As global eCommerce continues to expand, businesses are increasingly looking beyond their borders to capture new markets and diversify their customer base. However, the complexity of managing product information across different regions, languages, and compliance standards can be daunting.

This is where Product Information Management (PIM) software becomes indispensable. PIM systems are designed to centralize, organize, and enhance product data, making it easier for businesses to manage a vast array of products efficiently within their eCommerce platform. In the context of cross-border eCommerce, PIM software not only simplifies the management of product information across multiple channels but also ensures consistency and accuracy, which are vital for building trust and credibility with international customers.

But before we delve into the topic of PIM, let’s begin with a brief explanation of cross-border eCommerce to have a broader picture of this process.  


Quick jump


What is Cross-border eCommerce?

As the name suggests, cross-border e-commerce involves buying and selling products between businesses and customers located in different countries. Due to the rapid development of the eCommerce industry, this type of commerce is progressively taking over the global market. One of the reasons for this trend is increasing reliance on technology to streamline logistics and enhance customer experience, including online payment systems, international shipping services, localized marketing strategies, and much more. According to Zion’s research, the total value of cross-border eCommerce is expected to reach over $4 trillion by 2027.

But why do more and more businesses decide to sell internationally? The reason for the increasing popularity of online sales on global markets are the advantages that it brings. One of the key benefits of cross-border eCommerce is the ability for businesses to expand their market reach beyond domestic borders, tapping into new customer bases and revenue streams and facilitating eCommerce business growth. 

However, entering international markets may not be as easy as it sounds. There are many challenges related to product information that must be taken care of to successfully sell products on foreign markets, including:

  • Comprehensive and diverse product classification
  • Multiple product options (color, size, material used, etc.)
  • Complex logistics and data structures in many formats
  • Data consistency and quality (How to avoid mistakes when enriching product data)
  • Security and managing access to product information

As can be seen, expanding internationally requires effectively managing multiple complex processes around the online business. Luckily, there is a solution for many of the aforementioned aspects that make it a walk in the park – PIM software.  

What is PIM?

Product Information Management is a software used to centralize all the technical and marketing information of a company’s products and catalogs. It enables organizations to manage the details, descriptions, specifications, and other content necessary for marketing and selling products across multiple distribution channels. When it comes to cross-border operations, it supports a variety of tasks, making it an extremely valuable tool for online businesses.

How does PIM support Cross-border eCommerce operations?

First and foremost, Product Information Management software works as a single source of truth (SSOT). It gathers all the product information in many formats in a single place, making it a unified source of information that can be distributed to many sales channels. This main factor makes it easier to perform various tasks that would normally require much more manual work. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Distributing product information

As mentioned above, PIM software is extremely effective for managing and distributing product information. Thanks to gathering and classifying information from many sources, businesses have access to relevant and accurate product data that can be further distributed to many sales channels.

What’s more, PIM can be integrated with translation tools to store and distribute product description information in the customer’s native language. All countries have their own culture and language preferences, which influence how international customers react to our marketing efforts and information about our products. For instance, some countries are used to online shopping in English, while others may be used to shopping in another language, such as French, and abandon the eCommerce website due to the language barrier.

Managing warehouses

The centralized approach with the Product Information Management software allows eCommerce businesses to track product specifications, inventory levels, shipping information, and much more. All essential information related to logistics can be automatically downloaded from the PIM software. Thanks to that, online stores can determine delivery time or product measurements, optimize stock levels, and reduce excess inventory.

Improved workflow

As the product information is centralized in one platform, people working on product content and distribution, for example, the SEO agencies or copywriters, can work on a single, updated version of product data, without switching between multiple systems. This approach  improves efficiency and reduces the risk of mistakes.  

Moreover, by integrating with other systems such as ERP and CRM, PIM further optimizes workflow efficiency and accelerates time to market, making it easier and faster to enter international markets.

Regulatory Compliance

Last but not least, different markets have different regulatory requirements regarding product information. PIM systems help ensure compliance by managing country-specific data such as safety standards, labeling requirements, and legal disclaimers. This reduces the risk of penalties and helps in smooth operations across borders.


Ergonode x BitBag interview 

Now, let’s move on to the interview with Radosław Żurawski – the CSO of BitBag, conducted by Kamil Niedziewicz – Partnership Development Manager in Ergonode

Q: Radek, looking at your experience in the industry, let me ask you a question. Is expanding the online store internationally a difficult task? What challenges may it bring?  

A: It depends on what we mean by easy. No doubt it is time-consuming, requiring good research on the topic, and understanding the challenges or characteristics of the markets we are targeting. 

The possible challenges are as follows:

  • translation of the product base
  • translation of content
  • deciding whether to operate as a new brand or under the name of a company from the local market
  • issues related to logistics and warehousing
  • choosing local payment methods
  • SEO positioning in this market
  • local integrations
  • local marketplace

Fortunately, quite a few of these challenges can be efficiently automated using PIM or the eCommerce itself.

