If you are thinking of implementing a Product Information Management (PIM) system into your business or are looking for a way to explain the benefits to stakeholders within your organisation, this article is for you. This is not a deep dive into the intricacies of PIM, rather a high-level overview of the benefits implementing PIM can bring.
First, what is PIM?
PIM stands for Product information Management. A PIM system is essentially a big database that hold all your product data, typically wrapped in a software solution. The notion of PIM is not new, enterprise level companies have been using large monolith PIM systems for decades and there have always been a few solutions available (typically with enterprise level price tags). In recent years the PIM market has exploded though, with solutions tailored for different levels of business and use case.
There seems to be a shift happening at the moment from ‘Product Information Management’ to ‘Product Experience Management’ and many PIM systems offer more than just PIM, (some much more). But that is not the point of this article.
Here, we simply want to set out the simplest, most easy to understand benefits that introducing PIM into your business can bring.
5 Key benefits PIM brings
There are many benefits PIM software may bring your organisation. To me though, these are the ones that have always stood out.
1. Increased efficiency when updating product information across multiple channels
If you manage multiple shop fronts to your business, such as a: website, ecommerce store, Amazon store, Ebay, etc. Then you know updating your products can be time consuming and a huge drain on admin resources. One of the key benefits of storing your product information in a PIM, is the ability to automate updates across multiple channels. You update your price once in your PIM and automatically push that change to all your customer facing end points.
This feature alone is typically enough to warrant the investment when you look at the time saving for product managers in fast paced organisations.
2. The ability to manage complexity, more easily
PIM systems are designed to store product data, and since product data can vary substantially, they are typically quite flexible. A good PIM system will allow complete flexibility and control over modelling your product data (something an out the box ecommerce solution won’t give you). This means if you manage particularly complex products or product ranges with hundreds of potential attributes or variants, you will almost certainly be better off doing this directly inside a dedicated PIM.
If you have configurable products or other types of complexity to manage, choosing a PIM that gives you most control over your structured data is a good place to start.
3. The control to ensure consistency in data entry
One of the biggest administrative challenges organisations can face (especially those with growing or distributed teams) is how to ensure consistent data entry. PIM can solve that by establishing strict rules for users on what, when and how they can enter information.
You might set rules for:
- Who can enter certain types of data
- The specifics of what data is allowed and expected for certain products
- What order data must be entered
- The type of data input
- The ranges that can be added
And of course, this can be tailored to suit your businesses individual needs.
4. Control of content distribution
If you make your content available to others, either through 3rd party organisations such as distributors or direct to customers through multiple channels. You can optimise that distribution and install controls from the PIM level.
Supposing you have one group of products sold in one country and another that go to a different market. You might want to send different products feeds to those markets with varying data formats at different times or frequency. That can get messy and complicated to manage. This is a common problem PIM solves and most solutions give you the ability to manage this with a little configuration.
5. Separation of product data from customer facing channels
This is often an overlooked benefit of using a dedicated PIM. Separating your product data from other systems makes you much more agile. As technology evolves, most businesses would like to be able to evolve their systems with it. If everything is tied to one system, that can be harder to achieve though.
By placing your product data into a PIM you not only separate it from customer facing systems (like an ecommerce store), you are also removing it from important backend systems (like an ERP). If at any point in the future you want to replace either front or back of house systems, you are one step closer to doing so.