Table of Contents
- PIM definition
- Who needs Product Information Management (PIM)?
- Product Information Management (PIM) vs Product Experience Management (PXM)
- What kind of product information can be managed?
- Why do I need Product Information Management (PIM)?
- What is a PIM System (PIM Software)?
- What are the main PIM benefits?
With the development of omnichannels and marketplaces the problem of gathering and filling out product data and managing content has become more acute. Merchandisers have to hire a large number of content managers to set up new assortments, and structure the available information to ensure that everything is where it is needed. Because of this, working with product data is costly, time-consuming, and poorly monitored. Automating these processes within a Product Information Management (PIM) could solve many problems. So what does PIM stand for?
PIM (product information management) is the process of receiving, filing, updating, enriching, and providing product data. The concept of product information management appeared in the early 1990s when printed catalogs played a much larger role than they do today. Preparing catalogs took a lot of time. Yet, in some sectors, like retail, PIM is still less used.
A product can have many different attributes. These include prices, technical specifications, marketing descriptions, color, QR-code, photos, and more. Some attributes must appear in one channel, others in another. The attribute values must be edited, translated into multiple languages, and transferred to websites, online stores, marketplaces, and other sales channels, taking into account various requirements.
Gathering, enriching, translating, and syndicating product information is a time-consuming process that requires a large number of actions and involves much effort from your team. Trade and manufacturing companies constantly expand, changing their assortment and product bases. As a rule, some product data is maintained in ERP, everything else that doesn’t fit into the ERP is stored in different files across the company and among various employees. Finding specific data for promotions and sales may require major effort. You will also have to ensure that the version you selected is the last one.
A buyer needs top-quality photos, detailed technical descriptions and characteristics, manuals, certificates, and so on. In most cases, the product descriptions should be full, concise, and error-free.
In addition, different software may store different information about a product – you may use ERP software, MS Excel, MS Word, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, cloud file storages, Internal Network, etc. There is usually no centralized storage nor a data management tool. You have to look up and change the information on one product repeatedly, in different places. And if you multiply that by the number of departments working on your product data the result is chaos. And this is where PIM comes in handy – it can collect product data in one place from all sources, aggregate, systematize, translate and provide management capabilities.
More often than not, retailers use standard enterprise programs - like ERP software and/or Excel, fine-tuning them for PIM functions. Others create self-written systems. Each of these methods has its limitations, but a specialized tool is always better than a general-purpose one.
So, proper product information management is possible only through the use of an appropriate tool, a PIM system. PIM systems can solve all problems and tasks with product data management. They help gather, enrich, translate, and syndicate product information in a time-optimized manner. We discuss PIM systems in more detail below.
The need to implement Product Information Management depends primarily on the number of product assortments you have and the complexity of information in the composition thereof. An organized PIM may make sense for a manufacturer who sells more than 100 SKUs and for a retailer selling more than a 1000 Such users typically need multifunctional programs that can solve the problems of managing a large amount of fast-changing product data.
In general, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers need PIM to prepare their own top quality product data and “deliver” it to their customers. For each of them, PIM solves specific problems. As their activity is focused on different processes and goals, the goal of using PIM changes depending on its position on the supply chain.
For manufacturers, PIM helps with printed and online catalog creation. With the help of product catalogs, manufacturers achieve marketing goals: increase customer awareness of their activities, gain the loyalty of the target audience, and warm-up potential customers. It can be said that this is the thread that connects the manufacturer with the customer base. Product Information Management helps to gather all the information about products to structure and use it.
For wholesalers, PIM helps to aggregate and organize data from different suppliers. It also provides their clients with top quality product information. Product Information Management speeds up the time to process product information and helps wholesalers to get their products quickly onto the web (online stores).
For retailers, PIM also helps to aggregate and organize data from different suppliers as well as to prepare product data for their online stores and various marketplaces. As a retailer may have hundreds or thousands of different products and categories, it is difficult to manage them properly and quickly. PIM helps to better organize the product related processes and solves all related problems and tasks reducing employee costs.
Product experience management (PXM) refers to the storage of marketing information about products with variations in their characteristics, taking account of the rules of external source publication, targeted audience segmentation, and positioning. PXM is critical to creating a brand personality, the right emotional connection with customers, and their unique brand experience.
Today's shoppers expect a comfortable, personalized shopping experience with an unlimited range of products and a user-friendly online store interface. In addition, they want uninterrupted product delivery. Shoppers expect the experience of a new product and brand interaction throughout the buying process. If you claim to be a successful and strong brand, you must meet and exceed these requirements.
Customers are more discerning now than ever before. They could browse your online store, spend hours analyzing each product, and not buy a thing. To help them make the right decision, provide them with accurate and valuable content, digital resources (photos, videos, etc.), and a user-friendly interface. Any small error in the product description or any other step of your customer journey could cost you a customer.
PXM and PIM are not the same. The PIM system provides all product content and remains the most important element and tool in product experience management practices, where special attention is paid to the interaction aspect. The PIM system is the foundation for PXM. PXM system in most cases always includes a DAM system, because advertising banners of the same advertising campaign can be published on different channels (websites, social network accounts, and in different formats).
In other words, the PIM system is what the business uses to describe products, services, etc., and PXM is how businesses provide the interactive experience with products and services. Both concepts are important and can be realized with a modern Product Information Management Software.
Product information management is all about managing product data. Data that is, directly and indirectly, related to the products may be stored and managed in a PIM software:
- Master data: names, titles, SKUs, MPNs, etc.
- Technical data (dimensions, materials, etc.)
