Product Information Management (PIM) Software

Supporting warehouse and stock managers, product information management software (PIMS) largely consists of inventory type databases of products and parts along with descriptions, metrics and identification data for each item. PIMS helps to acquire, edit, maintain, manage and publish this data. Automated data collection from databases can enrich existing entries with media files and updated / corrected information. Additionally, many products support batch-processing for localization, classification or rebranding. Advanced Product Information Management software applications support filtering for duplicates, wording suggestion features, variant source management (like ERPs, printed materials and online files), crawling practices, writing style harmonization features and channel adaptation. Many PIM software products today display quality and completeness indicators as visual aids for marketers to help increase customer conversions.  Read the full software guide...

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What is Product Information Management (PIM) Software?

Product information management (PIM) software is often utilized by warehouse and stock managers. It enables these users to acquire, edit, manage, and publish data based on their business’ inventory of products and parts, which includes descriptions, metrics, and other identification information. As this data can be set up to automatically update, these solutions can significantly streamline eCommerce processes and enhance user productivity.

In terms of specific functionality, these solutions can provide a range of features. These features include wording suggestions, duplicate filtering, data crawling, writing style harmonization, variant source management, and channel adaptation. Additionally, many modern PIM solutions can offer quality and completeness indicators, as well as visual aids that can help marketers to improve customer conversion rates.

Before deciding on a particular PIM solution, it is crucial to consider what integrations you will need, especially if you have an existing software stack. As such, PIM software can commonly integrate with, for example, business process management or catalog management solutions.

Types of Product Information Management (PIM) Software

Product information management software is actually known by other names, often used interchangeably by many people within the industry. A PIM system is also referred to as product lifecycle management (PLM) software, master data management (MDM) software and product resource management (PRM) software. While people use these designations interchangeably, they actually have very distinct functions and can be categorized based on their capabilities and their impact on your business process.

Product lifecycle management (PLM) software

PLM systems provide strong support for all product-related processes, from the conception of a product through development, manufacturing and even through aftermarket service. This type of management software is specifically tailored for product engineers, developers and manufacturers, although online merchants and retailers can certainly benefit from some of its features and capabilities.

Product lifecycle management is essentially a business process that involves the management of a product throughout its entire lifecycle. This covers the inception period (coming up with the idea), the engineering design aspect, the manufacturing and the distribution and selling. PLM software incorporates personnel, key processes, management systems and comprehensive data and then delivers robust product information through a single platform for manufacturing and retail companies, as well as their extended enterprise.

Master data management (MDM) software

MDM software is a program designed to integrate all business applications and relevant information of an entire organization, ensuring data quality and security. It houses all pertinent data and other digital assets from different business units and departments into a single platform. This type of software is meant to create a reliable and secure focal point of reference for organizations. For online merchants and retailers, this means they will have complete and accurate customer information that can be leveraged for targeted sales and marketing strategies.

An MDM solution is crucial in ensuring reliable data quality. It helps to make sure customer records and other vital digital assets are free of errors or inaccuracies, as erroneous and inaccurate information could lead to unnecessary costs for the organization. Management systems like MDM collate enterprise-wide data from multiple channels, domains and departments. It then separates the core information that users have pre-determined as pertinent data for the company and can be leveraged in their business process.

Product resource management (PRM) software

Commonly referred to simply as product management software, PRM systems are designed to help companies, manufacturers, developers and retailers effectively manage their digital assets in a single platform. These assets are basically software applications that are created and implemented as a product and can be marketed and distributed through multiple channels. PRM software takes into account the product lifecycle and the customer-base.

Product resource management is a business process that involves product data governance, from its inception to design and development, marketing and sales, to customer delivery and after-sale service, all to ensure the best customer experience and to maximize revenue. PRM software is capable of facilitating product development and marketing, with the core objective of maximizing sales and profits for the company. Management systems like PRM also aim to expand market share and profit margins.

The thing is…

It’s worth noting that while all the aforementioned management systems share a few commonalities with each other, especially when it comes to product data governance, they do not necessarily fall under the umbrella of product information management software. On the contrary, a PIM solution is generally integrated into those product management platforms as a module or part of their core functions.

A basic PIM system does not necessarily have the capability to manage the entire lifecycle of a product without the aid of a third-party solution. Its core features usually include data modeling, data quality control, digital asset management, documentation management, third-party integration and a number of collaboration tools. The bottom line is if you pick any of the previously mentioned management systems (PLM, MDM or PRM software), you’re bound to get some form of PIM solution built into the platform.

How to Choose Product Information Management (PIM) Software

There are a number of factors you have to consider when choosing product information management (PIM) software. The following are some of the more crucial deciding factors you have to take into account in your selection process:

What type of buyer are you?

