Implementing PIM Application For Niche Industries: Challenges And Best Practices
PIM app can be beneficial for many businesses: niche industries are not an exception. Compared to broad mainstream eCommerce industries, the niche market requires more specialized and detailed product information that is catered to a specific audience.
In this article, we’ll give you a better understanding of niche eCommerce, find out what PIM software for niche industries is, and explore the challenges and best practices of PIM implementation with case studies from niche market players.
What Is PIM Application For Niche Industries?
To find out the important elements of the PIM app for niche industries, we have to get a better understanding of the niche market.
Understanding Niche Industries
Did you know there are air-purifying headphones, shavers for hairy backs, pet dryer cubicles, and toilet-friendly clothing for hikers? If you can imagine it, be sure that some niche eCommerce businesses are already selling it. Yet, a business does not have to go extreme to be considered a niche market.
Niche eCommerce can be determined by its specific needs, unique value proposition, and particular audience, which differentiate it from more general large markets (e.g. beauty products are part of a mass market industry, meanwhile men’s grooming goods are considered a niche market; furniture products are a large industry, while home office equipment is a niche). What else narrows an industry to a niche market?
- Needs a strong brand identity. A niche business is based on clients’ loyalty, so it can’t underestimate the importance of branding marketing strategy. It’s important to get personal and create a vibrant approachable brand image.
- Requires a different type of marketing. To sell niche products, businesses should target a small audience that is likely to buy their specific products. They are using niche-specific marketing channels, like influencer marketing or collaborations with fellow companies. There’s usually a high conversion rate but fewer leads. Also, when it comes to SEO, marketers are using less common long-tailed and more specific keywords.
- Provides a high level of personalization and customization. Niche eCommerce platforms usually offer a more personalized shopping experience and a higher level of customization to tailor products to specific audiences. It can be personalized product recommendations, adjusted product bundling, or an opportunity to buy customizable and modified products to suit buyer preferences. It also includes user-generated content (reviews, photos & videos, and ratings).
- Should comply with specific data regulations. There is a variety of specific product data regulations depending on the type of business niche. It could be different product safety regulations, various environmental laws, labeling and packaging regulations, and many other industry-specific regulations (e.g. EPREL (Energy Labeling Regulation for lighting products).
- Specific product data management. Niche eCommerce businesses that offer specialized goods need detailed and comprehensive product descriptions, along with accurate specifications, features and benefits, and any niche-specific attributes. The last ones are more difficult to find out: niche products require technical specifications, sustainability certifications, ingredient lists, and other attributes that are important to their target audience. Also, the brands and sellers have to enrich the product content with extra information, important for their clientele. On top of that, it requires niche-specific taxonomy, which means that the categorization might need to be customized to ensure the unique products are classified effectively.
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Challenges Of Implementing PIM App In Niche Industries
So you carved out a niche for yourself and are ready to establish credibility in your area? Then you need to take care of offering your customers top-notch product data. How can you as a niche business rest assured that your data-related issues are fixed? There’s no such problem that a best-of-breed PIM brands application can’t solve. However, PIM application implementation can be also challenging for market-specific industries.
Limited resources and budget constraints
One of the obstacles in the way of implementing new technologies for niche businesses is their limited resources, including financial restraints. Niche businesses usually operate smaller budgets, compared to larger retailers. Investing in a PIM solution is a serious step for such types of businesses: it includes the price of implementation services, licenses, required hardware, and ongoing system maintenance. Conversely, there might be a lack of technical staff to implement robust PIM app and system updates, customizations, and support.
Unique product attributes and complex data management
Every niche industry deals with unique products that have specific attributes and variants that can exist only within a specific industry. Some goods require detailed technical specifications, some have their classification system and taxonomy (for example, medical devices might require attributes related to regulatory codes, intended purpose, compatibility with medical procedures, etc). Some businesses need product attributes that are specific just for their domain (for example, in the case of vegan food products, the required attributes might be related to allergens, ingredient origins, organic certificates, or particular dietary concerns).
It can be a challenge to find a PIM app that can seize and manage this variety of attributes. For this purpose, the PIM solution should be highly customizable to handle different products and related information.
Smaller customer base and higher demand for customization
If you think managing the relatively low volumes of product data for a smaller customer base is easier, think again. The complexity and diversity of this data are higher than those for the mass market: niche eCommerce customers want customization, and they want to have it not just in goods, but also in product descriptions. It might be challenging to find a PIM application that can organize diverse customer-specific product data, depending on buyers’ preferences or customizations of orders. To accommodate this diverse range of product attributes and customization, the PIM tool should be highly flexible and configurable.
