Product Information Management (PIM)
To accurately sell products and maximize potential profits, businesses must have a comprehensive product information management (PIM) system in place. PIM is the process of managing and curating all product data—including photos, descriptions, pricing details, availability, delivery methods, and more.
What is Product Information Management (PIM)?
Product information management (PIM) is a process that allows businesses to store, manage, and enrich product data from a single location.
By using this centralized system, companies can ensure that their product information is consistent, organized, and accurate across all marketing and sales channels.
Examples of product information data include:
- Product descriptions
- Pricing information
- Availability details
- Color and size variations
- Product images
- Delivery methods/options
- Product tiers or microservices (for software providers)
PIM systems are designed to help businesses streamline management for their entire product catalog, so they can bring products to market faster.
Without one, companies can experience huge delays in product launches, resulting in lost revenue opportunities.
More importantly, they find difficulty delivering the engaging product experiences their customers expect.
On the flip side, having a PIM system helps organizations increase their sales and company profitability by providing customers with accurate, up-to-date information.
- PIM: The abbreviated term for “product information management.”
- Product Data Management: The complete process of organizing, storing, and managing product-related data.
- Product Experience Management: The practice of managing customer interactions with and perceptions about a company’s products.
- Product Content Management: The practice of organizing and maintaining product-related content.
- PIM Software: Software designed to store and manage product information.
- Product Information Management Solutions: A suite of services that use technology to store and manage product information.
The Challenges of Product Information Management
The 2020 IDC PIM for Commerce MarketScape highlights that in a digital world, both B2B and B2C consumers require more engaging, streamlined experiences.
To guarantee successful omnichannel product promotion, retailers, manufacturers, and brands must provide precise data about their products.
But this isn’t without its challenges.
Data Quality Issues
Data quality issues are among the most pressing for organizations. Businesses lose between $10 and $14 million in potential revenue due to bad data, and marketing data is undoubtedly a significant contributor to this figure.
Without the right data, companies can’t accurately track customer behaviors and preferences, they can’t develop the right marketing messaging, targeting strategies, or changes to the sales process that lead to higher conversion rates.
This means they also can’t provide potential customers with the right product details.
If a business doesn’t have a unified approach to managing its digital assets across channels, its data quality is arbitrary.
There are two ways data silos can negatively impact an organization:
- A lack of centralization makes product data maintenance slow and laborious.
- The existing product data is fragmented, making it hard to identify patterns, trends, or correlations in the customer data that can be used to inform strategic decisions.
Data inconsistency or a lack of access to data can lead to misunderstandings and confusion between teams, ultimately resulting in a decline in customer experience quality.
Often, data silos happen when companies use multiple software (e.g., social media tools, email automation tools, websites) without a centralized system or database in place to connect them all together.
Keeping Up with Market Demands
The need to keep up with market demands is multifold.
- Product development must reflect customer preferences.
- Marketing and sales messaging must communicate the product’s value accurately and succinctly.
- The omnichannel must continuously reflect the platforms customers are using.
In terms of PIM, this means that accurate products must be available on the right channels, the right way—a task that can prove daunting, especially without access to data that can inform these placements.
Managing Multiple Channels and Platforms
The average enterprise organization uses eight marketing distribution channels, each with its own set of requirements.
Product information must be structured and conveyed differently on company websites, social media profiles, and other channels.
Although this offers the opportunity for multiple touchpoints, it also makes it difficult to provide a consistent user experience.
Inconsistent Processes & Systems
Internally, the way product data is collected and organized needs to be standardized.
When sales, marketing, and product departments aren’t on the same page, it leads to inconsistencies in pricing, product images, descriptions, and other information that can hurt the customer experience.
Inconsistent pricing information, for example, can confuse potential buyers and lower conversion rates.
And a disconnect between sales and marketing could result in marketing messaging that doesn’t resonate with the ideal customers sales reps are targeting.
Digital Asset Management Challenges
Digital assets are the visual elements that make up a product’s identity. They include images, videos, logos, and graphics.
Digital asset management can be tricky because of the sheer volume of these elements needed to promote products across multiple channels.
Repurposing the same assets for different platforms can make the process easier, but there is still the challenge of ensuring these assets are correctly optimized to look and perform their best.
Ensuring Accurate and Up-to-Date Products Across All Channels
One of the hardest things about managing product information is ensuring the accuracy of the available information, especially for companies managing several product categories.
Inaccurate or outdated product descriptions can lead to customer confusion and decreased sales.
On a company’s own platforms, this isn’t difficult—updating the website, informing the customer service team, and having the warehouse staff adjust their inventory are relatively straightforward tasks.
But many ecommerce brands and software companies use third-party websites (e.g., G2 Crowd and other review sites) to generate revenue.
Managing product listings on these sites requires a different approach. Organizations must monitor prices on third-party sites carefully to ensure they match their own prices, and proactively reach out to them when they don’t.
Benefits of an Effective Product Information Management Solution
PIM streamlines the intricate needs of product content, making it effortless to circulate reliable and top-notch product data across marketing and sales channels.
- Enhanced productivity. PIM reduces the time spent on manual data entry and formatting, freeing employees to focus on more meaningful tasks.
- Accurate product information. Consistent, accurate product information ensures that customers always get the right information when making a purchase.
- Better customer experience. With product content available on multiple channels, customers can browse, compare, and choose any product they need on the platforms they’re most comfortable with.
