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PIM vs. MDM: What's the Difference?

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PIM vs. MDM: What's the Difference?

Should your business be using product information management (PIM) or master data management (MDM)? Or both? The two information management systems make it easy to create, manage, and distribute product data. However, the scope of each system is vastly different.

PIM is actually a subset of MDM and concentrates on product information most often used for marketing and merchandising purposes.

MDM is a centralized system covering all the data within a company (from customers to suppliers to products to financials) in addition to product information. 

Wondering which data management system makes the most sense for your business? Read on as we explore everything there is to know about PIM versus MDM.

What is PIM?

PIM is a unified software solution designed to handle product information that’s generally used to support marketing or merchandising. Placing copy, specifications, photos, video, and other marketing information in one system makes it easy to add and update product data across your organization. 

What does PIM do?

PIM makes images and other product information ready to use across any platform, by any number of users. Content can be used in catalogs that are printed, on websites and other digital spaces, as POS in retail stores, and more.

To survive in today’s business climate, companies simply must sell across multiple channels. Instead of creating marketing packages for each of these channels separately, PIM allows you to gather all product information conveniently in one place. From there, any component or asset can be seamlessly and quickly pushed to sales channels, whether they’re direct sales, wholesale, retail, or online marketplaces.

When it’s time to update or add information, only the main record needs to be changed. From there, all changes are pushed to sales channels, which ensures identical information is being shared everywhere. And sending information to a new sales channel is simply a matter of selecting existing content from the PIM system.

Benefits of PIM

Unlike MDM, PIM is laser focused on product marketing. Partnering with Widen to make the switch to a PIM system has several benefits, including:

  • Centralizing product management and catalog generation
  • Reducing multiple efforts needed to copy data across multiple systems
  • Allowing for easier collaboration
  • Improving brand consistency
  • Reducing the time and effort it takes to put together marketing materials to bring products to market
  • Decreasing errors and helping customers get the right product the first time, resulting in fewer returns

What is MDM?

Master data management (MDM) is a way to manage an organization’s important information and data in one place. As it’s time intensive, MDM is typically used for critical elements, particularly those with multiple sources. Products, customers, suppliers, assets, and locations each can have a “golden record” that contains a complete representation of that item.

What does MDM do? 

Like PIM, MDM centralizes information. It enables data stewards to manage critical information that is used across the organization, like data about products and customers. The MDM solution creates harmony across systems by collecting, cleaning, transforming, consolidating, and sharing data.

Benefits of MDM

MDM covers all aspects of the business, making it easier to manage large, complicated, disparate solutions. MDM systems can enhance business operations by:

  • Letting you make one edit, in one area, and have it reflected globally 
  • Helping to meet compliance regulations
  • Ensuring data is consistent and up-to-date across any tool or platform
  • Reducing the typical complexities seen in expansion and globalization
  • Eliminating or drastically reducing inconsistent data that could have major, negative impacts on operations
  • Override values from source systems (e.g. Product country is spelled incorrectly)
  • Data quality processes to review items that don’t meet certain criteria
  • Offering clean, accurate, useful data for analysis

PIM vs. MDM: use cases and comparison

When comparing MDM and PIM, it’s easy to see similarities. While both collect and share data across the organization, PIM solutions are a data source. How do these systems fit into your business? Let’s look at a few scenarios.

Use case: You need to create new catalogs
Ideal solution: PIM
Rationale: Using a PIM system, you can select digital assets to include in the catalog, either individually, or by categories. Product information like photos, videos, and other attributes can be selected to fit the catalog requirements. Once the items and fields are selected, the catalog is generated automatically. Need to make an update? Once a change is made to the PIM record, it can be pushed to all of your catalogs.

Use case: You need to coordinate and consolidate several independent departments
Ideal solution: MDM
Rationale: Your company’s departments grew organically, creating their own ways of dealing with information as needed. It worked fine in the beginning, but now it’s hard to keep these systems synchronized. Differing information between these sources causes errors throughout the company. MDM platforms consolidate information, so everyone is always working with the same data. For example, if a product specification changes in manufacturing, that information is automatically passed on to customer support.

Use case: Your company is launching in a new territory
Ideal solution: PIM
Rationale: Your company is launching into a new country, which requires catalog information in new languages, as well as changes to marketing materials and packaging to meet local legal requirements. Despite these changes, there is no need to start from scratch. Using a PIM system makes it easy to reuse product photos and other assets, adding new information to your main catalog. From there, you can package attribute sets that fit each region.

Use case: You need faster, more efficient data analysis 
Ideal solution: MDM
Rationale: An MDM solution merges and transforms data, creating a single uniform system. Collecting this information in one data warehouse makes it easy to access information for analysis and keeps results consistent across the company. By using one point of storage, it’s also easier to identify and correct errors company wide.

Use case: You want to have a sale
Ideal solution: PIM
Rationale: Price is just one of the variables stored in a PIM solution. By creating a price rule, you can automatically lower the price for a set period of time, as well as set sale conditions. For example, you could create a rule to apply a discount for buying multiple items. This condition can be tied to other assets, applying sales graphics or adding the product listing to the sale hierarchy.

Which one is right for your business?

Comparing PIM and MDM systems is a matter of weighing scope, focus, and investment. A PIM solution is a great choice for adding more product SKUs and expanding your reach through new sales channels and markets. It also takes a lot of the repetitive work out of managing marketing information, letting you make small adjustments to fit new channels. PIM systems tend to have better tools than MDM software for pushing data to POS systems, e-commerce, and print. This greatly simplifies IT management by eliminating many stand-alone services.

MDM systems manage all forms of data, from products to customers. This makes it a good choice for streamlining and centralizing data management across your entire business. However, implementing a system with such a wide span can take significant time and money.

If a PIM system seems like a good fit for your business, Widen offers a unique solution that combines the power of PIM and digital asset management (DAM). I know, another three-letter acronym for a system that manages data! Don’t worry, we’re here to help you find the best solution based on your needs. Reach out today to start the conversation!

Topics: PIM

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