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What is Product Information Management (PIM)?

Table of Contents

Home > Blog > What is Product Information Management (PIM)?

  1. Simplifying Digital Asset Management
  2. Understanding PIM
  3. Why is PIM Important?
  4. The Evolution of PIM
  5. What do Modern PIM Systems Do?
  6. PIM Software Features & Capabilities
  7. Benefits of PIM
  8. How PIM Optimizes Sales Channels
  9. Key Takeaways

Product Information Management (PIM) is a system for organizing and managing all product information and digital assets in one central location. PIM systems serve as a single source of truth for product data.

PIM systems are designed to keep product information accurate and up-to-date across different sales channels.

Simplifying Your Data and Digital Asset Management Processes

In today's rapidly evolving retail landscape, efficiently managing product information has become crucial for organizations of all sizes. But the process of digital asset management is more complicated than ever. 

Teams need to volley between an increasing number of products, platforms, and customer touchpoints. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain accurate, consistent, and timely product information. This is where Product Information Management (PIM) comes into play.

Understanding Product Information Management PIM

Product Information Management (PIM) systems help to gather, organize, enrich, and distribute information. PIM software manages the various bits of product data:

  • Attributes
  • Specifications
  • Descriptions 
  • Images 
  • Videos
  • User manuals 
  • Other relevant data

Effective information and catalog management ensures data quality throughout the product management process. Businesses use PIM software to keep product information accurate, consistent, and accessible across multiple channels and touchpoints. 

Why is a PIM Tool Important?

Customers rely on detailed and reliable product information to make informed purchasing decisions. PIM software provides businesses with accurate and consistent product information, helping them deliver an exceptional customer experience.

Inconsistent or incomplete information can lead to customer dissatisfaction, reduced sales, and even damage to a brand's reputation. One bad review online has a way of snowballing. So, businesses need to be able to nip bad data in the bud before it does any lasting damage to their brand's reputation.

Retail teams can seamlessly manage and distribute product data using a single, centralized system for digital asset management. The result? The ability to provide customers with consistent, reliable, and timely digital data across different channels.

Why is a PIM Tool Important?

The Evolution of Product Information Management

Product Information Management PIM has evolved substantially over the past few years. The expansion of PIM software is driven by technological advancements, changing business needs, and the growing importance of data management.

PIM software is the new gold standard for retailers operating across multiple stores or e-commerce channels. It's not something retail teams can afford to ignore. So, let's take a deeper look at the key stages in the evolution of PIM.

Manual Processes

In the early days (circa 1970), information management was a manual, decentralized process. Companies depended on physical spreadsheets, paper catalogs, and files to manage and distribute product information. This approach was incredibly time-consuming, prone to human error, and unscalable.

When businesses expanded their product portfolios or entered new markets, they'd have to haul their physical files to each new customer.

Database Management Systems

When database management systems emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, companies began centralizing product data in "relational databases." This allowed for structured storage, improved data integrity, and gave employees easier access to information.

These systems were primarily designed for internal use. They couldn’t handle the complex management and distribution of product information across multiple channels.

Early PIM Software

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the first generation of true PIM solutions formed. Early PIM systems had basic functions for managing product data, including centralized storage, data enrichment, and basic syndication order management capabilities.

They were still usually standalone applications, however, and required custom integrations with other ERP systems. This limited their effectiveness and scalability as medium-sized businesses expanded into the megaliths we know today.

Multichannel Commerce and E-commerce Boom

In the early 2000s, e-commerce gained prominence and businesses expanded their online presence. The need for effective product information management (PIM) also grew. The rise of online marketplaces, e-commerce businesses, social media platforms, and mobile commerce meant businesses had to work harder to ensure comprehensive and consistent product data across touchpoints.

PIM software evolved to address teams' challenges in managing data assets. It offered a user-friendly interface with better integration capabilities, channel-specific data syndication, and support for all digital assets.

