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Definition – What does PIM mean?

PIM is an acronym for “Product Information Management” and refers, as the name implies, to systems that manage product data. It covers methods and procedures for collecting, maintaining and processing product data as well as for distributing information 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 consistently distributed to all online shops and catalogues and printed on sales labels.

PIM is a corporate strategy as well as a process. And a technology: specific software solutions map workflows, enable the central storage and administration of product information and ensure that product data is automatically distributed to the respective output channels.
PIM systems consolidate, synchronise and centralise all product information, thus implementing the concept of “Single Source of Truth”.

Since master data, such as item numbers 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 across all channels 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 to improve the time to market of a product significantly, while, at the same time, reducing costs.

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What is PIM

The figure shows a simplified representation of the product information management process. Data from different systems in the company is retrieved and consolidated in a PIM system. It is enriched, translated and checked – this ensures that the data meets the necessary quality requirements, i.e. it is complete, correct and consistent. Subsequently, the information can be transferred to different output channels. This centralised Product Information Management process ensures that consistent, high-quality and channel-specific information can be provided at any point of time.

Would you like to know how your company could benefit from Product Information Management? Read more about the benefits of a PIM system.

PIM and company size

Especially large retailers and manufacturers are no longer able to handle their vast amount of complex data without a PIM system. However, a PIM system could also be an asset for medium-sized companies. For example, in cases where:

  • You have extensive product ranges
  • You have multiple distribution channels (omnichannel commerce), including e-commerce and print
  • You need to update product information regularly
  •  You sell internationally

Typical areas of application of PIM

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 to all relevant output channels. 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 uploads product descriptions to the product catalogue management system. Exchange format standards (e.g. BMEcat) and classification systems (e.g. eCl@ss) can be integrated with the PIM system.
  • Assortment strategies in retail: Suppliers may be integrated into a PIM system to add long-tail items with a higher margin to the assortment without having to provide storage space.

PIM as a basis for Business Intelligence and Data Quality Management

Since, particularly in large enterprises, product data are stored, maintained and replicated in different systems, PIM can also be seen as a means for centralised analysis (Business Intelligence) and Data Quality Management. Today, large amounts of data are generated in retail, which are used 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.

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