Integration with specialized software and systems
Adapting to industry-specific standards, regulations, and compliance requirements
Narrow-market businesses are often in need of standardized data models and niche-specific taxonomies. Moreover, there’s a long list of data regulations for different industries. For example, even such a simple thing as a lamp should meet the energy-sufficiency requirements to be sold on the European eCommerce market. The less popular the niche is, the more complicated and unexplored the regulations might be. That’s why the one-size-fits-all rule does not apply here. Narrow businesses might be struggling to find a PIM application that is designed for their specific needs and unique data structure. It takes time and effort to comprehend all the industry’s requirements and find a PIM solution flexible enough for a niche business.
With all these challenges in mind, it might seem like niche businesses have to move mountains to make sure they are having decent product data. However, it’s not that difficult with the right tool in place.
How PIM App Solves Product Data Challenges Of Niche eCommerce
Here are some specific advantages of implementing Product Information Management solutions for niche industries.
- Market-specific attributes management. With the PIM solution in place, businesses can define and customize unique niche-specific attribute fields and ensure that all the relevant product details are captured and efficiently managed inside a centralized system.
- Niche-specific product catalog creation. PIM system can be used for curating unique product catalogs tailored to specific target audiences. With tools for product categorization, niche-specific taxonomy, product bundling, and other catalog management instruments, businesses can compellingly present their unique products.
- Improved SKU management for better stock management. With the PIM app, businesses can create and manage a variety of market-specific SKUs and track inventory for different options. It ensures flawless stock management and puts an end to confusion with niche product variants.
- Integration with niche platforms and marketplaces. With data syndication capabilities, offered by some PIM solutions like Gepard, businesses can sell their goods on specialized eCommerce platforms, catering specifically to their niche audience. Regular data synchronization will make the product content accurate and consistent across all the sales channels.
- Agile product launches. PIM application improves operational efficiency, which allows niche businesses to introduce new products or limited editions faster: they can efficiently create, manage and present new positions to the specific market while maximizing their sales.
Best Practices For Implementing PIM App In Niche Industries
Conduct thorough research to understand industry-specific needs
Before choosing the right PIM solution, you should clearly understand the unique data structure and requirements for your specific industry, its target audience, its preferences, market size, potential, and threats. Here are some ideas for proper research:
- Industry reports. Read the reports to get a review of a specific industry, its size, business growth, opportunities, challenges, and a general understanding of the market.
- Client surveys. According to Deloitte, focusing more on their clients brings a company 60% more profits. Use customer surveys to learn more about what they need and prefer, what they search for in products, and what they think about certain niche businesses.
- Competitive analysis. Pin down, compare, and assess your contenders in the niche industry, to understand their strengths, weaknesses, offerings, and market share and learn what you can do to differentiate yourself.
- Case studies. Find out the stories of companies that successfully entered and started to operate in a niche you’re targeting. You will learn from their challenges and best practices: it will be even better if you explore the case studies of niche eCommerce businesses that implemented PIM app.
Choose a flexible and scalable PIM application
What makes a flexible PIM solution the one that can fit even the most specific business niche? Your solution should have a rich set of must-have features such as:
Develop a robust data governance strategy
Here are some things you should not skip when developing a data governance strategy for a niche industry:
- Define industry-specific data standards that line up with industry requirements and regulations, and client expectations and cover the particular needs of the industry.
- Implement customized data validation rules within a PIM solution that are adjusted to the industry’s product attributes, variants, and customizations. This will ensure data accuracy, supported with specific validation data checks.
- Comply with industry regulations and standards, as they usually have specific compliance rules, such as product safety certificates, allergens disclosures, regional regulations, etc.
- Ensure data privacy and security concerns related to your industry, are timely addressed. Protects sensitive data, ensures proper access control, and acts by privacy rules.
- Monitor data governance within PIM app, track data governance metrics, and report data accuracy and completeness, along with compliance with the data standards.
Establish efficient workflows and processes
When information inside your company comes from different sources, departments, and systems, it’s essential to build workflows specific to your niche and your exact PIM. Here are the most important components of an efficient workflow:
- Product onboarding. Here’s when a new product is designed or an existing one is updated, requiring a lot of new data entry into your PIM app. When all the data is centrally stored, managed and the product can immediately go on sale once added.
