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 have lead to better product data and thereby a more positive customer experience. Improving these two factors can lead to less complaints as well as lower costs. The following blog article will further explain which internal and external benefits a PIM system can create and go into further detail about features and areas the software can be supplied.
PIM System - The Key to Digitization Lies in Product Data
What can PIM Systems be Used for?
Similar to ERP systems, PIM systems play a fundamental role in aiding companies in customer-oriented product communication and related marketing services.
Typical applications (use cases) are:
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Even More Product Data for Ever More Purposes
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 company'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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Product Data is Often Maintained on Multiple Different Platforms
Many companies still maintain their 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 company 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, 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.
Central Product Data Maintenance, with Cross Media Features
PIM systems 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?
Some Key Features of PIM Systems
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, 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 whan 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 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. The technologically leading PIM system 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 company 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 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, 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 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.
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 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.
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).
There are generally two methods of using centrally maintained product data and images for print catalogs, price lists, data sheets, labels, etc:
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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 companies, the involvement of employees and the benefits for both the company 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
Maintain Spare Parts
Maintain spare parts for construction machinery