Ecommerce

Product Information Management: What You Need to Know

Last updated:
June 28, 2024

The days of copy-pasting product information and manually updating them channel by channel are gone.

Product information management solutions help organizations gain control of critical product data and processes. It centralizes all your product data so you get a source of truth for attributes, images, documents, and more.

In this article, we'll explore what PIM is, why it matters, and how to make it work for your business.

What Is Product Information Management (PIM)?

The Need for Centralized Product Data

With the rise of omnichannel selling, businesses today need a way to manage product information consistently across multiple sales channels.

PIM refers to centrally managing all product data required for marketing and selling products through different distribution touchpoints.

Ecommerce brands might have product data scattered across various systems, databases, and spreadsheets. This scattered information makes it challenging to ensure accurate and up-to-date product details are disseminated uniformly across channels.

A PIM system solves this by acting as a centralized repository to collect, consolidate, enrich, and manage all product information.

Key Functions of PIM

The core functions of a PIM solution include:

  • Categorizing and classifying products based on attributes like type, category, variants, etc.
  • Enriching raw product data by adding descriptions, digital assets, relationships, and localized content.
  • Creating and publishing product catalogs for different channels and markets.
  • Formatting product data feeds to match the requirements of sales channels like ecommerce sites.
  • Managing relationships between products like kits, bundles and up-sell/cross-sell associations.

Benefits of Implementing PIM

By providing a centralized, single source of truth for all product data, PIM systems help businesses improve operational efficiency, accelerate speed-to-market, enhance customer shopping experience, and simplify digital asset management.

Key benefits include:

  • Accurate and consistent product information across touchpoints.
  • Elimination of redundant tasks and manual efforts like copy-pasting.
  • Ability to easily create and manage product variants for different markets.
  • Improved collaboration between teams like product, marketing, and ecommerce.

PIM solutions are vital for industries dealing with large product catalogs like retail, manufacturing, distribution, and consumer packaged goods to drive growth through operational excellence.

Why Do You Need a PIM System?

Centralized Product Data Management

Your product information is likely scattered across systems like ERP, spreadsheets, and databases. This leads to issues like inaccurate, contradictory data and multiple versions of the same information.

A PIM system consolidates all your product data in a single repository, making it easier to manage and maintain.

Seamless Omnichannel Experience

With the growing number of product SKUs, data from multiple suppliers, and sales across various channels, your existing systems may not be able to handle the complex requirements.

A PIM provides centralized management of all your product information, ensuring consistency across all touchpoints like websites, apps, and marketplaces for a better customer experience.

Faster Time-to-Market

In today's competitive ecommerce landscape, faster time-to-market is crucial.

A PIM streamlines processes, reduces manual tasks, and speeds up new product introductions and catalog creation. This means you can get your new products to market quicker, giving you a competitive edge.

Improved Data Quality & Consistency

Inconsistent product information and product data quality issues can impact sales conversion.

A PIM ensures accurate and complete data is distributed to all your sales and marketing channels, improving the overall customer experience and driving better purchasing decisions.

Efficient Omnichannel Content Syndication

As businesses expand their omnichannel presence, managing product information for different channels becomes a challenge.

A PIM automatically syncs product content to multiple channels, ensuring consistent and up-to-date information across all your touchpoints.

Localization & Regionalization

For global businesses, customizing product data for different regions is essential.

A PIM helps you easily localize product information to meet regional requirements, regulations, and customer preferences.

What Does a PIM System Manage?

A PIM system acts as a central hub for all your product data. It collects information from various sources like your ERP systems, suppliers, and other channels. It aggregates all this scattered data into one organized repository.

Standardizing Product Details

Once your product info is consolidated, the PIM system classifies and enriches it. It groups similar products into families and product categories based on shared attributes.

This ensures consistent, enriched, and high-quality product information for internal teams and customer-facing channels.

Beyond just specs and descriptions, a PIM also manages digital assets like images, videos, manuals, and more. It defines relationships between products too—identifying complementary items, substitutes, or accessories.

Multichannel Distribution

With a single source of truth for product data, the PIM makes it easy to adapt and publish details across channels. It can localize content for different markets with language translation, currencies, and formats.

The system pushes this targeted product information to sites, catalogs, sales portals, and more. This ensures consistent, up-to-date details at every customer touchpoint for more engaging product experiences.

How PIM Supports Internal Teams

Empowering sales & marketing

With a PIM system automating 80% of the manual product data processes, sales and product marketers save time and gain access to accurate, up-to-date product information.

This allows them to create compelling content, plan campaigns, and accurately convey product value across channels.

