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Product Information Management Best Practices: 3 Rules for Effective Data Wrangling

August 20, 2019 / by Tina Eaton

In the modern age of ecommerce retail and marketing, there’s one concept that’s both necessary for retailers, yet intimidating to many: Big data.

Running an online store today requires a massive amount of data. American research firm Forrester says ecommerce retailers are now attaching as many as 200 attributes to every one of their products. And that number isn’t getting smaller. In fact, digital marketing is in what that report calls a “content arms race,” and the winner will be the retailer who can keep millions of data points fresh and accurate across dozens of marketing and sales channels. In other words, the retailer who can wrangle a ton of data.

Product Information Management Best Practices: 4 Rules for Effective Data WranglingBut how? When there’s that much data to keep track of, where does a retailer even start? We’ll give you a hint: It’s not spreadsheets.

In the modern age, we have modern solutions for data wrangling that ecommerce retailers need to be adopting now to ensure they can keep up with the trend toward bigger and more data. So grab your lasso, cowboy (or cowgirl). Let’s get into some of the product information management best practices retailers need to know for data wrangling.

What is data wrangling?

“Data wrangling” is sort of a catch-all term that describes several important steps of the data analysis process, including gathering, cleaning, sorting, and organizing the data so it’s properly prepped to be analyzed. Unwrangled data is messy, disorganized, and not particularly useful, since it’s impossible to read and analyze therefore can’t provide any of the valuable insights a business can and should be getting from data.

Thorough data wrangling happens in a number of steps.

Thorough data wrangling happens in a number of steps

Data wrangling isn’t simple. In fact, it’s the part of the job that data scientists dedicate 80 percent of their time to doing. But you’re an ecommerce retailer, not a data scientist. So why does data wrangling matter for you and your business?

Within that data, there’s a ton of metrics that you can and should be using to increase your sales and revenue. Data that you likely already have can help you track vital metrics about your business, such as:

  • Average Acquisition Cost
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Average Order Value
  • Retention Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Average Margin
  • Cart Abandonment Rate
  • Refund and Return Rate
  • Support Rate
  • Product and Category Performance

And once you’re tracking all those metrics, you can use the insights you learn to optimize your marketing and sales strategies to ultimately boost your bottom line.

ecommerce metrics and optimization

3 Rules for Effective Data Wrangling

For ecommerce retailers who are generally not data pros, effectively wrangling your data can seem like a daunting task. And unfortunately, many data wrangling tasks require familiarity with data science, something digital retailers often don’t have.

But all hope is not lost for business owners who aren’t data pros but still want to utilize data to help their businesses grow (spoiler alert: we’ll have a solution for you by the end of this article). Before we get to the best solution for business owners who want to wrangle data but don’t know how, here are some data wrangling best practices you should know about.

Map Your Data Into All the Configurations You Can Think Of

It’s time consuming, but one of the best things you can do with data is to play with it. Organize it in different ways. Look for patterns. Look for surprises. If you don’t feel like you have the knowledge or skills to do this yourself, a data lab can help.

Seek the Expertise of All Kinds of Data Professionals

Data scientists are great at analyzing all kinds of data, but there’s more to the big picture of your data than just that. Seeking out experts in data quality and data modelling is one best practice for getting the most benefits out of your data.

Make Sure You’re Getting Value for Your Investment

Hiring data experts or using the services of a data lab will cost you. With your business’ bottom line in mind, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best possible return on your investment—effective data wrangling at a price point that small to medium-sized businesses can afford. Luckily, there’s a solution that’s cost-effective or even free.

The Most Important Data Wrangling Best Practice For Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

pim system

The world’s top brands have a secret weapon for managing their product data: Product Information Management (PIM) software. This is the most important best practice for ecommerce retailers who need effective data wrangling—a good PIM solution centralizes, organizes, distributes, and analyzes data so you can spend your time doing what you’re good at: Marketing and selling your products.

Too many digital retailers are still relying on Excel spreadsheets for keeping and sharing their data. When data is stored this way, it’s all over the place. It can be hard to know who’s in charge of different data sets. Who’s responsible for keeping them complete and up to date? Are they complete and up to date? Is this the most recent version of this spreadsheet? Does everyone have the most recent version?

Storing product data like that is an organizational nightmare, while a PIM is like a sweet dream. It gives you a central place to store product data where it’s accessible by anyone in your organization, across all departments and levels. And better yet, whenever anyone accesses any data, they know they’re getting the most complete, accurate, up-to-date information because changes and updates happen in real-time.

PIM also allows you to organize and analyze data, something you’re not going to be able to do when you’re wrangling spreadsheets instead of usable information about your business. You can organize data into virtually any configuration, which will enable you to gather important insights you can use to boost your bottom line.

And it allows you to input data from multiple channels, and distribute it to as many sales and marketing channels as you use, knowing that every channel will end up with accurate, up-to-date product information. It’s the best omnichannel solution in a retail landscape where omnichannel is necessary to stay competitive.

Ready to find the right PIM software for your business? Our Ultimate PIM Buyer’s Guide has all the information you need to choose the right solution for your business needs, regardless of your size or budget.

pim buyer's guide

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Tina Eaton

Written by Tina Eaton