July 14, 2005, 12:00 AM

Web-based PIM supports multi-channel marketing, experts say

Web-based product information management systems, which synchronize product information across multiple retail applications, can be crucial in merchants’ efforts to consistently market products through multiple channels, experts say.

Web-based product information management systems, which synchronize product information across multiple retail applications, can be crucial in merchants’ efforts to consistently market products through multiple channels, experts say.

“As more retailers get more sophisticated about multi-channel marketing, it’s crucial for them to have easy access to the appropriate product information,” says Patti Freeman Evans, an analyst with Jupiter Research. “To automatically feed product information into their systems is a great thing.”

The role of product information management, or PIM, is particularly important when retailers are trying to immediately distribute details on new products to multiple applications for operations including marketing, merchandising and warehouse management, to assure that promotions in printed circulars, e-mail campaigns and other marketing tools accurately reflect what a retailer actually has available on store shelves and in its web site fulfillment centers, experts say.

When retailers don’t have a means of updating and sharing product information throughout the enterprise, it makes it difficult to quickly market new products through multiple channels. “A lot opportunities around multi-channel marketing are not possible, because retailers get too much information too fast to get it into marketing for web sites and coordinate it with their stores,” says Cindy Cruzado, director of product and solutions for webMethods Inc., whose webMethods Fabric business application integration suite includes a PIM application licensed from GXS.

But as retailers try to respond more to customer demand with hot new products, PIM makes it possible for them to work with real-time product information across all departments, she says. “We’ve seen retailers, especially those with fast-moving products in grocery, chain drug stores and consumer electronics, moving to be more demand-driven and get products to market faster and faster,” Cruzado says. “They’re beginning to view product information as a strategic asset.”

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