The BIG, commerce Podcast

Mastering Product Data Management, with Nicole Kiernan from Pimberly

August 01, 2023 Calashock Commerce
The BIG, commerce Podcast
Mastering Product Data Management, with Nicole Kiernan from Pimberly
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ready to revolutionise your e-commerce business? Tune in as Nicole Kiernan from Pimberly takes us on a transformative journey of optimising your B2B tech stack. Nicole unravels how Pimberly’s bespoke implementations can maximise your tech stack's potential. She also sheds light on managing everyday business while integrating various systems for an enhanced customer experience. Nicole also shares her insights into streamlining e-commerce operations and making your business operate like a well-oiled machine.

This episode is not just about the why, but also the how. We dive into the nitty-gritty of optimising your B2B stack with solutions like a PIM and DAM to ease product data and digital asset management. Nicole highlights the pain points of shipping, the role of search in product discovery and the stark differences between B2C and B2B searches.

With Pimberly by your side, you can ensure your business sails smoothly without disruption, generate product descriptions efficiently, avoid e-commerce site penalties, and stay on top of marketplace changes.

Are you ready to reach your business objectives and gain efficiency? Listen in and let Nicole guide you through the journey with Pimberly.


Speaker 1:

Hi, welcome to the Big Commerce podcast. Hello, welcome to a brand new episode of the Big Commerce podcast. I'm your host, luigi, and today I'm joined by Nicole Keenan from Pimbley, a Pim Dam solution and workflow platform for managing product data and digital assets. Nicole and I sat down to talk about how you can optimize your B2B stack using solutions such as Pimbley and revolutionize your e-commerce business with all the benefits and features that come out of the box. I hope you enjoyed the show. Hi, nicole, welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Hey Luigi, thanks so much for having me.

Speaker 1:

How you doing.

Speaker 2:

Doing well. How about yourself?

Speaker 1:

Not too, bad. You looking forward to the partner event in Austin next week.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm super excited. I'm flying out in a couple of days. I'll be there for three nights down in Austin and looking forward to it, and it's going to be 100 plus degrees. I'm not excited about that, but yeah, I went last year for the first time and it was excellent. So I'm really excited to catch back up at current partners, meet some new ones and spend some time in Austin.

Speaker 1:

Pimbley's grown since you were last at the partner event last year.

Speaker 2:

You've been really busy 12 months.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, super busy. So, Pimbley, as you know, we were a UK-based company but came over to the US about 16, 17 months ago. I was one of the first US hires and in the past year we've been hitting the road pretty much every four to six weeks, going to various events in the B2B space, in the retail space, some kind of niche association type of spaces as well. And then last year I got to go to the big commerce event and I was one of three employees at the time in the US, and now we're getting up to seven. You've got to sit here. We've grown a lot and it's been a really great year.

Speaker 1:

Great to hear, always good to hear. So if people haven't heard about Pimbley or, obviously, unicol, why don't you give us a brief introduction? About yourself and the company.

Speaker 2:

Perfect, so, yeah, so I'm Nicole. I'm the senior manager of partnerships and events at Pimbley and, for people who don't know so, Pimbley, we are a PIM the product information management and we're also a dam a digital asset management and we also have a really great workflow platform for all your product data and digital asset. Pimbley is really designed to handle unlimited amount of SKUs, data feeds and channels for leading brands and businesses and with our centralized hub or what we like to call the golden record, a product information we enable retailers and manufacturers to leverage their product information to successfully sell at B2B.

Speaker 1:

Excellent and obviously over the kind of. I think we've worked with you for five years here in the UK and kind of we've seen that the product evolve Well a lot in the last couple of years as well. But I've always been a fan of Pimbley and kind of PIM because it's just such a way of maintaining good product data governance. And what I specifically what I like about Pimbley is that in essence you kind of build it around the client requirements. It's not something that's kind of taken off the shelf and then it's like plugged into an Econ platform and off you go. It is understanding right, what are your needs and what requirements, and we're going to build our PIM solution around what you need it to do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, kind of said it better myself. So each Pimbley instance is bespoke. What's unique about Pimbley is we'll do all of our own implementations. So when a customer is working with Pimbley, they're only ever working with Pimbley, and that really allows us to understand what their pain points are. How can we best suit our customers and give them the best experience?