- Content updates and syndication. Niche products can undergo many modifications and customized versions, so it’s vital to establish a flawless content update process within PIM. Consider choosing a PIM application with a syndication feature so all your data across different channels will be time synchronized and updated.
- Communication processes. Establish clear communication between teams throughout all the data-related processes and set up understandable signals of communication that can notify that product data can undergo the next step (for example, notifications about data being verified or ready to be published in an online store).
Focus on product data quality and consistency
Small and niche businesses’ base is usually customer loyalty. And what is the best way of building client trust and satisfaction if not with truthful and up-to-date product content? On top of that, top-quality product data is what can differentiate your niche company from competitors. Find PIM application examples and find the one that offers data enrichment and visual assets management to be sure you can always stand out from a crowd with compelling product content. Also, do not underestimate the power of personalization – use a machine learning-powered PIM solution to better personalize your online store content and enhance your search capabilities.
Ensure seamless integration with existing systems and software
Part of a smooth PIM app integration into the existing ecosystem is integrating your data. It’s essential to prepare your information for migration to a product information management app, which involves:
- Organizing your existing product information;
- Performing data standardization;
- Developing a process for future data migration.
Train and educate the team on the PIM app
To effectively manage PIM knowledge and skills within your team, assess proficiency levels and identify gaps, then determine training requirements. After that develop tailored training materials for your niche industry, such as tutorials, user guides, and video presentations. The next step will be providing role-specific training to employees based on their involvement with the PIM application, considering the different needs of IT specialists, product managers, stock managers, and marketers who use PIM solutions for varying purposes and frequencies. These steps will help you to overcome all challenges with training your team members.
Regularly monitor, assess, and optimize PIM app performance
So you’ve got it rolling, what’s next?
- Start with establishing performance benchmarks for measuring PIM performance by defining KPIs specific to your PIM application and niche. You can include such metrics, as data import/export time, data accuracy, buyer satisfaction, etc.
- Track and measure solution performance by monitoring tools and have them notify you about any issues.
- Run regular performance audits to evaluate PIM’s health: review error reports, and user feedback and pinpoint potential bottlenecks and areas for optimization.
- Continuously update and optimize the system and its infrastructure: stay informed about the latest vendor releases and implement the updates to enhance the efficiency of the system. Cultivate the culture of constant improvement: gather users’ and employees’ feedback, enable everybody to collaborate with technical teams, and be able to share any ideas and insights that might potentially enhance your PIM system.
But enough with the theory, let’s see how niche industries benefit from product information management, using Gepard as a PIM application example.
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Case Studies: Successful PIM App Implementation In Niche Industries
Luminus: complying with the data standards
Luminus, the company that became the key player in the niche of lighting, was constantly extending its portfolio of products, helping agriculture, industrial, urban, automotive, healthcare, home, and entertainment industries incorporate the best lighting decisions.
However, with the environmental and sustainability problems being an issue nowadays, the lighting niche must match the European sustainable consumption regulations, namely EPREL (European Product Database for Energy Labelling).
To follow this new ecodesign requirement, the Luminus team could spend hundreds of hours importing the product’s energy efficiency data of 3000+ SKUs to the EU database, yet the company chose to benefit from automation. Gepard PIM solution supports data entry to EPREL, which enabled manufacturers to flawlessly integrate the information into the EPREL data pool and keep being present on the European market.
Grover: end-to-end product syndication
Originating in Germany, Grover expanded and brought its electronics rental platform to the USA: any device people might need at work, home, or for entertainment, is available there.
As the niche business was growing, Grover was searching for a solution to manage and enrich product data within a centralized source of truth, and at the same time connecting to data providers and distributing their product information to sales platforms and channels.
The Gepard PIM application allowed Grover to fully automate and scale their data, enrich the current content, get automated product updates, and synchronize it across different platforms. With the PIM app, Grover could leverage data on products and their parts, which allowed them to plan repairs efficiently, and resulted in reduced operational costs.
Unique Product Data for Unique Businesses
Some business owners think it’s good to be a jack of all trades. Probably yes, if you do not turn into a master of any. Yet, more and more businesses choose to narrow down their way and master one niche. One of the pillars of a thriving industry eCommerce is first-rate product content: compelling, personalized, and up-to-the-minute. This is where the Product
Information Management tool comes into play.
Ready to implement a tailored PIM solution for your niche industry? Contact the Gepard PIM team today to learn how we can help.
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