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The popularity of PIM systems is growing, not least thanks to the rapid growth of e-commerce and social media. The desired products are increasingly ordered by end customers via online shops or marketplaces. For end customers to find a product at all and decide to buy it, the information about this product should be clearly structured, qualitative and complete. According to research by Sterling Commerce in 2007, product information is the most important factor when making an online purchase – 81% of online shoppers rated this factor as "very important".
The “pressure” for quality product information is passed on from the end customer to the retailers, then to the wholesalers and finally to the manufacturer, because the following expects better information from the aforementioned.
So it is the manufacturer who is confronted most with the requirement for quality product information and should be the first to take care of it.
A PIM system is responsible for the aggregation, processing and dissemination of product data. It helps to accelerate the associated work processes and, where possible, automate them. The cooperation between colleagues who prepare the product data (technical specifications, marketing information, product images, etc.) is systematized and better organized. After all the product information has been prepared, it can be distributed via various marketing and sales channels, in the best case automatically.
Product information management systems can be used by 3 large user groups:
Even if the common goal of all is to increase the quality of the product information and to improve the completeness of the data, each user will also pursue his own specific goals. Internet enables retailers and wholesalers to offer their customers many more products and thus implement a so-called long-tail strategy. Not thousands, but tens, or even hundreds of thousands of products can be included in the range and offered to customers. A PIM system can connect to retailers' online shops and / or marketplaces so that the product information is automatically published and updated there.
There are also many reasons for manufacturers to use a PIM system.
Nobody knows their own product better than the manufacturer, it is impossible for retailers to describe the product better. And the better a product is described, the more sales will be achieved. The manufacturers, therefore, have a very specific interest in supplying their own trading partners with high-quality product information.
Many manufacturer’s departments can use a PIM system:
- Departments of Research & Development can use a PIM system to save CAD / CAM drawings technical information and technical documentation.
- Marketing and Sales add the marketing information, product images, and search engine optimized product descriptions that enable the customer to access information and improve the product experience. Potential customers should be able to find the product in Google without any problems.
- Customer Service uses a PIM to answer product-related customer questions better and faster and possibly capture customer feedback to ensure improvements to product information or the product itself.
Improving data quality is a very abstract goal. What does it mean in concrete terms for a manufacturer? The quality is improved by the structuring and standardization of all existing product information. Which attributes are mandatory for which product types and which are voluntary is defined. Each product is only recorded once, and everyone who works on enriching the data can work together directly on one system. The work processes can be automated, which ultimately means that a lot of working time can be saved and the error rate in the data is significantly reduced.
A special and still very important topic is the creation of product catalogues. A PIM system enables acceleration, or even automation, in the creation of print and electronic catalogues. Some PIM systems can be connected to Adobe InDesign, the others have an integrated function for creating a print catalog.
A manufacturer usually has many trading partners, who should always have up-to-date product information. A PIM system can also take on this task. An integrated dealer portal enables dealers to log into the system and download the data they need.
Of course, not every manufacturer needs a PIM system. There should be sufficient reason to introduce a PIM system – above all, it should be profitable. If you are making 10 products, you probably don't need PIM, if there are over 100 you may benefit from using a PIM system.
The following factors indicate the need for a PIM system for a manufacturer:
- You have over 100 products.
- If your product data is quite complex, Excel may no longer be capable of managing it
- Translating the product data into more than 2 languages is already a complicated task that creates a certain workflow – a PIM system can control this workflow
- Product data is required / created by many colleagues
- The product data is entered into existing systems manually, sometimes incompletely and with errors
- You want to shorten your time-to-market for new products, because the preparation of the new product information is currently taking far too long
- You have a print catalog and this must be updated regularly
- You want to automatically provide your trading partners with product data.
For the majority of manufacturers, the use of a PIM system has become a must. Many problems related to product data can be solved using a PIM system. It saves costs and accelerates the introduction of new products to the market. The consistent, detailed and quality product information shines across all channels and increases the manufacturer's sales and improves brand equity. Not every manufacturer needs a PIM system, of course, and it should not be seen as the solution to all problems. The introduction of a PIM system is not cheap, so you should carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of its implementation for yourself.