Integrating Legacy Systems and Transitioning to an E-Commerce-Ready PIM System

Integrating Legacy Systems and Transitioning to an E-Commerce-Ready PIM System

Bricks to Clicks: Chapter Five Summary

In our fifth post in our “Bricks to Clicks” summary series, (you can read our last post HERE) this week, we’re talking about chapter five of Content Analytics founder and CEO David Feinleib’s book Bricks to Clicks: Why Some Brands Will Thrive in E-Commerce and Others Won't.

 

Chapter 5: Activate Your Brand Content

Legacy systems can be challenging to work with, both for vendors and e-commerce team leaders. Brand content files, like product descriptions, images, and videos are often stored on different drives, servers, cloud networks, and old content management systems and are difficult to work with and update.

Our goal, always, is to marry those legacy systems and centralize disparate elements under our management system, coordinating all of a client’s information to make it far easier to update and manage their workflows.

We never ask a client to replace their legacy systems overnight. Instead: we minimize risk by slowly transitioning to our system at the client’s pace, helping to avoid unforeseeable disruption. We’re run our system in parallel with a client’s various backend platforms, putting the client in safe and comfortable control over the integration process. We also manage the implementation schedule so that we’re up and running in weeks, not months, to keep pace with the aggressive and agility of the e-commerce environment.

 

Content Analytics PIM (Product Information Management) System

The old brick and mortar system of product management was manual and not, in any way, meant for public consumption. Product managers used product descriptions and product names for very technical reasons (tracking shipments, inventory management, etc.) while now, those very product names and descriptions are crucial for online shopping.

Also: brands need to maintain product pages across several different retail platforms. That can be a cumbersome process if the content isn’t all stored in the same system. Content that needs to be managed by several stakeholders (agencies, copywriters, editors) is more easily accessible and updated from a cloud-based system. Product content also should be analyzed and optimized before it’s pushed live to deliver top search results and conversions.

Today: all brands need a local solution to store images, videos, bulleted product lists, and anything else related to a single product. What we know from having worked with some of the largest brands and CPG companies in the world are the common challenges former brick and mortar brands face online:

 

  • No E-commerce Brand Assets: Suppliers don’t have sufficient assets for e-commerce pages like professional-quality product images, adequate product descriptions with optimized keywords, etc.
  • No Systematized Approach: Brand assets are not stored in a unified backend system.
  • Legacy Systems: Everything from spreadsheets to old media servers storage databases are not compatible with the needs of the e-commerce environment.

 

Limited or No E-commerce Brand Assets

In the brick and mortar world: retail customers didn’t need high-res images of products; shoppers simply saw the products in person on the shelf. Product pictures were only used by inventory managers, buyers, and wholesalers to coordinate stocking and shipping. The old legacy product information that worked perfectly well for inventory management is completely insufficient for online shopping.

Poor online content translates into a lousy experience for shoppers. They may end up buying a product that isn’t exactly what they wanted, which ends up resulting in costly exchanges and returns. Even if a product is listed online and only available instore, customers who are doing research via the web need engaging and clear product information, high-res images, and well-written feature/benefit language to lure them.


“High-quality content increases conversion rates and reduces return rates because customers receive the product they expect to receive.” David Feinleib, Chapter 5, Bricks to Clicks 


Product names that worked perfectly well for catalog and inventory systems (like “SDLS STRWBRY JAM 4OZ”) will not show up in search results for customers who are looking for “strawberry jam”, for example. Product attributions that may not have been included in the inventory system (fabric content, color, size) are crucial for search engine rankings and online retail.

 

No Systematized Approach

Even in the early days of e-commerce, all brands didn’t need a centralized system to store product content. The physical retail model simply didn’t demand it. Now sellers have to work with multiple retailers online, make quick changes instantly and have them go live across different networks as soon as possible, maintain product continuity across different channels, manage product images, and more.

We developed a centralized system that stores and manages those brand assets. We help customers create page templates for different retailers, ensuring brand consistency throughout the downstream online sales ecosystem. This systematized approach frees up employee time to focus on other sales and marketing goals by giving them access to a single platform to manage their entire universe of online sales content.

 

Legacy and Custom Systems

Many legacy systems are generic data storage systems with no specialization or modification for e-commerce. In many cases, these systems are so out of date, management is wary of making updates or changes out of concern that if it fails, no one has the skillset to get it up and running again. These systems also don’t support modern e-commerce templates and can’t sync with major retailers like Amazon or Walmart.

This lack of integration requires manual updates which takes time and often leads to errors. These systems additionally make it more challenging for outside agencies to manage e-commerce content expediently. With the lack of backend integration, it’s impossible to know when those updates are published successfully.

 

Third-party media storage systems were a must a decade or so ago if you wanted or needed to access rich media assets. Today, those systems lack the necessary conversion capabilities to output media files consistent with retailer requirements.

Also, suppliers had to undergo time-consuming manual processes to update content on each retailer’s site. With our PIM system, we automate and centralize these various tasks, freeing up time and staff focus. Our system is the system of record, making multiple and confusing versions of spreadsheets and manual protocols obsolete.

 

What a 21st Century, E-commerce Ready PIM System Should Look Like

We deliver a cloud-based, easy-to-deploy PIM system. We can pull content from anywhere (the web, existing internal systems, content storage vendors, spreadsheets) and bring it into our centralized system. Our platform stores multiple brand assets (product descriptions, images, videos, product .PDFs) and supports workflow mechanisms so you can manage items for editing, review, approval, and submission. Our cloud platform also enables third parties to access your content easily and quickly.

Our system conforms to countless updating scenarios and common situations that necessitate quick, timely tweaks across multiple platforms including:

  • Product Names
  • New product packaging
  • Required changes to compliance/legal product wording
  • Marketing optimization across different retailers
  • A/B testing for product content
  • Improving content (updating content images, etc.)

Once the content is imported into our system, these various updating and modification scenarios are far less time consuming and, therefore, cost-effective. We work with brands, vendors, and retailers to get our system up and running in a few days, ensuring that no one misses out on important shopping seasons or sales opportunities.

 

Summary

Even the most iconic brands have to shift to keep up in the new world of e-commerce. The most recognizable among them still have to centralize their content management to satisfy the paradigms of an increasingly online-only sales environment. Integrity across digital channels is paramount in order to retain the hard-won brand value, loyalty, and reputation.

The online world represents a massive opportunity for suppliers to tell their brand stories. It’s also the very universe where buyers are going to do the vast majority of their product research. Futureproof brands are doing the legwork now to become leaders in the digital realm.

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