What is PIM (Product Information Management), its benefits, and how to select best PIM software for eCommerce & Retail?
Table of Content
c. PIM for CPG
Product Information Management (PIM) has become a critical element of modern enterprise data management in almost every industry. But, selecting the right PIM solution can be a challenging task. This guide helps explore the key elements you should consider while choosing the PIM software for your business. It also provides directions on PIM components, key features, business benefits, vendor evaluation, industry-wise PIM usage, and best practices. Let’s explore.
2. History of Product Information Management (PIM)
Product information management has its roots in the early days of e-commerce, when organizations began to realize the importance of providing accurate and detailed product information to their customers. In the early 2000s, PIM emerged as a discipline. PIM software came to the fore to help manage and distribute product data accurately across multiple channels and platforms.
The earlier PIM solutions were basic and focused on providing a centralized repository for product information. These solutions were primarily used by large enterprises with complex product catalogs and distribution channels.
In the mid-2000s, as e-commerce continued to spread its wings, PIM solutions began to evolve to meet the changing needs of businesses. These solutions became more capable, with the ability to manage product data across multiple languages, currencies, and channels.
Mobile and social media rise around 2010 further spurred the development of PIM solutions. As brands realized the necessity of seamless customer experience across multiple touchpoints, PIM solutions became cardinal for managing product data across multiple channels and devices.
Today, PIM solutions are now a critical component of digital commerce business. They enable organizations to manage and distribute product information across multiple channels, including websites, mobile apps, social media platforms, and marketplaces. Using advanced AI/ML, they also provide valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling organizations to optimize their product offerings and personalize the customer experience.
3. Understanding PIM
3.1 What is Product Information Management (PIM)?
Product Information Management (PIM) refers to the process and technology applied to centralize and manage all the information related to products, including descriptions, images, specifications, pricing, and other relevant data.
According to Wikipedia, product information management (PIM) is the process of managing all the information required to market and sell products through distribution channels. This product data is created by an internal organization to support a multichannel marketing strategy.
A PIM system serves as a centralized hub for product information, providing a single source of truth for all product-related data. It enables organizations to create, manage, and distribute consistent and accurate product information across multiple channels, such as e-commerce websites, marketplaces, mobile applications, print catalogs, and other sales channels.
PIM solutions typically include data modeling, data enrichment, workflow management, collaboration tools, and integration capabilities with diverse systems.
In essence, PIM helps organizations ensure that their product data is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date, improving operational efficiency, reducing errors and discrepancies, and enhancing the customer experience.
3.2 Why is PIM Important?
Product Information Management is important because it helps businesses effectively manage and maintain accurate, complete, and consistent product information across all channels, ultimately leading to better customer experiences and increased sales.
One specific example of why PIM is important is in the case of an online retailer selling a wide range of electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Each device has a wide range of features and specifications that must be accurate and consistent across all sales channels, including the company’s website, social media pages, and third-party marketplaces.
As you can see, using a PIM system can provide significant benefits for the online retailer, such as increased data accuracy and consistency, improved efficiency, enhanced customer experience, improved search engine visibility, increased sales, and reduced likelihood of returns and complaints.
Managing all this product information can quickly become a daunting task. Product data might be stored in various spreadsheets, databases, and content management systems, making it challenging to ensure that all information is up-to-date and consistent across all channels. It can lead to inconsistent and inaccurate product information across channels.
All product data is stored in a centralized location, making it easy to manage and update as necessary. Product managers can add new products, update existing product information, and ensure all product data is accurate and complete. It helps avoid confusion or discrepancies in product information that could negatively impact sales and customer satisfaction.
3.3 What are the Different Components of a PIM System?
Different components of a PIM system include product data, such as descriptions, specifications, images, videos, and pricing. Here is the classification of PIM anatomy:
- Product Data: This is the core component of PIM. It includes all the information about a product, such as its name, description, attributes, SKUs, and pricing.
