PIM is short for Product Information Management. The core of PIM is to manage the information about products in one central repository. Typically you generate rich product catalogues in multiple channels like Web and native Apps. PIM manages product information like name, pricing, variant information. You also manage rich text descriptions of products including pictures of color variations and sizes as well as HD videos showcasing the product in action. Basically all you need to market and sell a product online in one source.
PIM for Product Catalogues
A product catalogue is a structured approach to storing product information. You can have different categories of products typically organized in a hierarchical tree, by keywords or other semantic grouping. Traditionally when talking about product catalogues many would think about a printed booklet showing all the products from a company. Of course today you would be more likely to think about a product catalogue as a website with all products easily available with navigation and search. Both still apply as cases in addition you have multiple other channels such as voice activated devices like Amazon Alexa for your products.
PIM is used to create product catalogues that show customers what they can buy. You also have common use cases typically in B2B where you look up a product to get all specifications, dimensions and usage information.
PIM for e-commerce
The heart of any e-commerce are the products that you sell. A PIM system basically delivers a rich product catalogue you can build your e-commerce solution on top of. You can typically define different types of products and a modern PIM should also allow you to manage the rich content required to create an engaging shopping experience.
A modern PIM should allow you to define both physical products like books and virtual products like access to an online service. You can also define a product as recurring with a subscription.
PIM as a Service
PIM as a service can be delivered as a ready to use service with a product catalogue the customers can directly use. Think of this as a hosted product catalogue. Headless PIM is an approach where PIM system is delivered as an API. Meaning that your developers can use the information easily and make custom presentations and integrations.
Single Source of Truth for Product Information
If you are new to PIM you might have heard of single source of truth. This is an information system design best practice that means just that: the product information is stored in one central place and all other sources which need this information are referencing this.
In practice this often means that you end up copying product information, at least partially, to different systems. This is ideally done via automatic integrations so that any change in information is automatically synchronised with the single source of truth. When you modify the product information you do it once and all other places where the information is used is automatically updated.
That is PIM for you. Enjoy.