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Product Information Management

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What is PIM (product information management)? Blog header graphic consisting of lines forming squares and diamonds with small dots at the intersections of the shapes’ corners.


E-commerce wouldn’t exist without product information; plain and simple. The problem is there’s a lot of quality information needed to support a single product. A digital buyer can’t take a product off the shelf, feel its weight, and experience it in the same way they can in person. They rely on the information they read, see, and hear about a product online — the product’s specs, text about its benefits, how-to videos, images, and so much more. 

Organizations need accurate, robust, up-to-date, compelling product information to compete (and ultimately win) in the digital arena. Managing all of this information is challenging without the help of product information management (PIM). Today we’ll discuss what PIM entails and how it’s helping a wide range of organizations and roles harness the true power of their product information to find greater e-commerce success. 

Table of contents


What is PIM?

Product information management (PIM) is the process of collecting, managing, and distributing all of the needed information about a product from a central location. PIM software aims to protect and improve the quality of product information that is available to internal and external collaborators, systems, and partners.

Before digital commerce, shoppers could only learn about products in catalogs or hands-on in shops. But today, shoppers judge products based on specs, descriptions, images, and videos that compete for attention online.

Many brands manage product information using spreadsheets or platforms made for engineers and product managers. However, these often don’t play nice with marketing systems. So, someone is stuck with the time-consuming — and error-prone — task of entering and reentering thousands of lines of information into tools for project management, digital asset management (DAM), and e-commerce syndication.

This tedious work increases the risk of inaccurate information reaching customers. If the description or photos show one thing and customers receive something else, they aren’t going to be happy (…cue the bad reviews…).

To solve these problems, we offer a PIM solution as part of the Widen Collective®. It works in tandem with our enterprise DAM solution. Brands use our combined DAM and PIM platform to:

    • Aggregate technical information from engineering and product platforms

    • Plan marketing content based on complete product information and specs

    • Assign content projects to copywriters and other creators

    • Route proofs to marketers and product managers for review and approval

    • Enrich product information with search-optimized descriptions, photos, and videos

    • Localize product listings for different regions, regulations, and languages

    • Transmit product listings for digital and print catalogs and to e-commerce syndication platforms and publishers.

    • Update e-commerce listings as products evolve

Who uses a PIM solution?
Roles Organizations
Product managers Manufacturing
Product marketers Retail
Marketing managers Food and beverage
E-commerce managers Publishing
Creators Health and fitness
Brand managers Science and technology
Category managers Education
Sales managers Telecommunications
Agencies  
Data governance managers  
Legal  


How do PIM tools work?

A PIM solution, or tool, works by streamlining internal processes so organizations can deliver consistent, accurate, and high-quality product information to their customers. As a result, brands fuel stronger customer and omnichannel experiences that ultimately drive more revenue.

With a PIM tool, every piece of information associated with a product lives in one master profile within the system. Designated users or a system admin can import product data from outside systems or sources into the PIM platform. The PIM tool allows users to enrich product data with marketing copy or digital assets, notify collaborators to take action, and provide e-commerce partners, print publishers, websites, and other channels with updated exports containing the most recent product information.

PIM system workflow graphic highlighting how PIM tools work.


PIM tools utilize taxonomies or logic that defines how products and associated information are related and organized within the system. Taxonomies use multi-level hierarchies that group products and the attributes used to describe them into various categories and subcategories. The result is structured product information, which allows system users to efficiently and effectively find and update information in the PIM system and easily customize channel-specific exports for various publishers and syndication platforms. Taxonomies are often defined in systems outside of the PIM platform but are utilized within the PIM system.

Who needs a PIM solution?

Products are a big part of business for many organizations. If they sell, that’s a good thing for everyone in the company. A PIM solution benefits the entire organization by helping individuals in a wide range of roles improve their day-to-day work in different ways — all of which come together to boost company-wide revenue.

product manager icon-1product manager icon

 

Product managers

Product managers use a PIM solution to deliver accurate product information to the marketing team. If product specs change at any time throughout a product’s lifecycle, the product manager can update data in the PIM tool, triggering an automated alert for collaborators. 

Successful product management hinges on the accuracy of product information but also demands flexibility. As customer needs change, so do products. A PIM solution gives product managers the control and agility they need to manage and communicate up-to-date, accurate product information — no matter when or how it evolves.

product marketer iconproduct marketer icon

 

Product marketers

Product marketers use the PIM system as a central source of truth for product information. They request and assign copywriting, photography, and videography for new products using a combined PIM and DAM solution. With product positioning and strategy in mind, product marketers attach the best copy and digital assets to the master product listing within the PIM system. 

Product marketers work hard to develop a product narrative that resonates with target customers, and a PIM (plus DAM) solution helps safeguard that story.

creators iconcreators icon

 

Creators

Copywriters, photographers, videographers, designers, and other creators use the information stored in the PIM system to guide their projects. A PIM solution gives creators on-demand access to the information they need to create accurate, strategic deliverables. Their work is then reviewed and proofed in a solution like our combined DAM and PIM tool, the Widen Collective, for faster, more efficient workflows.

e-commerce manager icone-commerce manager icon

 

E-commerce managers

E-commerce managers send product listings from a PIM system to e-commerce syndication platforms and publishers. If product data or content is updated in the PIM system, an alert is triggered for the e-commerce manager to distribute the new information. 

PIM for e-commerce is quickly becoming a necessity. With e-commerce managers working harder than ever to deliver superior customer experiences, 100% consistent, reliable, and complete product information is a must.

agencies icon

 

Agencies

Agencies use PIM software to access and enrich their client’s product information for syndication to marketplaces, print publishers, and other e-commerce channels. 