Omnichannel PIM Software

Omnichannel retailing continued to grow and customers came to expect a seamless experience across all channels. PIM solutions evolved in tandem with the retail industry. Newer solutions offered advanced tools:

  • Data syndication
  • Catalog management 
  • Real-time updates
  • Integrated workflows

Omnichannel PIM tools enabled businesses to deliver a unified, consistent, and personalized customer experience––whether transactions took place via online or offline channels.

Cloud-based and SaaS PIM Software

The advent of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models revolutionized the PIM landscape. Cloud-based PIM software provides scalable and flexible options, which can be customized to fit businesses of all sizes. Cloud-based systems eliminated the need for a physical infrastructure and reduced upfront costs.

These PIM solutions also simplified the order management process, allowing easier collaboration and access to product data from any location. Many modern cloud-based PIMs facilitate seamless integration with other enterprise systems and third-party applications.

Advanced Capabilities and AI

Modern information management PIM software has evolved to offer advanced capabilities that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI features bring novel capabilities:

  • Emotional data mining
  • Automated data validation
  • Attribute mapping
  • Product classification
  • Content generation

ML algorithms help teams provide the personalization that modern customers expect. They can analyze customer behavior, preferences, and market trends for actionable insights to enhance product recommendations.

Advanced Capabilities and AI

Integration with Digital Experience Platforms

When customer experience became a key differentiator, PIM software started integrating with Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs). This helped teams provide personalized, engaging experiences by combining product data with customer data, content management, and marketing automation capabilities.

This synergy with DXPs empowers businesses to create compelling digital experiences across customer touchpoints.

Data Governance and Compliance

There's an increasing emphasis on data privacy and compliance regulations, so PIM tools evolved to include data quality and compliance features:

  • Usage data tracking 
  • Data security tools 
  • Access controls 
  • Versioning
  • Audit trails

With these features, businesses can protect sensitive product information while adhering to data protection standards.

Future Trends

The evolution of PIM will likely continue with the emergence of new technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). PIM systems will adapt to support further integrations with IoT-enabled products and immersive product experiences.

Advancements in data analytics and AI will enable deeper insights into customer behavior, so businesses can further optimize their digital asset management and product information strategies.

The evolution of Product Information Management has transformed the way businesses manage their products and distribute their product data. PIM has evolved to meet the growing demands of multichannel commerce, offering scalable omnichannel experiences and data-driven decision-making.

By embracing information management PIM software, modern businesses can work more effectively, manage product data, and enhance customer experiences to gain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving digital marketplace. 

Present Day: What is a Product Information Management (PIM) System and What Does It Do?

Product Information Management (PIM) software gathers, organizes, enriches, and distributes product information. A PIM is a comprehensive system that centralizes and manages all product-related data to ensure accuracy, consistency, and accessibility across channels.

PIM systems act as a centralized repository for all product information. PIM lets companies store product information in an easy-to-read way while providing a single place for product data mapping, product stories, product catalogs, and product information for all sales and e-commerce channels.

In short, Product Information Management provides businesses with a unified, reliable source of product data. With PIM, product data can be easily shared with online sellers, marketplaces, business partners, third-party software companies, and other marketing channels.

Product Information Management Software (PIM Software) Features & Capabilities

Product Information Management software solutions offer a variety of features to enhance data management processes. These include:

Centralized Data Repository

Product Information Management software is a central repository for all product-related information:

  • Product descriptions
  • Specifications
  • Pricing
  • Multimedia and digital assets
  • And more

This ensures that all teams have access to consistent, accurate product data.

The centralized repository eliminates the need for multiple spreadsheets, documents, or other information distribution systems. It streamlines data access and updates and offers customization and flexibility.

Data Enrichment Tools

Product Information Management systems help businesses enrich their product data. They do this by centralizing data assets, such as: 

  • Relevant attributes
  • Classifications
  • Translations
  • Multimedia and other digital assets

These tools provide an intuitive, user-friendly interface for enriching product information—simplifying product data management and updates.

Enriching product information can help retail businesses provide customers with comprehensive, engaging content that drives positive purchasing decisions.

