Product managers typically manage multiple products

What is PIM And why do you need a PIM system?

The ultimate guide to product information management

PIM is the abbreviation for product information management. A main task of a PIM system is to help the company to process large amounts of complex product information and to publish this information efficiently on the relevant channels.

PIM definition

PIM is the abbreviation for product information management. A main task of a PIM system is to help the company to process large amounts of complex product information and to publish this information efficiently on the relevant channels.

With a good PIM system, a company has a central, authoritative data source (single source of truth). This is a central system in which all departments can easily access all of the company's product information and can rely on the correctness of the data.

In the PIM system, you collect all product information, enrich it with additional information and media and distribute it quickly and efficiently to all channels - and you can use it on digital platforms such as web shops, websites, market channels such as Amazon, eBay and Pricerunner as well as in printed catalogs, data sheets, brochures, etc.

The need for a PIM system usually arises when the company's product data requirements increase and the previous type of information management is no longer sufficient. The company's ERP system is becoming too inflexible to cope with the increasing complexity of product data, and tedious work with Excel spreadsheets and databases makes it difficult to find the right information and quickly disseminate it through key marketing channels.

The PIM system is integrated with the company's other systems. It is placed between the company's product data sources (ERP, PLM, supplier data, etc.) on the one hand and the external channels for the dissemination of data (web shop, CMS, catalogs, data sheets, etc.) on the other.

Chapter 2

A PIM system adds value in two ways:

  1. It optimizes the work of marketing and sales of the company and thus contributes to increasing sales

  2. It streamlines the company's internal operations

5 signs you need a PIM system

  • Time to market is important to you.
  • You want to create a coherent and smooth customer experience across all channels.
  • You advertise your products in multiple markets and multiple languages.
  • You use your product data in several channels - maybe also in e-commerce.
  • Your product data is complex with a lot of information and relationships between information, metadata and more.
Chapter 3

Product information is essential for the purchase decision

When we start with the marketing and sales impact, the impact shows up in different ways.

The battle for the modern customer - both B2B and B2C - is largely a battle with information. The modern customer researches online before making a purchase decision, and the more and better product information you can make available in your web shop, for example, the greater the likelihood of winning them as a customer.

Using PIM for Marketing makes it easy to create and maintain all kinds of product information so that you can provide the buyer with a full description of the product, accurate data, all the necessary images and videos, relevant datasheets, and so on. All of this with user-oriented descriptions instead of the internal item numbers and other designations that the ERP system normally uses.

Product descriptions are crucial for several reasons:

  • With regard to search engine optimization, so that the product can be found online first of all.
  • For the shopping experience, so that the customer is addressed and feels safe when making a purchase decision.
  • To avoid returning goods - the better the customer knows the product in advance, the lower the risk that the customer will be disappointed and send the product back.


A consistent user experience across all channels

The modern consumer is constantly switching between different channels and therefore the company needs to be present everywhere.

Call it omnichannel or multichannel marketing - the point about PIM for marketing is that the company needs to manage multiple channels effectively and deliver its brand and message to the customer in a consistent way - both digitally and physically.

This requires a reliable database and a system for managing the data in order to be able to present consistent product information to customers with the flexibility and speed that modern consumers expect.

Faster and more targeted information for potential customers

PIM strengthens the work of sales by giving them access to the information they need to advise potential customers quickly and in a targeted manner.

Instead of waiting for marketing to produce the presentation material, sales can create brochures and price lists themselves that are tailored to specific customer needs. Since all data can be called up in the PIM system, you only need to select a template for the material and decide which products are to be presented.

The PIM system also makes it easier to work with differentiated prices. The system automatically inserts the prices in the marketing material that correspond to the price agreement with the respective customer.

The great advantage of a PIM system is that you can be sure that you are working with valid and updated data. As a result, you don't run the risk of creating bogus offers with outdated specifications or incorrect prices that embarrass the seller and make the company appear unprofessional.

Enables international growth

Growth can be achieved in a number of ways, but for many companies, expanding into multiple markets - often through e-commerce - is an obvious way to grow their business and increase sales.

Internationalization usually also means that you have to communicate in several languages. And every time a language is added, the marketing work becomes a notch more complex. In practice, it is impossible to work efficiently with multiple languages ​​in e-commerce if you do this manually.