Within the PIM system, agencies optimize product descriptions, feature lists, and other marketing content. If using a combined DAM and PIM solution, they associate digital assets with product information. Then, instead of manually creating and maintaining individual spreadsheets for each and every syndication channel, they configure exports in the system that contain the unique product information required by each channel.

Information managed in a PIM system

Product attributes is a term that refers to all of the different information types that organizations manage in a PIM system to help them support, market, and sell their goods online. Product attributes include everything from data to marketing descriptions, photos, videos, and any other information that describes and supports an organization’s product catalog. But the tough part is — all of these product attributes rarely originate from a single department, source, or software. 

A PIM system aggregates all of this dispersed information and gives organizations a single view from which to manage it. Here are a few examples of the information organizations can manage from within a PIM system.

Product data

Product data is the raw, objective information that organizations use to describe their products. Product data is typically managed and defined by engineering and product teams within their systems (e.g. ERP and PLM tools), which are then synced with the PIM platform. Product data includes essential information like SKUs, weight, sizes, colors, materials, ingredients, and other product specs. 

Digital assets

Digital assets are information that’s packaged in a digital format. Examples of digital assets include videos, photography, 360° images, illustrations, logos, and content such as user manuals, product guides, sell sheets, and more. Marketers can import or attach product-related digital assets to product profiles in a PIM system and use them in combination with information types to support customers and better market and describe their offering.

Marketing content

Marketing content includes descriptions of product features and benefits typically used on a product details page, as well as other sales-driven highlights and copy. While this content often uses objective facts, it might also include subjective messaging to convey the product's value and move a customer to make a purchase.

Marketing data

Marketing data is information that helps organizations launch, optimize, and run their marketing programs with success. Common examples of marketing data include search engine optimization (SEO) keywords, personas, and brand guidelines. This marketing data informs smarter copy and asset creation. Data like SEO keywords also provide publishers with the information needed to fuel higher search engine rankings, stronger on-site results, and more accurate and consistent keyword use across channels.

Localized and regionalized information

Localized and regionalized information includes product attributes specific to a market or geographic location. This information includes language variations for marketing or legal copy, currency and measurement translations, images that cater to cultural norms, and more. Localized and regionalized information helps marketers meet the unique needs of existing markets — while making it faster and easier to expand to new locations.

Benefits of PIM software

Product information and customer experience are closely intertwined. If brands fail to deliver accurate, robust, and connection-worthy product information across each and every channel, customer experience is impacted; and not in a good way. PIM software gives brands the behind-the-scenes efficiency and support they need to deliver winning, omnichannel customer experiences. 

PIM software allows organizations to: 

    • Launch products faster by eliminating manual handoffs, redundant data entry, and wild goose chases for missing product photos, approved copy, and more.

    • Protect their brand by ensuring that accurate specs and content reach e-commerce sites. Teams can double-check everything in the PIM solution to ensure it’s correct.

    • Enter data once and never re-enter it again. A PIM tool ingests and manages product data from enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems and transmits it to e-commerce syndication platforms, publishers, and print partners. 

    • Eliminate email chains that usually come with content requests and proofing workflows. Store, review, approve, and access everything in the PIM software.

    • Speed up approvals by using automated notifications to tag product managers, product marketers, legal representatives, and others who need to sign off before listings go live.

    • Win over shoppers and outcompete rivals with better product listings. When brands are managing one central product listing instead of dozens, their teams can invest more time fine-tuning copy and images.

Differentiating various e-commerce solutions

With nearly 8,000 plus marketing technologies on the market and a seemingly equal number of acronyms to identify them, it’s no wonder marketers are often confused about which acronyms (we mean solutions) do what. We’ve talked a lot about what PIM tools are and how they help e-commerce brands. But what about DAM, marketing resource management (MRM), and master data management (MDM)? How do all these solutions differ from a PIM solution?

PIM

A PIM solution is a specialized subset of MDM. A PIM solution is 100% concentrated on the management of product information that is most often used for marketing and merchandising purposes. When integrated with a DAM solution (which some organizations also use as their MRM solution), a PIM system allows users to attach product digital assets like videos, images, and documentation to a product’s profile within the PIM system. 

DAM 

Unlike a PIM system, a DAM solution does not deal with raw product data or marketing descriptions and other copy. It is dedicated to digital asset management. This means organizations use it to store, manage, and distribute assets like videos, images, photos, audio clips, and brand or product content that can also be housed in an MRM tool (e.g., product manuals and brand guidelines). Often a DAM system serves as the central hub that powers all of the other marketing systems and teams within an organization, including a PIM platform.

MRM

Where a PIM solution is about products, an MRM solution is about people and processes. An MRM solution centralizes project-related content, information, and processes so that everyone involved in a campaign or project (such as a product launch) has the resources they need to succeed. An MRM system can help organizations centralize digital assets, but it’s typically only used for project-related assets (not an entire digital asset library). As mentioned earlier, a DAM system can also serve as an MRM substitute for organizations.

MDM 

An MDM solution is a centralized system that’s used to manage a wider variety and scope of company information than a PIM system. An MDM solution deals with product information, but it also aggregates much more — including information about customers, suppliers, financials, assets, and markets. Organizations use MDM systems to aggregate all of the information they deem business-critical in one system that anyone within the organization can access.

Interested in learning more about how a PIM solution can help your organization achieve greater e-commerce success? See why you'll love Widen for PIM

 

Additional resources

Topics: PIM, e-commerce

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