Why B2B Distributors Need a Smarter Product Information Management Platform
Enterprises tend to lean toward B2B distributors who can take care of all their procurement needs. A smarter PIM platform helps B2B distributors position their unique value proposition, and convince a prospect into inking the deal with their company amid diverse operating models.
The role of distributors in bridging the gap between a “market need” and a “solution to it,” is becoming more prominent as they often deal with the large number of SKUs, customers, suppliers, and transactions. From tangible office goods to even technology solutions, enterprises tend to lean toward B2B distributors who can take care of all their procurement needs. In most cases, these B2B distributors and wholesalers have better understanding of targeted audiences or exclusive selling relationships where their buyers work directly with them, either through a digital commerce site, a dedicated sales representative, or other channels. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop them from worrying about marketplace competition.
Despite exclusivity, there exist the likes of Amazon Business and the AWS Marketplace, that in a way, loom as constant reminders to distributors that they need to up their ante. The preferences and needs of B2B buyers are evolving, similar to B2C buyers. Distributors being at the head of this consumption chain always need to be on deck and on point regarding keeping all brands under their belt.
It all boils down to this: where can B2B distributors ideally position their unique value proposition, and how do they convince a prospect into inking the deal with their company amid other suitors or even operating models? Rendering their all-encompassing product information database in an informative yet illustrative way is what can win them back their fair share in the marketplace. The answer lies in investing in a robust product information management (PIM) solution that can streamline the source of product data and all digital assets.
What does a PIM Mean for You as a B2B Distributor?
In addition to helping you create a robust online presence, where all business happens today, a PIM platform empowers business operations with efficiency. Given that you are the middleman linking the various stakeholders in the supply chain—including the manufacturer, suppliers, third-party services, and in some cases, the end customer—there is a vast pool of information that needs to be integrated. A PIM platform makes managing SKUs and other digital entities across channels and platforms from various partners much easier. It can streamline your product information across channels to ensure higher returns, thereby helping your organization deliver exceptional customer-centric experiences.
Take an automotive dealership example, where a customer walks in with a request for a piece of spare equipment. In the event of not having that particular product in stock, the dealership can quickly check the availability of the part with the distributor. With a PIM platform in place, it becomes easier for the dealership manager to search through the inventory and look for the part that corresponds to the specific make and model of the car. For the dealership, this reduces the time to revert to the customer and ultimately enhances the relationship with the distributor.
It is not enough for the product you sell to be great by itself. As a distributor, you need to place the right product content at the right time to draw engagement from resellers. A PIM platform can help with creating high-quality content for your product catalog, centralizing and collating marketing, sales, and technical product information. When your product catalog data is organized, it improves coordination and communication amongst supplier partners, thus making the job much easier for buyers which leads to engaging customer experience.
A PIM solution can introduce collaboration both internally as well as amongst other stakeholders, enabling easy and quick access to product data. It can also eliminate data silos, so you can do away with extensive spreadsheets. Through an API-based PIM platform, you can acquire data from various channels, such as online sales, ERP, invoices, etc., and this translates to optimized productivity. In the context of a technology partner ecosystem, a distributor is the dedicated reseller for a solution and handles a variety of activities for the brand. You can use a PIM solution to keep the partner network up to date on the product updates every time there is a new item or feature rollout. What’s more, you can also manage the entire partner lifecycle from partner recruitment to partner technical support, and sales and marketing services to training and certification all from a single pane of glass.
Given that all data is in one place, you can always explore newer opportunities and amplify sales across multiple channels. A PIM platform paves the way for fostering an innovative culture and experimenting with captivating campaigns, something that is either a complex process or impossible with decentralized product information. With the right PIM platform, you can establish stronger data governance policies, such as building data hierarchies for catalog data and defining a streamlined workflow, thus making the system more intuitive and interactive for your customers to use. With the millennials stepping into the C-suite, buying decisions are made based on how easily they can extract value from a distributor’s website and make their transition process hassle-free. A well-organized product catalog helps them research product specifications, buy it, and resell/consume with efficiency.
Embrace the Future of Rich Product Information Delivery
With the flurry of activities surrounding the distributors, and competition cropping up from unconventional businesses, you need to capitalize on best-of-breed technologies, such as adopting a PIM platform. Trends like infusing visually appealing product unboxing and walkthrough videos have already made inroads in the PIM landscape. It is just a matter of time before technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and AR/VR become the norm. When it comes to that, you need to be open for changes, and it begins with investing in a feature-rich PIM solution today.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shashin Shah is CEO of Pimcore Global Services (PGS) - A Happiest Minds Company. Pimcore is an open source platform for product information management (PIM/MDM), digital asset management (DAM), content management system (CMS) and eCommerce. In his over 20 years of experience, both globally and in the US, he has managed large enterprise clients through strategizing, operating, consulting and carrying out implementations worth USD 100M+ through global delivery models, across several industries.