What Is Product Data Management? | PDM With Flxpoint

Product data management (PDM) is an extensive field with many branches. While there is a lot of misinformation about how hard PDM is to implement and who needs it, the long-term success of your ecommerce business depends on its implementation.

It’s so important that organizations without a product data management system in place report spending 25% more time on nonproductive data management tasks.

What stops people from implementing such a crucial tool? While a PDM system can take a lot of resources and time to implement, it doesn’t have to be that way. Some smaller businesses don’t think they can benefit from PDM or that it’s only for engineering departments.

We’re here to set the facts straight, so keep reading to learn precisely what product data management is, PDM benefits, and why you should be using a complete retail operations platform that includes a PDM solution instead of emails, shared drives, and spreadsheets.

What Is Product Data Management?

Product data management is a structured approach to help access, control, and share large quantities of product data. In ecommerce, this product data includes your product catalog, content, attributes, and customer information.

PDM manages a variety of information, such as:

  • Commercial data: names, articles, models, and prices
  • Classification data: size, color, material, and additional functions
  • Characteristics: properties and composition
  • Digital information: video, images, and audio reviews
  • Information on language localization: translation of descriptions, characteristics, instructions, and packages
  • Technical indicators: instructions and warranty cards
  • Advertising data: metadata, tags, and keywords.
  • Warehouse information: product stock, purchase prices, discounts
  • Sales information: product codes, names, links

… and much more.

PDM software provides features for managing product-related data, controlling the revisions and changes, generating bills of materials (BOM) documents, and all production-related activities. Implementing PDM will save you time and minimize errors. When all stakeholders share current information about products, the product status—and the rest of your catalog—remains in sync.

Who Uses Product Data Management Software?

Product data management typically covers multiple products’ technical specifications, engineering models, design drawings,  bills of material, and related documents.

PDM software helps organizations manage their data by providing version control and security to ensure that the information stored in their central repositories is accurate and current, which can help them reduce data processing and make their operations more efficient.

Engineering teams are typically the heaviest users of PDM, but PDM is used by operations managers, sales teams, marketers, and others who work with products throughout their lifecycles.

Product Data Management in the Ecommerce Industry

In the ecommerce industry, it’s often a challenge for retailers to keep product data accurate and up-to-date, especially when you’re generating a vast amount of data relating to inventory, descriptions, measurements, and more data points.

So, ecommerce retailers use PDM software to make this data uniform and easily accessible. Product data management also ensures that data is stored in a user-friendly fashion, well-structured, and available to anyone who visits a shop online.

If you’re an online retailer collecting product information from various sources, including various brands and suppliers, a secure data management platform will help you provide more accurate data to your customers. Your PDM will play a vital role in aggregating product information, tagging attributes, and distributing valuable product information across multiple channels.

What Is the Difference Between PDM and PLM?

The term “product lifecycle management,” or PLM, refers to a set of business processes that manage the data necessary for products and related product lines.

The main goal of PLM software is to capture, track, maintain, distribute and store product information throughout its life cycle from creation to disposal. Product data management refers to accurate data storage and sits underneath PLM. Quick access to product data is ensured by PDM, which is essential to effective product lifecycle management.

Put simply: managing a product’s lifecycle and time-to-market is much more straightforward when all product data is gathered and correctly stored, and accessed in an easily searchable repository.

PDM vs. PIM

Product information management (PIM) and product data management (PDM) is often used interchangeably, and they’re complementary systems, but these terms refer to different approaches.

While PDM plays a critical role in engineering, design, and manufacturing teams, it’s less critical to sales and marketing teams. This is because PDM refers to product development. Marketing and sales teams rely on rich product information to create product descriptions, videos, images, and other materials. A PDM only contains a sliver of the product information required.

What Are the Benefits of PDM?

A PDM system helps companies manage, organize, and disseminate product development information across the enterprise in a secure way.

Using a product data management system helps ensure that all of your stakeholders share a common understanding of a product throughout its lifecycle. When implemented correctly, a PDM solution system helps organizations develop products more quickly, reduce associated costs and development errors, and effectively use all resources.

