PIM Buying Guide: How to Select the Best Product Information Management System

Written by Dynamicweb on 26.05.2022, 00:00
PIM Buying Guide: How to Select the Best Product Information Management System

Businesses today are selling on more channels than ever before – creating new challenges for marketers and product teams who have to keep vast amounts of product data up-to-date across all these channels. Channels include everything from your website, product catalogs, third-party marketplaces like Amazon, distributors or retailers, Point-of-Sales systems, social media, and the list goes on. 

As physical retail store locations continue to shrink, more customer experiences are taking place in online channels – making rich, accurate product experiences more important than ever for customers to make an informed purchase. In fact, “not enough product info” was cited as the number one reason for customers to leave an eCommerce site.

So how do marketing and product teams keep their vast amounts of product information accurate across all these channels to ensure relevant, consistent product experiences? The answer: Product Information Management (PIM).

What is a Product Information Management System (PIM)?

Product information management is the process of collecting, organizing, enriching, and disseminating all of the information that customers need to make a confident purchase decision across your sales channels. 

A Product Information Management System (PIM) is a set of tools that allow users to manage all aspects of a product portfolio on a single platform with a single source of truth. In most PIM setups, the product portfolio consists of products imported from an external system  - e.g. an ERP-system like NAV, AX, or Dynamics 365. These external systems are typically well-suited for managing business resources and commitments, but do not contain a lot of additional information about each product – and that is exactly where a PIM system is useful. 

PIM software can store all of the information that pertains to a product, including the description, supporting images and/or videos, pricing, specifications, instruction manuals, configuration, and more.  Additionally, PIM software can distribute product information in an almost infinite variety of ways so that businesses can provide optimal omnichannel experiences for marketers, suppliers, and customers. 

Why does my business need a PIM?

Both B2B and B2C businesses need a digital solution for organizing all of their product information accurately and efficiently. Many companies have hundreds or thousands of products that must be presented on multiple platforms. 

Within each individual product’s lifecycle, there is a large amount of data including:

  • Essential information like SKUs, UPCs, titles, names, and descriptions.

  • Technical specifications like measurements, ingredients, materials, and warranties.

  • Taxonomy information like labels, categories, and variations.

  • Design specifications like style sheets and assembly instructions. 

  • Digital assets like images, videos, and documents. 

  • Marketing data like keywords and SEO elements.

  • Sales information like prices, customer reviews, and testimonials. 

  • Channel-specific information like unique platform categories and mobile descriptions. 

  • Localized information like language translations and location-based suggestions. 

  • Production information like supplier and manufacturer content. 

Without a PIM, sales representatives, marketers, and other employees are required to spend an exorbitant amount of time manually updating product descriptions and synchronizing the information across all of their platforms. Without a PIM, businesses will likely struggle to manage the volume of information and maintain a clear, unified understanding of the most up to date information. Alternative, over-built product management tools exist, but they are typically only capable of achieving accuracy or efficiency, but not both. 

Your business needs a PIM if you:

  • Manage complex product information catalogs and relationships.

  • Offer a high number of SKUs.

  • Advertise and/or sell products on multiple channels or platforms. 

  • Collect information from multiple suppliers and manufacturers. 

  • Need to provide accurate, centralized information about products to multiple teams or individuals in-house. 

  • Make seasonal changes or expansions to products and offerings.  

  • Need to increase operational productivity. 

  • Need to analyze product performance. 

  • Need to impress customers with high-quality data and product representations. 

As it is, eCommerce is already demanding, and the expectations are rapidly growing. Across the globe, online shopping is one of the most popular online activities. Every year the percentage of eCommerce retail sales worldwide is increasing. By 2025, forecasts show that eCommerce will likely make up almost 25% of retail sales worldwide. Businesses need a PIM to successfully optimize product management today and prepare for business growth in the future. 

Dive deeper! Download our free white paper - The Case for Integrated Product Information Management

What To Look For In A PIM System:

What do I need my PIM system to accomplish? 

Measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) are helpful to understanding how PIM is impacting overall business goals. KPIs can vary widely because they are company-specific, but they generally include assessing the alignment of products across channels by a specific date, reducing time to market by a specific percentage, reducing time spent updating and managing product content by a specific percent, and establishing a clear and easy onboarding process for products on each channel. 

Is the PIM system located on the cloud or on-site? 

PIM systems that operate on the cloud are typically offered as software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. Cloud-based PIM software is centrally hosted and accessible on demand through a web browser. On-site PIM solutions need to be hosted on a specific computer or server. Managing this approach requires a full-service, in-house IT team. 

Are the PIM system’s exports standardized or customizable? 

Standardized exports map product data according to predetermined specifications. This means that the convention and naming fields are set by the system. On the other hand, customizable exports provide the flexibility to control the data naming and formatting, without compromising the successful exportation of product data to various channels. 

Does the PIM system allow users to upload and manage digital files? 

If you need to link data and images with products, choose a PIM solution that includes asset management. For many businesses, enriching product descriptions with media is key to winning conversions. 

What types of support services are available with this PIM solution?

Different PIM providers offer different levels of support. If you are new to PIM software or do not have a robust in-house IT team, it is best to choose a PIM solution provider with a comprehensive support service. Even if you are experienced with PIM and have an in-house IT team, the additional support can ensure complete optimization of the PIM solution. 

Where do I publish and disseminate product information?

