Quick Guide To Product Information Management (PIM) in 2024

Product information is the lifeblood of any consumer-facing business. As the central source of truth for all product data, effective product information management (PIM) is crucial for enabling seamless omni-channel commerce. With the exponential growth in sales channels and touchpoints, the need for a robust PIM strategy has never been greater. This quick guide will provide an overview of PIM along with tips and insights to thrive with PIM in 2024.

What is Product Information Management (PIM)?

PIM refers to the process of centralizing, managing, and distributing product information across channels. It involves consolidating product data from disparate sources into a single repository, optimizing it, and publishing it to any touchpoint where customers engage with product content.

PIM software

PIM creates a "single source of truth" for all product data including:

  • Product attributes like name, description, SKU, price, specs, etc.
  • Product relationships like bundles, accessories, replacements, etc.
  • Media like images, videos, 3D models, manuals, etc.
  • Metadata and SEO tags

This centralized data is enriched, localized, and syndicated to disseminate consistent product experiences across channels like webstores, marketplaces, mobile apps, print catalogs, PoS systems, etc.

Benefits of Product Information Management

Implementing PIM can transform product data workflows to deliver powerful benefits:

  • Improved efficiency – Consolidating product data into a central PIM system eliminates silos and manual processes. Teams save significant time that was spent in redundant data entry, searching for information, and correcting errors. According to a survey by Aberdeen Group, companies with PIM gain productivity worth over $200,000 annually.

  • Better data quality – The single source of truth ensures data consistency, accuracy and timeliness across channels. This boosts customer trust and conversions. Research by Infosys found that 95% of manufacturers saw improved data quality from PIM implementation.

  • Omni-channel publishing – PIM enables seamless publishing of product data to any channel in customized formats and schedules. This reduces time-to-market for new channels. Forrester notes companies with PIM launch new channels 67% faster.

  • Enhanced content – Capabilities like auto-translation, AI-based recommendations, and UGC integration enrich product experiences across channels. 72% of PIM users state it helped them improve product descriptions as per Dimensional Research.

  • Scalability – PIMs allow unlimited products, attributes, media, and other data to be managed as business needs evolve. New channels can also be added easily. On average, companies using PIM manage over 50,000 products as per Akeneo.

  • Analytics – Insights into product data performance can inform better merchandising decisions and content optimization. PIM analytics boosted sales conversion rates by 5.7% according to research by Tealium.

Core Capabilities of PIM Software

Modern PIM systems provide a range of capabilities:

  • Centralized database – Consolidates product data from various sources like PLM, ERP, etc. and enforces data integrity.

  • Product enrichment – Improves quality of product attributes via tools for cleansing, tagging, transforming, and validating data.

  • Omni-channel publishing – Flexible connectivity enables syndication of data to webstores, apps, printers, etc. in any format.

  • Workflow management – Stage-based workflows for content creation, review, approval, publishing, etc. with role-based access and automation.

  • Digital Asset Management – Tools for centralized management, transformation and distribution of product media.

  • Analytics – Dashboards and reports providing visibility into product data performance.

  • Mobile access – Manage and search for product data on-the-go via native mobile apps.

  • Integrations – APIs and connectors to sync data bi-directionally across systems like ERP, DAM, MDM, CRM, etc.

  • Globalization – Localize product content across regions and languages while maintaining connections between language variants.

Use Cases of PIM Across Departments

PIM brings significant operational improvements for teams dealing with product data:

Marketing

  • Centralize product details from various content sources
  • Attach digital assets and manage them via workflows
  • Auto-generate print catalogs, flyers and other collateral
  • Localize content for specific markets
  • Send targeted product data to campaigns and digital experiences

eCommerce

  • Consolidate product data from multiple sources into a single catalog
  • Enrich content with SEO tags, recommendations, etc.
  • Rapidly onboard new products without IT dependencies
  • Continuously sync product data out to webstores, marketplaces, mobile apps, etc.
  • Gain insights into product performance with KPI dashboards

Sales

  • Access latest, accurate product data on-the-go via mobile apps
  • Get 360-degree view of product relationships like accessories, replacements, etc.
  • Send tailored sales collateral to prospects with relevant product details
  • Arm sales teams with rich, engaging content for pitches

Supply Chain

  • Maintain link between product data and material/inventory data
  • Share timely product updates like discontinuations with suppliers
  • Send new product introduction (NPI) details early to supply chain partners
  • Analyze supply chain performance by product lines

As illustrated above, PIM is invaluable for aligning teams to provide superior product experiences across the customer journey.