- Product specifications
- Identification codes
- Marketing and technical descriptions
- Data about product variants
- Marketplace-specific (Amazon, Google, etc) data
- Prices for different customer groups
- Images, videos, logos, and other media data
- Stock data
- Customer testimonials
- Product documents (instructions, manuals, certificates, etc)
- Marketing and sales documents
- SEO-specific product data
This list can even be expanded. A modern PIM System enables you to store data of any kind. In AtroPIM, for example, you can configure new entities and create relations to other existing or custom entities.
The most important aspect of Product Information Management is that it solves the problem of poor product data quality. This takes a while and is a result of collaboration between internal or external teams or involved personnel. Different users may be willing to solve different problems within PIM. A dedicated system makes this possible.
A PIM software enables you to import and consolidate all the data from different sources on a single database thanks to its very powerful import functionality. Some software even enables the transformation of data on the fly and the application of certain quality checking rules.
This is relevant not only for manufacturers who manage their own product data but even more for distributors and retailers, who must adapt product information from different suppliers. Product data for import can be supplied in different formats and can be differently classified. In the worst case scenario, each supplier may use their own classification standard. You will have to standardize all the product information you got from different suppliers and sources.
In marketing, PIM helps manage promotions by enabling quick updates of the product information. Let’s say for example, a wine retailer with a product range of 10 thousand items wants to hold a Spanish wine festival. PIM makes it possible to quickly select all wine products related to Spain and add to them the information that this wine participates in the festival to attract more interest. You could also add a promotional picture to all appropriate products and you could define additional product groups within the selection of Spanish wine, write more targeted content, etc. It is the PIM system that helps you to prepare, organize and implement your marketing campaign.
With PIM software you can speed up your product data entry. For example, a new iPhone comes out and the content manager creates a master record for this product, describing several dozen characteristics. Yet, the product has variants, e.g. each variant has different color and RAM, all other characteristics are the same, the values for the same characteristics may be inherited by all variants from the master data record.
Product Information Management allows you to create a product description only once and use the same descriptions as many times as you wish. If you change something on the level of your parent product record, this change will be automatically transferred to all child product records. Firstly, this is several times faster than manually copying and secondly, it reduces the risk of error.
Product Information Management helps you to keep track of the product information quality. You can access overall statistics about the completeness of the product details in different languages. You can easily figure out which products have missing descriptions or photos and where the content manager needs to make an effort to improve the quality of the product description. Without an appropriate system, it is almost impossible to trace that some of the product descriptions are incomplete.
The system allows you to control the quality of content managers' work. In large companies, there may be up to 30 content managers. With so many subordinates, the manager will have difficulty keeping track of how many products each content manager has worked on. But with PIM, this is measurable and clear.
PIM system helps aggregate, store, augment, refine, translate and dedicate the product information for different channels and customer groups. All data entered through the PIM software can be used by different departments in your business, by partner businesses, and external users thus ensuring its uniformity. PIM software provides:
- Import of product information from any system or source and in any format
- Quality standards during onboarding of the new product information
- Accelerated product data entry
- Updating and automatic availability of product and merchandise data within different company departments
- A user-friendly interface for your specific use cases
- Single and painless addition of new products, product series, categories, and collections
- Availability in one place of all information about the product manufactured or sold by the companyThe ability to quickly provide all partners with product information updates
- Automatic publishing of product information to different sales channels when the assortment is updated or mistakes are corrected
Product Information Management has particular value in an omnichannel distribution approach. With the development of omnichannel, the use of PIM has become more and more relevant. When there are several storefronts (offline and online store, marketplace, mobile application), it becomes technically and physically very difficult to properly address product information for different channels ensuring that the customer gets the best possible product experience. You need a special system to help you to prepare and distribute such information. Each channel has its own requirements for the product data structure and volume, high-resolution product images, etc. A PIM system allows you to configure the rules of data output for each channel. This feature is especially important if you want to offer your products on different marketplaces. So a PIM system can be easily integrated with any third-party system to ensure full automatic data exchange.
Secondly, the general shortening of product life cycles has resulted in increasing product numbers. More and more products appear on the market and distributors and retailers need somehow to manage them. These businesses operate with hundreds of thousands of products, constantly adding new items to the assortment. Without a single system, it is very difficult to manage all this data. This is why large companies have entire departments with dozens of content managers. A PIM system can significantly improve the quality of their collaboration and as a result the quality of the product descriptions, and shorten the time spent for the preparation of product data.
The third advantage of the PIM system is time & cost-effectiveness. Without a PIM system, a lot of time is needed to process product information data and then send it to the market. This delays the sale of goods while competitors earn profit from sales. By spending less time updating your data, you'll launch your products more quickly, and thus make a faster profit.
Today we can see the growing importance of PIM systems for manufacturers, wholesalers, and dealers (everyone needs it). First of all, it helps everyone solve specific problems. Secondly, the right information is crucial for any business dealings. To ensure data accuracy, companies use PIM systems. The system allows them to promptly receive all the necessary information, systematize it, and provide it to users. The quality of the Product Information Management largely determines the success of the business. PIM software implementation results in:
- Reduced time to launch new products
- Time and resource savings in the preparation of quality product information
- Increased sales and significantly reduced product returns
- Easier and more organized management of marketing campaigns
- Improved customer service and, consequently, customer loyalty
- Reduced employee workload and fewer errors
- Improved communication between managers and departments that process product information
- Easy integration with third-party systems, as well as marketplaces
The introduction of Product Information Management increases conversion and, consequently, profitability. It broadens opportunities for scaling communication channels.