As a marketing leader, the hunt for a Product Information Management (PIM) solution can be daunting. The number of PIM solutions on the market is staggering. The technology aspects are intimidating and the jargon may be unfamiliar. The investment required is high stakes and will certainly impact the future of the company. On top of that, the very nature of marketing changes constantly with shifting customer behaviors and expectations coupled with the ever-changing marketing technology landscape.
As the person responsible for marketing effectiveness within your company, you hold the keys to your brand and to the channels through which you reach your customers. Having a proper PIM platform — a central repository for your product information and marketing assets — allows your company to remain agile and proactive while staying ahead of your competition in the drive for digital transformation.
So how do you identify the best PIM for your business requirements? No two PIMs are identical, but the leading solutions perform very well in many areas. The key is to find the PIM solution that’s right for your company. Here are some tips to demystify the process. Let’s assume that you don’t have a PIM in place now, but these tips are still applicable even if you do.
Begin with the Big Picture
Start with these basic questions:
- Who are your key stakeholders? Hint: IT, Finance and Marketing, for sure.
- What is your projected budget? Options range greatly in price. Have a number in mind as a starting point. You can adjust as you explore your options.
- What are your current and projected marketing channels? Web, print, digital, mobile, other? The PIM must be able to deliver to all of them.
- What is the current state of your marketing delivery system and what is your desired state? That is, what can you do and what would you like to do, or do better?
- How will a PIM best serve your needs in the marketplace? Distributors, manufacturers, and retailers have slightly different needs. Where does your business fit in?
- Will your PIM be self-contained (managed as a stand-alone entity within your company) or will it exchange information with outside suppliers and vendors or other departments within your company?
Focus on Your Products & Services
The products and/or services you deliver play one of the most critical roles in your PIM decision.
- How complex are your products? Are they easy to describe, or more detailed? The content needs of a clothing retailer are different than an industrial distributor or a manufacturer of medical devices. Can the PIM adequately handle the level of product detail you require?
- Are you feeding an e-Commerce web site, or is your site more informational? If you sell products online, the content must fuel your site. If your end sales involve consultation, the nature of your online content can be more general.
- If you market in different countries, can the PIM handle multiple languages and currencies?
Build for the Future
Ideally, your PIM investment meets your needs today — and tomorrow. It’s flexible, not a one-size-fits-all solution. Your business will change. Make sure any PIM you consider is scalable for future growth.
- Understand the basic elements of the PIM. Typically, a PIM consists of Structures, Objects, and Relationships (see sidebar).
- Is it configurable to my specific content needs? Have some data samples and ask the vendor to demonstrate how your content might be adapted into the PIM.
- How does the PIM serve different platforms, like an e-commerce web site, a print catalog, and an email marketing campaign?
- What is my required IT infrastructure to support the PIM? Is a Cloud-based version available?
Seek Efficiency & Automation
Even, the most robust PIM in the world is of no use if your team cannot use it efficiently.
- Will the PIM improve your operating processes? Explain your current workflow and ask how it can be applied, or altered, in the PIM for maximum efficiency.
- How does the PIM interface with your mainframe, financial, ERP or other outside systems? Can information be exchanged easily, without user intervention, and what formats are supported?
- How many user roles do you anticipate? Does the PIM provide a role-based user experience? This can help with user adoption.
- Can the PIM meet your data quality management needs? A PIM can help increase efficiency by validating data according to defined rules and autocorrecting it.
- Does the PIM offer integrated analytics to help you measure completeness and identify opportunities to further enrich your product content? The ability to easily analyze your data can help your team create better content from the outset, shortening review cycles.
Before reaching out to PIM providers, gather your stakeholders and end-users. Develop a list of specifications including your Must-Haves. Ask specific questions of the vendors. Ask for references from companies who use a PIM similar to the way you see yourself using one. Like we said, choosing a PIM is a big investment. Be informed, and you’ll be well-equipped to make a smart choice.
Still trying to decide if PIM is right for you? Take our 3-Minute PIM Readiness Assessment—16 simple questions designed to help you establish if your business could benefit from PIM. Or, contact our product information experts and we’ll help you evaluate your business needs and determine if you are ready for a PIM solution. Let’s start a conversation.
Related Agility Multichannel blogs:
Choosing a PIM: What to Watch for
Why PIM Matters in the Digital Customer Journey
Make Product Content Excellence a Priority