Did you know that a Product Information Management (PIM) system can help to simplify your business processes and achieve more efficient use of your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system?
In an earlier blog, we discussed the differences between ERP and PIM and their complementary role. Ideally, a company has both an ERP and a PIM. But many companies struggle to market their products and services to customer channels without the measurable benefits of a PIM. Today, we offer four ways that a PIM helps to improve your product marketing efforts.
First, a quick recap:
- An ERP is an operational hub that organizes and optimizes diverse back-end business processes. An ERP manages transactional data such as customer records, parts lists, prices, inventory, sales and order processing. It is not intended to create or manage customer-facing product information. An ERP is the “Grand Central Station” (or London Waterloo) where a company’s internal data sources intersect.
- A PIM is product-focused. PIMs are specifically designed to collect, create and manage product information — descriptions, images, video assets, specifications and more — and publish that information to customer channels such as e-commerce web sites, marketplaces, mobile devices and print catalogs. A PIM is a drawing board where you craft your customer-facing product presentations.
A PIM helps your company in four significant ways:
Faster, more efficient Data Onboarding. Many companies create all products inside the ERP. This approach has two obstacles:
- Inactive products [not ready for sale] take up space in the ERP, which is meant to track activity for active products
- Product data fields in the ERP are quite limited, so enriched product information must be maintained in an outside system or worse, in a spreadsheet. In addition, ERPs typically lack a portal to allow suppliers or content providers to place information into it.
By beginning the product life cycle in PIM, the path to the market is shorter and faster. Suppliers can connect to upload detailed product information. Product specifications and hierarchies are easy to add or modify. Data from multiple suppliers can be normalized into standard formats for consistency in product comparisons and browse/search parameters. And, the core transactional product attributes (units of sale, measurements, etc.) can be easily exported to the ERP. By using the PIM as the product staging area, the ERP stays uncluttered of non-sellable products. The PIM gathers all relevant product details into one workspace, allowing each product to get to market more quickly.
Data integration without the juggling act. PIM systems have built-in connectors (API) to interface bi-directionally with other systems, databases, spreadsheets and programs, including the ERP. The PIM can harvest product photos, schematics, videos and data sheets that become part of the e-commerce product presentation. Internally, PIM provides a smooth, automated exchange of information for sharing, reporting and analysis. This capability eliminates manual data entry as well as the need for an analyst or team to comb multiple data sources in order to compile meaningful information or develop customer-facing product content.
PIM creates richer product experiences. PIM provides unparalleled insights into a product’s completeness and its performance. When you leverage all the capabilities available in PIM, you can create a rewarding, contextual, and personalized product experience for the customer, making it quick and easy for customers to locate the right products. Adding natural language descriptions, features and benefits, and explaining how products solve problems will improve SEO and conversions. Product data held in a more granular way, including multiple tags or keywords, unlocks the power of faceted searching to narrow choices and creates a more rewarding shopping experience.
PIM also allows you to combine your product content with analytics to deliver actionable intelligence to managers across the company. Using its universal connectivity, the PIM collects external market and performance data (Key Performance Indicators such as sales, returns, inventory, regional patterns, page views, customer ratings, SEO, click-throughs, etc.). Put together, this information gives a complete picture of a product’s profitability, both at a given point and over time. Managers can adjust strategies and tactics accordingly based on these findings.
Data optimization for clean, complete and accurate e-commerce-ready product information. Data quality is a key driving factor for e-commerce success. PIM allows you to set up and maintain governance rules to ensure data consistency. The reporting function can call out exceptions (like missing images), errors and data gaps, so you’ll be able to correct them. PIM’s powerful functionality gives content managers complete visibility and control of all aspects of product data.
- Adopting a PIM ends the frustration of trying to utilize the ERP beyond its intended capabilities.
- PIM provides a full range of tools to collect, create, organize and maintain product information and, unlike ERPs, the PIM interface is designed with marketers/merchants in mind
- PIM allows you to get products to market faster and more efficiently.