Managing information about goods is essential to any manufacturing, trading, or e-commerce business. At the initial level, companies solve it by creating product descriptions in Word or Excel tables or editing product descriptions in the CMS of an online store. But inevitably, there comes a time when managing product information cannot do without implementing a specialized solution PIM (Product Information Management).
PIM-system is a single center of information about the company’s products at all stages of its life cycle for different sales, marketing, and support channels. The basic requirements for such a product content management system are as follows.
- Convenience of working with information. Different employees work with the data. Their list is not limited to content managers. Employees and managers of marketing, sales, product departments, and external users (for example, your distributors) need access to product information. According to their roles and permissions, they can receive, transmit, and update information. The more organized, convenient, and straightforward these processes are, the less time will be spent. Automatic loading of supplier and partner data further speeds up the procedure.
- Control of integrity, sufficiency, and consistency of data. At this stage, most of the errors caused by the human factor should be prevented. It can be organized programmatically, automatically, and with the help of a manager or supervisor. The more complete your PIM system is, the more successfully the data is checked at the input stage, so there are fewer errors. Information transmitted from PIM to marketplaces and online stores is visible to the consumers, and mistakes in the data can significantly impact the brand.
- Safe and secure data storage. Companies take care to prevent unauthorized access and data safety in case of network errors or physical damage to disks and servers. It is also necessary to avoid damage and corruption of data due to accidental or malicious actions of employees. For this purpose, a change log is kept. Product information is one of the most open and secret types of data. It is transmitted to sales channels, where everyone sees it, but data on new and future products must be kept secret before the sales launch.
- Import, export, and integration of data. This factor is becoming increasingly important with the development of omnichannel. Product content must be uploaded not only to the website of the branded online store but also to various marketplaces (often in different countries) and social networks. It would be good to give data to layout designers of branded catalogs and offline points of sale (not all PIM systems have such opportunities).
In addition, it is necessary to integrate the PIM solution with various processes and systems of the company: ERP, CRM, SCM, accounting programs, business intelligence systems, and business decision-making.
Various options for using information dictate the requirements for data formats of uploaded and downloaded data. The minimum requirement that allows a brand to use a PIM solution without any problems is the availability of uploading via API and in xls, csv and xml formats.
- The product information structure should quickly adapt to different categories of goods and online and offline marketing and sales channels (website, store, mobile application, marketplaces, distributors, retail stores). Product management becomes more complicated if the brand assortment is extensive, contains many items, or changes frequently. The use of several product lines or the release of goods under several brands, complex products with complex descriptions, and the presence of different colors, sizes, and varieties of one product also increase the requirements for PIM.
When multimedia content is used (for example, in the fashion industry), creating a digital asset library (DAL) is necessary to improve the entire system’s performance.
PIM systems on the market exist both in the form of separate independent programs and in the form of applications as part of MDM (Master Data Management) platforms. The MDM platform is a comprehensive software for managing the most critical data for the business: customers, products, services, sales channels, business processes, partners, etc. It ensures information accuracy, completeness, and relevance at any time and for any user. As a rule, a PIM application is also part of such platforms.
Individual PIM systems are widely used in e-commerce, especially if the brand has many D2C channels. They allow you to market new products and product lines faster and launch new sales channels. We talked more about such systems in a separate article. However, they have a significant drawback. Initially, stand-alone solutions do not typically interact with the company’s global business processes. Let’s see what can relate to such business processes.
- Price management. Price is an essential part of product information that has the maximum impact on sales and conversions. In PIM, not only is there no mechanism for managing prices, but often also information about them. And without such data, it is impossible to draw reasonable conclusions about the factors affecting the brand’s revenue.
- Customer Relationship Management. The client is at the center of the product and marketing strategy. Product content in stand-alone PIM is not related to customer information, orders, returns, service center calls, and reviews. We can say that in this form, it is somewhat detached from reality.
- Construction of cause-and-effect relationships. In modern e-commerce, it is not only the data itself valuable but also the relationships between them. Without building them, it is impossible to analyze and understand how the product strategy affects the financial results – for example, how a new product is sold or how a change in product content affects the conversion rate and the percentage of returns. Such analysis is far beyond the stand-alone capabilities of PIM. But it is necessary to notice and fix problems in one or more sales channels in time.
To use the listed data in product marketing, the IT department of the brand must independently configure heterogeneous integrations. The lack of automation leaves room for mistakes caused by the human factor, and different data formats and structures also cause technical errors.
In addition, existing package solutions are often adapted to one or more of the most popular marketplaces and impose strict requirements on the imported and exported data format. Integrating existing accounting systems, online sales channels, and partner data makes it challenging. There are also very flexible solutions, but they require extended work for the IT department to connect and integrate, which can be expensive. A PIM solution based on an MDM platform solves all these issues.
PIM solutions based on MDM platforms immediately integrate product content into the overall e-commerce management system. MDM platforms with PIM systems make it possible to manage information about products and orders, and balances in different warehouses, improve and partially automate customer interaction, and make marketing activities transparent. The connection of new sources or consumers of data occurs without the long-term involvement of a team of programmers.
When data changes by one department of the organization according to pre-allowed scenarios, these changes are reflected in all other areas. For example, you can associate a vendor price change with price changes on marketplaces, or you can adjust the intensity of advertising campaigns that receive data from a product catalog based on the availability of products in warehouses.
Thus, the MDM platform acts as a single data center for the entire e-commerce infrastructure of the brand. It is much larger than a PIM system. Its implementation is more complex and requires more details. Deploying and integrating stand-alone PIM requires less time, effort, and resources.
Many companies choose stand-alone PIM as an easier and faster option to save time and resources for setting up and integrating software. However, there is a trap in this choice. Business is growing, the number of sales channels is increasing, and so is the complexity of managing e-commerce. After a short time, we must return to the issue of implementing an MDM platform. Only now, it needs to be integrated with the existing PIM system, which you spent significant effort on.
Using a PIM application as part of an MDM platform is the optimal strategic approach to solving the problem of integrating product marketing into the overall business management system. The modular architecture of the solution allows you to reduce the cost of implementation when only those components of the MDM system that are currently needed are connected.
Such a structure exists in the Syntes MDM platform. The Syntes app store only allows you to use selected apps. If a brand is just starting to digitally transform its sales, you can use the Products (PIM) app and connectors to link to your chosen marketplaces, then connect the Orders, Prices, Inventories, and more apps.
You can get acquainted with the capabilities of the Syntes MDM platform and get advice on implementation by signing up for a consultation here.
Syntes, an international company, develops a next-generation MDM (Master Data Management) and PIM (Product Information Management) cloud platform and provides brands and manufacturers with services for creating, managing and automating D2C (Direct-to-Customer) sales and marketing channels. Syntes solutions and services are used by the world’s leading brands and manufacturers of consumer and business products such as Razer, Scarlett, Pantone, X-Rite, AVerMedia and others. Syntes is a registered trademark of Syntes, Inc.
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