What is a PIM?

4 Jul


Written by

Marvellous Aham-adi




What is a PIM?
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If you run a business that sells a lot of products, for example, an ecommerce business, it can be difficult to manually keep track or organize all of your product data and information. Without a solid system, the process is very expensive and time-consuming. You also run the risk of sharing incorrect or outdated information on your sales and marketing channels. 

And in today’s competitive business landscape, offering your customers an intuitive product experience is essential to the success of your business.  Your customers expect you to offer extensive and relevant product information before making their purchase decision. Most won’t buy from you if the value of your product isn’t clear. But the more conclusively your product descriptions answer their questions, the more likely they are to make a purchase and be satisfied with it. 

This is where Product Information Management (PIM) comes into play. 

So in this article, we will look at what Product Information Management is and the benefits of integrating it into your broader tech stack. 

Let’s get started. 

What is Product Information Management (PIM)?

Product Information Management is the process of collecting, managing, and optimizing all the data required for marketing and selling your products across all your sales and distribution channels. 

Most of the time, product information is usually inconsistent, incomplete, or scattered across the different channels businesses use for marketing, sales, and distribution. Trying to manage all this data manually is time-consuming. It even makes it difficult to collaborate with external groups like distributors or creatives like influencers since you don’t have a single source of truth they can go to for information. 

💡 Single source of truth (SSOT) is the philosophy of collecting business data from multiple sources and aggregating it into a central database or repository. 

This is where a PIM system comes into play.

What is a PIM system?

A PIM system serves as a single source of truth. It makes it easy for brands, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to easily manage and optimize all their product information. Here is how it works:

Collects and centralizes data

A Product Information Management system tracks and collects product information from an extensive catalog of sources. They include:

  • Basic data: This is data that is directly related to the products you are selling. Data like product names, titles, universal product codes (UPCs), and stock-keeping units (SKUs). 
  • Technical information: Technical information such as fabric type, materials, size, weight, measurements, colors, dimensions, variants, ingredients, and warranties can be stored in a PIM system. 
  • Assets: The PIM system can also store digital assets. These digital assets are not only used to show how a product looks but they can also be used to educate customers on how to use a product. 
  • Marketing information: It includes data like buyer personas, keywords, promotional content, and SEO-related data like titles and product descriptions.
  • Sales data: Data such as product pricing information, customer testimonials, and reviews can be stored.
  • Emotional data: An effective way to ensure that your customers not only buy from you but also remain loyal to your business, is by building an emotional connection with them. A PIM system can store data such as product stories, images, product descriptions, and other assets that evoke emotional responses from buyers.
  • Localized information: Large businesses that operate locally and globally need to ensure that their product information is tailored to specific locations. A PIM system will localize your product copy and the currency displayed so your customers have a consistent customer experience regardless of location. 

Most PIM systems offer two options for importing data. They can either automatically retrieve data from the other tools and systems you use or you can import the data directly from an Excel file. 

Updates and optimizes your data

You can easily update, cleanse, and optimize all your product information straight from a PIM system. The product information can be anything from your pricing information, product descriptions, or technical specifications.

Publishes the data

After updating your product information in the PIM, you can easily publish the changes across all your relevant sales and promotional channels.

Benefits of having a PIM system

One of the biggest challenges that businesses face, especially ecommerce businesses, is bad data. In fact, having bad data has a direct impact on your business’s bottom line. Research from Experian shows that 88% of American companies see a reduction in revenue due to bad or inaccurate data while 12% see a total loss in revenue.

The question now is how does bad product data translate into revenue loss? 

Here is an example scenario: 

A customer visits your online ecommerce store to buy a shirt. When the customer finds a shirt that fits their preferred specifications, they then go ahead and make their purchase. But at the time of delivery, the customer sees that the delivered product wasn’t exactly what they ordered. Maybe the size of the shirt isn’t right or it’s the wrong fabric because you displayed the wrong product information on your website.

