PIM, as most of you readers might know, stands for product information management system. It is not just an application, but also an enabler of a perfect opportunity to connect the dots between people, process, and technology within a commerce business. Years ago, we published a piece that highlighted how PIM is a backbone for Ecommerce, which not only applies to just B2C commerce but also very extensively to B2B commerce.
B2B online ecommerce sales have already surpassed B2C online ecommerce sales, and although B2B is still a less adopted and established market compared to B2C business models, it doesn’t change buyer expectations. Buyers expect a B2C-like experience, and B2B is complex and has several nuances depending on the respective business models of each company. However, B2B online sales are going to continue to increase in years to come. When thinking about B2B ecommerce go-to-market strategy and revenue growth, it is essential to focus on not just the primary web stores, but also to take into account various other e-channels such as point-of-sale, EDI, dealer portals, and of course, can’t forget about the marketplaces.
When it comes to existing marketplaces, there are certainly some household names. Amazon, one of the biggest marketplaces out there, started with a B2C model and not too long ago launched a B2B business. Alibaba, possibly the biggest B2B marketplace in the world, has recently opened its marketplace to US-based manufacturers.
When expanding your marketplace channel strategy, it does help to sell products via existing marketplaces, but it is certainly not one-size-fits-all. Sometimes it might help for a company to consider building its own marketplace for many reasons. Check out my colleague’s blog on ‘How Amazon will Likely Influence your B2B Marketplace Strategy’, for further perspective on this.
What Does PIM have to do with All of This?
Selling via marketplaces exposes the company’s product assortments to many more buyers, and more buyers mean more orders. It’s important to have a solid foundation of accurate product information and a faster time to publish to support this exponential growth.
With the increase in complexity of the B2B business model, companies may be required to create additional product bundles, associate supporting information about the SKUs or products, such as spec sheets or diagrams, or provide additional digital assets. All of this is a possibility with the ability to leverage a PIM platform and define specific workflows that work best for your business model.
In addition to providing a means to manage and distribute accurate product information, PIM allows Product Managers to create relevant, channel-specific product assortments as well. Having this type of information available in a timely manner to marketplaces helps the companies to stay current, helps take the buyers from browsing to checkout process fast, and reduces the chances of returns overall, building up brand value and trust with channel-partners.
What Comes First: PIM or Marketplace?
The answer is much simpler than the ‘chicken or the egg’ quandary. The best way to think about this is to consider setting up a foundation before constructing a building. PIM is the foundation. In any case, a company will spend time to clean up, collect, and distribute product information. It is simply best to do so through a platform that is designed to bring efficiency to these business processes. The ability to structure a product catalog in a way for it to serve multiple channels is essential to any commerce strategy.
It’s also possible to run two parallel tracks, a PIM and a marketplace setup. A successful marketplace integration requires clean and accurate product information, and refined processes, meaning a new PIM system or a strong effort to streamline existing internal PIM processes. In case a company decides to build its own marketplace, those marketplace platforms might come with a catalog management module. It will still help to assess if that serves the business purpose, or if considering a standalone PIM can support multiple business units, multiple integrations, and other important items.
PIM and Marketplaces: The Perfect Mix
Expanding your marketplace channel strategy by integrating PIM could very well bring your business to the next level. To assess the need for PIM, how it would work best with your marketplace strategy, or the type of marketplace integration that works best for your business, download our guide, Build Modern B2B Commerce Experiences With Marketplaces and contact our PIM and commerce experts today.