A PIM system is practically indispensable here. The PIM system enables clear processes for the translation, updating and publication of data, so that you can offer the products in multiple markets as quickly as with a single language.

A larger range without a large warehouse

With a PIM system, you can increase the company's product range without increasing storage capacity or managing an unnecessary number of products in the ERP system.

By creating the products in the PIM system and leaving them there for the time being, you can market them along with all other products. The products are only transferred to the ERP system when they are actually sold.

This is especially important for wholesalers, but other companies with a wide range of products, such as hardware stores, often benefit from being able to offer more products on the market than they have in stock.

Chapter 4

Fast time to market

Most companies operate in a dynamic market where both development and customers move quickly. Therefore, time to market is a crucial competitive parameter.

PIM optimizes time to market by streamlining the product's journey from development through production to marketing and sales.

The process of releasing a product from product development to marketing often leads to an unnecessary delay in launch. A PIM system optimizes this process considerably. In a PIM system, employees from several departments can work on the product at the same time and marketing can start catalog production or the like, although not all product details are known yet. When the product department updates information in the central database, the information is also updated in the catalog that has been started.

The PIM system also automates part of the collaboration with translation agencies so that it is easy to see which product texts have been sent for translation and what status they have. The translators can deliver the texts directly to the PIM system so that you save yourself the hassle of copying and pasting the texts. Likewise, a PIM system streamlines a number of manual tasks that would otherwise delay new product launches.

Easier to sell through other channels

As soon as you have structured your product data in a PIM system, it is much easier to offer your products on Amazon or other marketplaces or to send product data to price comparison sites.

If your data is unstructured in scattered databases, you must first find the relevant data, convert it into a structure that Amazon can process, and finally put your data in the correct groups on Amazon.

However, if you have your products in a PIM system, you can simply export in XML format and use a third-party service to send product information to the relevant websites. The PIM system helps you model data in order to quickly send data to other channels.

Greater efficiency through less manual work

"Who knows whether this has to be 5 or 7?" "Are we sure that these prices are correct?" "I need an answer from the product department quickly about which colors we can supply."

When a new product is launched on the market, many questions often arise that can be time-consuming to clarify if you don't have a strictly controlled process for doing it. If you structure your data in a PIM system, you save yourself the manual back and forth between departments. It becomes easier to delegate responsibilities and the individual specialist departments can concentrate on their own core tasks, whereby they can rely on the other departments not to make mistakes.

Keep track of the processes

Efficiency requires an overview. But keeping this one can be tricky when you're about to start a new collection, line of products, or other type of product launch. Which products are approved? Which products still need pictures? Which texts were sent for translation? What products are ready for sale?

A PIM system can answer such questions quickly. In Perfion PIM, for example, you can create workflows that give a visual overview of how far the various stages of the process have progressed. In this way you avoid something being overlooked in the hectic pace.

Less errors in the product data

One of the main reasons for adopting a PIM system is to clear the jungle of Excel files where many companies store their product information.

Excel is good for a lot of things, but it's also inextricably linked to a number of manual jobs that increase the risk of errors. At the same time, there is always the risk of uncertainty as to which version is the valid one when the files are circulating in the company.

A PIM system eliminates such sources of error by replacing the Excel tables with a central database that ensures that all information is correctly updated on all channels.

In other words, the PIM system gives you the overview and structure that enables the data to travel safely without errors. This also applies to approval processes, among other things, so that you ensure that products are not published until they are ready for them.

Enrich your product range with additional information

Many web shops sell products that customers can find elsewhere on the internet. If you are in this situation, it is important that you have the opportunity to enrich the product information that you receive from the supplier. Otherwise you are just presenting the same product in the same way as your competitors.

In a PIM system, you can easily enrich your products with additional information so that you can stand out from the competition. The modern consumer is increasingly doing online research for the products they are interested in, and therefore extensive product information is a significant competitive advantage.

Learn how product data can improve the buying experience on your website

Product data consistency

If you work with your product data in several different decentralized systems, there is a high probability that product data is not one hundred percent consistent.