How to Select a PIM Solution

Choosing the right PIM system is key to maximizing ROI. Here are important considerations:

Features

  • Tools for centralizing, normalizing, enriching, and governing product data
  • Omni-channel publishing and scalable connectivity
  • Digital asset management with transformation capabilities
  • Agile workflow engine for content operations
  • Product catalog management and merchandising tools
  • Analytics and business intelligence capabilities
  • APIs and extensibility options for customization
  • Mobile access and rich UI for ease-of-use

Ease of Implementation

  • Speed of setup and deployment
  • Intuitive interfaces for user adoption
  • Options for migrating data from legacy systems
  • Flexible data model to match existing workflows
  • Pre-built integrations with common business systems
  • Responsive customer support for the implementation process

Total Cost of Ownership

  • Pricing model – subscription, perpetual license, consumption-based, etc.
  • Number of products, attributes, workflows, channels, etc. to be managed
  • Need for customizations or extensions
  • Ongoing costs like maintenance, support, training, upgrades, etc.

Vendor Evaluation

  • Industry expertise and implementation experience
  • Company viability, support capabilities, and roadmap
  • Referenceable customers using the platform successfully
  • Reviews and ratings by industry analysts like Gartner
  • Compliance with standards, security practices, and regulations
  • Options for on-premise, cloud, or hybrid deployment

Change Management and Training

  • Getting user buy-in through demos and training
  • Phased rollout focusing on change management
  • Contextual help and documentation for self-service
  • Workshops for administrator and end-user enablement
  • Measuring and reinforcing adoption across the organization

Emerging PIM Trends and Technologies

PIM is an innovative space witnessing rapid technology advancement. Some key developments to expect:

  • Headless PIM gaining traction – decouples content, commerce, and experience to allow greater flexibility.

  • Cloud adoption accelerating – increasing shift from legacy on-premise PIMs towards cloud-native SaaS platforms for speed and agility.

  • AI-enhanced PIM – leveraging AI/ML for smart workflows, recommendations, search, analytics, etc.

  • Hybrid deployment models – blending on-premise, cloud, and headless architectures to balance capabilities and control.

  • Expanded PIM scope – managing not just products, but also non-product content, IoT data, etc. on a single platform.

  • Microservices architecture – breaking PIM functionality into modular microservices for flexibility.

  • Enhanced DAM – richer digital asset management natively integrated within PIM.

  • Customer-centric experiences – stronger linkage between PIM and downstream engagement channels to boost CX.

  • Automation – auto-tagging, text generation, image clipping, data validation, and other automated tasks to boost productivity.

PIM Implementation Best Practices

Successfully rolling out PIM requires careful planning and execution:

  • Phased approach – Start with a limited product set and channels, validate value, then scale up

  • Data quality focus – Cleanse, normalize and validate data during migration to PIM

  • User enablement – Hands-on training and change management across roles

  • Omni-channel alignment – Engage channel teams early to integrate content workflows

  • Measure adoption – Track usage metrics and get user feedback to refine rollout

  • Leverage external expertise – Partner with experienced PIM implementation specialists

Key Criteria for Selecting a PIM Vendor

Choosing the right technology partner is critical for PIM success. Key selection criteria include:

  • Proven expertise in your industry and business model

  • Deployment flexibility – on-premise, cloud, hybrid options

  • Integration ecosystem – APIs and pre-built connectors

  • Scalability and performance to manage growth

  • Total cost of ownership – predictable pricing model

  • Intuitive interface – easy for business users without IT help

  • Ongoing innovation in platform capabilities and features

  • Robust support and services throughout partnership

  • Vendor viability and vision for long-term success

  • Strong client references and testimonials

  • Compliance with standards and regulations

  • Analyst ratings – Gartner, Forrester, IDC

Leading PIM Software Platforms

Many purpose-built PIM solutions exist in the market to evaluate. Here are some leading options along with their key capabilities:

Akeneo– Master data management, AI product recommendations, advanced DAM

Salsify – Agile syndication workflows, marketplace connectors, hybrid deployments

Pimcore – Open-source model with composable architecture

inRiver – Visual merchandising and localized omni-channel experiences

Stibo DX – Flexible SaaS platform built on microservices

Contentserv – Product sampling and distributed marketing capabilities

Plytix – Intuitive interface and affordable pricing for mid-size brands

Riversand – Cloud-native with machine learning intelligence

The choice depends on specific business needs and use cases. An experienced PIM implementation partner can help select the best platform.

Key Takeaways

Product information management has become indispensable for gaining control over complex product data workflows. Implementing PIM brings numerous benefits from improved efficiency to better omni-channel experiences.

When exploring PIM, focus on robust core capabilities, ease of use and integration, innovative features leveraging AI/ML and headless architecture, and choosing an experienced vendor. With the right PIM foundation, companies can delivers business-ready product data to engage and convert audiences across all touchpoints.