- Data Sources: Receive product data from multiple sources, including internal systems (such as ERP, CRM, and PLM systems) and external sources (such as suppliers, distributors, and marketplaces).
- Data Mapping: Use data mapping to transform and standardize product data from various sources into a consistent format across all channels.
- Data Enrichment: Enable product data enrichment, which involves adding or enhancing product information with additional attributes, images, videos, and other rich media.
- Data Governance: Provide data governance capabilities to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and consistency of product data across all channels.
- Data Syndication: Simplify product data syndication, which involves distributing product data to multiple sales channels, such as e-commerce websites, marketplaces, and social media platforms.
- Workflow Management: Deliver workflow management capabilities to streamline the product data creation, review, and approval process.
- Analytics and Reporting: Provide analytics and reporting features to track product performance, identify trends, and optimize product data for better sales and marketing results.
- Integration: Easily integrate with other systems, such as e-commerce platforms, marketing automation tools, and ERP systems, to provide a seamless product data management experience.
3.4 How does a PIM System Work?
Collect and Normalize Data: The PIM system collects product data from various sources such as ERP, PLM, and other systems to collect all product-related data in one place. It includes product descriptions, images, attributes, specifications, and pricing.
Manage and Streamline: It then manages the data by creating a single source of truth for all product-related information. It ensures data quality and consistency across all sales channels, ensuring customers receive accurate product information.
Enrich and Standardize Data: In this stage, it enriches the data by adding additional attributes such as product descriptions, specifications, images, and videos. This includes tasks such as translating product information into multiple languages, adding marketing copy, and ensuring that all product information is accurate and up-to-date.
Syndicate and Distribute Data: It enables you to distribute product data to various sales channels, including e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, and social media channels. The system can also format the data to match the requirements of each channel, ensuring that the data is consistent and accurate across all channels.
4. What Business Problems Does a PIM Software Solve?
Product Information Management software solves several common problems organizations face while managing product data. Here are some of the key pain points that PIM software can solve:
- Centralize Product Information: Allows to create a single source of truth for all product information, making it easier to manage and distribute product data across multiple channels.
- Improve Data Quality: Helps maintain consistent and accurate product information across all channels, reducing errors and discrepancies.
- Faster Time-to-Market: Speed up the process of launching new products and updating existing ones, reducing time-to-market, and increasing revenue.
- Increase Business Sales: Provide rich and consistent product information across all channels that helps improve the customer experience and increase sales.
- Better Operational Efficiency: Streamline product information management processes, thus reducing the time and resources required to manage product data.
- Enhance Collaboration: Enable collaboration between different teams involved in product information management, such as marketing, sales, and product development.
- Manage Multiple Sales Channels: Help manage product data across all sales channels, ensuring consistency and accuracy across all channels.
- Improve Customer Experience: Enhance customer experience and build trust and loyalty with consistent and accurate product information across all channels.
4.1 PIM Benefits to Different Departments
PIM’s benefits extend to various departments across the organization.
- Executive Management
PIM software provides real-time data and analytics to help executive management make informed decisions about product strategies, marketing campaigns, and business operations. With a centralized product database, executives can ensure that their teams have access to accurate and up-to-date product information.
- Product Management
Product management teams can use PIM software to manage product data and optimize product offerings. For example, they can create product hierarchies, attribute structures, and workflows that improve product data accuracy and consistency. PIM also helps product managers launch new products quickly and easily.
PIM software enables marketing teams to create, distribute, and reuse compelling and rich product content for faster marketing execution. It helps them manage diverse digital assets and other rich media assets that contribute to brand success. In addition, marketing teams can also personalize and localize product content to specific channels, markets, and audiences, for more targeted and effective marketing campaigns.
PIM software helps sales teams access accurate and comprehensive product information that they can use to close deals more effectively. With PIM, sales teams can access product catalogs, pricing information, and other product-related data that help them provide customers with the information they need to make informed purchase decisions.
