What is Product Information Management (PIM)?
Product Information Management (PIM) is the process of centralising and managing all the information related to a retailer’s products.
A PIM software platform handles the process of managing a company’s product data. This can include:
- product descriptions,
- and other relevant product data.
PIM helps an ecommerce business to streamline its product information management process, ensuring accurate and consistent information is provided to customers across all sales channels.
Overall, a PIM solution can be a powerful tool that enables businesses to manage their product information effectively and efficiently, helping them to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced digital commerce marketplace.
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What is PIM and what does it incorporate?
A PIM system typically includes features such as data modelling, structured data, governance, data enrichment, workflow management and integration with other systems. By using PIM, businesses can ensure that their product-related data is up-to-date, accurate and consistent across all sales channels, which can lead to increased sales, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Who needs PIM?
PIM is essential for retailers with a large number of products, multiple sales channels and complex product data. Without PIM, managing complex product relationships and information can be a daunting and time-consuming task, leading to errors, inconsistencies and delays in product launches.
Indeed, implementing a PIM can be a significant boost for growing retailers as Claudia Martins, Business Development Advisor at Bluestone PIM notes:
“Expanding a retail business is an exciting opportunity to tap into new revenue streams and reach a broader customer base. However, the amount of product data that needs to manage can quickly become overwhelming, potentially reaching tens of thousands of SKUs, and is simply impossible to manage manually without making any data errors along the way.
“This is when a PIM solution becomes important.
“PIM is associated with a number of benefits that support digital businesses in expanding into new markets, streamlining their operations and improving the customer shopping experience, among many others. A PIM system is not just an option but a necessity for businesses that want to thrive and succeed.”
Benefits of PIM
Implementing a PIM system can help retailers streamline their product information management processes, leading to faster time-to-market, increased sales and better customer experiences. With centralised data management, improved product data quality and accurate & consistent product information, retailers can effectively manage their product catalogues and stay competitive in the digital marketplace.
Operational benefits for retailers
Dr Pat Violaris, Managing Director at OneTimePIM summarises: “PIM can provide several operational benefits for retailers. It helps maintain consistent and accurate product information across all sales channels, reduces errors, improves customer satisfaction, and saves time and effort.
“PIM systems can automate many time-consuming tasks, such as data entry and product categorisation, freeing up employees to focus on more value-added tasks. Additionally, with PIM, retailers can easily create and update product information, speeding up the time it takes to get new products to market.
“PIM systems can also help retailers enforce data governance policies, such as data quality and security standards, reducing the risk of data breaches and improving compliance with industry regulations. In addition, PIM improves analytics, providing retailers with a centralised view of all product data, which helps them identify trends and make more informed decisions.”
Benefits for retail customers
Claudia Martins goes on to explain the benefits PIM solutions can bring for retail customers:
“As brands will have complete control over the quality of their product data and can serve their customers with accurate and consistent product information across all channels, this means the customers can trust the information they receive about the products, regardless of whether they are browsing in an online store or on a mobile app, thus reducing the likelihood of receiving a product that does not meet their expectations.
“With a PIM, brands can create a seamless and trustworthy shopping experience for their customers. The improvement of the customer experience and the ease of data management are the main advantages of PIM for retail.”
How PIM works
A quality PIM solution aims to streamline the process of managing product information, avoiding data silos and making it easier to maintain accurate and consistent information across multiple languages and different distribution channels.
PIM software is designed to store and manage all product information in one central location. The architecture of a PIM system generally consists of four main components:
Product data storage:
A PIM platform acts as a central database for storing product data, such as product attributes, product categories, media files, descriptions, technical specifications and any other relevant information.
Product data management:
A key aspect of a product information management system is enabling retailers to effectively maintain quality product data. This includes the ability to efficiently edit, create and delete product information.
Product data enrichment:
A PIM should also allow for enhancing the product data. This might involve adding new attributes, enriching existing attributes and enhancing product descriptions.
Product data distribution:
Finally, a PIM solution is responsible for distributing accurate product data to different sales and marketing channels e.g. ecommerce websites, marketplaces, social media platforms etc. The ability to distribute data consistently across sales and ecommerce channels is the ultimate aim of PIM.
PIM Features and Functionalities
PIM tools have several features and functionalities that make them an essential tool for retailers. Some of the key features of a PIM system include:
Centralised product information management:
A PIM system provides a centralised location to manage all product information, making it easy for sales and marketing teams to maintain consistency across multiple channels.
Data quality control:
PIM tools can help to maintain the quality of product information by providing validation checks and enforcing standards. They can help to minimise errors by avoiding data silos and minimising the need for manual data entry.
Beyond minimising data errors, PIM systems provide the ability to enhance product information. The ability to add new attributes, enhance existing attributes and enrich product descriptions helps ecommerce businesses meet customer expectations more efficiently.
A PIM tool allows retailers to define workflows for creating, editing and approving product information. This enables teams to create consistent product data management, ultimately providing a better customer experience.
PIM systems provide the ability to manage user roles and permissions, ensuring that only authorised users can access and modify product data.