Speaker 1:

So when we're kind of talking about having to only work with, I guess, a select or at least a manageable number of platforms in a tech stack specifically around B2B. So we do a lot of B2B. Historically I think B2B is struggled on the product data side just because of the sheer amount of SKUs and the amount of data. There's still merchants that use CSVs and find you know SQL databases. But the great thing about centralizing that all within a PIM and like a PIM damn solution, is that you're still able to kind of have a fairly fluid and, I guess, comprehensive tech stack without having to juggle four, five or six different systems that actually can be consolidated into a single solution like PIM. So, in terms of integrating the tech stack for a merchant, what are the benefits that a merchant gains from working with a hypothetical example CallaShok and Pimbley for their website.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, or actually for their operations.

Speaker 1:

Sorry, I shouldn't just narrow it down to website, but actually their e-commerce operation.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, great question. I think one thing that people think about is what to purchase. I think what's really underutilized is what not to purchase. Working with someone like yourselves, there's so many options out there right now and there's so many PIMs and so many different even e-commerce platforms to work on and back-end systems that it could be really overwhelming. Having someone like Kalashak, who knows the customer and what should they be purchasing and what shouldn't they purchase at this time, what team member really does need to be involved, I think that's really important as well. In addition, someone like Kalashak, they'll walk you through the process of buying to consider how are you going to conduct business as usual while these integrations are being put into place, making things much easier for the merchants and their customers as well.

Speaker 1:

You're so true in terms of what not to buy. We had inventory planner on about a month ago and it was exactly that, which is being able to manage inventory better, to obviously have benefits such as increase in cash flow and so on. But actually, if you then break it down even further around what not to buy and how to run your business more efficiently Again it was talking specifically around B2B, which has traditionally a much high number of skews than a B2C business that's never been more important and it's quite easy for products to just get forgotten If you're looking at solutions that come into a tech stack. The great thing of having something like a PIM in place is that you have that elements of governance, those checks and balances, so making sure that right.

Speaker 1:

You've got I don't know 20,000 skews in your database and you actually can get quality reports to say, right on maybe 37 percent of your products. You've got more than 95 percent of that data filled in, because one of the reasons why your products may not sell is because actually they don't have enough information to allow the customer to make an informed decision. So you can only do so much. With a spreadsheet you can find those gaps, but actually the information that a system like Pimberley can give you in terms of making sure that your product data is A present, fundamentally B in a format that is displayed properly on a website which allows people to make that decision, is super important because otherwise you're leaving those products to gather dust on the shelf, because you're not investing the time or the money in terms of a PIM to actually get those products off the shelf and into a truck and onto the customer.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And with Pimberley we have something unique called the vendor portal. So this is really great for B2B distributors and wholesalers. Basically, what it is is that any of your suppliers or your vendors can get a light version of Pimberley so they can go right into the PIM and upload their catalog themselves. So then that just will flow right into the kind of master and then go right out to wherever you're selling those products. So we recently launched it. This year we have a couple of customers onboarding right now. I think it's really going to be a game changer. That way the customer can have their vendors take responsibility of that.

Speaker 2:

If there's any missing data, like you were saying, they can get a notification to fill it in that way that when at the end, when they're being sold, that information is there already and then it kind of gives them a little bit of a lift of the customer. Also, within Pimberley we can do a best better good type scenario as well. So if you get a product from multiple vendors and you know vendor A typically has the best information, but if something is missing and you get an alert that you're missing some key information, then you can kind of have then go to vendor B and then go to vendor C as well. So there's a few different ways for that data governance. So we know that you're getting all that information so your products can be found wherever you're selling them.

