What is a PIM System?
PIM is short for Product Information Management.
With product data becoming increasingly important in the course of digitalization, more and more businesses are recognizing the usefulness of central databases to collect, enrich and output data, known as PIM systems, or PIM software. PIM systems lead to improved workflows and better product data resulting in a more positive customer experience. Improving these factors can also lead to fewer customer complaints as well as lower costs.
PIM - The Key to Digitization Lies in Product Data
The following blog post will further explain which internal and external benefits a PIM system can create and go into further detail about features and areas in which the software can be put to use.
What Features do PIM Systems have?
PIM systems allow users to manage all important data in one central location. This means that even businesses with a lot of product data can easily maintain and add to their data in one place. Similar to ERP systems, PIM systems play a fundamental role in aiding businesses in customer-oriented product communication and related marketing services.
Typical applications (use cases) are:
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Why do you Need a PIM System?
Over 80 percent of the information that companies communicate to the industry and commerce is in relation to the products they offer.
In the past, a business's main product data could only be seen in a physical copy of a product catalog. Nowadays, digitalization has led to an increasing amount of product data that must be displayed.
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What Problems are Solved with PIM Software?
Many businesses still manage their products and product data in a redundant manner, within numerous files and systems. For example, master product data is kept in the merchandise management system, product sales data is rather kept in the print catalogs, data sheets, labels and websites, and sometimes even in Excel lists of some employees. However, when a business has to maintain product data on these "islands", this not only means a huge waste of resources (having to input changes on each and every platform), it is only human to accidentally forget to change something on one of the numerous platforms or channels, leading to some of the data to be incorrect, or out-dated. PIM systems allow product data to be maintained centrally and thereby far more efficiently.
What does a PIM System do?
Product Information Management (PIM) systems make it possible to centrally manage data in a database. Existing data from different systems can be imported either once or on a regular basis (e.g. master data from the ERP system or technical data from Excel lists, ...) and supplemented with additional product data such as marketing texts, images, videos, translations or other characteristic data via maintenance pages. This central data can then be used in various application areas, such as ecommerce, online shops, dealer exports or product catalogs.
What are the Benefits of a PIM System?
Along with the ease of use and the ability to utilize product and marketing data across various channels, product information management systems offer a variety of internal and external benefits for businesses.
Free PIM Webinar incl. Software Demo
For not only a concise overview of Product Information Management (PIM), but also a live demo of key PIM features, take advantage of the free webinar from INCONY and our technology-leading PIM system, ANTEROS.
Some Key Features of PIM Software
Interfaces and Importing
If you maintain some of your product data in other systems, e.g. article numbers, names and prices in your ERP system, then it is important that you can transfer this data to the PIM system via import or interfaces. PIM systems offer various import formats such as CSV, Excel, BMEcat XML, GOM XML, TecDoc TAF in order to transfer data changes from other systems at fixed times (e.g. at night). Some also have interfaces to import data changes on demand from, e.g. via SOAP or REST web services. Systems often differ in terms of how easy it is to configure an import or interface to the system. In this regard, it is worth inquiring about customer testimonials to discover their experiences with a particular PIM system.
Entry and Maintenance of Further Data
Once basic data has been imported, further product data is added in the PIM, e.g. marketing texts that are not maintained in the ERP system, these are assigned to product categories and added to product relationships. Technical industries in particular find it important to enter technical characteristics in a structured manner, e.g. parameters such as temperature range, dimensions or pressure, as this can significantly improve the efficiency of daily data maintenance. The technologically leading PIM system ANTEROS has particular strengths in this regard and offers various data types, nesting of parameters, calculation of parameters based on others (e.g. volume based on length, width, height or a web description based on fixed text modules and parameters) and much more.
Images such as product photos or drawings, as well as documents in the form of safety instructions, operating manuals or videos, also provide important information about a product. Product images and accompanying documents are becoming an increasingly important for customers' purchasing decisions when navigating an online shop. Product images are also helpful for catalogs and price lists, allowing customers to quickly and intuitively find the information they need. Some PIM software has an integrated media database for images and documents, while others connect third-party systems via interfaces. Integrated media databases only require images to be uploaded one time in print quality, and then they automatically generate other formats, e.g. web-size and -mini or images in Amazon format. This makes the process of displaying small product images in the PIM lists much faster, and the system can also directly use the image variants for online stores or generated product catalogs - images do not have to be regenerated for each use. The technologically leading PIM software ANTEROS has a fully integrated media database in the form of the MAM module.
