How To Reduce The Cost Of Content Management In E-commerce

Early-stage commerce companies do not have problems with content. As a rule, there is an employee who creates new product cards on the website and updates the price list from time-to - time. Problems arise when a retailer decides to scale sales, expand product range and increase the number of SKUs. In this article, we examined in detail the retail and e-commerce processes that can be affected by an IT solution of the PIM class (a system for managing information about goods).
Retail faces these problems in the process of scaling expansion:
  • The procedures for working with goods for sale at all stages are not defined and not regulated;
  • Most of the operations are performed manually, so the speed of bringing new items to the showcase becomes lower;
  • The human factor influence increases and, as a result, the number of errors on the backend of an e-commerce platform grows;
  • It becomes necessary to increase the staff in proportion to the extension of the number of offered goods.
The product card is the centerpiece of any online product business. Organizing the work with products requires a lot of effort. For this reason, an ever increasing number of major players are adopting professional PIM systems.
Here are the operations the process of working with goods consists of:
Creation of a data model for storing information about goods

Establishment of new product cards (description, characteristics)
Moderation and proofreading of product content
Keeping cards up to date (data enrichment, prices, balances)
Displaying goods on the showcase of an online store/marketplace
Each procedure is a separate sub-process, which consists of a sequence of operations. Certain roles (for different employees) are involved in these operations, so it is important to have an IT system work as a unified workplace for all specialists.

Let's discover how PIM can simplify each of the five processes above.
Creation of a data model for storing information about goods
Most new small businesses and established middle retail companies work in the following way.

When it becomes necessary to launch a new type of goods on sale, the Category Manager forms a list of characteristics and requirements, and then he passes this document to programmers. The programmers plan the implementation and eventually create the requested card in the existing accounting system or ERP. As a result, the time-to-market increases, and the launch of sales depends on the timely work of technical specialists. Even the need to add additional attributes to existing products is challenging.

When you manage a product catalog in a modern PIM system, the Category Manager can configure any product card in a matter of minutes without any technical skills. In this case, an e-commerce company achieves a significant reduction in the time-to-market.
Establishment of new product cards
When the data model is created, the process of working with the goods begins. First, the Content Manager has to add new products to the system. The problems that are usually anticipated are the following:

  1. Manual entry of goods takes too much time;

  2. Import from disparate sources (for example, .csv and .xlsx, which are sent by suppliers) often leads to errors and inconsistencies in content in various attributes of products;

  3. Import product cards from different back-office systems (accounting, ERP) greatly increases the load on them.
How to speed up this whole process? At Scallium, we define these following steps:
Use a universal import tool, which will enable the employee to load data from a file of any structure by configuring the mapping of file data and attributes in the system;
Provide suppliers (merchants) with a personal account, where they can independently load their goods in manual mode or using the universal import described in the previous paragraph. This will reduce the time burden of the company's content managers.
Use the "master cards" tool. It's another name — reference product card, and it will make it possible not to re-enter the goods. For example, a supplier will be able to add their quote to an existing product card with a good description, rather than generate duplicates.
Provide the possibility of copying existing cards with subsequent changes in information in one or more attributes.
Set up the search functions for duplicates with the possibility of their subsequent merging.
All of these approaches will not only reduce the time-to-market but will also greatly increase the productivity of content managers.
Moderation of product content and displaying goods on the showcase
After the product is added, additional questions arise,

In which sequence to conduct the moderation of new products?

Who should moderate products in various product and service categories?

What if the poor quality of the content in the added product makes the consumer click away?

How to return a product card for revision to the manufacturer or supplier?

How to start selling a product in numerous channels (own showcase, popular marketplaces, mobile app)?

Modern PIM systems help to solve these problems at several levels.
Level 1 — Business process management (BPM)
The process approach plays a very important role in any operational activity and helps to significantly improve work efficiency.

With regard to working with products, BPM technology is:

  • The set-up of the life cycle of a product, a list of its statuses and conditions for the transition between them;
  • Automatic routing of goods to a specific group of task employees, depending on its category and other parameters;
  • Differentiation of employee access rights to real-time product data updates depending on status, category, and additional conditions;
  • Notification system for content managers providing automatic task setting.
Everything described above can be launched at the level of the prescribed regulations. But paper regulations stop working effectively when it involves a wide range of products and a large staff of employees. In this case, the only option is competent automation.
Level 2 — Single Window of the content manager
Working with content and product descriptions requires a lot of actions from the content manager. Therefore, PIM must provide a convenient workspace with an ergonomic interface for the employee who works with product content.

What does a Single Window mean:

  • Ability to work with data and search for any information within one page;
  • No need to switch between systems, modules;
  • Convenient transition to the next product card, which is in the moderation queue;
  • Functions of preliminary filling-in of the card with basic data;
  • Convenient introduction of remarks and comments to the product card in the process of sending it to the manufacturer or supplier for revisions;
  • Monitoring and analysis of labor productivity (KPI's).
All of these tools will enable employees to perform operations more efficiently and, as a result, products will be quickly released to the storefront.
Level 3 — Bulk operations with products
Content managers work with a large number of goods, so they need such a tool as bulk operations:

  • Change the value of one or more attributes in a product group at once;
  • Change the status of the selected products;
  • Move several products to a specific branch of the service/product catalog.
If the manager needs to change the value of one attribute for the entire group of products, he does this in one operation, instead of editing each product card separately. Bulk operations in PIM are a huge relief when accumulating large amounts of data.
So how to choose a PIM system to help your staff work with product data and reduce operating costs?

Consider the following:
It's not just data storage. This is the operating helper, the system for the content manager;
Content managers who will use the system do not have technical skills. The system should be as simple as possible, learnable, focused on an ordinary user, not a technical specialist;
PIM should be able to automate any repetitive operations with content;
PIM must support user role models. So that the supplier can be given one type of access and rights, the content manager — a different one.
The system must support the work on designated business processes. This will allow you to avoid paper regulations and cases when an employee must keep all instructions in his head.
So far, the understanding of PIM in the market boils down to the fact that it stores cards with attributes. We state that it was true about 5 years ago. Today PIM is no longer just a catalog of goods. It is also a colossal block of operational processes for working with this data. Modern PIM is already a BPM system (Business Process Management). Its task is to make sure that the content manager does not think about what step will be next, and he does not look for the necessary information and does not remember what happened before. He should spend time only on his primary task — the quality of the content.
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