Master Data in eCommerce - Part 2: The Product

This is the 2nd post of a three part blog series on the importance of master data in eCommerce.

Part 1:  The customer – We looked at some typical enterprise data points around the customer and identify where that data typically resides.  We talked about how to collect and reconcile that data into a single view of the customer – the elusive golden record.

Part 2: The product – We’ll look at some typical enterprise data points around product (or productized services) and the multiple systems that typically house that data.  We’ll also look at PIM/DAM/MDM options.

Part 3: Bringing it all together – We’ll illustrate, though use case, how a documented inventory of managed data can be used to enhance the customer experience.  We’ll look at the notion of a digital content model that includes integrated customer and product master data.

Part 2:  The Product

Enterprise retailers and product manufacturers have a lot to consider when managing their product catalogs – Multiple locations, languages, persona messaging, culture images, price books, channels, network feeds, etc.  Most also have to deal with multiple systems that contain different bits of product data – your master product record.  SKU & price may reside in your ERP system; or multiple ERP systems if there have been company acquisitions.  Inventory may reside in ERP, warehouse management systems (WMS) & Point of Sale (POS) systems.  Product categorization, attributes & metadata may be managed in the eCommerce platform.  Product copy, imagery, video and spec sheets may reside in the eCommerce platform but the master files may live in a nested folder structure on a network file share.  Or, there may not be a formal location for master content.  Have you ever had to chase down your Account Manager at your agency to have them resend the latest product shots for a merchandising deadline?  Me too…

Today’s Product Managers and eCommerce Merchandisers can find themselves challenged with systems that are ill-equipped to perform the wide range of tasks necessary to drive a successful ecommerce business.  A sampling of common tasks include: 

  • Adding & updating product within complex catalogs
  • Ensuring that all the copy, imagery, categorization, tagging data is up to date & accurate
  • Reviewing product across multiple channels to make sure that product presentation is optimized
  • Managing multiple feeds to buying networks, recommendation engines, etc. 
  • And, all with the necessary quality control & governance

Ping ponging between multiple systems can make this all but an impossible task.  

Can a PIM help your business?  

As line of business system count and complexity increases there comes a point where a Product Information Management (PIM) system makes sense.  A PIM can help extract product data from multiple systems, transform that product data into a single record and present it to the business user in a view that’s easy to work with.  Built in workflows can be configured to automate processes and ensure data quality & consistency.  Lastly, business rules can be configured to manage product data distribution to different catalogs, channels & networks.  The PIM can offer that single view of the product, similar to the single view of the customer that we described in Part 1 of this series.  


Don’t you love all the acronyms in our space?

  • PIM: Product Information Management
  • DAM:  Digital Asset Management
  • MDM:  Master Data Management

There’s a lot of grey area and crossover between PIM and DAM.  Most of the enterprise systems have all the functionality; sometimes in different modules.  The MDM acronym is the overarching term for all enterprise data, often times represented by a data management suite.  

PIM/DAM/MDM options in our space are growing.  We would expect to see them represented formally in the Chiefmartec Marketing Technology Landscape at some point – Likely in the middleware section.  Friction free customer & product data management is now a prerequisite for use within a high performing customer experience platform.  

Up next:  Bringing it all together

The next post in this series will show a use case of customer & product data alignment and how a content module is used to facilitate that. 

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