Learn how PIM systems can help you in your work

What is a PIM System?

PIM is an abbreviation of Product Information Management. With product data becoming increasingly important in the course of digitalization, more and more companies are recognizing the usefulness of PIM systems. In doing so, the resulting improved workflows lead to superior product data, thereby improving customer experience. These two factors reduce complaints and costs. The following blog article will explain what internal and external benefits a PIM system can have for you and go into further detail about the application areas and functions of the system.

PIM System - The Key to Digitization Lies in Product Data

What are PIM systems used for?

Similar to ERP systems, PIM systems play a fundamental role in companies when it comes to customer-oriented product communication and related marketing services.
Typical applications (use cases) are:

 
  • View all data, images and documents for products in a central location
  • Maintain product data efficiently
  • Import data from other systems and enrich it with additional data
  • Export product data for retailers, distributors, customers and partners, e.g. so that they can import these products into their web stores or include the data in price lists or catalogs
 
 
  • To set up one or more of your own online shops based off of your product data
  • Use the product data for your own catalogs, price lists, data sheets, labels, etc.
  • Build apps based off of / filled with your product data
 

More and more product data for ever more purposes

More than 80 percent of the information that companies communicate to the industry and commerce relates to the products they offer.
Thirty years ago, the main product data was only available in a physical product catalog. Nowadays digitalization is increasing the amount of product data requested.

 
  • More and more
    in addition to the main products, other products such as spare parts, accessories, etc. are also being requested regularly. Product ranges are also being expanded with the help of cooperation partners or acquisitions.
  • Multiple languages
    Many companies now sell their products internationally, keeping in mind product data in the customer's language enhances sales, these other languages need to be added.
 
 
  • More sales channels and formats
    often, product data is required by the company's own marketing/sales department, as well as by retailers and partners in an increasing number of media and formats: for print catalogs, extract catalogs, price lists, data sheets, websites, online catalogs, web shops, apps, exports to BMEcat, Datanorm, GAEB, Arge, to name a few.
 

Product data is often maintained on multiple different platforms

Many companies still maintain product data in a redundant manner within numerous files and systems. For example, master product data can be found in the merchandise management system, product sales data in the print catalogs, data sheets, labels and websites, and perhaps also EXCEL lists of some employees. But when a company has to maintain product data on such "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 about one of the numerous platforms causing some of the data to be erroneous due to not being up-to-date. PIM systems allow product data to be maintained far more efficiently.

Often data is maintained on several "islands"
What a waste of resources;
Changing product data on all platforms is extremely time-consuming.
Pim System data problems
Redundant data maintenance leads to errors, poor data quality, less customer satisfaction;
Changing product data on all islands means errors are inevitable

PIM systems for central product data maintenance, with cross-media features

PIM systems, on the other hand, allow data from different systems to be merged (e.g. master data from the ERP system, technical data from CAD / PLM, from employee EXCEL lists,...), refined with additional product data, images and translations and then exported for the various media and formats.

What are the benefits of a PIM-system?

Internal benefit

  • Complete overview of the entire international product portfolio
  • Significantly less time and effort spent searching for product information by all employees
  • "Single Point of Truth": Employees can be assured that correct, complete, current and consistent information is gathered in one place. Furthermore, all employees in all subsidiaries have identical information available simultaneously.
  • Considerably more efficient maintenance of product data.
  • More flexible and faster preparation of product data for sales and product management inquiries
 

External benefit

  • Complete, up-to-date and consistent source of information for retailers and partners
  • Multi-channel strategy support for using product data in various print documents, web catalogs, web shops and apps
  • Easier cooperation with logistics companies
  • Utilization of cross-selling potentials by defining product combinations
 

Some Key Features of PIM Systems

Diagram of the ANTEROS system structure

Interfaces and importing

Data interfaces are used to transfer data from outside systems ( e.g. in CSV, XML or EXCEL format) at fixed times (e.g. at night) and functional interfaces are used to retrieve data changes from other systems on-demand (via web service SOAP or REST).

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, assigning product categories and adding 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.

Maintenance of images

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. In online stores, product images and accompanying documents are becoming increasingly important for customers' purchasing decisions. But product images are also helpful for catalogs and price lists, so that customers can quickly and intuitively find the information they need. Some PIM systems have 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. In the technologically leading PIM system ANTEROS includes a fully integrated media database in the form of the MAM module.

Text translation


If you export your products to several countries, it may be important to prepare the product data not only in English but also in other languages too. After all, sales documents with product data in the customer's own language boost sales! However, translating the texts can take different amounts of time and effort in a PIM system. Without translation support, you always have to keep track of what data you have changed in order to translate it 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 systems via interfaces. The integrated translation modules usually make it possible to list all texts that either have not yet been translated or for which the main text has changed. The translation module from the technology-leading system ANTEROS also indicates by color what has changed in the meantime in these translation-relevant texts since the last translation. The translator or the national company can either enter the translations directly in ANTEROS.tm or in an EXCEL export in order to subsequently import and release the file with the translations.

Quality control

Some PIM systems offer functions to specifically check and improve the quality of the product data. This becomes even more important when you maintain 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, one can not only monitor the quality of the data, but also jump specifically into these objects 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 a 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.

Export

In order to give your product data to your retailers and partners in a suitable format, e.g. for your own web 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.

Workflow

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

Web

In order to use the centrally maintained product data and images from PIM within websites, online catalogs, web 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.

Apps

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).

Print

There are generally two methods of using centrally maintained product data and images for print catalogs, price lists, data sheets, labels, etc:

 
  • Database Publishing via Indesign
    Product data and images are transferred to Indesign via an interface, where these are presented using templates and then manually converted into the final format (e.g. empty columns are deleted, texts are moved up, etc.)
 
 
  • Print at the touch of a button
    here the print engine is fully integrated in the PIM system and enables the generation of print catalogs without a typesetting system such as Indesign. While some offer simple report generators while the layout is very rudimentary, the technology-leading PIM engine ANTEROS.print enables even complex technical catalogs to be generated at the push of a button. Industrial companies such as Schaeffler and TMD now also use this print engine for new product catalogs or excerpt catalogs for partners via an extranet application with just one click.
 
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