Speaker 1:

Staying on the topic of B2B and putting together kind of a like an optimum text that what would be the solutions that you would say are essential for a successful B2B business to have in today's e-commerce market.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, great question. So I'd say there are many that you can use to hand your text back, but in terms of essential, a few come to mind, the first, of course, being a Pim. So I'm going to say that number one. But really having a Pim really will revolutionize the way that you manage your product data. The second one I would say is inventory manager. So you kind of brought up inventory planner earlier in our conversation, because you can picture a world where you have all the right stock levels. You don't have to guess how much you're going to need. You can manually calculate your forecast to estimate how much safety stock you might need in the warehouse and make sure your forecast isn't too low and you're not wasting money or selling out.

Speaker 2:

The third one I would say would be product discovery. I think one of the negatives about selling online is that you don't have that someone in store guiding you as well. So you're looking online, you're looking in a store, so you can't find a product. Someone's there a sales associate maybe there to help you locate that product physically or, if it's not in stock, they can give you alternatives. I think that gets lost sometimes when you're selling online. Having a product discovery will really give you the personalization touch with merchandising, give you the recommendations that you're looking for and intuitive search that really helps the buyers find what the product is easily and officially, and then you can also do those upsells and cross-sells there as well.

Speaker 2:

The fourth I would say is shipping. So really being able to streamline the back office processes of automating shipping calculations, label generation, order fulfillment, reducing manual efforts, really will increase your operational efficiency. I know a lot of people. Shipping can be a really big pain point for many, especially if you're going international cross-border. So having a really solid shipping management would be great, I would say. Lastly, a system integrator, someone who is there to get all these different pieces working together seamlessly.

Speaker 1:

I would say what you're touching around. Search is really important because the personalization of discovery is important anyway, because you're trying to get the customer to find the product that they want as quickly as possible. But the search is super important for another reason, which is the ability to be able to display the results of searches that maybe aren't correct. So somebody is maybe looking for brand A, which you don't carry, but you've got brand B, which is the same and a suitable equivalent. Then obviously you can run systems like that. But also, again, if we talk about B2B, with the amount of data that you've got and attributes that products have, you can start searching by attributes. So you're not just saying I need a red pencil, but maybe I need a pencil or a pen that's this particular thickness or this particular type for this particular use, and so all those additional attributes that customers will use to find the product that they need. Because, also within B2B, you tend to buy for a need, not necessarily for a want, whereas on the B2C you tend to buy for a want rather than a need. So the buyer has to be confident that the product that they're buying fits the requirements, and so they're going to be looking, the search is going to be slightly different, because they're going to be looking for those attributes, they're going to be making sure that it fulfills those needs rather than just a product title or maybe a color.

Speaker 1:

Shipping, again, in B2B is so complex, because you can obviously have B2B companies that sell small makeup packs and you buy a box of makeup and maybe it weighs two kilos, four pounds or four and a half pounds, whatever the equivalent is, and you can send it by the postal service. But then again you might be selling half a ton of cable and that's got to go with a particular carrier, it's got to go on a particular type of. If you're selling foods, it's got to go by a particular way, that maybe it's got to keep them chilled and so on, and so that, from a B2B perspective, I would again say, is important. But you're right that everything has to come, because all that data, the product discovery, the shipping, all those systems sorry, they feed from the data source.

Speaker 1:

And that data source can either be an Excel spreadsheet or it can be a system like Pimberly, like a PIM that tells you you are missing this information or you know, I guess a way for somebody to be able to make sure that that information is there. It all starts from the PIM.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. Especially with the search, if you're searching by attribute, a PIM is going to hold those attributes for you. So if it exists in the PIM, you'll be able to use it for your search. Pimberly, for example, we can do hold unlimited amount of attributes. That's part of our package. So that's really great for you know B2B, especially when there's products that may have tons and tons of attributes and you really want to. You know research for. So having a PIM, I think it's pretty essential.

Speaker 1:

So let's talk, let's do a bit of a deeper dive into Pimberly, because we've spoken kind of quite high level about how B2B merchants should be set up in the systems they need, but tell us a bit more about kind of Pimberly and how does. How could Pimberly help an e-commerce merchant streamline their kind of data and the data management to give their end user a better customer experience?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. There's several ways to do that. I would say the first one are siloed test environments. So you know, when you're doing your digital transformation, you really don't want to mess with business as usual, right Like you don't want any sort of downtime that could lead to revenue losses and things like that. So since you can't pause your commerce just to bring on a new technology, it would render the purchase kind of productive. So choosing technologies like Pimberly that offer siloed test environments where you can experiment at zero cost to your business before implementation, I think is key. So our PIM damn offers that feature when brought into any tech stack.

