inRiver’s upcoming PIMpoint Summit 2017 is heavily focused on micro-moments, those intent-driven moments in a buyer’s journey when they are deciding where to go, what to do, how to do something, or what to buy.
The challenge is determining how to make all your best and most appropriate product content available to the buyer in those micro-moments - when they need it. Not only does this take skilled marketers who acutely understand the individual buyer journey, but also requires tools and processes that can support what can be a Herculean effort to address micro-moments.
Manufacturers and distributors may, in some cases, be one step removed from the micro-moments that exist in the retail environment. However, an increasing number of B2B purchases are also being transacted digitally, or, at the very least, being researched in real-time online. It is also important to note that many of today’s Millennial-aged business buyers did not grow up reading catalogs. Making up as much as half the number of B2B buyers, this generation of businesspeople are very comfortable with both researching and buying online.
Thus, we are now in the age of the customer, when empowered buyers can quickly compare product options and make purchases in a single click. They may only contact you when they need to, such as when product information and pricing is only available to the sales rep or when they have a problem or complaint. You need to make the access to information and buying options easy; if you don’t, your competitors will.
The Content Store is an functional application within inRiver PIM. Many types of content can be stored in inRiver’s content store, including images, multi-media files, specification documents, user manuals, product descriptions, and safety information. All these content types are available in a simple-to-use portal.
For those of you who are manufacturers, the Content Store allows your distributors to access and download product information. For wholesale distributors that sell to retail stores, dealers, or contractors, you can provide your customers with a simple way of accessing product information. This is a method that avoids the exchange of emails, files, and spreadsheets. Essentially, the content store within inRiver PIM is a repository for content and product information. You no longer need to email, send spreadsheets or marked up PDF or Word documents. You can simply send your partners, dealers, customers, and internal stakeholders to the Content Store for whatever information they need.
inRiver PIM is a powerful, easy-to-use solution that encompasses and enables the four key stages of the PIM process - supply, enrich, plan, and publish.
The Content Store is the heart of the inRiver PIM organism - a virtual one-stop shop of product information that users can access for all of their product information needs. Instead of descending into spreadsheet Hades or searching for the latest version of product data within the organization’s “content spaghetti,” users can simply add needed content to a shopping cart for download or create assortments online for distribution internally or externally. In addition, multiple Content Stores can be created based on user need. For example, many distributors have set up content stores for their customer-facing sales teams to streamline content and facilitate the sales process. Simple administration functionality allows for the management of users and granting of user permissions. In addition, the inRiver PIM Content Store provides a single-click catalog creation feature for easy publishing - to multiple channels - of customized assortments, looks, or product bundles in PDF format.
If this concept intrigues you, we invite you to learn more. We recently recorded a brief 20-minute webinar and demo that describes the Content Store in more detail and provides an in-depth look into the functionality. Designed specifically for B2B companies who aspire to sell online, the demo includes real-world data and examples.
It is time to be resurrected from an eternity spent in spreadsheet purgatory. Take a look at inRiver PIM’s Content Store! Watch the Webinar On-Demand!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver Inc
Marketing is one of the areas where the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is growing rapidly. This marketing revolution is happening due to many reasons, but mostly because of a growing amount of customer touchpoints, combined with increasing data volumes that make it hard for humans to crunch the numbers. Secondly, micro-moments and fractured buying journeys make it necessary to optimize the marketing message in real time, something that simply cannot be done manually.
AI and ML augment already existing marketing technology, and at the same time, create completely new ways to make marketing more efficient, from real-time personalized merchandising to chatbots that can answer customer questions and take orders. The use of AI and ML within marketing is evolving and is rapidly shifting from early adoption to broad acceptance. Most modern "searchandizing engines," eCommerce platforms, and e-mail marketing tools already use some AI and ML to optimize marketing and sales effectiveness. Voice recognition services like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google Home are already assisting us with everyday tasks, including shopping.
Most companies want to sell more products and increase revenue. To do that they need to be more relevant than their competitors when presenting their products to customers in each micro-moment. Relevancy is no longer just about adapting to customer personas; it is about the person. What makes things even more complicated, it is also about the customer’s intent, as some shoppers are prepared to buy and some are only in research mode; some are looking for a birthday gift, and others a solution to a problem. You have to be relevant and tell the right product story to all of them, in their context, in real-time.
The answer to achieving real-time relevancy is not to simply just buy all the new shiny pieces of hyped-up software—especially if you do not have the content in place that can act as the fuel for the AI and ML engines. If you do not already have the content, you need to start by producing it before you can create better customer experiences by reaping the benefits of the new marketing technology. To keep up with new product launches and increasing customer expectations, creating the content is not a one-off thing either. It needs to be an ongoing process that continues to churn out high-quality product stories.
This constant production process of product stories, continuously improving itself to produce more content with higher quality is what I call a "content creation factory." Its sole purpose is to create better customer experiences, fuel all the new initiatives and take advantage of the enormous possibilities that the new AI-powered marketing technology brings. So the time has come to say goodbye to "Product Information Management" because it is no longer enough just to manage information. It needs to evolve into "Product Marketing" as the new purpose is telling better product stories that increase the customer experience by fueling and taking advantage of an AI-powered marketing tech stack.
Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver
When you walk into a small fashion boutique, it can feel almost like a liberating experience. Although by nature I am not a shopper and small boutique prices terrify me, I do enjoy the pristine, sparse environs of an intimate and high-end boutique. Each garment is delicately hung several inches from its neighboring items, the displays are fastidiously placed in strategic areas of the store, and the hardwood floors have not a speck of dust. Even the store personnel are meticulous in their attire and comportment. Equally tranquil, it seems, is the transition from one season to another—the introduction of the new and the dismissal of the dated.
Despite this calming in-store experience, I would argue that retail fashion ecommerce and merchandizing resemble more the duck that is calm on the surface but paddling frantically underneath. Behind the immaculate façade of a department or chain store display may actually be organizational disarray and chaotic disparate sources of product data that result in “product content spaghetti.” This breeds insecurity and doubt among marketers, who are left continuously searching for the latest version of a product’s information, while worrying about the product information’s accuracy, completeness, and appeal.
It is this content spaghetti that the team at inRiver seeks to address, store, and organize for our customers—to make the lives easier for fashion marketers everywhere. We are fortunate to have many customers who have benefited from this and are willing to tell their stories.
One of these customers is Claire Sharp Sundt of Varner Group, who is joining inRiver’s own Johan Bostrom at Episerver Ascend on Monday, February 27, 2017 at 3PM in Yaletown 1 for a session about how to streamline ecommerce processes from a product information perspective. The session is entitled: “Commerce: It Takes a Village. How Technology and Marketing Work Together for a Great Customer Experience.”
Varner Group is a house of many brands, some of which compete with one another! They embarked on ecommerce in earnest in 2013, having installed inRiver PIM in 2012. Ms. Sundt will discuss Varner’s journey from content spaghetti and organizational silos to empowered collaboration and information sharing. In addition, she will share how the marketing team built a partnership with IT to help bridge the gap between their marketers and their shoppers. Ms. Sundt will also describe the importance of key attributes for certain target segments based on specific customer needs.
Johan Bostrom will weigh in on how product information management applications, such as inRiver PIM, can be used to enhance product intelligence and rid organizations of content spaghetti once and for all.
Don’t miss this exciting session at Episerver Ascend on March 1. Stop by our booth at the Show—Booth #15—to discuss your content spaghetti or product information management needs. In the interim, please take a look at the Varner Group case study on the inRiver web site to learn more.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver