INFORMATION - THE FORGOTTEN CHANNEL IN ‘MULTI’ CHANNEL

Retail systems consultancy PMC is driving a key initiative called ‘ProductPedia’ based around Product Information Management (PIM). Mike Peirce, head of multi-channel consulting at PMC says: “Information is the forgotten channel in multi-channel retailing – too many retailers are ignoring its potential.”

The critical factor underpinning conversion, across any retail sales channel, is the quality of the customer experience. Reverse engineering that customer experience exposes the multi-channel retailer’s ‘forgotten’ channel – the information channel.

To resolve this issue, Peirce proposes the ProductPedia concept, which uses a toolset to enable content management, workflow and collaboration – encompassing not only systems, but also policy and process. This combination enables the effective management of product information that in turn delivers a rich customer experience, and a successful multi-channel retail proposition.

Peirce states: “Retailers should see the ProductPedia approach as more than cradle to grave, it’s ‘concept to grave’. It is a way of doing business that will improve the customer experience and increase customer loyalty. It will enable multi-channel retailers to ensure that their brand and all its attributes remain constant however the customer interacts with the retailer.”

Using the ProductPedia approach will help retailers manage information from a common interface across all locations - regardless of how or where that information is used or stored, it is collaboratively managed and consumed. It empowers the contributors and consumers of content to create, manage and review product information and keep that information current.

Taking the ProductPedia approach
Peirce states: “ProductPedia benefits the entire organisation from product innovation to consumer interaction. It allows retailers to manage product across all channels – in-store, catalogue, e-commerce, mobile, or any other channel. It allows them to scale their retail capacity with one version of the truth by applying context to content.”

The wealth of possibility ProductPedia offers can make it difficult for retailers to decide the best place to start. To address this, Peirce recommends what he calls: the ‘SandBox’ approach - a ‘proof of concept’ with a tangible return regardless of the project outcome.

Peirce explains: “It is based around a real-world business process mapping exercise that is both interactive and educational. Based on their existing business processes, the SandBox approach allows retailers to engage on familiar terms. It enables new concepts to be introduced on a familiar foundation without technology over complicating the exercise.

“It’s interesting to see the retailer exercise ‘self-reflection’, and it’s revealing how operationally efficient they believe they are in delivering a quality customer experience.”

ProductPedia becomes increasingly relevant as retailers strive to ensure their brand supports the customer experience, helping them to create an information channel to support consumers’ multi-channel needs. An integrated product information channel is as important as their sales channels because it underpins and determines success.

The true cost of the problem
As well as a poor customer experience, the true cost of a non-integrated product information channel is similar to an iceberg - you don’t see the 90% hidden in back office duplication, lost sales and weakened brand. For each channel initiative, these retailers are replicating rather than scaling their information channel. The ProductPedia overcomes this by delivering an integrated and definitive view of product information and using the retailers existing assets to support a rich customer experience.

Peirce highlights some interesting facts. “When the customer experience across the retailers individual channels is inconsistent, the impact can be far-reaching. A recent survey showed that 85% of customers who had a poor channel experience stated they would not use that channel again. More fundamentally, over 29% stated they would not use the retailer full stop.”

ProductPedia involves an iterative approach as the retailer defines and refines process and policy around their assets. Peirce believes: “It will be the defining initiative in the retailers’ information management strategy. The objective cannot be compromised, it is a satisfied and loyal customer as well as a strong and solid brand.”

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ABOUT PMC
Retail systems experts, PMC (Paul Mason Consulting) offers its clients combined retail and IT experience, gained through working at the sharp end of the retail environment. PMC provides business consultancy services covering retail systems strategy, multichannel retailing, system selection, project implementation, support, permanent and contract recruitment and training. The company’s IT implementation services are designed to eliminate implementation concerns and ensure problem free performance. They include project management, configuration, testing, software building, integration and custom enhancements. PMC offers an extensive range of complementary services in conjunction with its business partner network. This encompasses rollout management, network design, training and help desk, recruitment, contract negotiation, procurement and hardware maintenance.

PR contact for PMC
Timothy Diplock
Maxim Public Relations
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 463 464
Email: timothyd@maxim-marketing.co.uk

Published on: 12:00AM on 27th October 2006