Data Validation and Governance

A PIM system has robust data validation and governance features. Businesses use PIM to ensure data accuracy and integrity with validation rules, automated checks, and approval workflows. These features help maintain data consistency and quality while reducing the risk of errors and inaccuracies.

Data governance controls let businesses define access rights, permissions, and versioning. This makes ensuring data security and compliance with regulatory standards an intuitive process.

Channel Syndication

Product Information Management software lets small and medium businesses easily manage products across platforms. It does this by helping companies distribute their product information to sales channels and marketing platforms as they scale:

  • E-commerce platforms
  • Marketplaces, 
  • Social platforms
  • Other digital media channels 

This distribution flexibility helps small and medium businesses maximize product visibility by acting on sales opportunities. By automating the syndication process, users can ensure that only accurate and consistent information is delivered to each sales layer.

Workflow Automation

Workflow Automation

PIM vendors offer software that automates manual tasks and workflows. It saves time and reduces errors by streamlining the following processes:

  • Data onboarding
  • Feed management 
  • Validation
  • Enrichment
  • Syndication

Automated workflows reduce the risk of human error during data processing, so retail teams can manage products more easily, freeing up time to focus on building their business.

Reporting and Analytics

Reporting and analytics capabilities are key features of Product Information Management software. Analytics provide insights into metrics such as product performance, data and quality management, and customer engagement.

These features make analyzing data trends and customer behaviors intuitive. So retail teams can easily make data-driven decisions, identify opportunities for improvement, and optimize their product information.

Benefits of Product Information Management

We’ve discussed the history and features of PIM, so it's time to talk about the benefits.

Centralized Data Management

Product Information Management (PIM) helps retail teams house all product-related data in one centralized location. This eliminates data silos, providing a single source of truth for all product information and other digital assets.

With centralized data, teams can access and update information easily, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies. It also promotes better collaboration between departments, improving data governance throughout the process.

Improved Data Accuracy and Consistency

Businesses can use Product Information Management to refine their catalog management process. PIM can ensure that product information is accurate and consistent, even when shared across multiple users and channels. 

Updates to the central database automatically propagate to all connected systems, so customers always receive the most relevant information regardless of the channel they use. Consistent product information will build customer trust, enhance the shopping experience, and improve brand reputation.

Streamlined Data Syndication

With Product Information Management, retail teams can efficiently distribute product information to all channels, including: 

  • E-commerce websites 
  • Marketplaces
  • Social media platforms 
  • Print 

This syndication and sales layer helps customers receive consistent information through preferred channels.

Maintaining consistent information across channels improves the process of marketing products to consumers. It reduces customer confusion, ultimately improving brand perception and increasing sales.

Increased Operational Efficiency

Product Information Management technologies can be used to improve operational efficiency by automating manual tasks like data entry, validation, and enrichment. Businesses can use PIM to save time, reduce errors, and reallocate resources to activities with a better ROI.

Automated workflows streamline data management processes so teams can focus on strategic initiatives like product innovation and enhancing customer experience.

Scalability and Adaptability

Scalability and Adaptability

Product Information Management systems are designed to handle large volumes of product data and adapt to changing business needs. As businesses grow, introduce new products, and expand into new markets, the scalable nature of a Product Information Management solution makes it an indisputable asset.

PIM allows for the seamless integration of additional product data sheets, attributes, languages, and sales layers. This scalability ensures that the system can accommodate business growth in multiple marketplaces, without compromising data quality or performance.

How Does PIM Help Support and Optimize Sales Channels?

Product Information Management (PIM) improves how retail teams support and optimize their sales platform. It ensures accurate, consistent, and timely product information is distributed across multiple platforms. 

This helps businesses deliver a seamless customer experience, maximizing sales opportunities on every unique platform:

  • E-commerce websites
  • Physical product catalogs 
  • Brick-and-mortar stores 
  • Social media

Let's dive into the relationship between PIM and sales channels.

