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What is Product Information Management – A 2021 Guide



Product Information Management System

It is easy to manage the product information for small-scale digital commerce businesses with limited SKUs. But, when a business scales — data sets increase, and so does the complexity to manage the information. The upshot — scattered product information across company and locations with no control over growing databases.

To manage the complexity related to managing volumes of data — introduce a cloud-based product information management (PIM) software across the business ecosystem — that stores and maintains A-Z product information in a streamlined manner at a centralized location.

The Product Information Management (PIM) Market is expected to grow from USD 9.0 billion in 2020 to USD 16.0 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 12.2% during the forecast period. — Markets and Markets

PIM is the right choice for digital commerce businesses that are planning to invest in disruptive technologies that help businesses reduce data management stress and enhance the customer experience.

Here’s a complete guide on what is PIM and how to adopt this disruptive innovation:

What is PIM (Product Information Management)?

A product information management software is a cloud-based solution for collecting, sorting, and managing product information. Having a PIM solution means that a business can have a single, unified, and accurate view of the product data that maintains a single source of truth.

Who can Use PIM?

Who can use product information managment system

  • eCommerce Marketers — who aim to offer a holistic and connected customer experience
  • eCommerce Business Managers — who depend on product information quality to improve sales
  • eCommerce Business Owners — to improve the buyer-seller relationship with the suppliers
  • Data Researchers and Analysts — to track and maintain data quality across the ecosystem

Businesses rely on a product information management system to ensure easy distribution of product-related data to different sales channels such as — third-party seller websites, social media platforms, and marketplaces such as Google. This aids in promoting a multichannel marketing strategy.

Product information is available in multiple formats and forms such as images, videos, item numbers, SKUs, features, pricing, offers, reviews, product category, etc. This information requires frequent updates, sometimes on a daily basis.

Spreadsheet management is a viable option for managing a limited product catalog. As the product number scales, managing the large data sets becomes overwhelming, which, in turn, leads to:

  • Duplication across data sets
  • Inaccuracies in the product information
  • Unevenly distributed information

This further leads to:

  • Cart abandonments
  • Increased return rates
  • Delayed product updates
  • Lag in time to market
  • Unhappy customers

The solution to all the above issues lies in investing in a product information management system — that automates the process of managing the product information in a synchronized and organized manner.

The Working of PIM

The working of a SaaS (Software as a Service) product information management system is categorized under three divisions, namely:

Collection
Sorting
Distribution
1. Collect existing product information from existing systems such as ERPs, inventory management systems, or supplier data 1. Arrange all product-related information such as — descriptions, images, videos, instructions, etc. in one place 1. Manage multiple channels, i.e., eCommerce website, social media management platforms, third-party seller websites, etc.
2. Clean and refine product data to remove redundancies, inaccuracies and manage incomplete descriptions 2. Classify and categorize product to maintain an organized hierarchy 2. Distribute channel-specific data across channels

What Type of Information can you store in PIM?

The following graphical chart depicts the types of information you can store in a product information management system:

Types of Information you can store in PIM

  • Basic Product Information — Name, SKU number, UPC, description
  • Technical Specifications — material used, highlights, warranty information, etc.
  • Manufacturer and Supplier Data — procurement date, units imported, cost price, seller information, etc.
  • Digital Formats Available — images, videos, demos, product stories, etc.
  • Marketing-oriented Data — Targeted personas, keywords used, titles, meta descriptions, etc.
  • Taxonomy — categorizations, labeling, building relationships among categories, etc.
  • Channel-Centric Information — titles, pricing, availability, return/exchange policies, etc.
  • Sales Information — price, discount information, reviews, FAQs, etc.
  • Localized Information — currencies, languages, shipment charge calculations, etc.
  • Customer-Experience Related Information — how it is used, where it is used, usage instructions, recommendations, etc.

What is the Difference Between ERP and PIM?

Businesses often think that an ERP and a PIM solution are the same. However, they solve a different problem entirely.

1. What is an ERP Solution?

An ERP or an Enterprise Resource Planning solution is an all-in-one software solution that manages to integrate and manage back-office functions such as — order fulfillment, warehouse management, inventory management, and even customer relationship management.

2. What is a PIM Solution?

A PIM or Product Information Management solution is a software solution that manages and integrates product data across the entire eCommerce technology stack. This allows automation synchronization and real-time accessibility to product information across channels and touchpoints.

For an eCommerce business having an ERP and a PIM software solution add to the competitive advantage.

A PIM will merge the product data into the ERP system, and the latter will share the information across the back-office modules to improve and automate workflow processes. Tweet This

What is the importance of product information management?

There are various benefits of a PIM solution. Some of which include:

1. Automatic Updates, Reduced Burden

Updating product information for every product manually on spreadsheets consumes time and makes your datasheet prone to errors. With multiple people working on the same sheet, the errors are likely to increase and defeat the entire purpose of maintaining a single source of quality information.

How can PIM help?

In a product information management system for eCommerce, when an admin updates information for a particular product — that information automatically syncs across all the sales channels. This reduces the burden of updating and managing product information manually. The system also allows scheduling updates in advance, making it easier to change/update information.