PIM Implementation Process
When should you look to implement a PIM tool? Dr Pat Violaris feels retailers “should consider implementing PIM if they have a large and complex product catalogue, sell across multiple channels, or want to improve data accuracy and consistency while reducing costs. PIM can help them achieve these goals by automating time-consuming tasks, improving data governance, and speeding up time-to-market.”
The implementation process for a new PIM system involves several stages. These stages include:
- Assessment: Assessing the current product information management process and identifying areas of improvement.
- Requirements gathering: Identifying the requirements of the prospective PIM system, including features, functionalities, and integrations.
- System selection: Selecting the appropriate PIM platform, based on the identified requirements.
- System configuration: Configuring the PIM system to meet the requirements of the retailer.
- Data migration: Migrating the existing product data to the new PIM tool.
- Testing and training: Testing the PIM system and providing training to the relevant users.
Further reading: 5 Best Practices for Implementing an Effective PIM System
Implementing a new Product Information Management system can be a lengthy and arduous process, but it is one worth getting right to truly take advantage of all of the benefits a new PIM solution can bring.
Integrating PIM with Other Systems
Most PIM software platforms are built specifically so they can be easily integrated with other systems, such as ecommerce platforms, relational databases, ERP systems and marketing automation systems. The very nature of simplified integration is what streamlines the process of product data management across different channels.
In conclusion, a PIM system is a great tool for retailers who want to manage their product information more effectively. It provides a centralised location to manage all product info, helps to maintain the quality of product data and provides the ability to enhance product information. PIM platforms can also be integrated with other systems to streamline the process of managing product information across different channels.
Ultimately, well-adopted PIM solutions allow retailers to sell products and communicate more efficiently and more appropriately with their customers in the digital locations where they are serving them.
The world of PIM comes with quite a few acronyms attached! Here’s a brief glossary of terms related to Product Information Management:
PIM = Product Information Management.
Product Information Management is a system that helps manage product data, including attributes such as price, size, colour, and descriptions.
PXM = Product Experience Management.
Product Experience Management focuses on managing product information to create engaging and personalised experiences for customers across different channels. Our guide on PIM vs PXM explains more.
PLM = Product Lifecycle Management.
Product Lifecycle Management is a process that manages the entire lifecycle of a product, from concept to retirement, including design, manufacturing, and distribution.
DAM = Digital Asset Management.
Digital Asset Management software is a system for organising and managing digital assets such as images, videos, and documents. See our guide on PIM vs DAM for more info.
MDM = Master Data Management.
Master Data Management is a comprehensive approach to organising, maintaining, and distributing critical data assets of a business, such as customer data, product data, and financial data, among others. MDM ensures that the data used across different departments and systems is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date, thereby enabling better decision-making and improving business operations.
CMS = Content Management System.
A Content Management System is a software application used to create, manage, and publish digital content such as web pages, blog posts, and images.
ERP = Enterprise Resource Planning.
Enterprise Resource Planning software integrates core business processes such as finance, inventory management, and human resources.
Further reading: Exploring the Latest PIM Trends
What is Product Information Management (PIM)?
Product Information Management (PIM) is a process of managing and using disparate data and consolidating all the information related to products in one place. It involves collecting, organising, and enriching product data to provide accurate, consistent, and up-to-date information to both market and sell products through various sales channels and systems.
Why is PIM important?
PIM is important because it helps businesses to streamline their product data management processes, reduce errors, and improve the accuracy and completeness of product information. It also helps businesses to enhance their customers’ experience by providing them with consistent and detailed product information across all channels.
What are the benefits of using PIM?
The benefits of using PIM include increased efficiency and productivity, reduced time-to-market, improved data accuracy and quality, better customer experience, and increased sales and revenue.
What types of businesses can benefit from PIM?
Any business that deals with a large number of products and/or sells products through multiple sales channels can benefit from PIM. This includes retailers, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers.
How does PIM work?
PIM works by collecting product data from various sources, such as suppliers, manufacturers, and internal systems, and storing it in a central repository. The data is then organised, standardised, and enriched with additional information, such as images, descriptions, and specifications. This enriched data is then distributed to various sales channels and systems, such as ecommerce platforms, marketplaces and print catalogues.
What are the key features of a PIM system?
The key features of a PIM system include product data storage and management, data enrichment and standardisation, workflow management, collaboration & approval and data syndication & distribution.
How can I choose the right PIM system for my business?
To choose the right PIM system for your business, you need to consider factors such as your business requirements, budget, scalability, integration with other systems, user-friendliness and support & maintenance. It’s also important to evaluate the features and capabilities of different PIM systems and compare them to your needs.
How can I implement PIM in my business?
Implementing PIM in your business involves several steps, such as identifying your product data sources, defining your data model and taxonomy, selecting and configuring a PIM system, mapping your data to the system and testing & validating. It’s important to involve key stakeholders and ensure proper training and support for your teams.
Rob Gamage is Managing Editor of Modern Retail. Combining many years of experience in publishing with a keen interest in small business and entrepreneurship, Rob is passionate about sharing interesting and inspiring content with retailers to help them grow.