Central Data Management

With a product data management system in place, teams can better collaborate on projects that center on product data. For example, if a product description is missing or needs work, employees responsible for this data can enter the PDM system to provide relevant information on particular aspects of the product. Then, the marketing team can take this information and include it in data-driven product descriptions with enhanced wording aimed at attracting your target audience.

Having product data easily accessibly in a centrally located PDM allows for streamlined data management. When employees need quick information on a product or product line or add new data, they can simply reference your PDM system. Key team members across departments must maintain the proper access privileges and have the ability to call upon, add, and edit product information as needed.

Streamlined Communication Between Teams

With PDM, complex projects involving teams in remote offices or across departments can easily collaborate and share product data. PDM solutions have security controls in place that can restrict sensitive information to only those who require access.

Working in this way, managers can easily monitor product development. This enhanced project guidance translates to easier sign-offs and support for team members.

Reduced Mistakes

A PDM system prevents you from having to measure or weigh products yourself or guess at what they’re made from. This information has been imported directly from factual sources. It reduces the likelihood of product descriptions being incorrect. Detailed, accurate product information is crucial for building product descriptions that help customers understand exactly what they’re buying. This also helps reduce the risk of the financial burden caused by returned products.

As an ecommerce retailer, you know that the worst-case scenario is a customer ordering a product only to find out later that it’s out of stock. Your product data management system syncs with your inventory management system, so it reduces incorrect stock numbers. PDM software ensures accurate inventory levels, which are automatically in sync and updated across your sales channels.

Better Customer Experiences

Data-driven product descriptions are essential for reducing chances of returns, but they also enhance the customer experience. When your sales channel provides product descriptions that are accurate, organized, and relevant, your customers don’t have to go far for the answers they need.

It’s essential to provide a central location for your customers to browse your product catalog and learn more about the products that interest them in real-time. When this is effortless for them, they’re more likely to add a product to their cart and follow through with checkout. You can gently nudge your customers through the entire sales process by delivering an excellent customer experience with vital product information.

Improved Productivity

A key component of PDM is carrying over product information from several sources, including the product’s supplier or manufacturer. With product data already in your PDM, you’re not starting from scratch each time you create a product listing. With the right PDM system, you can import a product with existing specifications and attributes, such as its measurements and materials used to manufacture it.

It’s always best practice to tweak product descriptions to your audience to make them more user-friendly, but it’s invaluable when vital product information is automatically imported for you. This shortens the product time-to-market, allowing you to make product listing live without delay or additional assistance. Your employees can spend more time on product description SEO to attract more customers and less time on data entry.

Enhanced Searchability of Products and Information

A complete product description helps visitors learn more about your products and improves your product’s searchability online. If your catalog’s product descriptions are detailed and include all vital information, they’re more likely to appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

A PDM system leads to more detailed, accurate product descriptions. With thorough descriptions, online users who may have never stumbled upon your online store may become exposed to your products. You’ll gain widened brand exposure, and the higher you rank in SERPs, the more traffic your website will receive—which means you’re more likely to convert visits into sales.

Shared Data Leads to Innovation

When dealing with product data, it’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Instead, leverage existing product and detailed design data, as well as product history, using a PDM system. Then, you can easily access and configure the files you want to copy, replace, change, or reuse in new product designs.

Increased Speed to Market

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s essential to beat your competitors to the market. If you’re wasting time creating listings from scratch, you’re losing money. Your competitors may have already listed the exact product as you are compiling product data from multiple external sources for the perfect listings.

You must have efficient processes in place to prepare product descriptions more quickly and list products as soon as they’re ready to ship. With PDM software, all of this information is in one place. When you’re not hunting down product information and specifications, it becomes effortless to get products to market.

Automation

Finally, a PDM system allows you to efficiently organize your product data so that you can automate more of your business processes. For example, when inventory is accurately recorded and in sync across your distribution channels, you can set up processes to automatically reorder when your current inventory dips below a certain threshold.

As you expand your product catalog, you can automate the time-consuming process of creating new product listings. Since your PDM system already includes necessary product information, your teams can simply set listings to auto-populate required product descriptions and attributes.