2. Maintains Quality of Data

Data has the tendency to multiply quickly, which leads to inconsistencies across the data sets if left unmanaged. The inaccuracies and redundancies can further lead to bad customer experience, cart abandonments, increased return rates.

How can PIM help?

A product information management solution will help automate the collection of data into a single master data management sheet from multiple sources. Moreover, it will help run a system-wide inspection to identify and remove data duplications and inaccuracies.

3. Single Source, Better Management

When data is scattered and unorganized, fetching the right information at the right time poses a challenge. It is similar to a customer visiting a shop where items are scattered all over the place. The shopkeepr will find it difficult to locate the item the customer asked for, which, in turn, will increase the waiting time.

How can PIM help?

A product information management system helps in collecting and managing information into a single and a unified source. This means that the team can refer to and access the same source every time they need information or re-share the information to a sales channel.

4. Improves Customer Experience

If the displayed product information is outdated, faulty, or incomplete, cart abandonment and product return rates increase. Customers will feel frustrated, which, in turn, will affect the overall customer experience in a negative way.

How can PIM help?

A product information management system maintains the quality and integrity of data. Duplications are removed, data is complete, categorizations are apt, and information is updated frequently (automatically synced across channels). The perfect information representation ensures to offer a delightful and fulfilling customer experience.

5. Helps Offer Personalization

Customers love personalizations in the form of product recommendations. According to Mckinsey, 35% of Amazon’s revenue comes from recommendations. However, for you to implement a recommendation engine system — product information for existing products should be accurate and in place.

How can PIM help?

A PIM system maintains a single, unified, and quality-centric product information repository. This allows the recommendation engine to pick the right and matching attributes of products and display meaningful recommendations, thus, helping you grow your bottom line too.

6. Easy Integrations

Traditionally, product information exists in siloes — without any integration with existing ERP, Warehouse, inventory, or any other third-party eCommerce management systems. This leads to complexities as product information is the central source of feed for all the other eCommerce tech stacks.

How can PIM help?

A product information management system ensures that the product information is automatically shared across ERPs, inventory management systems, warehouse management systems, and CRMs. This easy integration allows continuous communication between the systems through APIs, thus improving the productivity of each of the enlisted eCommerce technology stack.

7. Reduce Time to Market for Products

Manual management of data takes time. Even if the business managers manage to create the product datasheet one time, the upcoming changes and updates often get ignored while the old data still resides in the sheets.

How can PIM help?

A product information management system ensures that the product data is up-to-date at all times. It automatically syncs the changes to the datasheets as and when a new change into the existing data sources is introduced. The automation of updates ensures that the product information is updated and the product is ready to go on sale.

8. Run Better SEO Optimizations

Planning for an SEO strategy is useless if the product information is scattered, redundant, incomplete, and exists in siloes. No matter how detailed keyword research is conducted, the SEO efforts are likely to fall flat — resulting in poor rankings.

How can PIM help?

A product information management system categorizes products nicely based on feature sets, removes redundancies, maintains a section for updating meta descriptions and product titles, and also ensures there are no content gaps across the product page. This, in turn, helps plan and implement an SEO strategy around products, which further helps improve Google rankings.

When to Invest in PIM?

According to Net Solution’s State of B2B Commerce Report 2020, 76.7% of the companies are planning to invest in a product information management system.

76.7% of companies are planning to invest in a product information management system- Net Solutions B2B Commerce report

It is a wise decision to invest in a B2B product information management system if:

  • You are planning on a global expansion of your business
  • The product numbers are increasing rapidly
  • The product’s attribute set is ever-evolving
  • You are strategizing around implementing a multichannel or an omnichannel retail strategy
  • Product data needs to support multiple currencies, geographical locations, and language preferences

Product Information Management Software: Must-Have Features

The must-have features for a PIM include:

  • Gather and collect data from across multiple sources
  • Identify and rectify inconsistencies across data sets
  • Automatic synchronization of product information into an ERP system
  • Pushing product information to selected sales channels

Conclusion

A Product information management (PIM) eCommerce solution is a centralized repository for storing, refining, and distributing product information. If your eCommerce business is scaling, investing in a PIM is a recommended option.

In this blog, we tried to cover everything about the product information management system and how it can help expand and scale your business in the right direction. To start with, you can find existing product information management software vendors in the market such as — Pimcore, Akeneo, EnterWorks, Salsify, Sales Layer PIM, etc.

Alternatively, you can also choose to create your own customized PIM solution that suits your functional and business requirements. Irrespective of the option you choose, investing in PIM will bring you better business results.

Hire Net Solutions for developing a PIM that suits your business needs

Shaveta Wadhwa

About the Author

Shaveta Wadhwa works as a Tech Lead (PHP) at Net Solutions. She has over eight years of experience in PHP and has worked on eCommerce platforms such as Magento, CMS, such as Wordpress and Drupal, and frameworks like CakePHP and CodeIgniter. Shaveta is a Magento Certified developer who loves debugging codes and finds herself always up for problem-solving.

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