What is PIM

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PIM is Product Information Management.

Product information is very important to business. The number of sales or product returns is directly related to the quality of your product data.

Usually business manages product information in:

  • Spreadsheets
  • ERP system
  • E-commerce system
  • combination of all of the above
  • or in a dedicated PIM system

Let's take a look on each option.

Product Information Management in Spreadsheets

  • Easy to start
  • Not expensive
  • Everyone knows how to work with spreadsheets
  • Difficult to combine data from multiple data sources
  • Problems with versioning. If you have several different people working on the same spreadsheet, you might have a problem sharing and working with different versions of a document. Usually people copy a spreadsheet to make the required local changes and then it is difficult to merge those changes back to the original source.
  • Little ability to control data quality
  • It is impossible to easily handle a lot of data
  • Impossible to track products assets (images and files)

Product Information Management in ERP system

  • The ability to store transaction and product data in one IT system
  • The ability to have data quality and access control
  • The ability to define different attributes for your products and even store assets
  • An ERP system is not designed to store product information, this is just addition capabilities that may be limited. In addition, if you need to provide access to third-party resources to work with your product data (for example, to enrich content or upload images), you probably do not want to provide access to your central system.
  • Usually an ERP system is complex and the support costs are quite high, so you will have to spend more money to manage product information there.
  • Not good capabilities to manage assets (images and files)
  • Weak data import and export capabilities

Product Information Management in E-commerce system

  • Often such system already exists in the company
  • Designed to work with product data
  • It is designed to work with only one view of product data (for selling products to customers). But usually you have many different channels for your product data, for example, different e-commerce systems, marketplaces, etc. And each channel has its own data requirements (e-commerce system is not designed to work with several different channels).
  • Weak data quality control capabilities.
  • Weak data import and export capabilities
  • Supports only one product hierarchy when we usually have many different hierarchies.

Combination of all of the above

This is probably the worst case of all, because you have different pieces of information in different places and you can't manage anything.

Dedicated PIM system

  • Designed to store and manage any product information.
  • Have good import/export capabilities.
  • Have good data quality capabilities.
  • Can manage different hierarchies for your products.
  • Can work with different output channels and manage the necessary information for each channel separately.
  • Requires additional implementation costs. But that investment usually pays off with more sales and fewer returns.