If your new product is not on the shelf when the customer walks in ready to buy, you’ve lost the sale.

If the retailer or distributor can’t access the new part numbers and quote the new price, you’ve got the same problem. So, even if you do have the product, but don’t have the information yet, you’ve still lost the sale.

And if the dealer, distributor or retailer doesn’t have the new marketing and sales materials to train his sales staff and properly support the launch of your product, you’ve missed the boat.

Time-to-market has a number of facets to it, from launching a new product to responding to a competitor’s new product with a new product of your own, to launching a new promotional campaign or to rolling out new pricing in response to rising materials costs.

First to market, wins

Often, he who gets there first, wins. And the company that’s there first most often usually becomes the preferred vendor to deal with. Distributors and retailers don’t like “me too” companies; they want to deal with disciplined well-managed companies because – very simply – it makes their life easier.

While most companies in the same market space have similar speed in their product development processes, where some really outpace their competitors is on the “softer” side of the process — getting the product information, pricing and market materials and information to customers in a timely manner. Some companies take six months to do this, but a few can do it in a matter of days.

That’s where a comprehensive Product Information Management (PIM) System can really help.

‘Single source of truth’

A good PIM system allows for the creation, storage, access and management of all the critical information related to part, product, pricing, and publishing, as well as formatting and synchronizing data to customers’ or industry standard requirements. What’s more, this data is properly stored as a “single source of truth” – a central repository that is kept current and is drawn upon by the entire company. In this way, everyone is working with the same information.

It is this central repository that is the heart of a good PIM system and enables the rapid and accurate response to industry trends, a competitor’s product introduction or fluctuating materials costs. It also stores all the product information, from part numbers to package size to graphic images, whether they be exploded-view drawings of assembled products or photographs and illustrations for promotional flyers and catalogs.

Bottom line

Having all this information at your fingers tips – and making it available to your customers online, in real time, in the form and format they require – is worth serious money to your company and has a number of time-to-market advantages.

One customer of ours — a Fortune 500 company — was able to recover $1.5 million in lost revenue by reducing time to market for new pricing to only three days, where it used to take six months!

Further, the company dramatically improved accuracy in billing which virtually eliminated the time spent issuing credit memos and making billing adjustments.

An unforeseen benefit? Customer complaints and phones calls dropped dramatically and this automotive supplier became the preferred vendor in its market space.