Speaker 2:

Another one would be, you know, superior online experiences.

Speaker 2:

So using a PIM in unison with a DX, for your instance, will make you stand out from the crowd.

Speaker 2:

If you practice headless commerce and utilize the best in class for each facet of your business, you'll have an unprecedented flexibility in not only what you present to potential customers but how it's presented as well.

Speaker 2:

And you know, with these streamlined processes when you're integrating your tech stack, you enable your team to focus more time and resources on wider business objectives.

Speaker 2:

These objectives include increasing revenue, ensuring compliance and accuracy of your product data across all your channels, no matter how complex they are, and I think that's a very kind of underutilized part of the PIM is that with Pimberly you're freeing up about 80% of what's done manually is now automated. So instead of having a marketer who went to college or university to do marketing to be created, instead of them sitting there and kind of just looking at spreadsheets and changing file typing naming conventions to go on your Amazon channel or your eBay channel, that's all freed up for them. They just have to go in maybe take a check, make sure everything looks good to go, but they're not sitting there in spreadsheets all day long. They're really freeing up their time to do what they're passionate about and we'll see that client employee retention goes up because they're not unhappy with their day-to-day work. So I would say that's a really kind of focus when you're using a PIM is that about 80% of what your team is going to be doing manually is now automated.

Speaker 1:

And again I'm having a conversation around bringing efficiencies into the e-commerce operation through technology, and it seems to be kind of a recurring theme. In today's e-commerce kind of environment where margins are under pressure and costs are going up, I think those efficiencies have never been more important. Let's talk about kind of how then we can, how a merchant can, start taking advantage further of those efficiencies. So we spoke about kind of eliminating spreadsheets. They're still even today.

Speaker 1:

I kind of speak to merchants that run their inventory and various systems off spreadsheets, which, apart from the usual kind of risks of manual kind of human error or deletion and potentially losing data, it comes with a raft of other benefits when you are centralizing the golden record, as you call it. So, as you mentioned earlier, it's very difficult for a merchant to undertake live testing without affecting their kind of live instance. So what are the benefits of having separate test environments? When it comes to a B2B merchant implementing new technologies, bear in mind that we're seeing a huge growth in merchants either moving off kind of legacy or custom e-commerce solutions or changing to kind of a SaaS-based e-commerce solutions. That's given a more runway for growth. So what are the benefits there and how does Pimbali's Pimdam feature help the merchant to find the middle ground for their Pim without optimizing their day-to-day ops.

Speaker 2:

Right. So, as I mentioned earlier, pimbali allows those silo test environments. So having that dedicated test environment provides the opportunity to check for product information quality without interfering with workflows or their overall customer experience. So, as a result, you can streamline your product information, reduce errors, improve efficiency without interfering with your day-to-day business. And then with the Pim, since you're optimizing your product data, you're automating that time-consuming steps getting new products to market. With Pimbali, as I mentioned earlier in the podcast, we do our own implementations and we'll work side by side with the customer. So we'll work with them to kind of figure out what does that look like? Each customer is different. They have different requirements, different kind of bandwidth as well. So we'll work with you side by side to make sure that we're not interfering with your day-to-day business.

Speaker 1:

