Your Legacy PIM is Hurting your Business

What to Do When You’ve Outgrown Your Homegrown PIM Solution

Scenario: Company X has utilized an in-house Product Information Management (PIM) solution for a dozen years or more. The original developer is long gone and left no documentation. The functionality is primitive and slow, and the staff would rather be boiled alive than use it. Company X’s website is rarely updated and its ecommerce presence is falling farther and farther behind its competitors. As a result, Company X is losing market share. And profits.

Sound familiar? If you suspect you are approaching this point of no return, the time to plan and execute a new strategy is at hand. First let’s look deeper at how that legacy PIM is hurting your business.

Barrier to Progress

Sentimentality for the PIM that your team built internally and camaraderie and sense of accomplishment that go along with that can be a powerful obstacle to change. Keep this in mind: Horse-drawn carriages were the pinnacle of stylish travel once upon a time; then along came Henry Ford. If your PIM solution can’t keep you in step with the times, it is hampering your ability to adapt and thrive in the digital marketplace.

Limited Functionality

Your products rank low in Google searches because your PIM software has no means to enforce SEO best practices. The original PIM was decent enough for producing print catalogs, but barely supports your e-commerce platform. You lack the ability to send content to an app for mobile users. Your business has grown and the PIM can’t support the volume of SKUs you sell. The PIM isn’t scalable or robust enough to meet your needs today and in the future.

Data Entry Bottleneck

The PIM solution was designed for single-user data entry, creating an unfortunate funnel and long queue to load new product information. In truth, you need multi-user functionality to allow inputs from people across your enterprise. And, you need the ability to control what data they can access and update. 

Broken Links and Outdated Content

Your e-commerce website is scattered with long discontinued products and broken images. New products that are featured in your catalog are not even on your website yet. Imagine the impression that leaves on your customers when they go online ready to purchase a specific product and can’t find it…and recognize the revenue it costs you.

Patches Upon Patches

You can no longer make improvements to your PIM solution internally. The original PIM developer “fixed” bugs and devised workarounds in the PIM for years, but he’s moved on and consultants have advised you that further revisions would be cost-prohibitive.

Siloed Systems

Your PIM stands alone and does not interface with your ERP, WMS, OMS or analytics package, leaving you to manage multiple systems independently, which perpetuates inefficient workflows. It is difficult, if not impossible, to import and export large amounts of data into and out of the PIM. Your version of “analytics” requires copying and pasting from multiple spreadsheets to create reports.

Security Risks

The PIM solution was designed in a simpler time before data privacy and security became the critical must-haves they are today. You risk legal exposure with a system that fails to adequately protect information.

What Can You Do?

So you realize the time has come for a new PIM solution. Now, how do you get there? Here is a simple approach to help you make an informed decision.

  1. Assess your current state. List the strengths and weaknesses of your existing PIM software. What does it do well? What does it prevent you from doing? You’ll also want to collect some key data that will be important when you ask for quotes. You can also project these “scale” numbers to a desired future state as well.
    • Number of SKUs that you sell (in and outside your PIM)
    • Number of product attributes (product family level and SKU level)
    • Type and number of digital assets (photos, videos, other visuals)
    • Number of users
    • Number of physical locations that will use the PIM
    • Languages
    • Output channels (print, web, mobile, etc.)
  2. Develop a vision. Gather your key stakeholders — executive, finance, marketing, sales, IT, end users. This is the time to dream big. List every feature you could want, then prioritize your functionality must-haves and nice-to-haves. (For example, if you manage digital assets and images outside your PIM, you probably want a PIM product that can manage them as well.) What kind of experience do you want for your end users?
  3. Do your research. Forrester Research and Ventana Research are both an excellent resource for information about PIM products and the latest trends in information technology and data management.
  4. Determine a Budget. Take into account not only the costs of the PIM and its implementation but also the internal hours and people you will need to assign to the project.
  5. Shop and compare. Talk to a variety of the leading PIM solutions providers. Share your vision and needs. Proper PIMs are highly configurable and scalable, but not every product will be a good fit for your company. Understand what the base software includes and what add-ons are available. Ask specific questions about the implementation timeline, training and ongoing support — and find out if the provider handles these three tasks internally or via a third party consultant. Seek to find the PIM that best fulfills your vision for your business. 

Final Thoughts

But we’ve always done it this way is a recipe for extinction. Change is disruptive, but inevitable if you are serious about succeeding and thriving in the ever-changing digital world. Embrace the change and understand that a new PIM solution is a strategic investment in your company’s future. The ROI is worth it.

Thinking about a new PIM?

The PIM world has transformed exponentially in the past decade. What you can do with Agility PIM may surprise you. If you are ready to excel in commerce, contact our PIM experts to see why thousands of marketing and commerce professionals worldwide rely on Agility to manage their product information.