Signs You Need a Product Data Management System

Do you think that your product listings are perfect?

A statistic that may surprise you: complex product information increases Amazon conversions by 3-10%. This figure shows us how essential product data management is. Here are signs that your organization needs to adopt a product data management strategy.

You’re Tired of Manual Product Management

Collecting, clustering, processing, and organizing products’ information is essential in any ecommerce business.

When importing data from multiple sources, entering it into spreadsheets, and editing and exporting product information into sales platforms, you’re bound to introduce errors. By automating this process, you can reduce the risk of errors while saving time and resources in the process.

You’re Experiencing Frequent Product Launch Delays

Delayed product launches frequently happen when you can’t keep up with product data coming from multiple vendors and brands.

More vendors = more products = more product content requirements. More product content = more time spent designing product descriptions in accordance with your brand’s templates and voice. All of this time spent creating product listings leads to fewer sales. The solution to this lies in automated product data management.

You Spend Too Much Time Adjusting New Product Requirements

Do you spend more than three hours adjusting new product listings for the given product requirements?

Time is money, and you can save time by integrating your suppliers’ product databases with your PDM software to automate data distribution.

It Takes a Week of Work Before New Products Can Go Live

Product construction, development, and product content strategy implementation lay the foundation when introducing a product to market. You can increase your ROI percentage by developing custom product content for different categories of buyers, but this takes time and effort in a market where you can’t afford to waste either.

You Notice Poor Communication Between Teams Responsible for Product Data

It takes two to three specialists to create content for one product in most organizations. To meet deadlines, efficient information exchange and coordination are vital. With a single database for product data, you can eliminate errors and redundancies between incoming and outgoing product information—which can significantly increase your team’s productivity.

You Encounter an Increase in Errors When Syndicating Product Content

In ecommerce, going omnichannel is a great way to scale your business and reach a broader audience. However, the more platforms and sales channels you introduce, the greater room for error and the more difficult it becomes to manage product data.

More errors occur due to differences in product data requirements among channels. You’ll quickly run into issues if you don’t have an automated way to deliver product data across sales channels.

You’re Dealing With Increased Employee Burnout and Turnover

Manual tasks create errors and can easily lead to frustration among teams. Frustration can quickly lead to burnout of your employees—which can directly contribute to losses due to downtime. Transferring some of this burden to product data management software can free up your staff, which will energize your team when they need it most.

You Lack a Single Source of Truth

Is your product catalog rife with discrepancies in descriptions, specifications, and other information? Without a single source of truth, you’ll be left scrambling, unsure which information is correct and unable to provide the best customer experience. With a PDM solution, you can automatically update and reconcile product data across channels and sources, reducing errors along the way.

Choosing the Right Product Data Management Software

An increasing amount of tedious, manual tasks, human errors, a slow time-to-market—this is just the tip of the iceberg when your product data management processes are faulty.

If you’re facing any of these issues in your current product development processes, you need automation made possible through effective product data management.

Product data management tools and features can vary wildly. Some systems will be better suited for enterprises, while other retailers may only have a handful of employees responsible for handling product data. You’ll need to choose wisely based on your unique needs.

However, there are some primary factors that project managers should look for when choosing a PDM tool. Make a more informed decision by looking for a platform that:

  • Facilitates collaboration between teams and stakeholders
  • Reduces product creation errors
  • Fits your usage, budget, and timeline
  • Improves team productivity
  • Helps you gather the data you need as efficiently as possible
  • Maintains your organization’s security standards

If your business is new or you have never managed data with a system before, you need to implement an entirely new PDM system. When doing your research and searching for products to demo, be prepared to provide a walk-through of what data you’re storing or gathering, where it needs to go in your system(s), and an understanding of your company’s existing tech stack.

Product Data Management With Flxpoint

By now, you understand why product data management is essential to improving your ecommerce business’s data quality and integrity.

Good quality, rich product content is central to a connected customer experience that leads to better customer engagement and increases sales. Let Flxpoint act as your total retail operations platform and central source of truth.

Talk with an expert today to start implementing more innovative product data management processes with Flxpoint.

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