If you export your products to multiple countries, it may be important to prepare the product data not only in English but also in other languages as well. After all, sales documents with product data in the customer's own language boost sales! However, translating texts can take varying amounts of time and effort in a PIM system. Without translation support, you always have to keep track of what information has been changed in order to be on top of translation into the other languages. Translation support in the PIM can significantly reduce this effort.
Some PIM systems have an integrated translation module, while others connect third-party translation systems via interfaces. Integrated translation modules usually make it possible to list all texts that have either not yet been translated or whose main text has changed. The translation module by the technology-leading system ANTEROS also uses colors to mark any changes that were made to relevant texts since the last translation. The translator or the national business can either enter the translations into ANTEROS.tm directly or use an Excel export to make any translations within an Excel document and subsequently import and release the edited file.
Some PIM systems offer functions to specifically check and improve the quality of the product data. This becomes even more important when you manage more and more data in the PIM system or want to transfer data from suppliers into the PIM. In these systems, you can often create test criteria or test reports yourself to check the quality of the product data, images or documents, e.g. whether marketing texts have already been entered in German and English or at least one image is linked per image. The inspection results can be arranged neatly in a dashboard. This way, you can not only monitor the quality of your data, but also specifically jump into relevant objects in order to improve the data. A few systems (such as ANTEROS.qm) also offer so-called quality gates, which make it much easier to achieve milestones by regularly monitoring intermediate results. When combined, quality reports and the dashboard can be used to accommodate staged input of data by a team, in which, for example, one employee is responsible for the marketing data and another for the technical characteristics.
In order to give your product data to your retailers and partners in a suitable format, e.g. for your own online shop or catalog, you should check which formats you consider suitable. The formats vary from industry to industry. For example, formats such as DATANORM and GAEB are relevant for construction suppliers, Arge for the SHK industry or TecDoc for automotive suppliers. In addition to the actual data exchange format, data for a standard classification such as ETIM, ECLASS or Proficlass is also frequently requested. Even though there are many standards here, it is often the case that several standards or standard versions are relevant. This requires extensive consultation with your partners and, if necessary, a competent PIM service provider. The INCONY team has been active in this field for more than 20 years.
Workflows allow you to configure your own processes in the PIM system. Thus, you can control the gradual work of different people on the product data specifically via workflow states, state transitions, authorizations and actions. In the PIM software ANTEROS you can create workflows yourself in a graphical editor, transfer them to the PIM (deploy) and then perform workflow-controlled work.
Some PIM Systems also Offer Cross Media Functions
In order to use the centrally maintained product data and images from your PIM for ecommerce such as websites, online catalogs, online shops or product portals, all PIM systems offer interfaces to ecommerce and shop systems, such as Shopware, Intershop, Magento, ... Some also have their own ecommerce module, like ANTEROS.web, which can be fully integrated into your ERP system (SAP, Navision, ABAS, Infor, ...) via a web service interface.
A few suppliers also offer an app with which their customers can specifically search for their products, compare them and then request or order them. ANTEROS offers the webshop functions not only for Android and iOS, but can also be customized as required, e.g. with a photo function to find the right product in the shop with the photographed spare part (INCONY has implemented this for TMD Friction).
Sales documents such as catalogs, price lists and data sheets are all still important in the age of digitization. Not all companies provide printed versions of these documents to their customers anymore, but rather offer them digitally, e.g., as PDF files. Many PIM systems offer features to create these print documents with product data from the PIM in a fully or partially automated way. A general distinction is made between two technologies:
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We have compiled some case studies for you in which companies report on their PIM projects. Here you can not only see the features in action, but also learn more about how the system was introduced in businesses, the involvement of employees and the benefits for both the business and employees and even their own customers.
Benefit from the experiences of other companies!
Product Information Management
Professional PIM with key exports and innovative print engine
Distributed work by international teams in PIM
Manage Spare Parts
Manage spare parts for construction machinery