E-commerce teams rely on accurate and consistent product information to drive online sales. PIM software ensures that the product information displayed on e-commerce websites is always accurate and updated, including stock availability. It also enables them to manage product catalogs, create product bundles and kits, and provide customers with detailed product information that drives purchase decisions.
PIM software provides IT teams with a centralized system for managing product information. As a result, they can ensure data quality, improve data governance, and reduce the risk of data errors that can impact business operations. PIM can also handle large volumes of data and accommodate new product data, features, and functionalities, allowing IT teams to scale their operations in record time.
5. PIM Usages Across Different Industries
Product Information Management is a critical component, and it can benefit businesses across a wide range of industries. Here is how PIM can work for different industry verticals:
5.1 PIM for Retail
In retail, product managers have to manage and distribute accurate and consistent product information across multiple channels, such as e-commerce websites, marketplaces, and physical stores. They also have to speed up the process of launching new products, improving time-to-market and sales.
Without a PIM system, retailers may face daunting challenges, such as inefficient data management, inconsistent product descriptions, and incomplete product data. These issues can lead to customer confusion, mistrust, and lost sales. Furthermore, the lack of a PIM system can make it extremely difficult for retailers to keep up with the constant changes in the market, such as new product launches and updates, which can result in missed opportunities and decreased revenue.
PIM software helps retailers manage product information across multiple channels, including e-commerce websites, marketplaces, social media platforms, and in-store displays. By maintaining accurate and consistent product information, PIM helps retailers improve the customer experience and increase sales. PIM enables retailers to provide accurate and comprehensive product information to stay competitive and provide a seamless, omnichannel customer experience.
5.2 PIM for Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry has to manage product information across complex and evolving product lines, enabling them to optimize their product offerings and reduce errors and discrepancies.
Manufacturers that do not have PIM software can face challenges in managing complex product information, such as product specifications, part numbers, and manufacturing instructions, across multiple departments and production facilities. Without a centralized system, manufacturers may struggle to maintain data accuracy and consistency, leading to errors and delays in production.
PIM software helps manufacturers manage product information across multiple departments and production facilities, such as product specifications, part numbers, and manufacturing instructions. It helps enhance every aspect of the customer buying journey, from improving product data and catalog management to enabling multichannel sales and personalization. Manufacturers can provide customers with a seamless buying experience using PIM software, increasing satisfaction, and driving business growth.
Read PIM Case Study: Know How Lighting Manufacturer Improves Operational Performance With Pimcore PIM
5.3 PIM for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG)
In the CPG industry, PIM can help businesses to manage and distribute product data across multiple channels, such as retailers, distributors, and e-commerce websites, enabling them to reach a wider audience and increase sales.
Consumer goods manufacturers without PIM software can face challenges in managing product information, such as product specifications, ingredients, and packaging, across multiple departments and production facilities. Without a centralized system for collecting product information, consumer goods manufacturers may struggle to maintain data accuracy and consistency, leading to labeling, packaging, and shipping errors. So, it can delay the product data creation process, and increase data errors, thus impacting sales.
With PIM, CPG companies can manage all product information in a centralized location, providing accurate and consistent information to all stakeholders, from suppliers to distributors. PIM delivers significant value by streamlining supply chain operations, improving customer experience, increasing sales and revenue, enabling faster time-to-market, and facilitating better data management. This helps reduce errors and delays and builds trust and confidence in the brand, leading to increased sales and customer loyalty. PIM also enables wholesalers and distributors to manage product information and distribute it to retailers and consumers.
Read PIM Case Study: Know How GPS Solves Multi-Lingual Product Data Challenges With Pimcore PIM
5.4 PIM for Automotive Industry
In the automotive industry, managing complex and evolving product data, such as vehicle specifications, pricing, and promotions, is difficult. With new variants, it gets difficult day-by-day to streamline their operations and improve the customer experience.
Automotive manufacturers that do not have PIM software can face challenges in managing complex product information, such as vehicle specifications, accessories, and part numbers, across multiple departments and production facilities. Without a centralized system for managing product information, automotive manufacturers may struggle to maintain data accuracy and consistency, leading to errors and delays in production.
