PIM stands for Product Information Management. It is an extension of the e-commerce system that provides more convenient and faster control over all product data. The PIM system often coexists with other applications, such as inventory management systems, which also store other important product information data. To combine different product data from different systems, many companies decide to implement PIM integration to gain full control over their product data.
Reasons to choose the PIM system
Meeting at least one of the following criteria should be an impulse to take a closer look at PIM systems.
Many dynamically changing products:
The quantity of products is a relative concept and should be considered together with the complexity of the product. A signal to think about the integration of PIM systems can be a product catalog exceeding 1000-1500 SKUs of low complexity or 500 SKUs with a large number of variants, attributes, multimedia or connections with other products. In industries where the product offer of larger retail chains may exceed tens of thousands of SKUs, PIM class systems or highly modified ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are necessary.
The dynamics of changes in offers is also significant. Managing dynamically rotating products definitely consumes more time and resources. The frequency of modification of the range depends largely on the company's strategy, but there are industries in which you need to change the offer even several times a year.
Product complexity and more details
Customer requirements are increasing - when we browse our catalog - the name, short description and one photo of the product will no longer be sufficient. Manufacturers and sellers are more likely to provide additional information, such as technical specifications, various types of related accessories, spare parts, or similar products. The total number of elements describing the product can reach up to several hundred attributes. These data are usually categorized for specific product groups and more often translated into several languages. The costs of processing such complex products in standard database systems or in a spreadsheet are significantly increased. PIM class systems allow more efficient methods for classifying and editing such products.
Basic tools are also much less effective when several people work on product information simultaneously. Medium and large enterprises form entire teams responsible for product information management. It is often required to define different levels of permission to manage selected product groups and limit access to sensitive data. In addition, you may also need access to data from external locations.
Most PIM systems have tools to improve and maintain high quality product information. The standard is to register who made the change and when and which attribute was edited. Another feature can be the use of advanced rules to validate descriptions, the ability to set appropriate statuses, or the process of engaging specific users in creating a description, reviewing it, approving and publishing in the final result.
Multiple data sources
Manual import of data for new products or their updating with a frequency less than once a week, using one of the popular formats (e.g. CSV file) requires a lot of work, but they can be implemented within the allowed time. The problem occurs when there is a need to provide a higher frequency import and if there are more data sources (e.g. data received directly from suppliers). If the data from each source has a different format, additional mapping is necessary. In this situation, the automation offered by PIM systems is strongly recommended (e.g. in the form of API).
Various customer segments and communication channels
A very similar need arises at the other end of the supply chain. A company that provides many customer segments, each of which has access to a different set of products and different details for their description, must also think about automation in the field of data exchange. Increasingly, business partners require data that complies with industry classification standards.
Published materials often also differ due to the communication channel. The more such channels (B2C and B2B platforms, mobile applications, social media, printed materials, labels in stationary stores, etc.), the greater the likelihood that different output formats and interfaces must be supported. Their manual operation significantly extends the process of introducing new products to the market and can be a source of many mistakes and additional costs.
For companies providing product information in many languages, the PIM system is no longer an option but a necessity. Content localization requires solid support from the right tools. It is not just about translating descriptions and attributes - but it is often about storing separate multimedia collections, such as: photos of the products themselves, their packaging, instructions, promotional films, advertising materials, etc. Undoubtedly, the PIM system is a dedicated solution.
Effects of PIM integration
Central Product Information Management and easiness of integration
Lack of effective product management is a common problem. A situation in which a company uses several IT solutions to run a business leads to a moment when it is difficult to decide how to manage products. This often leads to one of two situations. First, product information is partially reproduced in many systems. The second is when inefficient adjustments are made in the form of spreadsheets with information.
Often, this process becomes very complex, which increases the cost of the service and significantly extends the time from starting work to the final result.
PIM integration takes place at two levels - from the repository to external channels and from suppliers to the repository. Thanks to centralized Product Information Management, importing and exporting data becomes much simpler because it includes coherent mechanisms - it is much easier to control them.
This approach also makes it possible to translate data from suppliers. If the import of information from other systems is correctly built, the products will receive mapped attributes and will go to the appropriate category, which will simplify later work.
Increased conversion rate
Higher quality and more comprehensive product data, including "emotional" information, convince customers to buy much faster. When matched to the channel, it also increases the conversion rate.
