Taking Your PIM Omnichannel

This is a guest post from Jonathan Dropiewski, from our partner, priint

Omnichannel is a buzzword that really has a different meaning for everybody.  But what does the term mean to your organization?  

To some, it is lumped in with other trendy terms like “digital transformation.”  However, after we get past the buzzword bingo and take a closer look, there are often some key areas that are being left behind in this race.  

It is amazing how many conferences, webinars, and industry experts spend 100% of their omnichannel sessions speaking about entirely online touchpoints.  While these digital channels are incredibly important, even essential for a modern organization, these discussions often cast aside or ignore the “omni” part of omnichannel entirely.  It is easy in the age of digital transformation and eCommerce to forget about some of the less obvious areas where there has been little to no innovation or automation over the last 15 years.  

One of these areas of potentially huge, but oft-ignored, ROI is publishing, which can affect both the generation of top-line revenue as well as bottom-line cost savings.  Using the clean and consistent data provided by Akeneo PIM, modern publishing platforms can enable your organization to excel at delivering superior and truly omnichannel experiences.

In today’s world, publishing goes well beyond the traditional paper catalog or product brochure —  though those publications remain more important and relevant than many give them credit for. These publications are still an ideal platform for new product discovery and introduction, but in most instances, the processes used to create these are archaic at best.  

We are constantly amazed — though not always positively — at some of the things we hear from organizations across the spectrum of verticals and of different sizes.  Unbelievable as it may be, there are companies that spend 12-18 months working to produce a single publication. Most of the layouts we see are still done manually via copy and paste and Excel exports — then, by the time the publication is ready to go to print, much of the information is out of date, once again lengthening the process further as more revisions are made.  

Even purely “digital” publications seem to follow these patterns.  For instance, the prototypical PDF datasheet downloadable from many websites and webshops often follows a similar process, no matter who produces it.  Whenever a new product is released or updates are made, an employee must get a data export from IT, manually open up Adobe InDesign, make the change, send for proofreading and approval, generate the PDF, and finally someday publish it to the website.

These are just a few examples of the many scenarios that we encounter frequently. 

Publishing and other offline touchpoints have been largely ignored thus far in the digital transformation initiatives of most marketing departments.  The ideas of segmentation, personalization, A/B testing, AI, etc. remain out of reach of the publishing world to this point. However, a new generation of tools is now available, including tools that offer layout automation, headless publishing, personalization, and more.  

Rather than furthering the narrative that offline is dead or dying, these tools enable the marketer to deliver a true omnichannel experience.  They also have the ability to show very robust ROI from your Akeneo PIM system. Imagine producing a catalog, complete with published data sheets and other associated printed or digital material, 80% more efficiently in terms of time and cost.  

What if you were able to produce ten 200 page variations of a catalog for various segments versus one 1000 page monolithic catalog for all?  This ROI comes from both a better-targeted publication and then you would also save the 800 pages in printing costs. As an added benefit the time gap between online and offline narrows significantly.  Suddenly these publications go from being a legacy necessity to a strategic capability. Creative marketers and agency partners transition from being copy and paste editors to true strategic marketing. Marketing automation platforms are now able to easily incorporate these capabilities into your campaign planning.  And, because clean and consistent data is needed for this level of automation, your PIM serves as the foundation for all of this automation and capability.  

Whether you are assessing what a PIM may be able to do for your organization, are in the process of implementing, or looking to take better advantage of the system you have up and running, be sure to take a look at how you are leveraging the information that is in the PIM, and whether there may be a large hidden cost that can be reduced or market opportunity to take advantage of.  Product and Content Management for the sake of data organization has some inherent value, but the organizations that will succeed the most are the ones who excel at not just managing their content but better leveraging it.  

While digital channels and outputs often drive the initial push for a PIM solution, there is often very large ROI that remains obtainable by modernizing some critical but legacy processes as well.  

Jonathan Dropiewski is President/CEO of priint Americas, developers of print:Suite, the leading Global Platform for Publishing Automation and Personalization.  www.priint.com

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