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What is PIM, and How Does Product Information Management Work?

What is PIM, and How Does Product Information Management Work?

PIM is your centralized product information system from which the product data is distributed to all relevant stakeholders, teams, and sales channels.

What is PIM?

It is easy to get into ecommerce today and incredibly tough to keep the business afloat in the ever-changing and constantly evolving landscape. And we’re not talking just about having a competitive product/service on your hands. We’re talking about having reliable tech backing your efforts as well.

With customers increasingly relying on online shopping, these changes will only happen faster in the future. It is estimated that 95% of purchases will be made online by 2040, an adoption rate guaranteed to transform what we know now completely.

With that in mind, delivering better and faster product experiences can give you a competitive advantage over your competitors. For most brands and businesses, that means the ability to mix and match essential product data with anything they might need to market and sell a product.

How do you do that? Well, start by arming yourself with the right tool for product information management.

Understanding PIM

Product information management, PIM for short, stands for a process of managing and curating the product information required to store, market, and sell products.

Product information data includes technical information, SKU data, supplier data, marketing assets and descriptions, labeling and categorization, ingredients, packaging, etc. Anything you’d find in the product sheet, you’ll also find in the PIM.

The PIM is your centralized product information system from which the product data is distributed to all relevant stakeholders, teams, and sales channels. Consider it a central repository that can neutrally feed information about your products to any channel like a webshop, ecommerce App, ERP system, or product catalog.

Companies with thousands of products need PIM, but you should definitely consider getting one even if your offer is smaller and mainly if your products include lots of customization or localization.

❓What About Headless PIM?

Modern web development is moving towards a headless approach or headless architecture. Broadly headless is about making a difference between the front end and back end of your website, store, or app.

It allows you to have the best-of-breed approach, i.e., pick and choose solutions with each one specialized for one function (PIM, eCommerce, CMS, search, payment, media management, etc.) to deliver unique functionalities and experiences to potential customers.

In that context, a headless PIM solution means that you have a cloud-based service available at the push of a button that scales with your growth.

Importance of PIM in Today's Digital Landscape

Why Use a PIM? The market is vast; we know this. So, how do you secure your piece of the cake? Have the best product experience, courtesy of PIM.

Product experience ties into your user experience, so it falls into the category of one of the main deciding factors for whether your customers purchase from you or your competitor.

A great product experience means that your product information will be consistent with your marketing messages. Your cross-selling and upselling efforts will be better directed on every channel you use. Relying on a PIM ensures precisely that.

In addition, PIM is very time-efficient. Instead of wasting your team’s time manually creating, maintaining, and updating the never-ending list of spreadsheets, they will be able to focus on other revenue-making tasks.

For example, datasheets and price lists can easily be published by the sales team themselves; marketing can use any and all product information and deliver it across multiple channels; new products are easily added to catalogs making time-to-market much shorter. etc.

Finally, you need PIM to enforce your product information consistency and ensure all stakeholders and relevant teams have the same information and work towards the same goals.

What Kind of Product Information Needs to Be Managed?

PIM essentially manages all product data, and what “all” encompasses will depend on the type of products you sell. Having said that, some of the most common data managed in PIM are:

👉 Key product information - Descriptions, titles, SKUs, suppliers, etc.

👉 Technical specs - Measurements, sizes, materials, ingredients, warranties, etc.

👉 Taxonomy - Categories, relationships, product tags, etc.

👉 Marketing information  - SEO data, titles, meta descriptions, keywords, buyer personas, etc.

👉 Digital assets - Images, videos, documents, animations, etc.

👉 Sales information - Prices, testimonials, reviews, etc.

👉 Channel-specific information - Google categories, Instagram shopping tags, mobile-specific data, and assets, etc.

👉 Localized data - Translations, currency, etc.

This brings us to the modern-day problem many businesses have.

Clearing Up the Acronym Confusion in eCommerce

It is not easy to stay on top of the subtle differences in the meaning of popular three-letter acronyms used in eCommerce today, especially when the concepts are so similar. 

For example, PIM is often confused with other product-related tools, such as master data management (MDM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), product lifecycle management (PLM), product experience management (PXM), product data management (PDM), product content management (PCM), data asset management (DAM) and finally content management systems (CMS).

The following infographic provides you with a visual comparison of all relevant terms. Individual posts dig deeper into each term and the concept behind it.


Clearing Up the Acronym Confusion in eCommerce

Benefits of PIM for Businesses

The single most significant benefit of implementing a PIM is increased revenue. How’s that? To put it plainly and simply, a PIM helps streamline your marketing and sales efforts.

Because your product data is kept in one place, uniform, and up to date, departments across your company (sales, ecommerce, marketing, support, and development) are perfectly aligned in the sales cycle execution.

On top of that, your team no longer spends endless time filling in various spreadsheets and making sure everyone gets the correct information.

All of that works together to produce a great user experience as the best sales closer ever.

PIM for Product Catalogues

A product catalog 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 groupings. Traditionally when talking about product catalogs, many would think about a printed booklet showing all the products from a company. Or a directory with an endless number of Excel spreadsheets.

Of course, today, you would be more likely to think about a product catalog as a website with all products readily available with navigation and search. Both still apply. In addition, you have new channels such as voice-activated devices like Amazon Alexa for your products.