The customer who went through this poor purchase experience might decide not to purchase from your store again. They can even go as far as telling friends not to interact with your business. So not only did you lose the customer, but you might also be losing out on new potential customers and future sales. 

Fortunately, having a PIM system helps you avoid this kind of error. It ensures that you display accurate and consistent product information on your selling channels.

Also, along with helping you improve revenue, here are some other benefits of having a PIM system:

1. A centralized database

A PIM system will serve as a centralized database for storing and managing all your product assets and information. 

One of the key advantages of having a centralized database is that there are fewer data redundancies since the data are not scattered in multiple repositories. This centralization also ensures that all the product information displayed across your sales channels is accurate since you can easily monitor for errors.

Not only that, a centralized databases guarantees increased security – you can set up user permissions to prevent unintended access to the database. 

2. Reduced data entry

With a PIM, you don’t need to manually enter product information across each of your sales channels or rely on multiple systems to manage your product data. Any changes you make in the backend are automatically relayed in the correct format across all channels by the use of an API

You will also be able to track your product data in real-time so you can easily identify errors or missing data. This way, all the information that your buyers come across during each stage of the buying process is accurate.

3. Increased personalization

Customers today have come to expect some form of personalization from their favorite brands. So much so that 80% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that offers personalized experiences. A Gartner survey also indicated that brands can potentially lose on average 38% of their customers due to poor personalization efforts.

Offering your customers personalized experiences can help you increase brand loyalty and also boost customer satisfaction.

But how can a large organization offer its customers increased personalization? 

One way to do this is by providing your sales team with all the information they need to persuade a prospect on the fence to become a customer. With a PIM, your sales representatives can easily access all the pre-approved product information and use it to create their sales proposals. 

This is where we see the value of metadata and asset tags. For example, a salesperson can easily search for relevant products based on color or material and use them to create personalized product bundles with relevant items that match a customer’s needs and preferences. Without the PIM, the salesperson might find it difficult to find all the information they need to make the sale. 

4. Integration with other systems 

One of the biggest benefits of a PIM system is that it integrates easily with almost every enterprise software since most PIM solutions use API (Application Programming Interface) to transmit data in real-time. So at every point in time, there is a two-way interaction between your PIM system and the other systems connected to it.

There is a long list of systems your PIM solution can connect to. They include but are not limited to CRMs, ERPs, DAMs, partner data systems, business intelligence software (BI), application server technologies, transaction data applications, tracking or logistic systems, and existing product databases. 

With this extensive list of systems to connect to, you wouldn’t have to worry about losing any vital product data info. 

5. Support tool for vendors and suppliers

Your PIM system is not just useful to people in your organization but can also serve as a support tool for the extended ecosystem outside of your organization. For example, suppliers and vendors can quickly and easily access your product information. Not only that, vendors will become more efficient because of self-service. They wouldn’t have to constantly email your sales or marketing team for information about a product. And when there are questions, they can easily communicate with the right personnel via the PIM system.

6. Faster time to market

With a PIM system, data delivery is both quick and accurate. The time it takes to track and validate product data from multiple sources is remarkably shorter. Collaboration is also more streamlined as all parties involved in getting the product from the production stage to the distribution stage are working in sync on the same platform – each team has access to the relevant information needed to get their job done. This leads to better operation efficiency which translates into faster product launches. 

Also, since you are not manually making every change, product updates reach your audience on their preferred channels on time, leading to increased customer engagement and sales. 

Features to look for in a PIM system

Before you consider investing in a Product Information Management system, here are some of the important features you should look out for.

1. Ease of importing data

Importation of data is one of the most critical functions of a PIM system. It’s most likely that you have product data in multiple systems, so it’s important that the PIM software you use can effectively import and store all the data in one location.

2. Bulk editing

One of the reasons why you should invest in a PIM system is so you don’t have to manually visit all your selling channels to edit the product information displayed. A good system will offer bulk editing functionality so you can edit everything at once. When you make any edits in your PIM, it is automatically edited in all relevant channels. 