Q: Can we have the same content on every sales channel (market)?

A: There are several important reasons to tailor content for specific channels and markets. Taking as an example cultural and language differences – each market has its own cultural and language characteristics, which affect how customers respond to marketing and product content.

Q: Then, since it is best to have tailored content for each market, is it best to have different versions of the language versions of the eCommerce site?

A: Definitely. We can set the default to English for many markets, but there are some, such as France, where it would be absolutely difficult for us to break through without a store in French language. 

Q: What about a company that works with an SEO agency?

A: It is definitely worth approaching each market individually, even more so in the context of markets that are quite different from each other, like Germany or France. These markets will be differentiated by, among other things, the issue of local preferences, positioning in the local search engines, and even the scale of competition in these markets. Moreover, through local SEO, the company has the opportunity to meet the needs of local customers, understand them better, and increase brand visibility.

Q: Now that we know that it is best to have separate content per each market/sales channel, how not to get lost in it? After all, this is a ton of information, right?

A: This is where automation comes to the rescue. Thanks to solutions such as Ergonode, we can easily manage the language versions of our product content and even go a step further and separate language versions for particular channels. It is a well-known fact that content will look different in an online store and in a local marketplace- the reason for this may be, for example,  various marketplace requirements, our own preferences, or customer preferences.

Q: Something that keeps you awake at night is payment issues and logistics when operating in multiple markets. In fact, is there anything to be afraid of?

A: Logistics depends on a lot of factors. One of the key ones is deciding whether to ship from our central warehouse using international shipping or to a warehouse in another market, where delivery time can be a key factor. Depending on our industry, we can also consider dropshipping. Automation can be an important ally in such cases. We can pull all strictly logistics information automatically from the PIM system – it includes data needed for logistics, delivery times, product sizes, form of product packaging, how many products fit on a pallet, and so on, depending on what we need.

Q: What about cross-border eCommerce transactions and multicurrency? 

A: In international trade, it is important to research the preferred payment methods in the selected market and choose the most appropriate solution. Alternatively, we can conclude an agreement with a more global solution such as Adyen, with which, for a slightly higher commission, we will serve most of the markets we know while having a guarantee of transaction security

Q: What should the cross-border business approach look like? One team for multiple markets or a dedicated team per market? How to control this process later?

A: To begin with, it’s worth considering how we want to be perceived in a foreign market. As a company with a strong position in another market that is opening up to new markets? Or a new, strong brand under a completely different logo? Whichever option we choose, we can efficiently manage these channels from the same system without building more stores. What’s more, we can designate teams to serve specific markets. For example, with the PIM system, we can have a dedicated team per channel, and each team can have different permissions and accesses thanks to the ACL (Access Control List). 

Q: Which strategy is best to adopt in international eCommerce? Online store or a marketplace?

A: First and foremost, it is worth researching the market to determine what percentage of transactions in the country go through the marketplace and what percentage go through the online stores. From a product management point of view, this doesn’t change anything for us. All the information in both scenarios is stored in the PIM system, and we determine where and in what form this data will be sent.

Q: Speaking of data, why is product data quality so important? 

A: Above all, by maintaining product data consistency, we build trust with our customers – there is no room for error here, even less so in the context of going into new markets or building a new brand. You can only make a first impression once; if the product data is incorrect, we risk losing the customer. What’s more, we will most likely end up with a return or complaint. That’s why there are so many tools at Ergonode to streamline processes and take care of quality product data. One such tool is the product build workflow, where we designate individual roles responsible for completing product data per channel/language. Similarly, other designated people complete graphics, and the others approve the product before its final appearance in the store. Minimizing the risk of errors undoubtedly translates positively into customer satisfaction and building a long-term relationship.

Q: Concluding our conversation, how can you summarize what you just talked about in a few words?

A: Cross-border sales can definitely be challenging. It requires a lot of commitment and dedication in many different areas. Consequently, it is worth making it easier for yourself by using the right tools. The time you would have to spend on completing the language versions of the product in Excel or building the product anew for each channel can be spent on better understanding the market and the customer needs. Let’s make our work easier with automation or tools that have the appropriate functionalities to help navigate the world of cross-border online sales.

Ergonode PIM Streamlines Product Information Management

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Summary

By maintaining consistency in product data, eCommerce businesses build trust with the customers – there is no room for error here, especially when entering new markets or building a new brand abroad. The first impression matters; therefore, when a customer sees incorrect product photos or descriptions or receives the wrong product, it’s hard to rebuild that trust. Taking this into consideration, the PIM software plays an important role in cross-border eCommerce, ensuring that all product information is accurate, unified, and suited to meet the specific requirements of the target market. By leveraging the capabilities of PIM software, businesses can automate the management of product data across multiple channels and languages, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies during global expansion.