Challenges faced by Manufacturers
One of the biggest challenges faced by a manufacturer is getting accurate and timely product information to its network of distributors and dealers. Manufacturer possesses very important product information such as product specs, technical data, CAD drawings etc from its Product Development team, product images, marketing copy and manuals from its marketing team. All of this information is crucial to its network of distributors as a means to provide collateral, e-commerce websites to end customers.
With massive amounts of information required to be provided to the various customer channels, manufacturers face problems in aggregating this information and managing it effectively and channeling it to the proper users. A catalog software is required to accomplish these tasks.
The importance of a Product Information Management System
A central Product Information Management System (PIM) allows a manufacturer to aggregate information from its different departments. The product information starts with basic details added by its Product Development department and goes through various departments within the Organization the information grows through the product life-cycle.
With the PIM the organization is able to maintain links to its ERP and CRM systems which enhances product data. Once the information is aggregated in a central repository the manufacturer then has to deliver it to its customers through catalog management software which is an integral part of the PIM.
Every company irrespective of its size or its products needs an online presence as it is the most effective way to deliver information and is also one of the significant channels of sales. A manufacturer needs a Business to Business (B2B) website to share its product database with its customers and also use it as a means of generating revenue.
A B2B website can have the following features
- Product Navigation and Browsing : Users can look up product information by navigating the website and a user friendly navigation is one of most important features for a website
- Search: A good website search does not show too many results or too few, with the right number of results combined with good filtering and drill down options saves a lot of time and hassle for the users
- Downloads: Product information comes with additional materials such as technical documentation, user manuals, installation videos etc. All of this rich content can be presented to the user in the most effective manner
- Quote generation: Distributors looking at product information online will have the ability to place a quote request for products they are interested in.
These are some of the core features that make a good B2B website, but the list does not stop here and could be enhanced to various other features as required by each company.
Benefits of a good B2B website
A good B2B catalog provides users with accurate information whenever it is needed and implementing a B2B website will provide manufacturers with several important benefits
Lower Costs of Operation
With information being stored in a central PIM database and being driven to the website automatically companies can reduce costs associated with aggregating, managing and publishing the product information.
Since accurate product information is being offered to customers, there will be fewer errors with products, pricing and other data. Information is also available easily to users which helps them make an informed decision without resorting to channels such as customer support for obtaining the required information.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
When customers have access to the latest and accurate product information, there will be less room for errors and product returns will be lower. This increases customer satisfaction post sales and provides the customer support team with better tools to deal with queries.
Lesser time to market
Using traditional methods of distributing product information is time-consuming in all aspects such starting from collecting the data and putting together the required files to supply to the users. A B2B catalog makes sure information is available in the shortest time possible when it is released from the company. This gives the edge in the competition.