One of the most visible ways of gaining efficiency is somebody's saving time, so staff, I guess, working more productively or the output of staff being higher, growing in that respect, how does leveraging a Pim and optimizing a tech stack again predominantly for B2B just I think, given from our experience? Anyway, there's just a sheer number of products, there's a higher number of products in a B2B category than there is B2C, and also the product data is as vast as from a B2B to B2C. So, apart from kind of the time saving aspect, how does a Pim kind of help them how a merchant maybe reached their business objectives or data accuracy across all the different channels? Because it's again, if we look at, one of the benefits of Pim is that you centralize that data. So what are you centralizing it from? Because if you're only setting on one e-commerce website, you're centralizing it within your e-commerce platform. So when a merchant then is centralizing their data across marketplaces and e-commerce websites and so on, how can using a Pim help them to kind of focus and get clarity on those business objectives?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so there's a few ways. So, if you're selling on an e-commerce site and a few different marketplaces, each of those marketplaces and sites are going to have different requirements. So Amazon has different requirements and eBay, which is different than, say, selling on big commerce. So, within the Pim, all you have to do is upload that product information and then we transform it on the way out. So we'll validate that and we're making sure that you're meeting the requirements that Amazon has set. So, whether that be file naming conventions, how many images that you need to have, you're not being penalized by these sites because you're not meeting their requirement. So, instead of having someone sit there and kind of renaming every file for the same, say, image you have an image of, say, some cables and Amazon has a different naming convention for that same image and eBay does instead of someone sitting there and having to rename everything manually, within Pimberly, you set that up one time and your feeds out and they'll automatically do that for you.

Speaker 2:

Something else that Pimberly does, which I think is pretty cool and it's really great for B2B, since there are so many products, as we now have a feature we call Copy AI, and it is AI-generated product descriptions based on the attributes that you have within the PIM. So whatever you have in the PIM the attributes you have you want to sprinkle in some of your SEO in there as well. We'll take that and we'll give you three readable product descriptions within originality score as well, and a readability score. You can keep it as is. You can top and tail it to however you want. That way, all your products will have nice, readable product descriptions.

Speaker 2:

When you have tens of thousands of products, you're saving so much time and energy. Also, we allow you to have different descriptions for each site. So if you want your big commerce site to have a more fun, witty, just say description, but your Amazon? You want just bullet points and just the facts, you can have different product descriptions we call them scopes for each of your scopes that you're selling on. That's another way that we save time and energy and just making sure that your products have the right information the way that you want it, in minutes, rather than taking hours, weeks, months, however long we'll take you to do all that for your tens of thousands of products you have at your B2B sites.

Speaker 1:

I guess the two follow-up points from there is first of all, if you don't utilize a system like a PIM that does that for you, then you're having to replicate the data yourself and make sure that you're getting that information in. But secondly, and I guess more importantly, we're in a very fast-moving involving market with e-commerce. So quite quickly, within a reasonable amount of time, your spreadsheet could become outdated or your SQL database can become outdated.

Speaker 1:

One of the great things about Pimberly is you've really got your finger on a pulse in terms of your integrations.

Speaker 1:

So if there are changes in the way that Amazon accepts data or needs some additional fields or so on, then Pimberly assumes that responsibility to make sure that the fees continue and obviously the customer then has to make the relevant changes.

Speaker 1:

But fundamentally, you're not going to have to start wondering why you're figuring out why your data is not updating from the spreadsheet. Well, it's because Amazon changed their taxonomy or whatever the changes are so and again. That feeds into the efficiency, not only, but most importantly, that you're pretty much always going to have kind of accurate and correct data because those changes that while you have to kind of physically address them by maybe moving the data around, that format is being changed and the customer's being made aware that they need to make some changes in the way that, because I know traditionally Amazon's been quite difficult to integrate to, especially for PIM and WMS providers. So I think from that perspective that must save so much time for a merchant because, like I said, you're not having to kind of work out and then make all those different changes to your spreadsheet and make the changes to the data. Pimberly will kind of help you along that journey and not just calling out Amazon, but other systems as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And within Pimberly and your dashboard, each of your channels will get like kind of like a pie chart and you'll see which products where they are in that life cycle. So it's really visual for everyone to see and if things are kind of not are not going live, you can click into it and see why. Why are these products not being sold? Why are we getting feedback from whatever channel that they're failing the requirements? And then you can go in yourself or the Pimberly team can help you, go into the PIM and figure out why and make those changes. So then, going forward, your products are being found and they're not failing the requirements. Because each one is so unique, each channel is so different, that having the visibility per channel is really helpful as well.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely 100%, all right. So just to summarize, nicole, one of the benefits of a PIM and specifically also Dan, because those digital assets have to live somewhere whether it's a Google Drive or a Dropbox folder or a USB key can come with its own problems. You're not just benefiting from peace of mind or you're benefiting from efficiency, but you're also benefiting, I think, and I think most importantly, that the product data is as accurate as possible, feeding into those various channels. So, like I said, with the dashboard, if some products are not being pushed up because maybe something as simple as a SKU is missing or a product description or a brand, whatever the red lines are, that when Pimbley's set up, you're visibly able to see them and action them, rather than just kind of wandering around a circle seeing why you're spreadsheet with thousands of lines isn't working and what the problem is.