PIM software offers significant advantages for the automotive industry as a whole. PIM facilitates product data management across various systems and departments by providing a centralized product database, reducing the risk of errors and data inconsistencies. This results in a more efficient and agile supply chain, enabling auto industry manufacturers to respond quickly to market changes and customer demands. Furthermore, PIM’s ability to streamline the product data creation process saves time and resources, enabling them to bring new products to market faster and more efficiently.
5.5 PIM for Healthcare Industry
In the healthcare industry, maintaining accurate and consistent product information for medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and other healthcare products is critical and urgent. In addition, it has a direct link to patient improvement outcomes and must comply with regulatory requirements.
Healthcare providers that do not have PIM software can face challenges in managing product information, such as medical device specifications and drug interactions, accurately and efficiently. Without a centralized system for managing product information, healthcare providers may struggle to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, leading to potential risks to patient safety.
The most significant advantage of PIM software is its ability to maintain a centralized product database. By consolidating information about medical devices, drugs, and other healthcare products in a single location, PIM streamlines the management of this critical data. This not only saves healthcare providers time and effort but also ensures compliance with regulatory requirements. Moreover, PIM software plays a crucial role in improving patient safety. With the ability to track and monitor drug interactions, medical device specifications, and other product information, healthcare providers can make more informed decisions about patient care. It reduces the risk of adverse events and improves patient outcomes.
6. How to Select a PIM Solution?
Choosing the right PIM software is a complex process that requires careful consideration of several factors. Here are key questions that you should find answers:
Step 1: Start by asking what PIM is and why it’s crucial for your business.
Get an overview of the features and benefits of PIM software. You must understand its business implication and the potential return on investment (ROI) of implementing PIM software. It would help if you prepared your questions on factors such as the impact on operational efficiency, data quality, cost, and customer experience.
Step 2: Identify and assess the business needs that your PIM software needs to meet.
During this process, you must keep in mind the key pain point you want to solve, the types of products you sell, SKUs and complexity of the product data, the platforms/channels through which you sell, the market in which you operate (local or global), and who are your primary PIM users.
Step 3: Prepare a checklist of core PIM features that are a must for your business.
Create a list of PIM features based on your business needs assessment. You can divide your checklist into two parts: core features that you want in the initial stage and advanced features that will be critical in the long-run PIM strategy. For example, check the below table.
|Data Loading||Data Modeling||Product data
|Workflow Management||Hierarchy management||Language Translation||Product data syndication|
|Data Stewardship||Data Integration||Price Management||Product variant management|
|DAM||Performance & Scalability||DAM with AI/ML||Web to Print
|Multichannel publishing||Reporting, and analytics||Localization|
Step 4: Find and evaluate different PIM vendors that meet your defined business requirement.
You should start researching different PIM vendors based on criteria such as vendor reputation, the technology used, implementation timeline and cost, licensing model, and scalability.
|PIM Vendors||Profile||Technology||Price||Deployment Option|
|Open Source||Community Edition: Free
Growth Edition: $25,000/Year
Enterprise Edition: On Request
|Community Edition: On-premises
Growth Edition: Multitenant SaaS
Enterprise Edition: Multitenant SaaS and PaaS.
No free version
Get Custom Quote
SaaS solution hosted on AWS, supporting single tenant and multitenant
Customer/partner-hosted (AWS and Microsoft Azure)
|Proprietary||No free version
Get Custom Quote
|SaaS deployment private/customer cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure
|Proprietary||No free version||Multitenant SaaS Solution on Microsoft Azure platform|
|Open Source||Community Edition: FREE
Cloud Edition: Get Quote
Enterprise Edition: Get Quote
|On-premises, free and open source on any hosting environment
All public/private cloud platforms
Enterprise Edition on any hosting environment
Single-tenant SaaS on AWS
|Proprietary||No free version
Get Custom Quote
|Multitenant SaaS platform, hosted on AWS|
|Stibo Systems||Founder: 1976
|Proprietary||No free version
Get Custom Quote
|Cloud-based SaaS service
Self-hosted (on-premises) model
Self-hosted in a private cloud
|Proprietary||No free version
Get Custom Quote
|Cloud-native SaaS data platform on Microsoft Azure
Multitenant public cloud options
If you need a full comparison of different PIM solutions, contact our PIM experts.