Consider the kind buyer you are. This is pretty important as it allows you to find the right PIM solution that is appropriate for your business needs, in terms of features and capabilities. For example, if you run a small online retail business, you might want to consider searching for free open-source product information management systems.

An open-source PIM software solution may not have the full capabilities of a comprehensive PLM or MDM platform, but if you’re looking for a cost-effective solution that has all the necessary tools to help you manage product data from a single platform, ensuring data quality and consistency throughout multiple sales channels, then open-source might be the way to go. On the other hand, if your company manages a lot of digital assets marketed as products, then a product resource management (PRM) platform should be the more appropriate option for you.

Consider product scaling

In addition to finding a PIM system specific to your industry, you should also consider looking into product scaling. Product information management software has always been a cost-effective solution, especially for large multichannel retailers, B2C manufacturers and international online merchants. But this hasn’t always been the case for small to mid-sized ecommerce companies as these management systems can be quite expensive.

Nowadays, there has been an influx of PIM software solutions that cater specifically to the smaller retailers and merchants requiring a cost-effective platform to help with the creation, consolidation and distribution of their product catalog across multiple channels. It’s worth noting that these PIM software solutions, although less expensive, may have performance limitations as the size of the product database and other digital assets increases over time. This is where scalability becomes important.

Implementation and ease-of-use

During the selection process, you should also consider how simple or convenient it is to implement your new PIM solution. Does the platform make the process of entering product descriptions and other relevant information easier? Does it allow you to manage your product information consistently across different sales and distribution channels?

Another important question you need to ask is, does your product information management (PIM) software offer user-friendly features and capabilities that allow you and your team to effectively manage, consolidate and distribute consistent and accurate product information through multiple channels in real time?

Benefits of Product Information Management (PIM) Software

Precise and efficient inventory management

One of the key benefits of implementing the right product information management software is the total control and efficiency it provides users when it comes to inventory management and other related business process. With the PIM solution, retailers can make sure that pricing, product descriptions, inventory levels and other relevant data are consistent, accurate and up-to-date across the board, in all sales channels.

More streamlined customer experience

The number of online shoppers has consistently grown in the recent years. This year alone, there’s probably a significant spike in the number of consumers switching to the internet to purchase basic products. With that said, it is crucial for retailers and online merchants to provide a streamlined customer experience for browsing items, viewing product descriptions and evaluating prices and discounts, as well as completing transactions. Providing a consistent customer experience using a PIM solution can help improve customer loyalty and revenue.

Speeds up time to market products

Once a product is ready for market, it can take time and effort to actually market the product, especially online. This is because you have to draft product descriptions, upload images to represent the item for sale, add modifiers like sizes, colors and/or materials. All these will take up so much time and effort when you’re talking about multiple products in different sales and distribution channels. It is also important to keep all product data consistent across multiple channels.
A PIM system will automate a lot of these processes, ensuring a speedy time to market with consistent, accurate and up-to-date product information.

Common Features of Product Information Management (PIM)

API Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.
Calendar Management Manage and update calendars for scheduling or consolidation of events across teams, departments or business functions.
Dashboard Dashboards are digital interfaces commonly used to visualise data or give quick access to important features and functions of online platforms. They often serve as an overview gateway in software applications.
Data Export Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.
Data Import Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.
Data Visualization Data visualization features render a visual interpretation of data sets through the use of charts, infographics and other visual cues generally in form of a reporting dashboard.
External Integrations Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.
Multi-User Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.
Notifications Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.
Product Catalog Allows for the digital catalogization of large amounts of products.
SAP Integration Integrates with common SAP services.
Scheduling Schedule tasks, resources, appointments, payments, communications, etc.
Third-Party Plugins/Add-Ons Offers additional features or integrations built by third-party developers in form of plugins or add-ons.

Latest User Reviews of Product Information Management (PIM) Products

Josh Colt
11 Apr 2019
"The solution for eCommerce websites"

It offers many tools for the creation of an eCommerce, it has many templates that are very professional and you can create a complet...

Charles Wilson
03 Aug 2019
"Great platform to create any eCommerce."

I like that I have access to thousands of professional templates to create my virtual store. This software is very easy to use, I ca...

Daniella Viñas Zabaleta
15 Jan 2020
"Shopify: get full control of your online s..."

Managing inventories within Shopify is not boring at all, as the interface allows us to freely mobilize the informative content of t...

Martijn J. Hoogeveen
30 Nov 2020
"Icepim for content syndication"

The straightforward solution, and many integration options with mainstream platforms such as PrestaShop, Magento Commerce, and Googl...

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