PIM is used to create product catalogs that show customers what they can buy. You also have everyday use cases, typically in B2B, where you look up a product to get all specifications, dimensions, and usage information.

eCommerce PIM

The heart of any eCommerce business are the products that they sell. The PIM platform used to handle product information today can gather, organize, enrich, and distribute product data with ease across a variety of distribution channels, including your eCommerce shop, online marketplaces, social media, etc. You can typically define different types of products and manage the rich content required to create an engaging shopping experience, but you also handle order fulfillment and, in some cases, handle subscriptions.

There is no PIM vs. eCommerce comparison. PIM has a wide application in eCommerce, but the essential features are the reduction of manual data entry, simplifying data extraction, and it enables ease of multichannel scaling.

Hmm… Is the multichannel approach that important?

Well, that’s for you to decide, but let us just say this: multi-channel shoppers spend three times more than single-channel shoppers. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s very significant.

PIM as a Service

A PIM service can be delivered as a traditional piece of software that you could install on a server on-premise or as a Cloud PIM or rather have PIM delivered as a ready-to-use service with a product catalog the customers can directly use. Think of this as a hosted product catalog. 

Headless PIM, on the other hand, is an approach where a PIM system is delivered as an API. Meaning your developers can use the information quickly and make custom presentations and integrations.

❓PIM at Crystallize.

You have heard the phrase content is king, right? What most forget to mention is that content sells as well. To market and sell products today, you’ll need an eCommerce and a rich content management solution, i.e., CMS, as well.

At Crystallize, we handle all the content you need to market and sell your products in any channel. Traditionally, this is placed in a PIM and a CMS, but it is two sides of the same story for us. And you need both structured product data and rich marketing content when telling product stories, which is the Crystallize approach.

Learn more about PIM in Crystallize.

PIM at Crystallize

Any Drawbacks?

Drawbacks come with the platform you use in the sense of whether or not the platform is capable of catering to your needs. But in general, there are three potential problems.

Customization, for one. Customization goes both ways, i.e., not only it depends on your product, but it also depends on the PIM platform's ability to be customizable for your use case.

Integration for two. Some PIMs can be challenging to use because they weren't all designed with integration to your tech stack in mind.

The learning curve for three. Simply put, the above potential drawbacks lead to a steep learning curve.

How to Choose the Right PIM Solution?

Start by defining your main pain points. What are the biggest problems that a PIM would help you solve? Is it to free up time for your team? Is it to speed up the time-to-market of new products? Is it to easily and quickly scale your eCommerce business?

By doing this, your search for a suitable PIM will be better directed, and whichever one you choose will help deliver on your KPIs.

Don’t forget to consult your tech team and talk about your current tech infrastructure. You should strive to get a full integration, where the platforms you use can directly connect to the PIM. This is especially true if you wish to go headless.

Once you have those requirements pinned down, choosing your PIM will be fairly simple - just like your product management after you implement it 😉

Future of PIM

We believe the future of PIM is on edge, powering modern eCommerce frameworks directly, powering product storytelling and innovation speed, and delivering not only content but product information as close as possible to the end users, your customers.

That idea plays a huge role in our efforts to reimagine eCommerce, and we’re slowly getting there😎

It Is Not Just About Product Information Management

Even though eCommerce sales exceeded $1 trillion in 2022 (source), the economic uncertainty makes people more cautious about where, when, and how they spend money. On top of that, modern consumers do a lot of research online before making a purchasing decision.

No doubt, product information is crucial to purchasing decisions, but it’s not just about that.

The ability to provide your potential customers with rich and engaging product storytelling across any and all touchpoints in their journey is a competitive advantage, a slight nudge in your direction, if you will, that will help you gain those customers over your competitors.

Not sure if you need PIM for your business? Don't worry. We got you covered.

BOOK a personalized 1-on-1 demo today, and we’ll show you what makes Crystallize a powerful PIM well suited for modern business.

Or, why not SIGN UP for FREE and start building.

Follow the Rabbit🐰

Product Information Management Done Headless

Product Information Management Done Headless

A headless approach to PIM means having a service ready to manage product information in seconds. Product information and content are delivered via an API. No templates, no web pages, only structured content. Pure developer bliss.

Headless Commerce Explained

Headless Commerce: A Complete Guide to the Future of Online Selling

New sales channels appear every day. Instagram now has a shopping tab, WhatsApp is getting one, TikTok is jumping onto the eCommerce wagon, and purchasing groceries from your smart fridge has become a reality. If your online store is your only sales platform, then you’re seriously missing out.

Yes, we get it.

First, it’s creating content for your website. Then, it’s creating content for mobile. It’s creating social media sales channels, smartwatches, and other IoT devices. Moreover, the number of these will only increase in the future.

And who has a team that large? Not many! But hey, that’s why you’re here because this is where headless commerce shines.

Headless commerce and headless architecture have gained much traction lately, so the market for headless commerce is projected to expand to around USD 2.2 billion by 2023. Over six in ten retail companies plan to migrate to headless commerce platforms by 2024, while over 20 percent already use them (source: headless commerce stats 2024).

Return on Investment (ROI) of Headless Commerce

The benefits and competitive advantages of headless commerce are many. When done right, of course. Let’s look at some of the primary advantages that a proper headless commerce buildout can provide.