This blog is going to explain why you need a PIM system for B2B and how so many manufacturing and distribution companies are missing out on this simple technology. We often make vague statements like “many B2B businesses are lagging behind retail and B2C technologically” but where is the proof?
Instead of dry stats, here’s a true story.
B2B companies can be decades behind the curve
My home town is what’s called a “new town” or an “overspill development” in the UK. Due to the devastation of the inner cities from World War II, the government identified satellite towns where industrial centers and huge housing estates could be quickly built.
A factory of one of the world’s biggest car manufacturers relocated from London some time after the war and the population of our town immediately quadrupled as the entire workforce was relocated from the big city.
My mum and dad met there. She worked in the factory; he was in the offices. She was a local; he was a Londoner. She was building car parts; he was building computer systems. In 1987, as part of a big modernization project, my father and his team implemented 6 new systems: a parts catalog, a POS system, a production line computer, an internal comms system, and an issue tracker for distributors to log cases and requests. I remember him taking me to the office and showing them to me when I was about eight years old. Black screens full of text and numbers. It was all very exciting. This was a massive step up from the Acorn Electron we had at home!
For my brother, who now works in that same office, these computer systems are not so exciting. In fact, they are the bane of his existence. Yes, that’s right, of the six systems that my dad and his team built over 30 years ago, my brother and his colleagues are still using four of them on a daily basis. They still don’t have a single, fully-integrated system. Communication with distributors is by email or telephone (however, right now, as they are all working from home and don’t have company phones, it is email-only).
Remember, this is one of the biggest automotive companies in the world. So, when we make statements like “B2B businesses are lagging behind”, this is what we mean.
How a PIM system for B2B companies changes the bad old ways
One of the biggest problems for B2B companies is that they have often built non-connected computer systems for different parts of the manufacturing, distribution, returns, and customer service. This is because these feel like independent activities, but it fails to take into account that there is one thing that ties all of these together and is at the heart of every activity: the product.
In the modern world, your systems need to speak to one another, and the best way to do that is with a central PIM (Product Information Management System). Of course, you can use a CMS system to do this same work. You can even use Excel spreadsheets and constantly update stock levels there. However, they are not all integrated and the business is essentially “coping with” not “managing” its own inventory. You are essentially duplicating all your work but still having to guess if the results you are seeing match actual stock levels in real-time. With a PIM, you control all the contention all distribution channels, meaning that all product information is updated in real-time from a single point of data entry.
A PIM is an interactive database in which you can store millions of different products, along with their pictures, descriptions, and other information. PIM is predominantly seen as a database for the marketing division, but it is also very appealing for eCommerce in terms of ERP integrations and the like. It actually becomes the hub that interacts with your other systems and allows you to:
- Improve stock-taking and inventory systems
- Create multiple sales channels with custom interfaces
- Manage stocks and promotions
- Oversee both supply and distribution
- Import and export data easily to get a clear picture of the business
B2B PIM integration with Meetsales
What’s more, when you have a PIM system in your business, you can integrate it with Meetsales and allow your salespeople to immediately show your entire product catalog on video calls, using any device they like, and place orders directly in the system. The dual benefit here is that you can more easily place orders and confirm orders with the client, but also that those orders are immediately visible and accounted for in any other system that is integrated with your PIM.
The arguments against a PIM system for B2B
Prohibitive cost is usually the strongest argument that most companies have against any new technology. In the case of a global manufacturer using 4 or 5 different systems which are 30 years old, the argument becomes a vicious cycle. Everything needs replacing but replacing everything costs a lot of money.
In reality, creating a PIM system is a cost-effective solution for businesses in the long-term because it is one platform that actually replaces at least a couple of those old DOS systems. You are not replacing old tech with like-for-like systems.
For the companies in SME sector, there is also the opportunity to build a PIM system for B2B built for free. Pimcore has a powerful version that is free for business, and our technology partner Akeneo offers the Akeneo Community Edition, which is an open-source edition of its leading PIM solution.
Meetsales PIM Consultancy
We have spoken to numerous companies that are desperate to get video sales off the ground to help their sales teams perform better while working remotely. But some businesses are running into the problem that they don’t have a PIM system for B2B with which to integrate the Meetsales app.
This shouldn’t be seen as a blocker. In fact, it’s an ideal opportunity to add two huge new valuable pieces of technology to your business at minimal cost. Meetsales is a SaaS application that works on a pay-as-you-go basis, with prices tailored to the number of sales reps in your organization. And if you don’t have a PIM solution set up and ready, our consultants will:
- Show you how Akeneo Community Edition works
- Help identify a usable structure for your database
- Show how to make a CSV / Excel file for integration
- Explain how to upload it to Akeneo and create a PIM
- Demonstrate how to further empower your new PIM with Meetsales
- Recommend a tech partner which can work on an enterprise-level integration, if needed
Don’t get caught in the vicious cycle of thinking that your systems are too old to replace. We can help you understand the value of PIM and then how to activate your sales team with Meetsales.
Meetsales is a conversational commerce tool that allows you to kick off the digital transformation of your business at low cost, and to present products and confirm sales directly in a video call. It integrates with major PIM systems to empower your product catalog. We are currently running a beta testers program, giving favorable rates to businesses that want to step ahead of the competition. Contact us now to ask about becoming part of the Meetsales beta program.
Published November 5, 2020