometimes the question will arise as to what system is the best or most essential: content, commerce, or PIM? The answer is that there is no answer. Each system should not live in a vacuum; in fact, it’s the triad that creates the most impact. The ultimate goal, then, is not to put all of your eggs into one basket, but to finetune the balance of all three, and that is where partnering with an expert like Shift7 can make the difference. 

Before we get too far, let’s make sure we are on the same page by defining each piece of the puzzle.

  • Content: The website front end (everything you see and read on the screen).
  • PIM: A management system that organizes product content in the backend of your website and other channels. It enables consistency across all channels, e.g. the website, a catalog, a mobile app, etc.
  • Commerce: A system in the backend of your website that enables transactions to occur.

At Shift7, we know the ins and outs of the manufacturing world and how to best leverage these digital technologies and tools to “future proof” a business—plus bring in more business. We also know how to make the most out of digital investment no matter how far along in the process that business is.

A few manufacturers we’ve worked with have been in business for decades, some even up to 100 years. For someone with that sort of history, diving headfirst into PIM—a necessity, but also a substantial investment—isn’t always the best choice. Rather, the goal should be to find a healthy balance of product content, investment in PIM, and investment in other areas like commerce. On the other hand, with a younger client who already has a solid PIM system in place, we’d look to optimize channels and create more advanced marketing strategies around them.

To help guide the decision-making process, we consider the manufacturer’s current operations and objectives. In the table below you can see how this plays out. The goal is to find a balance, and when you do, success follows, and the investment will seem well worth it.

  • If the business focuses on a high volume of transactions and has a high volume of content, chances are it’ll need the triple play.
  • If there is a high volume of transactions and a low volume of content, the business can get by with only a new commerce system. 
  • If there is a high volume of content but a low volume of transactions, PIM and content will suffice.
  • If there is a low volume of content and a low volume of transactions, you can start with content only, and hopefully work toward more transactions. 

One of the biggest challenges we face is not the technology and the ‘doing.’ Rather, it’s change adoption. Because a lot of these companies have been around for a while, they only know things as they’ve always been done. Getting the organization to rally around and adopt new concepts is difficult—especially when it requires the company to entertain an altogether new business model or sales model. (And we can advise on that, too.)

So, where does that leave us? If you’re a manufacturer, you’re probably wondering where and how you can begin to “future proof” your company. It’s hard to say without a conversation first and knowing exactly where you stand in that table, but most likely, updating your PIM, and then finding the ideal balance of it alongside commerce and content will get you on the right path. 

If you’re interested in learning more or scheduling a free first-time consultation to discuss how to get ready for your business’ short and long term future, reach out to us on our contact page.

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