Speaker 1:

And it's also SaaS. Saas is cloud-based Pimbley. So it's not that the merchant has to take on the responsibility of looking after servers, but also the fact that Pimbley's investing in the APIs and now you're also members of the MAC Alliance shows that you're kind of future-proofing that platform and making it really relevant for today's merchant, that looking for that kind of headless composable tech stack that allows them to really thrive in today's market. So congratulations, first of all, on getting into the MAC Alliance.

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Which I think is a great achievement, but I also think kind of it is future-proofing your business and saying right, because what doesn't change is that we all still have the same 24 hours a day. And do you really want your people spending those how many hours a day or a week going through spreadsheets or your SQL database or whatever it is? Or do you want to kind of employ a system that's gonna help you, that's gonna start kind of pushing you to create better product data? That then translates to the fact that it's gonna be more searchable, it's gonna be found more and, fundamentally, it's gonna be purchased more, because the customer is able to make an informed decision rather than just not really have the confidence whether that product's the right fit for them or not.

Speaker 1:

Mm-hmm absolutely so. Verena likes me to ask if there's a book or podcast that you're either reading or listening to at the moment and, if so, what is the said book or podcast?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, oh yeah, so she said that over. So I recently came across a podcast called Oopsie and the premise of the podcast is kind of those sharing those kind of oh crap moments that everybody has. So they really focus on leaders in the D to C space who work for different, various brands and they share their kind of moments of like oh crap. And what I really like about the podcast is that it really humanizes everyone. No matter how successful you are in business, we all have those moments where we sent that email we probably wish we could take back, or said something to the wrong person, or even called if someone the wrong name, and it's really about just kind of laughing it off and learning from it. I will say the podcast it has a little explicit language, so if that's not your cup of tea then I wouldn't listen to it, but I think it's great. It's super light. They're short episodes of when I'm on the train heading into the city. I listen to one or two and I think it's a great way to start my day.

Speaker 1:

The Oopsy podcast will link to it in the show notes. And the reason why I mentioned Verena is because I'm trying to get her onto the podcast and she could say no. So I kind of say anyone that's listening, if you're on LinkedIn and you want to get Verena on the podcast, just tag her in the post, because I'm determined she's such a gifted content writer and marketer and I think you know I'm desperate trying to get her onto the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Oh, she has to.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I don't even have to start a campaign, so anyway, but the Oopsy podcast will link to it in the show notes and maybe I'll also have a listen next time I'm out and about. So well, nicole, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me and educating the listeners around not just Pia and Dan, but actually all the not just about the product itself, but actually how they will benefit and how it will help them grow and achieve their business objectives. If people want to get in touch with you or learn more about the product, what should they do?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so they can reach out to me If you want to put my email, the show notes and my LinkedIn as well, and then you head right over to the Pimberly site. We have a calendar there. If you want to learn some more information, you can book a demo with one of our amazing pre-sales consultants and they can walk you through the platform.

Speaker 1:

Cool, yeah, we'll definitely link to LinkedIn and link to the Pimberlycom website. Well again, thank you very much for coming to the show and I look forward to catching up with you again.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thank you so much for having me, and this was a lot of fun.

Speaker 1:

Brilliant. Have a good time in Austin.

Speaker 2:

Thanks so much, bye.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to the BigCommerce Podcast. If you've enjoyed today's episode, please leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. And if you want to follow us on social media, you can find us on Instagram at the bigcommercepodcast, and also on LinkedIn. Alternatively, you can catch up on all older episodes on our website at the bigcommercepodcastfm. If you've got ideas for any episodes, please reach out to us. Info at the bigcommercepodcastfm. Until next time, thank you for listening.

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