Today, a customer’s path to purchase is a lot longer than just a quick trip to the corner store. It involves researching products, socializing purchase decisions and Jeff Behn Stibo Systemsshopping across multiple channels. While this new path is more viable, it creates even more challenges and opportunities for manufacturers.

Consumer shopping patterns have evolved greatly, largely because consumers have access to rich resources and information at the swipe of their fingertips. A consumer’s path to purchase may start in many places, however, aligning the path to purchase with the buying behavior of a consumer—prior to purchase, during purchase and post purchase—is a holistic process. By looking at each stage as a unique opportunity, refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers can attain a complete view of where they are in the buying journey. This insight can be used to drive horizontal integration, tightly align sales and marketing and close out capability gaps that could be exposed to the competition.

Having a common view of the market across each stage of a consumer’s path to purchase unlocks the power to compete and win in a dynamic and fluid market. Yet, it also drives the need for more accurate, reliable and consistent nutrition and product information in order to provide consumers with a seamless experience across the store, mobile and web/e-commerce channels. In order to achieve this, frozen food manufacturers need a common foundation that helps them look at the marketplace through the same lens.

Until recently, the ability to see the consumer as they travel along the path to purchase was difficult, as critical customer information was often housed in individual data silos. This means that organizations could not interact with customers across different functions and buying stages.

Managing the information supply chain
Product information, along with marketing content, plays a significant role in the purchasing process. Content drives initial awareness at every stage in a customer’s path to purchase—from initial discovery all the way to post purchase. By seeking product information at multiple touch points, consumers have empowered themselves to make more informed purchase decisions.

Today, refrigerated and frozen foods companies are increasingly realizing that point solutions, such as product life-cycle management (PLM), cannot adequately address underlying master data problems.  These enterprise systems are capable of managing nutrition and product information, but for most organizations, PLM and other point solutions do not provide consolidated and concise product information. Each system points to a different record of the product within its database, and each of these duplicated product records evolve independently. This leads to discrepancies that can cause confusion, errors, logistical problems, compliance issues, fines and additional costs.

As a result, producers of food products are turning to solutions such as master data management (MDM) to manage the complex problem of acquiring, managing, publishing and sharing all product, customer, supplier, asset and location data. This is managed within the enterprise, across the supply chain and at every stage of a product’s lifecycle.

By using an MDM solution, organizations can streamline the process of collecting all information from appropriate departments, centrally cleanse and manage that information and feed it to other business systems. This enables refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers to publish more accurate information to all online and offline channels more quickly and with increased reliability to help guide consumers throughout their buying journeys. At the same time, business users are provided with the accurate and consistent product information they need when they need it.

Taping into today’s empowered consumer
Retaining and adding customers may be key to driving revenue, but it is also one of the biggest challenges. Food and beverage executives must recognize and respond to customer needs and trends while synchronizing information across all sales channels and adhering to regional packaging and labeling requirements. To overcome these challenges, greater insight into consumer demand, buying habits, product sources and nutrition and product information is required. Gaining customer loyalty starts with giving consumers greater visibility into product origin and ingredients. Therefore, taking the time to develop a comprehensive strategy for nutrition and ingredient product management can also help move an organization toward achieving omni-channel success. Using an MDM solution, food manufacturers can link product, supplier and customer information through an integrated process, and gain the insights they need to make better decisions and take faster action to drive customer loyalty.

Aligning the buying habits of consumers and mapping them to where they are in the buying cycle has never been more important. Refrigerated and frozen food manufacturers understand this and are making great efforts to ensure nutrition and product information is accurate, up-to-date and synchronized across all online and offline channels, regions and channel partners. In today’s digital environment, consumers are accessing correct nutrition and product information to create their shopping lists and compare brands on the fly. Food and beverage brands understand this and are turning to MDM solutions to help them deliver a consistent experience across all channels and encourage consumers to purchase their products time and time again.