Step 5: Go through case studies similar to your industry that have successfully implemented PIM software.
While analyzing the different case studies, check how different brands have solved their business challenges and the benefits they have achieved.
Step 6: Get to know the complete implementation process of your selected PIM software.
You must get complete clarity around the PIM implementation process, including best practices, potential challenges, and guidance on integrating the PIM solution with your other business systems. You must ask about the expert PIM Implementation partner that can serve you better.
7. PIM Best Practices for Successful Implementation
- Define clear objectives and goals: Before implementing any PIM solution, you must define your clear objectives and plans for the project. It will ensure everyone involved in the project is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
- Start small: The right approach is to start small when implementing PIM. For example, you should focus on a specific product category or product line rather than trying to implement PIM for all products at once. This approach can reduce complexity and minimize the risk of failure.
- Align different stakeholders: Involve all relevant stakeholders, such as product managers, marketers, and IT personnel, in the PIM implementation process. This will ensure that everyone is aware of the goals and benefits of the project and can provide input and feedback.
- Define a clear data model: A well-defined data model is critical to ensure product information is structured, consistent, and accurate. It is important to identify the key attributes that define a product and how they relate to each other.
- Standardize data: Homogenizing data is critical for successful PIM implementation. This means defining a standard format for product information, such as product names, descriptions, and attributes. Standardized data enhances consistency and accuracy across all channels.
- Implement data governance: A well-defined policies and procedures help ensure data quality and consistency. This includes defining data ownership, establishing data validation processes, and enforcing data quality standards.
- Provide user training and support: Make sure you provide training and support for users of the PIM system to ensure that they can use it effectively and efficiently.
- Develop a change management plan: PIM projects often involve significant changes to an enterprise’s data management processes. A change management plan can safeguard the project is successfully implemented, including stakeholder training and support, communication plans, and feedback mechanisms.
- Continuously improve: PIM is an ongoing process, and it is always beneficial to constantly monitor and improve product data quality. Regular data audits and user feedback can help identify improvement areas.
8. Future Prospect: Key Factors Driving the PIM Demand
In the future, PIM software will likely become even more critical for enterprises as the volume and complexity of product data continue to grow. Here are the main contributors:
- Increased demand for personalized experiences: As consumers expect more personalized experiences, organizations must manage an expanding volume of product data, including product images, videos, and customer reviews. PIM software will become more critical for enterprises in managing this data and delivering personalized customer experiences.
- Integration with emerging technologies: Digital ecosystem will continue to evolve with emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT). These technologies generate large amounts of data that need to be managed and analyzed, and PIM software can help enterprises manage this data effectively.
- Growth of unified commerce: The evolution of unified commerce (interconnected systems of e-commerce, mobile commerce, customer relationship management, and more) will surely increase to meet the demand for personalized omnichannel experiences. So, brands must manage product data across multiple channels and analyze data to get in-depth insights into customers’ preferences and desires. PIM software can help enterprises manage this data efficiently and deliver a consistent omnichannel customer experience in unified commerce.
- Increased focus on data privacy and security: As data privacy and security become increasingly important for enterprises, PIM software will become more critical in managing and securing product data. PIM software can help enterprises ensure their product data is accurate, consistent, and secure, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security threats.
So, many factors have led us to believe PIM is crucial for every digital business. There are ample convincing reasons to implement a PIM solution, but hardly any reason not to use this solution. From our perspective, PIM software is mature enough now and has become a critical part of the growing digital landscape, helping organizations keep pace with changing consumer trends.
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