Whether crafting rich descriptions for SEO or developing a data-driven sales strategy, teams thrive with a single source of truth for product info.

Streamlining product management

PIM gives product and category managers full visibility into the product lifecycle. They can segment data, apply discounts based on stock levels, and ensure consistency across global markets.

This degree of control facilitates localization and compliance efforts.

Portfolio management gets easier too. PIM helps identify gaps and rationalize offerings for cost savings. Having a centralized hub streamlines day-to-day product information maintenance.

Simplifying IT's role

IT teams can empower other functions to build workflows via no-code automation in PIM systems. This minimizes manual data entry, reducing human error and tedious tasks.

With data silos eliminated, modern cloud PIMs can integrate seamlessly with existing infrastructure while offering scalability.

By mitigating risks like critical data spread across spreadsheets, IT can support business growth more efficiently. PIM frees up their time from cumbersome data management to focus on strategic initiatives.

What is the role of a product information manager?

Their main role is to ensure accuracy, consistency, and availability of product data.

This involves:

  • Working closely with marketing, sales, and engineering teams to gather relevant information and ensure its accuracy throughout the product lifecycle
  • Managing product data including specs, descriptions, images, and pricing

Choosing the Right PIM Software

Before we discuss what makes a good PIM software, it's important to look at your unique business needs.

Factors that will determine what works for you include:

  • How many products you have
  • How complex is your product data
  • How are your products distributed
  • What issues do you face when managing product information
  • What features could directly tackle these issues

Having that in mind, you can then start evaluating PIM solutions based on the following points.

Integration capabilities

Make sure the PIM system can integrate with your current ecommerce platform, CMS, and marketing automation software.

Look for APIs that are robust, flexible, and well-documented so your IT team can build customized integrations as needed.

Also, consider the performance of integrations under high volumes of product data transfer.

Scalability

Look for a PIM solution that can support your current volume of product information and scale to accommodate future growth. Consider factors like:

  • The maximum number of products, variants, and assets the system can handle.
  • The ability to handle increasing data volumes over time. The system should have the infrastructure to scale both horizontally and vertically.
  • The performance of the system as the number of products and users increases. It should still offer fast response times and uptime even under heavy loads.
  • Whether the vendor has experience scaling their PIM solution for large enterprises with millions of products.

Flexibility

Look for a flexible solution that allows significant customization to meet your organization's specific product data needs. Consider the following where relevant to your business:

  • Can fields and attributes be added, removed, and renamed to match your internal product data model?
  • Can new workflow states and transitions be defined to align with your processes?
  • Can business rules be configured to enforce data quality and consistency checks?
  • Can the user interface be customized through options like rearranging fields, hiding fields, and adding custom tabs and sections?

Ease of use

Look for a PIM solution with an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. The system should be straightforward for all users, from data editors to administrators.

Some factors that indicate good ease of use include:

  • A clean and well-organized user interface with a logical grouping of functions and controls
  • Simple workflows and forms that guide users through necessary steps
  • An admin panel that allows non-technical users to configure settings and make changes
  • Consistent terminology and labeling across the system to reduce confusion
  • Useful help documents, tooltips, and in-app guidance for new users
  • A responsive design that works well on different devices

Cost and support

Total cost of ownership is an important factor when evaluating PIM solutions. Consider the following costs:

  • Implementation and setup fees. This includes the initial cost to configure the system, migrate your existing product data, customize fields and workflows, and integrate with other systems.
  • Training and change management. Training users on how to effectively use the PIM system. Guiding them through any changes to product data processes.
  • Annual software license and subscription fees. The ongoing cost to continue using the PIM software. This may be a per-user or per-product fee.
  • Support and maintenance. The cost of support plans that provide access to technical assistance, software updates, and upgrades. Look for multiple support tiers to match your specific needs.
  • Internal resources. The staff time required from your team to manage and administer the PIM system.

Vendor reputation and stability

Look into the vendor's history and reputation. Check how long they've been in business, the stability of the company, and their track record for innovation.

Examine reviews from other customers and case studies of organizations using the vendor's PIM software.

Conclusion

By getting a handle on all that product data and keeping it organized and accessible, you'll be in a prime position to share the right details with customers at the right time.

This helps you provide better shopping experiences and builds trust in your brand, which leads to better sales. You'll also be able to simplify internal processes, improving efficiency and saving costs from errors or manual work.

Sushi
Growth
Sushi has years of experience driving growth across ecommerce, tech and education. She gets excited about growth strategy and diving deep into channels like content, SEO and paid marketing. Most importantly, she enjoys good food and an excellent cup of coffee.

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