3. User experience (UX)

The purpose of a PIM system is to streamline your Product Information Management workflow and make your product data easily available to all users. To ensure that both internal and external teams can efficiently access the data in the system, an intuitive interface is a must. For example, some PIM vendors offer advanced search functions. A system with a flexible data structure and product catalog segregation will also make it easy for you to navigate and search through all your product information. 

4. Ability to view data by channel

It is essential that your PIM system makes it possible for you to view all the content you have posted on various channels without having to visit these channels individually. Basically, you want to have a complete view of all your data by channel, searchable on the PIM system. 

5. Analytics

A quality PIM system will provide you with data analytics that is easy to read and understand. From the data, you will get insight into which of your products are performing well online. You will also be able to deduce from this what is working and what needs to be improved. For example, your highest-selling products might have their technical specifications clearly stated in the product description.

6. Supports numerous languages and currencies

If your products are marketed globally, it means that you are targeting audiences that speak multiple languages. You will also have to deal in several currencies. Your PIM system will allow you not only to be able to promote and sell in different languages and currencies, but you will also be able to collaborate with team members in other countries. 

7. History tracking and versioning for data change

We’ve already established that PIM systems allow easy collaboration between team members. Members can edit and make changes to product data. Versioning allows other members of the team to be able to keep track of the edits that have been made, who made them, and when they were made. 

DAM or PIM system? Which is best for your business

Product Information Management (PIM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) are two essential tools used by large organizations to make their marketing and commercial operations more efficient. And while both technologies have similar features, they still serve their own distinct purposes. Depending on your type of business and the service or product you offer, a DAM or PIM system might offer you more value.

But first, let’s see a brief summary of what a DAM system is.

A DAM system allows businesses to centrally store, manage, and distribute digital assets and media files, including images, videos, audio, graphics, and text. 

Similar to a PIM system, a DAM system serves as a single source of truth for all your digital assets and rich media. With it, you can monitor and manage the access and use of all your digital assets, ensuring brand consistency, compliance, and copyright protection. 

A DAM also allows for easy collaboration between teams regardless of location. By having all of your digital assets in a centralized database, both external and internal stakeholders can access digital assets 24/7 from any device that has an internet connection. And just like PIM systems, people can only have access to files that they have permission for. This will ensure that your assets are kept safe and secure. 

Now that we have an understanding of the difference between a DAM and PIM system, let’s see who they are best for.

Who is a PIM system best for?

  • Organizations that deal with huge amounts of product data and have multiple sales and marketing channels.
  • Manufacturers, businesses that sell consumer packaged goods (CPGs), or retailers with multiple SKUs.
  • Product, commerce, sales, marketing, and IT teams.

Who is a DAM system best for?

  • Companies that deal with a huge amount of digital assets. The companies can span from retail, CPG, energy, automotive, and finance, to life sciences.
  • Organizations that have multiple brands, channels, business units, and stakeholders that need access to these digital assets. DAM systems are also essential if you have a dispersed workforce with teammates working globally.
  • Marketing, creatives, communication, commerce, IT, digital, and sales teams.

It is worth noting that PIM and DAM each serve very specific purposes, and are therefore more powerful when used individually rather than a solution that combines both software into one. By having an individual DAM and PIM, users will get the full benefit of the solution, which can of course then be integrated with other software to offer a seamless experience. 

Both systems are very effective at helping businesses optimize their marketing and sales processes. And while they have distinct functions, they shouldn’t be thought of as mutually exclusive. Integrating your DAM solution with a PIM system allows you to leverage their complementary benefits. You will be able to easily link different digital assets to right products  so you can deliver a more complete user experience to your customers across all marketing and sales channels. 

Learn more about Wedia’s DAM solution and how you can efficiently boost your sales with your marketing assets. 

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