- Effective engagement strategies. When improved sales and marketing targeting brings in more of the right customers, buyer engagement becomes more effective and conversion rates rise.
- Improved ROI. Having reliable and up-to-date product information on multiple platforms allows companies to maximize their reach, leading to revenue growth and better ROI.
- Long-term success. Product lifecycle management depends on the successful implementation of a PIM system to ensure the longevity and success of a company’s product portfolio.
An effective PIM system—coupled with an easily-accessible source for product data—expedites workflows, identifies and addresses quality issues, capitalizes on new market opportunities, and ultimately provides customers with a stellar experience.
Implementing a Product Information Management Solution
To successfully implement product information management software, companies must build a culture of collaboration between departments, bring data from different sources together in one place, and create a central product information hub.
Setting Goals & Objectives for Your PIM System
The first step in PIM system implementation is to set goals and objectives.
Goals should be quantifiable and trackable. And they should include small actions the organization can take every day to reach them.
- Improve social media engagement by posting new product content two times per week.
- Increase customer satisfaction ratings by providing accurate product information on the website and third-party platforms.
- Boost organic search rankings by optimizing product descriptions for keywords.
- Grow marketing content engagement by collecting customer feedback from product pages, purchase demographics, and sales insights.
Keeping track of your goals and objectives allows you to measure the success of your PIM implementation initiatives, so you can make adjustments as needed.
Evaluating Potential Solutions & Vendors
A PIM solution is invaluable for collecting and governing data, enriching product content, and distributing it to different marketing, sales, and ecommerce channels. But only if it’s the right solution.
Here are some critical considerations for vendor evaluation and selection:
- Company size and industry. Your chosen PIM software should reflect the needs of your exact organization (e.g., enterprise vs. mid-market, B2B vs. B2C, SaaS vs. ecommerce).
- Features and benefits. Compare how different PIM solutions will impact your productivity, efficiency, accuracy of data and visibility into KPIs. Consider which features are must-haves based on your goals and objectives, and prioritize those in the buying decision process.
- System integration. Ensure the PIM vendor offers integrations with your existing solutions, such as ERP software and WMS systems.
- Technology platform. Opt for a cloud-based, scalable platform that allows you to add or remove features as needed.
- Data governance features. Choose a solution that keeps track of product data and ensures it’s always up-to-date, so you can trust the accuracy of the information your customers receive.
- Value delivery and support. Look for vendors that offer easy implementation processes and reliable customer service and technical support in case you run into any issues during the integration or implementation phases.
Developing a PIM Strategy for Your Organization
To develop a PIM strategy, follow this framework:
- Set up an implementation roadmap. Develop an implementation roadmap and timeline to ensure that the PIM solution meets your goals and objectives in a timely manner. Outline tasks, activities, and dependencies and assign roles to designated personnel to ensure everything is on track.
- Integrate with your tech stack. Your sales stack and marketing tools must be in sync with your data and information management systems. Work with your vendors to ensure that each system is properly integrated and ready to go when you launch the PIM platform.
- Clean up and optimize data. Before utilizing PIM software, make sure the product information is accurate. Establish rules for data entry and management using taxonomies, metadata, and a unique identifier.
- Quality check content. After the data has been cleaned up and optimized, assess the quality of content to make sure it meets the branding and communication standards set for your organization.
- Test & deploy. Before going live with a PIM platform, test out its features and capabilities in a staging environment to ensure it meets expectations.
- Gather feedback and measure success. As you use your product information management system, collect user feedback across all departments involved in managing product data. Regularly measure KPIs like time-to-market, data accuracy, customer satisfaction scores, and other metrics applicable to your organization.
- Improve processes and invest in training. Keep all team members updated on using the PIM system properly to ensure sales readiness and accurate marketing messaging. Create process documents to ensure best practices are followed when entering and managing product data.
Product Information Management System Tools
Several elements comprise PIM systems, including:
- Product data sheets. These documents contain details about all aspects of a product, from pricing, availability, and specs to images, videos, and customer reviews.
- Data enrichment. This process ensures that all product information is accurate and up-to-date by integrating additional sources of information or cleaning up existing ones.
- Content management. This feature allows you to keep product content organized, consistent, and easy to access for internal teams or customers.
- Asset library. To make sure you’re using the right product images and videos when marketing products, store them in an asset library accessible by sales, marketing, and customer service teams.
- Product data syndication. This tool allows users to distribute product information across the omnichannel, including marketplaces, websites, and mobile apps.
People Also Ask
What is the difference between PIM and CMS?
PIM (Product Information Management) and CMS (Content Management System) are two distinct solutions for managing digital assets.
PIM systems are specifically designed to manage product information such as catalogs, items, descriptions, images, and prices. CMS systems handle web content, including landing pages, blogs, and articles.
PIM systems offer syndication and multilingual support that help distribute product information across multiple global channels. CMS solutions are better suited to manage web content such as text, videos, or audio files.
What is a Product Information Management data model?
Typically, PIM systems utilize a hierarchical data structure composed of attributes and values applied to items like SKUs or products. This ensures that all related product information is organized in an easily understandable manner and can be accessed quickly when needed.
How are PIM and PxM related?
PIM focuses on managing product data such as descriptions, images, prices, etc., while PxM is more focused on delivering a complete customer experience from product discovery to purchase. The PIM system manages product content across multiple channels, while the PxM system provides an integrated customer experience that includes product selection, customization, pricing, payment, and delivery.