Fundamentally, what does PIM mean?
Product Information Management describes the administration and maintenance of product data from a central source. Instead of managing information such as the product description and other specifications in several Excel lists that are usually scattered throughout the company, they are centrally maintained and kept up to date in a PIM solution. This means that outdated information and duplicates are history, and everyone who works with product information can rely on it being complete, up-to-date and correct.
These advantages make PIM systems particularly valuable for marketing and sales. Especially in these areas, employees rely heavily on having unrestricted access to complete product information. This is the only way they have control over product communication and can address the relevant target groups precisely and consistently across all channels. This applies to product presentations and sales documents as well as to website content, social media posts and information published in the mobile app – product information is the basis for all types of content.
To ensure that product data can be used on all relevant channels, a PIM system stores the information in a media-neutral and structured way. The structure is used when the information is published to display the right information in the right places. This applies to websites, ecommerce and apps as well as to print and online catalogs. Of course, product images also play an important role – and not just for fashion companies. The complementary solution for managing digital assets such as images, videos, audio files or documents is called Digital Asset Management (DAM) and, together with the PIM, forms what is known as Product Experience Management (PXM).
Intelligent data management thus forms the foundation for credible and convincing product stories that ultimately results in an individual corporate communication. In this way, marketing managers create the necessary differentiation and sales staff the trust for long-term customer relationships.
What can PIM software do?
As individual as the requirements and the processes of companies are, as diverse are the functionalities of a PIM software. The central importance of product data and the variety of departments in the company that work with this data often make the definition of requirements very complex.
That’s why PIM systems are usually very flexible in their configuration and provide businesses with the best possible support in gaining control over their product information.
- Browser-based application
Today, PIM systems are almost exclusively web-based. This offers many benefits to organizations – for example, it eliminates the need for maintenance and the planning and execution of updates for the software.
- Complexity? No problem!
PIM systems like mediacockpit can handle any level of complexity. Regardless of whether products are simple or have many variants – PIM ensures clarity, structure and transparency.
- International standards
Many industries, such as the automotive industry, use internationally recognized data formats to support the supply chain as well as trade. PIM systems are set up to all of these standards and bring corresponding functions that can translate product data globally.
- Ready for the global market
Data formats are not the only important issue for international commerce. Stores, apps and catalogs must be set up in the respective national language in order to establish customer loyalty. PIM systems therefore naturally also support the multilingualism of product data as well as processes related to translation management.
- Pictures often say more than a thousand words
No matter how precisely a text describes the color of a sweatshirt – product images are and remain elementary information carriers and must therefore inevitably be taken into account by a PIM system to form a relationship. This can be through an integrated image database or through close integration with complementary digital asset management systems.
- Clearly defined user roles
Since a wide variety of employees work with a PIM system, these solutions offer central management of access authorizations and user roles. Employees in product development, sales, marketing, and customer service thus gain access to information, processes, and workflows tailored to their roles.
- More than just a data dump
The purpose of PIM systems is not just to efficiently manage product data. The solutions are also designed to support various marketing and sales-related processes within the company. Product information systems have long since ceased to be purely IT tools; instead, they provide access to very many different roles. For this reason, most systems today have a very good usability that optimally supports the control of the various processes and cleanly defines all workflows related to product data.
- Seamless integration
As the primary place for managing product data, PIM systems must be able to communicate easily with upstream and downstream solutions. Regardless of whether it’s the company’s own ERP system or the supplier’s product information system, the connection to the respective data sources must ensure smooth data access in order to minimize effort on all sides. A high degree of automation also ensures effective transformation and integration of the data when it comes to the output of the data to the various output channels such as websites, marketplaces, apps or print products.
- Product catalog with just a few clicks
Catalogs still play a central role for many product categories. It doesn’t matter whether they are ultimately printed in paper form or sent electronically – PIM systems provide an ideal basis for their creation. Once rules have been defined, catalogs can be compiled in just a few clicks, and thanks to compatibility with standardized exchange formats such as BMEcat, products can be automatically classified in relevant standards such as ECLASS or ETIM, which also greatly facilitates exchange between suppliers and dealers.
What information does a PIM software manage?
The goal of product information systems is to provide a reliable 360 view of product information. This includes information such as:
- Product categories
- Short and long descriptions of products
- Catalog texts
- Sales texts
- Technical attributes
- Identification attributes such as EAN, GTIN or product IDs
- Inheritance and hierarchy information as well as ontologies for semantic knowledge transfer
- Variants and versions such as currencies or regulatory aspects
- Freely definable text fields
What information and data is not managed in a PIM system?
There is also a range of information that is classically managed, maintained and provided by other systems and that is linked to the corresponding product information via appropriate integrations:
- Media such as images, videos or audio tracks, which are managed in a DAM software
- Order data and inventory information managed in enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
- Customer data managed in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems
- Human resources files