If you are a manufacturer, product manager or retailer and manage a big number of products, you should have probably used PIM systems. Or, at least, considered implementing one. Below we will take a look at the subject, review its basic functions, mechanisms, discuss the benefits and common issues on PIM tools.
What is PIM?
PIM stands for Product Information Management. What does it mean? There are specific market requirements for retailers to be able to sell products on various distribution channels. For instance, e-commerce platforms that cover several geographic locations have to manage PIM data in multiple languages and formats via a centralized catalog. To collect, refine, edit and save product information automatically there are special PIM software solutions. And this is what online sales business rely on in the product description area.
What kind of information PIM system stores?
Generally, PIM solutions store all the required information on the product, including description, configuration, taxation, composition, technical information, hardware version and other types of accompanying information. As an addition, it can also store rich media files (such as images, videos or documents on the product).
Who uses PIM systems? What areas have a better fit for it?
When to use and when not to use PIM?
To use or not to use, that is the question. As we already know, a dedicated PIM system can greatly facilitate the company’s product listing process and other aspects of a business. However, it is not always a must to use a PIM solution as there are cases where you can handle product information without it.
When to use PIM
- there’s a need for data-rich information
- you need SEO adaptation for your descriptions
- you have multiple suppliers and sources of distribution
- you need to update the price and product catalog often
When PIM is unnecessary
- if you only use one platform or one distribution channel
- if your list of products is relatively small (less than 1000 positions)
- if you only work with one or two manufacturers
- if the product line does not require data-rich descriptions
How to choose a PIM system
There are dozens of PIM solutions for every budget and taste. And it’s important to choose the one that is best for your particular demand. First of all, you have to compile a list of requirements to the solution which will take some research and then proceed to the selection. Here’s what you should consider before selecting the right software:
- Find out if the system is compatible with the platforms you sell on and gather data. If not, the system should have a feature to connect with your third-party services manually.
- The system has to be flexible enough to support business growth and unexpected repositioning.
- Consider selecting a PIM that supports multiple languages for localization. Even if there’s no need for that at the moment, you might still find it vital in the future. PIM system has to be easy-to-use and easy-to-learn not only to save your time but also to make sure your employees would be comfortable with it daily.
Best PIM solutions
It’s hard to pick the best product information practices on the market. So let us trust professionals from The Forrester Wave, who have released research dedicated to the PIM systems. Here are the solutions they have in favour.
Provides an all-in-one platform consisting of PIM, Digital Asset Management and MDM for the B2B2C market.
”The solution has excellent reporting capabilities, allowing users to easily view, track, and manage the products for which they’re responsible. It includes dashboard widgets that enable users to scorecard vendor quality and performance, which the tool’s vendor portal also exposes.” - says the report.
The platform includes regular PIM, DAM, and MDM as well as additional marketing tools such as SEO, campaign management and budgeting making this suite the most extensive on the market.
“Contentserv has earned its leadership position by delivering the powerful combination of a full-suite product experience management platform coupled with “very intuitive and modern” business user interfaces. … Contentserv is best for brands and retailers that want to focus on content creation and management” - Forrester Wave on Contentserv
Offers a STEP platform that supports multiple domains of data by delivering common UI and data layer. STEP includes PIM, PMDM, and CMDM. Of of the key features Stibo Systems provides is that it releases new functionality as cloud services.
"The solution boasts an in-memory data option as a performance differentiation. Customers report that Stibo Systems is a rock-solid platform but also caution that it delivers performance only with significant hardware investments … Stibo Systems is a best fit for businesses looking for a leading multidomain data management platform with an outstanding vendor portal and data governance model. "
Offers a SaaS (service as a software) PIM product with its own Product Marketing Cloud. Supports live editing of product content creation and visualization. Has rich content-creation tools and focused more on product experience management.
" ...it can introduce new products in as little as seven days, deploying content to more than 30 locales and websites with speed and consistency. inRiver is a best fit for global brands looking to drive product experience with engaging content."
Salsify is a combination of product content management and an analytics tool. Provides insights on how marketplaces search engines work and adapt retailer’s product descriptions in accordance with these insights.
"The solution’s true multitenant platform delivers the fastest time-to-value of any PIM solution in this evaluation: Customers have loaded catalog data as soon as week 2 into an implementation and have completed integrating with digital platforms in under 12 weeks … Salsify is a best fit for brands that need a PIM system to manage the rapidly changing content requirements of digital channels."
What challenges can you encounter while implementing a PIM system to your business?
Another obstacle while integrating PIM for retailers and manufacturers is the content delivery from the PIM system to an endpoint marketplace which is called content syndication. Some of the PIM solutions have a built-in syndicator, however, this is often not enough. Each marketplace and e-commerce platform has its own mapping rules which might go contrary to the settings of your solution. This problem can be solved either manually spending hours on making sure data will be consistent and uniform, or with the help of dedicated syndication solution such as our Gepard content syndication platform.
How could Gepard help with product content?
Gepard Syndicator automatically aggregates, transforms and delivers product content to the client's endpoints in the required taxonomy. Moreover, it integrates with the PIM solution, providing the ability to set up semi-automated content delivery, if any manual corrections of data are needed.
Conclusion on PIM solution
Product Information Management system is an effective tool for e-commerce business development. However, as there are clear benefits, PIMs require serious attention to details and research before implementation. If you consider using it, try to define your business needs and calculate whether it’s going to be beneficial. When you are sure that you need PIM in your business just contact us for more details.