Consolidation and Standardization

By consolidating all product-related data into a centralized system, businesses can ensure data standards are always met. This centralized dashboard eliminates data silos and avoids inconsistencies that arise when digital channels use disparate product information.

Customization for Each Sales Platform

PIM systems are extremely flexible. They let businesses distribute accurate product information to different channels while simultaneously tailoring product data for each unique platform. 

Each sales platform has specific requirements for product information: 

  • Image sizes
  • Categorization structures
  • Attribute formats. 

PIM systems customize and adapt product data to meet channel-specific requirements. Different data points are shared in various formats to suit the needs of each unique marketplace.

Maintaining Consistent Branding and Messaging

PIM helps businesses maintain consistent branding and messaging across every unique sales layer. It ensures that all product information has a consistent style, tone, and language across all channels. This consistency builds customer trust and reinforces brand identity.

Effective PIM systems help marketing teams with cross-selling and upselling products across other tools

Real-Time Updates and Inventory Management

PIM allows teams to make real-time updates to product information across all channels. When product data is updated in the central PIM system, the changes are automatically updated on all connected channels. 

Customers always see the most up-to-date information regardless of the channel. Real-time updates also facilitate accurate inventory management, preventing retail teams from overselling or underselling their products across multiple channels.

Leveraging Product Relationships for Sales Growth

Effective PIM systems help marketing teams with cross-selling and upselling products across other tools. Businesses can use them to include relevant recommendations from compatible tools, related products, and complementary offerings to drive additional sales and increase customers' average order value.

PIM lets businesses leverage product relationships to give customers personalized, targeted suggestions.

Insights and Optimization

PIM systems usually have analytics and reporting capabilities that give teams insights into product performance, sales trends, and customer behavior. 

Analyzing data from various channels, helps businesses identify sales patterns and customer preferences, as well as opportunities for improvement. These insights fast-track businesses toward optimizing product strategies, marketing campaigns, and sales efforts. Thus maximizing revenue across different channels with consistent messaging.

PIM can support multiple sales channels, centralizing product information to ensure consistency, customization for channel-specific requirements, and accuracy across various touchpoints. PIM facilitates seamless data syndication and real-time updates. This helps retail teams optimize multiple channels, enhance conversions, and drive overall business success.

Key Takeaways

Implementing Product Information Management software can significantly boost sales and streamline efficiency. Here are a few key items discussed above:

  • Product Information Management (PIM) centralizes all product data and digital assets.
  • PIM ensures the accuracy and consistency of product information across various sales channels.
  • PIM systems have evolved from manual processes to cloud-based solutions with AI and ML capabilities.
  • Present-day PIM systems gather, organize, enrich, and distribute product information.
  • PIM software offers features like centralized data repositories, data enrichment, validation, and channel syndication.
  • Benefits of PIM include centralized data management, improved accuracy, consistency, and operational efficiency.
  • PIM supports sales channels by consolidating and standardizing product data, customizing information for each platform, maintaining branding consistency, providing real-time updates, leveraging product relationships, and offering insights for optimization.

By embracing Product Information Management as a core part of your data management strategy, you can position your retail team to meet the ever-increasing demands of the digital marketplace. Product Information Management empowers teams like yours to seamlessly manage and leverage product data for enhanced business success, profits, employee retention, time to market, and customer satisfaction.

About Surefront’s PIM Capabilities

You don’t want your data to be siloed. Your company’s PIM, CRM, and PLM solutions shouldn’t operate in a vacuum, either. Surefront is a Unified Product Collaboration Platform to power growth and ROI. Surefront offers patented PIM, CRM, and PLM solutions to streamline the omnichannel sales, merchandising, and product development processes. By combining these essential functionalities, Surefront creates a single source of truth throughout your sales and listing processes.

The results? Up to 150% more revenue per employee and a 40% shorter product development cycle is just the beginning. Try our 10x ROI calculator to see your company’s potential profits. Or, skip the noise and book a custom demo with one of our unified product collaboration management experts today.