Perhaps a familiar scenario:
Summer is approaching. A look into the closet reveals that a shopping tour through the city center is unfortunately inevitable. After several unsuccessful attempts, the new summer jacket has finally been found. But happy too early, because the right size is no longer available in the store. The hard-working saleswoman calls half a dozen other branches, but unfortunately without success. When and if the jacket will come? Maybe the jacket can be ordered through the web shop? Unfortunately I have no idea. You leave the store in frustration.
It is clear that many future-oriented retailers are already working on appropriate omni-channel strategies. Often, however, it quickly becomes clear that the IT landscape that has grown with them is not really up to these challenges. An ERP system has a list of products, ideally also by location. The products are also created in the web shop, with interesting product information and prices. But at the latest when it comes to cross-channel activities, many systems reach their limits. Which products can be offered in which channel? Which prices apply in which channel? Which discount options apply in which channel? What is happening, when an online shop visitor receives a special offer through a retargeting campaign and then goes with it to a stationary shop? What information can customer service provide about availability if delivery has been announced for the central warehouse but the allocation to the channels is not known?
From personal experience too: The biggest problem is usually the IT infrastructure that has grown separately over time, each of which contains channel-specific solutions. The ERP system often comes from a pre-digital era. An online shop system was set up to operate this channel. CRM and campaign management systems are at best still understood with online marketing solutions. Cross-channel marketing and retail strategies often encounter almost insurmountable technical hurdles. Not only that, for each individual channel, product- and offer-relevant information has to be maintained several times with high personnel expenditure. All rules and business processes must also be maintained separately in all systems.
An almost surprisingly obvious solution can be a small building block with a phenomenal effect. The term PIM (Product Information Management) manages what is actually the heart of every retailer: the product portfolio. Through the central creation of a product catalog with all relevant
- Prices by channel
- Discounts / promotional periods / special promotions for individual shops
- Approval for certain channels / shops
- Can be combined
- Product descriptions
- Deliveries by channel
creates the true basis for many cross-channel solutions.
The fact that all surrounding systems access the same data stock reduces the administrative effort just as drastically as the susceptibility to errors. The management of modern omni-channel sales is also made easier with extensive product ranges and differentiated campaigns. The effort for the implementation and maintenance of a PIM is significantly lower than the cost and the technical complexity of the otherwise necessary constant changes in highly different system environments of the different channels and ERP systems.