All too often Product Managers fool themselves into thinking that more is better. Yes, sometimes this may be true, but when it comes to keeping track of both customers and product inventory, it turns out that using one database is the key to long term success…
How Things Can Get Out Of Hand
Although we often talk about this problem when it comes to launching new products, it turns out that it can also affect older products – it just sneaks up on them. In both cases, things start out ok and then take a turn for the worse.
When a company starts to sell a product, they always seem to start with an initial sales channel. Your product’s account manager and business development manager will be working hard to make this channel a success. In this modern age in which we are living, it can very well be an e-commerce channel right off the bat. Customers who purchase the product using this channel will provide the company with a great deal of information about themselves. This information will then be stored in the e-commerce channel’s systems and databases. This all seems like a standard part of any product manager’s product manager job description, right?
If the company chooses to expand this channel, for example adding a gift card program, this additional functionality may come with its own database for retaining information about the customers that interact with it. Now things are starting to get out of hand. Throw in some strategic management and you’ll quickly find yourself adding in-store purchase data collection and tracking systems and perhaps an inventory management system and you’ll discover that things have completely gotten out of hand.
Once product and customer information has been spread out among so many different systems, problems can start to show up such as products being out-of-stock but the ordering systems not showing that when customers place an order. Many companies try to overcome the limitations of this type of solution by having people manually type information that is in one system into the other systems; however, even under the best of situations there is a time lag here. That means that your product’s inventory levels can change and your potential customers won’t know about it until after they have placed their orders.
The Power Of One (Database)
So what’s a product manager to do? Good question. It turns out that the solution is easy to recognize, hard to implement. What a product manager needs to do is to move to using one single database to handle all of the information related to their product.
What you should be looking for is a single database that can hold all of the cross-channel sales data along with any inventory data that your company has on your product. By implementing a solution like this, product managers will be able to offer their customers a real-time order management solution along with an improved customer experience.
Once a single database view of your product has been put into place, you’ll be able to do things as a product manager that you were never able to do before. The first thing is that you’ll be able to engage in true cross-channel marketing and selling of your product: you’ll know what’s going on so you’ll be able to tell the correct story to the correct channel.
Next, you’ll be prepared to move into the m-commerce (mobile) space. Making it easier for your customers to both buy your product and check on the status of their orders. Finally, the customer’s buying experience will be improved because company staff will have access to all of the information about both a customer’s order and your product’s inventory that will be needed to answer any questions that come up.
What All Of This Means For You
Product managers know that for a product to be successful, they are going to have to develop multiple channels to sell it. Once this process starts, it can be all too easy to start to create multiple databases that don’t talk to each other.
The problem with this is that once you start to spread important customer and product data across multiple databases, it become almost impossible to get an accurate picture of how your product is doing. Product managers need to take the time and make the effort to consolidate all of these databases into a single database.
This single database will allow them to overcome the cross-channel inventory disparity that can hold back their cross-channel sales efforts. Making the effort will result in the creation of an even more successful product. Now that’s something that you can add to your product manager resume!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™
Question For You: Do you think that it is possible to use only one database from the beginning with a product?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I don’t care what kind of product you are in charge of right now, let’s play a game. You are now in charge of a product that all of us see every day: pay phones. What would you do to breathe new life into this dying product line?