Many Product Information Management solutions are no longer branding themselves as purely analytical tools for data management. As B2B buyers push for B2C-like product content experiences, marketing-based solutions geared at product user experience design have flooded the PIM ecosystem. Some PIM providers have deviated from the historically in-depth data modelling capabilities that have appealed to previous B2B buyers, instead delivering solutions that maximize content creation, syndication and front-end eCommerce functions. There are two main factions within the PIM space: traditional PIM offerings, and PXM solutions.
PIM: Product Information Management
Traditional PIM solutions emphasize the need for strong data modelling capabilities. These models are fundamentally important to ensure product expertise and improve purchasing confidence for B2B buyers. From this traditional perspective, a good user experience is a result of high-quality product content provided through data modelling. Subsequent content enrichment is used to drive customer experience and demonstrate product expertise to customers. While PIM allows organizations to govern content and better enable workflows, common points of failure for clients include integrating the solution with downstream / upstream solutions, as well as demonstrating an overall ROI for the solution. PIM is built to augment data modelling functionality, not act as a silver bullet. To fully realize a successful PIM project, more often than not organizations need to evaluate not just their IT architecture, but their data strategy as well.
PXM: Product Experience Management
Product Experience Management, or PXM, looks to recreate B2C experiences within the B2B buying process. In this model, B2B businesses rely on digital assets and supplementary marketing information to aggregate product data to the bare basics required to deliver content to users and channel partners alike. This streamlined experience has advantages and disadvantages for organizations looking to mirror the success of larger digital players like Amazon. Organizations that utilize PXM believe that by promoting products through visual cues and marketing collateral, they can avoid in-depth data modelling activities and rely on business users to push product user experience. The risk, however, lies in the fundamental nuances of B2B buying: the complexity of the products for purchase. The functional B2B buying experience has always been more advanced than B2C, as it involves larger volume orders, higher-priced items, product dependencies, multiple ship-to locations, etc.
Why PXM Needs PIM
The desire for simplified B2B buying experiences is derived from the core need of B2B buyers: products that solve a business concern. In B2B, being wrong about a purchased product has far greater consequences than in B2C. For a consumer, returning an incorrect order of manufacturing parts is not as simple as sending back a shirt that doesn’t fit. The responsibility of the distributor or manufacturer is to provide enough product information to a customer to empower them to execute the appropriate purchases. It’s natural for people to be attracted to visual solutions in the age of digital. Consumers have been programmed to crave an enriched experience during their personal lives, and expect the same online shopping experience in the professional world. But the importance of clear, effective product content can’t be overstated. With 84% of B2B buyers reporting that poor product content has stopped them from completing a purchase with a supplier, brands are leaving money on the table.