Decreased amount of returns
Incomplete and incorrect product information is a major factor of return - if customers don't get what they think they bought, they'll definitely return it. As a result, it will cost you money and potential future sales. PIM helps reduce the return rate by eliminating manual data errors, highlighting incomplete product information and implementing validation processes to ensure that product information is always complete and accurate.
Implementation of new technologies and personalization
The B2B and B2C markets are undergoing major changes: voice-commerce, chatbots, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent personalization. What connects these new technologies is the huge demand for a large amount of structured data. PIM centralizes and organizes product data, thanks to which they are immediately available for new technologies, while significantly simplifying the process of implementing sales and marketing initiatives.
Increased team productivity
Product marketing teams are rewarded for the ability to create and maintain suggestive product descriptions that turn viewers into buyers. However, without PIM, employees spend most of their time switching between multiple applications and platforms and performing manual, tedious and repetitive tasks in a desperate attempt to keep up with constantly changing specifications and models in many regions and channels.
PIM automates most tasks that previously had to be done manually. As a result, teams can do their work more efficiently, focusing on what is important (e.g., creating a dynamic catalog well suited to organizing promotional events or seasonal sales).
Another thing that PIM automates is the import of raw product data from source systems and the export of extended data to each channel. The marketing team only needs to create product descriptions that will interest a potential customer.
PIM can also transform the complex and chaotic process of completing product data through a built-in workflow that guides each team member through all stages of the process. This ensures greater efficiency and allows for better cooperation between teams and departments.
Popular PIM systems and their main features
- Akeneo - an open source software platform for efficient solutions of multi-channel needs. Based on the Symfony 2 framework, it is easy to integrate and configure. Akeneo allows you to import information from any source, and then organize and export it to the selected channel. It allows you to define data attributes, translate information into different languages, fill in product cards, add multimedia files, track any changes made to product history. Akeneo is offered in three versions: Community, which is free, Enterprise and Cloud, which are subscription-based.
- Pimcore - a consolidated, digital, open source enterprise platform covering Product Information Management (PIM), Master Data Management (MDM), Digital Asset Management (DAM) and eCommerce. Currently, it is used by over 80,000 companies in 56 countries. Pimcore is available in one edition. Functional areas can be activated or deactivated separately. Pimcore is free and available under the Open Source GPLv3 license and the proprietary PEL (Pimcore Enterprise License). The latter allows you to use professional Pimcore services. The target group are rather larger companies looking for a custom PIM solution.
- Salsify - a cloud-based PIM software platform that provides access to the same data in real time from anywhere in the world to every user in the entire organization. Salsify easily integrates with all major ERP, DAM and e-commerce platforms. It is a good choice for large teams with a lot of changing product data due to its flexible permissions, collaboration tools and audit history capabilities. Salsify is available at custom package prices based on the required capabilities and expected way of using the platform.
- inRiver - PIM software that simplifies product information management, helping B2C and B2B marketers create great product stories and provide optimal customer service. InRiver allows you to download information only over the Internet, such as customer ratings, reviews, comments and behaviors, as well as use them in other areas of retail business.
- Oracle - The Oracle PIM solution provides clients with tools to centralize all product information around the world. Creates a central repository of all relevant product data, including both supplier information and location or channel information. Oracle is easily scalable and allows secure sharing of product information with partners and team members.
- Agility Multichannel - is a user-friendly PIM software solution that uses the capabilities of PIM and MDM. Enabling the user to manage all products and related data through one central repository supporting multi-channel data acquisition and delivery. Agility is suitable for both B2C and B2B retailers who need a customizable data management solution. Those who require high visibility of financial results and data would also benefit from Agility Multichannel.
- EnterWorks - is a PIM and MDM platform that allows the user to provide diverse experiences throughout the entire content value chain. It provides a single view of the content through the convergence of product data dynamically linked to supply and demand chains. It helps in easy management of digital resources, such as multimedia, images, documents. It allows the user to export data and publish on e-commerce websites, online and printed catalogs, business applications, data pools. It also offers portal applications for salespeople, suppliers, sales team members, customer service representatives and other employees.
- Riversand - offers a PIM solution that allows the user to go beyond the basics of product information management. Riversand can handle millions of products and thousands of attributes, allowing retailers of all sizes to benefit from this platform. It allows the user to develop highly cooperative and efficient digital supply chains, reduce manual processes, move products to the market faster and provide a unique customer experience.
Depending on the situation in the company, Product Information Management can be simple or very complicated. In the latter case, it is worth considering the implementation of PIM. As a result, it reduces costs, speeds up the product publication process, and significantly helps control data consistency across channels.