June 8th, 2022 | 7 MIN READ

Just Launched: EP Product Experience Manager (PXM)

Written by author_profile_images Hannah Jarrett

Hannah Jarrett leads Product Marketing at Elastic Path.  In this role, she focuses on bringing differentiated products to market that help digitally-driven brands drive revenue growth. 

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It’s no secret that consumer and buyer expectations have hit an all-time high. Every day at Elastic Path we talk to brands who are feeling increased pressure to “wow” customers any time they interact with them. And, this pressure isn’t unfounded, a recent Salesforce study found that “80% of customers now consider the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services.”

Brands Feel The Pressure to Keep Up With Consumer & Business Expectations

More than ever, brands are looking for ways to differentiate their experience from the competition. These teams are eager to make browsing, finding, and purchasing products easier and faster for consumers. Often, they are looking to improve or build:

- Product configurators that enable customers to design their ideal products like custom windows, shoes, or couches

- Interactive shop-the-room or shop-the-look experiences that digitize the in-store experience

- Personalized pricing and product offerings for B2B accounts with negotiated rates or loyalty-tiered consumers

- Dynamic bundling with the flexibility to create any bundle with unique pricing

Simultaneously, many brands have expanded their digital routes-to-market to increase revenue and outpace their competition, meaning they are managing multiple complex channels all at once. Some common expansion projects we hear about include:

- New geographies: expanding to Europe

- New brands: acquiring a company

- New business models: going D2C for the first time

- New touchpoints: kiosks, BOPIS, pop-up shops, etc.

And lastly, brands need to be able to change and optimize these experiences and channels as quickly as customer expectations demand – and that’s fast! McKinsey data finds that brands who do this, improve customer experience, increase revenue by 15% and lower cost by 20%. So, you see, commerce teams find themselves in a high-pressure situation where their companies are counting on them to drive revenue by diversifying routes-to-market and WOWing customers wherever they are.

 

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The Obsolete Commerce Catalog

As if this weren’t stressful enough, most of these business & tech teams are using commerce technology that was created in the early 2000s, or before. In essence, they are trying to manage 2022 expectations with rigid, turn-of-the-century commerce platforms. These platforms leverage a dated catalog architecture, where product, content, and price are all coupled together.

This means that if a brand wants to merchandise a product for a different price, let’s say for a specific geography or for negotiated B2B pricing, they have to build a complex workaround. That could mean IT has to custom create a new catalog, or a merchandiser could hack a promotion to support that unique pricing, or in some cases, the commerce platform might say you need a whole other instance (at an additional cost) to support that use case.

For a brand trying to drive revenue through innovative product experiences across channels, these workarounds become abundant and make managing day-to-day operations incredibly complex. As our VP of Solution Engineering put it in a recent blog post, the eCommerce catalog is dead.

And, if you can’t complete these workarounds or hacks, you end up with poor customer experiences where consumers and buyers can’t quickly locate the right product for them in the right context, at the right price. This leads to browse abandonment, decreased conversions, and lost revenue.

Re-Thinking Product Data & Catalog Management Capabilities

The ability to manage complex product experiences across multiple routes-to-market isn’t going anywhere. If anything, brands will continue to add complexity to their digital businesses. And, after speaking with hundreds of merchandisers and developers about the challenges of the obsolete commerce catalog, we knew there had to be another way.

To overcome the rigidity of other commerce platforms, we had to rethink the catalog architecture. We knew that to meet the needs of digitally driven brands, we had to help them put product data and catalog management capabilities at the center of their commerce strategy. This tweak in the way we think about commerce would enable brands to create the experiences their customers expect, across routes-to-market, without expensive dev projects or elongated launch timelines.

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And, since we learned that the “coupled’ nature of these capabilities in other platforms hindered brands from expanding with speed and wow-ing customers, we knew we had to de-couple the catalog architecture. Meaning that catalogs, products, hierarchies, and pricebooks all needed to be separate services. This de-coupling would provide brands with the ultimate flexibility to meet unique use case requirements across every route-to-market without custom workaround from IT.

Re-Invention: EP Product Experience Manager (PXM)

And that’s exactly why we built EP Product Experience Manager (PXM). EP PXM is a new product from Elastic Path that leverages de-coupled catalog architecture where catalogs, products, pricebooks, and hierarchies are all independent. This approach eliminates the restrictions of the obsolete catalog technology found in other platforms and gives merchandisers the freedom to unleash their creativity and launch the unique product experiences their business requires.

EP PXM centralizes three key capabilities into one place just for merchandisers. It includes:

  • Commerce PIM
    • Import, enrich, and manage products
    • Create dynamic bundles, 1000s of variations, and custom product configurators
  • Product Merchandising
    • Organize product into unlimited hierarchies
    • Assign multiple price books to products
    • Design and launch promotions
  • Catalog Composer
    • Compose hierarchies and price books into catalogs, without limits
    • Assign rules to catalogs so they are dynamically surfaced to the right customers

With these re-imagined capabilities, merchandising teams finally have the control to design and launch the differentiated experiences, across every route-to-market, without heavy reliance on IT for custom hacks and expensive workarounds.

Elastic Path customer Paro, an AI-powered marketplace for finance and accounting solutions, shared the value of these capabilities in a recent case study.

“Elastic Path gives our non-technical users the ability to make changes and update the front-end experience and catalog without relying on our development team and this has allowed us to scale a lot faster.” - Amar Bhatia, Senior Product Manager

Checkout that case study to learn more about how Paro is using EP PXM. But, keep in mind, part of the beauty of EP PXM is its ultimate flexibility which means brands continue to show us unique ways that this product is making their lives easier. Some common use cases include:

  • Power all routes-to-market without limits, including multiple:
    • Brands
    • Geographies
    • Business models
    • Touchpoints
  • Support massive B2B businesses with many accounts, each with their own unique negotiated pricing & product assortments
  • Catalog hot swaps: quickly swap catalogs on and off to support
    • Product launches
    • Pop-up shops
    • Flash sales
  • Build and merchandise 1000s of child variants separately from parents without custom workarounds
    • Shop-the-look/room experiences
    • Inventory-of-one use cases, like reCommerce
    • Sale pricing for single variants
    • Merchandising by color, size, etc.
  • Power unique pricing strategies, without having to “hack” them using a promotion
    • Test out pricing based on geo, instead of running a regional promo
    • Create unique pricing per variation or experience
    • Support businesses where each country has their own tax model (VAT v. Non-VAT)
  • Create dynamic or complex bundles
    • Discount only one item in the bundle OR only discount the item when it’s bundled

And that is just the beginning. With the complexity of digital commerce continuing to scale, we can’t wait to see the innovative ways our customers use EP PXM in the future.

Re-Think Your Product Experiences

If some of the challenges described in this blog post sound familiar to you, it’s time to rethink the technology your team is using to create product experiences. Maybe it’s working today but will it continue to support you if you expand to a new business model or try to launch a custom configurator? Set your team up for success by learning more about EP PXM today.

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