PIM is an acronym for "Product Information Management" and refers, as the name implies, to systems that manage product data. It involves the collection and maintenance of product data as well as their distribution to different output channels or media. In other words: A PIM solution ensures that the relevant product information of manufacturers, marketing departments and ERP systems is distributed to the online shops and catalogues and is printed on sales labels.
PIM is a corporate strategy as well as a process. And a technology: Specific software solutions implement processes for the centralized storage, maintenance, and syndication of product information and enable automated distribution of product data to the respective output channels. PIM systems consolidate, synchronize and centralize all product information, thus implementing the concept of "Single Source of Truth".
Since master data, such as item number and logistics data, are already managed in the ERP system, PIM focuses on sales and marketing data. Integration of the systems ensures an automated data exchange.
The basic concept of PIM is to manage data regardless of the channel that is used and to optimize the effort for data processing and maintenance, while at the same time, vastly enhancing data quality and consistency of product information for all sales channels. By running processes in parallel, a PIM system helps improving the time to market of a product significantly, while, at the same, reducing costs.
Big retailers and manufacturers need a PIM system to handle the huge amount of complex data efficiently. But a PIM system could also be an asset for medium-sized companies. For example, in cases where:
- you have large assortments
- you have multiple distribution channels (omnichannel commerce), including e-commerce and print
- you need to update product information regularly
- you sell internationally
PIM systems are used for several processes and to distribute data to different media:
- Content management of web shops and websites: Images, marketing texts and further product data are distributed automatically from the central PIM system. This is especially useful when adding new products and updating product data.
- Product catalogues and brochures: PIM is particularly suited for database publishing. Texts, images & co. are inserted automatically. The effort in print production is vastly reduced.
- E-Catalogues: The PIM system loads the product descriptions into the product catalogue management system. Exchange format standards (e.g. BMEcat) and classification systems (e.g. eCl@ss) can be integrated with PIM systems.
- Assortment strategies in retail: Suppliers may be included into a PIM system, in order to add long tail items with a higher margin to the assortment without having to provide storage space.
Since, particularly in large enterprises, product data are stored, maintained and replicated in different systems, PIM can also be seen as a means for centralized analysis (business intelligence) and Data Quality Management. These days, a huge amount of data is used in retail to enhance assortments and sales processes. In this sense, PIM could also be seen as a basis for a Big Data platform.
Terms such as Master Data Management (MDM), Product Resource Management (PRM) and Product Content Management (PCM) are often used interchangeably or as a complement to PIM.