Some of the biggest trends in manufacturing for 2024 are data and sustainability. We are living in an increasingly digital world where information is power, and the environment is top of mind for many consumers.

Author Nick Saraev

Photo: Freepik

These trends find common ground in product information management, where digitizing catalogs and putting information in the hands of your clients has started a revolution toward a bright and interconnected future. 

Niels Stenfeldt, the CEO of inriver, shared the importance of product information, as well as how keeping accurate data on your products can boost revenue and help your company stay green.  

What Is Product Information Management

Product Information Management (PIM) is a system or process that helps you organize and manage all the information about your products in one place. It involves collecting information about each individual product and disseminating that information to everyone who needs it. 

To get a clear picture of the role that product information plays in manufacturing, and how important it is to stay on top of it, let’s take a look at Michelin’s system they developed with inriver for their tires. 

When you look at tires, there’s a mountain of product information that should be communicated for every item, including 

  • Product Sheets
  • FAQs
  • How they are turned
  • Where they are most effective
  • If they are winter, summer, or all-season 
  • Where is the rubber from 
  • Where was the iron sourced
  • What’s the recycling process

All of this data has to come from somewhere, and companies have to know it’s 100% accurate. Not only that, but it has to be ready for display across the internet. The information must be uniform on Michelin’s site, as well as on every reseller who is offering Michelin tires online. 

Your PIM system should allow you to easily update, categorize, and add information to products at any time, ensuring everything is up-to-date and accurate. 

Benefits of Product Information Management 

There are countless benefits to ensuring your data is up-to-date on all channels and easily accessible for your team and your clients. By investing the time and resources it takes to use product information, you can 

  • Excellerate Time to Market – When data is readily available and built into your manufacturing process, you can get products to customers that much faster 
  • Grow Revenue – Faster turnaround, the circular economy, and meeting customer expectations allow you to spend less and make more 
  • Increase Data Quality – Data will be consistent across the board, and stay well-organized
  • Meet Sustainability Demands – You will  be able to provide information about environmental impact for both customers and governing bodies 
  • Boost Operation Efficiency – When you can articulate your products’ circular nature, you will be better prepared to reuse and recycle, leading to efficiency across the board
  • Enhance Customer Experience – Buyers will be able to make informed decisions about the products they are buying based on objective data 
  • Reduce Return Rates – Customers are less likely to return products because they have access to all the information they need before purchasing 

To meet and exceed expectations, you need to ensure that this information system is not only in place now, but is prepared for the changes and demands of the future. 

While the sheer amount of information can seem daunting, it’s important to remember that consumers want this level of detail. Companies that manage to implement these systems early will position themselves as environmentally friendly businesses that care about getting information to their customers. 

In some cases, customers are even willing to pay a premium if companies can show that their environmental impact is lower than their competitors. 

Enabling the Circular Economy With Product Information 

Product data makes it possible to have a full circular product journey. While the information may be relevant for selling products, it is equally as valuable when it comes to reusing products. 

More and more consumers are getting invested in companies that care about the environment. They want to know what happens to products when they’re done with them. With value-driven businesses coming to the forefront of the market, this level of information is vital for both B2B and B2C businesses. 

Beyond the eco-friendly reasons to enable a circular economy, this initiative also leads to lower manufacturing costs and more control overall. Simply having a digital catalog is not enough anymore. Your product information should be driving your transformation and growth going forward. 

Complying With Product Data Governance 

The European Union has introduced an initiative called the Digital Product Passport (DPP). This regulation has been in process for a long time as part of the Green New Deal. 

In short, the DPP is a set of rules that require products to have a QR code, allowing instant access to specific product information. If we go back to tires, there will not only be information on where the materials for the tire were sourced from but also 

  • How it was produced
  • The C02 emissions from the manufacturing process
  • Where it was manufactured
  • How it was transported
  • How it will be recycled 

Putting this environmental information in the hands of consumers allows them to make decisions based on their values. The EU plans to make this information uniform across all industries and manufacturers within the union, making it relevant to any company hoping to sell products in Europe. 

While this initiative won’t be fully introduced until 2030, it will dramatically change how we think about product information that has historically been hidden in a catalog. You won’t only be required to have general information about the product, but also to know exactly where each individual tire was made and more.  

By 2027, half of the top 10 consumer goods manufacturers will have implemented DPP. If you haven’t already started looking at this level of data, you need to be prepared for the change. 

In Conclusion 

While the full requirements of the DPP are still years away from being introduced, you can set your company up for success by starting to build the structures and data sources to deliver. 

What’s more, having this amount of data available for your customers will bring you instant returns, and start to position your brand as one that cares about the environment, and your customers’ decisions.

The sooner you get started, the better. You can learn more about product information and manufacturing excellence from inriver, as well as through Copperberg. We’re passionate about giving you the tools and resources you need to bring your company into the future.

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