It is important to choose a PIM solution that is capable of publishing across multiple channels, in the different formats required, and in the languages needed to reach your target audience. Select a PIM software that can feed to apps, third-party marketplaces like Amazon, catalogs, emails, and any other channels you utilize for distribution. 

Where is product information collected? 

When choosing a PIM solution, assess the sources from which you collect data and select a PIM software that can handle all of your required sources, like different formats provided by manufacturers and distributors, for example. Furthermore, a comprehensive solution is ideal for managing your current needs and preparing for future growth. 

What degree of complexity is allowed for product information? 

Most PIM systems can handle a multitude of products, but not every PIM system can manage the same degree of complexity in the data surrounding each product. If your products need a lot of information or require a sophisticated taxonomy, choose a PIM solution that can allow your team to manage your data efficiently. 

What other workflows does the PIM solution need to support, and what processes need to be developed to generate success? 

Once your business has a PIM solution, it is important to integrate tangential workflows and processes to ensure your new system is optimized. As you transition to fully utilizing PIM, new use cases and processes will likely emerge. Consider who will interact with the product information, what the product information interactions involve, how specific parties interact with product information, and when the interactions can occur. 

What degree of PIM and ERP integration is needed? 

Like PIM, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems integrate company data. If your company uses an ERP system, it is important to consider how closely the PIM and ERP solutions should be integrated. To ascertain the degree of integration needed between your systems, ask: 

  • Should the lifecycle of each product start in ERP or in PIM?

  • Should ERP data be visible in the PIM?

  • Do you need to access and manage product data without opening the ERP?

  • Do you need to generate data sheets or other outputs in ERP? 

If you answered yes to most of these questions, your business needs to tightly integrate the PIM and ERP solutions

What features do I need from the PIM solution? 

The ultimate purpose of a PIM solution is to seamlessly display and retrieve accurate and timely information when a customer is shopping on any of your businesses’ platforms. In order to fulfill this goal, the PIM system you implement needs to include: 

  • Centralized, media-neutral data management solutions

  • Synchronized, cross-media use of product information

  • Many configuration and relationship options

  • Management, maintenance, transfer, and output of product information

  • Management of communication, purchasing, and production information

  • Appropriate support of content, supply chain, system workflows, and multi-channel publications

  • ERP integration, and integration with other systems and databases

  • Management of media, digital assets, and translations

Benefits of a PIM

  • Reduce Errors and redundancies PIM solutions provide a single source of truth and business workflows that reduce errors and redundancies. 

Eliminate Manual Data Management - PIM software intelligently automates the management of data input, output, and updates. 

Integrate Complex Data - PIM software integrates data from multiple sources, across multiple channels, and in multiple formats. 

Expedite Exports - PIM solutions reduce the time to market by optimizing product info and exporting the data to the correct channels and platforms. 

Optimize Resources - Through unmatched data consistency, PIM enables businesses to reduce overhead and waste.

Improve Operational Efficiency - By eliminating bottlenecks and data silos, PIM improves the accuracy and speed of operations. Implementing PIM frees up time for team members to focus on client relationships and business growth objectives. 

Drive Sales - PIM solutions empower businesses to sell more products by delivering better content and more accessible data. 

Increase Customer Satisfaction - PIM ensures that product content is high-quality and fully up-to-date across every channel. This degree of consistency and excellence increases customer satisfaction and promotes customer loyalty. 

Experience the Best with Dynamicweb's built-in PIM System

Take control of your extensive product information with Dynamicweb’s PIM solution. Working with Dynamicweb PIM means fewer applications, integrations, and systems. It is fast and inexpensive to implement and maintain, and it comes with both frontend and backend access for controlled access for partners, customers and employees.. 

The advantages include less complexity with PIM and eCommerce in the same platform or stand alone, faster implementation in comparison to other PIM systems, the ability to manage product relationships, and the live frontend preview feature. 

The PIM backend capabilities deliver multiple benefits that include the ability to enrich and organize products and variants, validate and monitor changes with notifications and workflows, import and export product data to Microsoft Excel. The PIM frontend capabilities also deliver multiple benefits that include standard frontend with self-service for dealers and partners, downloadable product data and digital assets in relevant formats, and deliverable feeds to multiple channels. 

Dynamicweb PIM is a mature and professional solution encompassing all of the capabilities you need in handling product information. This includes a 360 degree overview, flexible data structure, high quality data assurance, product relationship optimization, and multilingual digital assets. 

Watch this 2-minute video to experience Dynamicweb PIM. 

Use Dynamicweb PIM as a single source of truth for inheriting data across variants, product groups, and languages. Dynamicweb PIM offers an extensive range of customization so that you can import and export your product data in various formats and group products in structures that support your unique business. 

Download this white paper to learn why PIM is key to eCommerce success. 

Dynamicweb PIM enables the augmentation of content from ERP product data to support great customer experiences. Enhancing content for various audiences and languages is a key strategy for ensuring conversions. 

Watch this 2-minute video to learn how to take control of your product information with Dynamicweb PIM. 

Dynamicweb’s ‘Smart Search’ engine allows businesses to define dynamic product lists such as latest product changes, products with incomplete data, and more. Users can also set up automated email notifications when a search is changed. Dynamicweb saves you valuable time automating the processes of creating product sheets, pricing lists, brochures, and catalogs. You can also let your customers, suppliers, or employees create their catalog via your website. This self-service approach saves you many hours of handling product information requests and improves your service offerings to partners and customers. 

To learn about Dynamicweb PIM and see it in action, contact Dynamicweb today.