A dimension of 20 millimeters may be given as “20 mm” in one place, “20 mm” elsewhere and maybe just “20” in a third place. This leads to problems in particular if you want to categorize your products in a web shop and want to enable the user to filter according to parameters such as units of measurement, color, descriptions and the like.

If the names are not completely consistent, the relevant products will not be displayed. For example, if the visitor to the site searches for "red" and you don't have a system to ensure that that search shows all flavors of red, the relevant products will not be shown - and that could result in the sale being unsuccessful .

Control is just as important as consistency. The PIM system also enables you to define the descriptions differently from channel to channel, depending on your needs. This could be necessary, for example, for products that have to be described in a different way for B2C customers than for B2B customers.

Better campaign management

A campaign basically consists of a number of products that are to be presented to the market in a special way. This is exactly what a PIM system is ideal for.

With a PIM system, you can model your product groups and control which data should be displayed in which context - e.g. B. Which product information should be displayed in one country and which should be highlighted in another country. This allows the campaign to start much faster and is also easier to customize while it's running, as you only need to update the data in one place.

Faster production of product catalogs

Even if digital media are playing an increasingly important role in corporate communication, the good old printed product catalog is still justified in many industries.

However, the catalog as a genre is challenged by the fact that the market is generally moving faster and faster, so that the classic process of spending several months creating the annual catalog is no longer feasible. In such cases the catalog is out of date before it reaches the potential customer.

A PIM system optimizes the workflows around the creation of the product catalog and enables, for example, marketing to include the products in the catalog, although not all information is available yet.


Chapter 5

In essence, a PIM system is a central database with product data. For example, Perfion PIM is a Windows client based on data from a SQL server.

Users connect to the database where they can create new products and fields, and add or edit information that the database distributes to various channels.

The PIM system can process all types of product data - texts, images, videos, audio files and all types of files.

PIM and integration in ERP and other systems

One of the great strengths of a PIM system is the ability of the system to exchange data with other programs. It is therefore important that the PIM system has an open API that has no restrictions on reading the data and metadata and on transferring data to other systems.

Some of the main systems that the PIM system can be integrated with are listed below.

Data coming into the PIM:

ERP - A good PIM system can be integrated into most ERP systems, and a system such as Perfion PIM comes with an integration for Dynamics AX and NAV.

PLM(Product lifecycle management) - Both PIM and PLM systems focus on helping companies optimize their processes in relation to products, but from different angles, and therefore integrating the two systems can optimize operations significantly.

Supplier portals - or similar systems in which providers transmit data. Integration with the PIM system enables you to import and process supplier data efficiently.

Data coming out of the PIM:

ERP - As soon as you have received supplier data in the PIM system, it must also be readable in the ERP system.

Business intelligence platforms - By integrating PIM with the BI platform, you can generate detailed and informative reports on the products.

CRM - Track what products a customer has purchased and use the knowledge to do targeted marketing based on the relationships between the products contained in the PIM system.

Adobe InDesign - By directly retrieving data from the PIM system, the production of brochures, catalogs and other printed materials can be significantly optimized.

Microsoft Office - Use data from the PIM system in all documents you work with.

CMS - Keep your website updated with fresh, validated product data without time consuming manual work.

E-commerce - A PIM solution is practically indispensable if you want to use e-commerce as a sales channel.

More on that below

Best-of-breed PIM or integrated PIM - which solution should you choose?

If you work in ecommerce and are considering investing in a PIM solution, you are likely to consider one of the following options:

  • An integrated PIM solution, a module that can be added to your existing e-commerce platform or ERP system.
  • A best-of-breed PIM system that is a standalone solution that can be integrated into a variety of systems.

The integrated solution, by its nature, often depends on the system with which it is integrated and therefore offers fewer functions than a best-of-breed system. An integrated solution is best for companies that want to sell exclusively through a webshop.

If you are looking for multiple channels and you want a system that will serve as a single point of contact for a number of systems, then a best-of-breed solution is better. This gives you more options and more flexibility in working with your product data.

Another advantage is the independence of the PIM system from your other systems: For example, you can change or update your ERP system or your e-commerce platform without affecting the PIM system.

