Finding the Right “Power Tools” for Pricing & Inventory Data Management
As the need to work remotely expands, retail marketers are searching for more powerful, integrated systems to manage their product pricing, inventory, and other complex asset management systems.
Retailers have always relied on a lot of data to manage their complex relationships with suppliers and customers. Marketers and planners must constantly juggle and connect enormous amounts of complex information with pinpoint accuracy. The data reside in multiple, often separate sources, from retail PIM and DAM systems to databases that handle pricing and inventory. Navigating all that data is difficult – even in the best of times.
Those times are over. As the “new normal” for business becomes clearer, it is likely that more and more information workers will be operating remotely. And without the benefits of working in the same office as their peers and support staff, product marketing managers need a new set of “power tools.” From any location, they must be able to easily manage all that data, and use it effectively in focused, time-sensitive campaigns.
Having the right price data in your PIM system can make all the difference in a highly-competitive promotion
The rapid shift to remote data operations follows a decades-old transition to online business in general. The rise of e-commerce, and of consumers’ detailed, mobile-driven awareness of competitive options, has made product pricing of paramount importance. Having the right price for a single product – among hundreds of thousands of SKUs – can make all the difference in a highly-competitive promotion. When you add regional store variations, current margins, and last-minute sales or discounts, the pricing question can be challenging indeed.
Databases for current pricing can be connected to the retailer’s PIM system – or not. They can be hosted in the cloud – or not. Nearly always, they are custom-built by IT specialists who may still work for the company – or not. Pricing systems often have plenty of legacy system issues to make life difficult for the product marketing person charged with creating accurate campaigns.
A lot depends on accurate pricing. With razor-thin margins and high customer expectations, errors are a potential for serious financial chaos. Fortunately, advanced systems such as LAGO can create live connections between pricing data, product information, and multiple, versioned promotions, whether intended for print or online campaigns.
The “last mile” connection to a marketing automation or print production system is crucial for success
Another challenge to remote retail marketing is the state of the company’s inventory. The supply chain disruptions of the past few months have taught us that shortages can take us by surprise and lead to customer dissatisfaction. Like pricing, current inventory levels of every product are critical to data-driven marketing campaigns. Knowing how to describe and price a specific product is hard enough. Knowing how many (or how few) are available in a given branch location is even harder.
For many retailers, the connection of inventory data to a marketing automation or print production system is usually less than perfect.
Like pricing, inventory data is stored in a secure database – sometimes separate from the company’s PIM system, but usually integrated with it. However, for many retailers, the “last mile” connection to a marketing automation or print production system is usually less than perfect.
In order to create successful, sustainable marketing campaigns, retail marketing professionals need real-time access to inventory data, instantly correlated to specific products in every location. They not only need the data at their fingertips; they also need it whether they are working in the office or off-site.
Remote working increases the need for central data storage, that is accessible from anywhere
Many retailers today are exceptionally large corporations with major investments in IT, logistics, and access to media channels of every type. Marketing teams tend to be smaller, more agile teams, ready to respond quickly to shifting local conditions and implement campaigns responsive to local conditions. Think of the corporation proper as the aircraft carrier and the marketing teams as its squadrons of jets or helicopters. They must spring into action at a moment’s notice – in response to a tactical situation or a call for disaster relief. But the jets and helicopters, as fast-moving as they are, cannot function without the resources of the mother ship.
Marketing professionals absolutely need all the data that the mother ship possesses, but they need it in an environment that allows them to remain agile, ready to respond instantly to changing market conditions. They need a dashboard view of all the data, plus the means to deliver precisely targeted campaigns at the local level. The rise of remote working as the “new normal” has only heightened this need. Even in the chaos of today’s retail world, they can succeed – if they have the right tools for the job.