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From product information to product experience

Product Experience Management (PXM) is a novel concept that has emerged in recent years. PXM focuses on delivering exceptional product experiences across omnichannel customer journeys to foster commitment and gain a competitive advantage for companies. Its origins are clearly rooted in Product Information Management (PIM) and have evolved as a response to the need for differentiation in competitive PIM markets. How did this evolution come about?

A Brief History of PIM

As brands, retailers, and distributors strive to better serve their customers and enhance overall customer experience, they encounter the essential need to provide high-quality, contextualized product information throughout the entire customer journey. This ensures the removal of unnecessary friction and addresses customer needs effectively. Compelling product information is indeed one of the key drivers for enhancing customer experience. While traditional concepts like Product Data Management (PDM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) typically focus on product development, manufacturing, and lifecycle-related data management, PIM emerged to address the need for commercial product information required for marketing and selling products across markets. The increasing digitalization and proliferation of networked operating environments with multiple sales channels further propelled the need for managing contextualized product information across various touchpoints. Specific PIM system solutions were introduced to manage this commercial product information, catering to both customer and internal needs across different touchpoints. The primary goal of PIM has always been to provide accurate and up-to-date product information, enabling consistent and contextualized customer experiences across various touchpoints.

Looking back, while PIM and related technology solutions have been in existence for some time, there has been a noticeable transformation. PIM solutions efficiently support the enrichment and contextualization of commercial product information, aiding companies in delivering consistent, high-quality customer experiences across different channels. However, the focus has shifted towards personalized interactions with the brand, rather than solely delivering high-quality data as efficiently as possible. While the importance of high-quality data remains paramount, errors in data can significantly impact product presentation optimization, especially in digital channels. Managed, consistent, and complete product information plays a crucial role in modern complex customer journeys. However, simply managing data is no longer sufficient; optimization and personalization are equally essential. In conclusion, focusing solely on traditional PIM operations is no longer adequate for companies aiming to be leaders in their industries.

The Emergence of PXM

Product Experience Management (PXM) has emerged as a concept through the strategic repositioning of some PIM vendors towards product information and product experience management concepts. Commercial reasons likely drive some of these shifts as PIM vendors seek to differentiate themselves from competitors. With this background, PXM can be seen as an extension of PIM, with a special focus on content analysis, personalization, contextualization, automation, and optimization. For many, PXM represents a new process that transforms how traditional and digital commerce are organized in terms of product management. It is viewed as the management of products considering how they are presented to customers and how related efforts are organized. Particularly, PXM is seen as a management method aimed at enabling product content for all different channels, allowing users to find the right answers for their needs. In many cases, PXM serves as the foundation for modern omnichannel product strategy. PXM also has a strong link to customer experience management concepts, often being regarded as a product adaptation of it. As such, PXM is typically viewed as the provision of unique product experiences to establish emotional connections with products.

Likely due to its new positioning with a background in PIM, marketing strongly promotes PXM as a data-driven concept with elements of contextualization and personalization. For instance, some technology vendors promote PXM as the onboarding, management, and enrichment of product information delivered in context and personalized based on the channel, locale, and customer needs. Other vendors highlight it as the standardization, optimization, and distribution of product data to different channels, not differing significantly from earlier PIM marketing. Typical marketing messages also emphasize the goal of achieving an exceptional overall shopping experience by providing relevant, high-quality data across different touchpoints. Sometimes, other related data domains such as customers and suppliers are also included to link transactional and interactional data, providing relevant and contextualized content. Contextual data based on location and device is also sometimes considered part of PXM.

Many non-technology perspectives conclude that PXM is primarily a mindset aimed at achieving the next level of differentiated customer experiences. It's not merely a tool or a specific platform but rather the management of the experience surrounding the product. Personally, I appreciate this mindset perspective. It's evident that different technological solutions, such as PIM platforms, help boost organizational capabilities to reach markets faster with more products, enabling higher volume and sales turnover. However, if the entire process is driven solely by speed and volume of product activation, neglecting the actual customer perspective, commitment, and consequently growth may remain elusive.

In summary, product experience management facilitates interaction between the product and its stakeholders along the value chain. It's not just about delivering data in context; it also involves developing business capabilities to sense market changes, seizing opportunities by reallocating resources when necessary, and transforming the business to remain competitive. Only then can continuous positive interactions between products and their stakeholders be enabled. When stakeholders' cognitive, emotional, and social needs are met, long-lasting relationships can be achieved, which are essential for business growth.

So, are PIM and PXM the same or different? There's no definitive answer since both are undoubtedly needed to complement each other if exceptional experiences and business success are desired.