Chapter 6

A web shop makes marketing complex - PIM makes it easy again

PIM is often mentioned in the same breath as e-commerce - and for good reason. When a company adds an online store to the company's other sales channels, marketing becomes an even more complex and demanding topic. By its very nature, e-commerce is a digital exchange of information that makes PIM relevant, but the multichannel dimension is particularly crucial. If you only sell via a webshop, it will often be possible to manage the products via the e-commerce platform alone.

E-commerce is an area that demands a fast pace. You therefore need a system that efficiently supports the effort involved in creating and enriching product information for individual products. Informative and attractive product information represent the decisive competitive advantage in a web shop.

When you sell in multiple countries and in multiple languages ​​at the same time, the need for a central location to manage all of your product information becomes even more important. It would take too much work to do manually on fragmented systems.

Examples of how a PIM system supports e-commerce:

  • Fast import and processing of supplier data
  • Enrichment of product information from suppliers with their own texts and media content
  • Simple language versions of product texts
  • Control how information is categorized and displayed related to advanced search and filtering
  • Effective handling of product images, videos, and other types of media

Chapter 7

PIM use cases

If you can answer “yes” to one or more of the following statements, there is a good chance that your company will quickly generate a positive ROI from investing in a PIM system.

You advertise your products on different channels. If e-commerce is one of them, it only makes the business case even stronger.

You operate in multiple markets and communicate in multiple languages. Each new language adds a new layer of complexity that makes it difficult to manually manage marketing in a cost-effective manner.

You are pursuing growth goals that make it necessary to expand marketing activities to new markets, more websites, more directories, and the like. High activity simply means that there is more activity to optimize and therefore the PIM system will quickly bring a high ROI.

Your product information is complex. This can be the case, for example, because of a large amount of information and descriptions, when using metadata or because of complex relationships between data. An example of a simple product with a high level of complexity is wine, since in addition to the specific wine information, a number of interesting metadata is associated with the product - this can be information about the grape variety, the wine region, the winery, etc. Read more here: How to Sell a Good Bottle of Wine Using a PIM System.

You would like to use more product data from suppliers - or enrich the data from suppliers.Without a PIM system to support the process, it is a resource-intensive task to handle the import of information from different suppliers, which is often delivered in different formats and with inconsistent quality.

A rule of thumb in practice is that the more often you copy and paste information from one system to another, the greater the need for a PIM system to automate some of the manual workflows.

What kind of company doesn't need a PIM?

A PIM system is an investment, and while there are many obvious use cases for a PIM system, not all organizations can get enough benefit from a PIM system to make the investment worthwhile.

One example are companies that manufacture a few customer-specific products to order - such as large production machines for industry. You would hardly get any benefit from a PIM system. The same applies to small businesses where very few people are involved in working with the products.

The reason for using a PIM system is mostly to streamline and optimize processes. So unless there are many workflows to tweak, the cost will likely exceed the profit.


Chapter 8

There are mainly three positions in a company that benefit from the introduction of a PIM system.

marketing

Marketing needs to be able to act quickly and deliver creative solutions, but it is difficult to find, validate and edit product information in different systems.

Marketing therefore saves a lot of resources and works more efficiently with a PIM system.

Find out here which 3 important problems a PIM system solves for the marketing manager

Product management

For the product manager and others involved in the product's journey through the company, the PIM system will be an important tool. Your goal is to streamline processes and reduce errors in manual work.

Find out here which 3 important problems a PIM system solves for the product manager

IT

For the IT manager, a PIM system will simplify the IT infrastructure and enable a number of decentralized systems that are used to store product data to be switched off. In addition, the PIM system solves an important scalability problem in the company that is difficult to control with fragmented systems.

Find out here which 3 important problems a PIM system solves for the IT manager

Chapter 9

When looking to invest in a PIM system, there are a number of questions that you should answer before choosing the right system for your needs. So we've put together a guide that you can download below.

In this guide you will learn what requirements you should make of your future PIM provider.

Based on experience with hundreds of customers, we have selected 5 key topics and asked a number of specific questions for you to consider and find answers to.

You will receive, among other things:

  • Overview of all channels that need to be taken into account
  • Insight into which work processes PIM can support
  • Clarity on how your ERP should work with PIM
  • Overview of all the questions that you should ask yourself so that you can find the right solution for your company