What is PIM?

PIM stands for product information management. It’s a set of principles and software for creating a single source of product content truth, optimizing it for richness, accuracy, and completeness, and syndicating it to meet requirements by sales channel.

Features & Benefits of a PIM

Bulk Editing

Gone are the days of updating products and attributes one by one. PIM simplifies the updating process by directly tying attributes to products to product pages. Updates and changes can be done across your entire operation simultaneously, saving you time and effort.

Syndication

PIM is a single source of truth for all your product content, which can be tailored by specific buyer persona to populate precisely where it has been optimized to produce the most conversions.

Content Grading

Grading typically means comparing the product content in your product pages against a generally agreed upon quality standard, such as that set by Amazon. This allows you to understand where your strengths are, so you can repeat them, and where your weaknesses are, so you can fix them.

Completeness Scoring

PIM is specifically designed to show you where to focus your effort, by displaying a score for each product you sell. No longer do you have to go through each product again and again to ensure they are all up-to-date and associated information is complete and accurate.

Product Categorization

Categorization allows you to view, edit, and export data from one category, instead of trying to sort through hundreds, or even thousands of products. Keeping your products organized in this way saves you time better spent optimizing your product pages and driving sales revenue.

Workflow

PIM users are assigned a permission level at implementation. Users without permission to make changes have their changes sent automatically to a user with authorization to allow changes. Additionally, all changes are tracked to ensure mistakes are not allowed to be pushed out to product pages. This ensures your customers are always seeing accurate, up-to-date product information and assets, like new images.

Click here to read Catsy’s PIM Workflow blog.

PIM & Data Governance

Data governance is a set of core practices dealing with data discoverability, maintenance, and security. Data governance allows for robust, informed decision making, and when combined with PIM, this ability is passed to the customer. An informed customer has the ability to make decisions the uninformed customer does not, and PIM ensures the information delivered is accurate and up-to-date.

Data governance provides a level of organization necessary to dramatically reduce time to market. Data governance increases buyer satisfaction by ensuring customers know exactly what they are buying. This drives up conversions and drives down returns. Increased conversions and delighted customers necessarily increase the chances of repeat business, so data governance has a positive effect on customer loyalty as well. Data governance facilitates scale by providing enriched content which can be syndicated across multi-store operations including retailers and D2C sites.

Click here to read Catsy’s PIM and Data Governance blog.

Inbound Feeds: ERP

Items are created in ERP and usually the item master is managed in ERP with inventory and pricing details

With an inbound feed into a PIM, you can leverage this data from ERP to build rich and compelling content in PIM.

Makes it easy to trigger the follow up actions that product managers, designers and creatives need to do to get this item to market

Notes to Ted: please try to loop back when you expand the above bullets to the title “what is pim” even if in an indirect way and how inbound feeds from ERP form a functionality.

Outbound Feeds: CRM

Integrating product information into CRM is important so the sales organization has accurate content at fingertips

PIM & DAM

PIM and DAM are both different, and at the same time, mutually complementary. Technically speaking, PIM can function without DAM, and some companies have offered augmented DAM solutions designed to mimic some PIM functionality.

However, the truth is that ecommerce is an overwhelmingly visual experience. Product information is largely composed of text and data, which cannot be absorbed as readily and easily as images and videos. Simultaneously, digital assets require the context provided by product information to make sense.

The bottom line is, if product information and digital assets rely upon each other to create a full picture of a product in your customers minds, the same is going to be true for all people, including your employees. Thus it doesn’t make sense to store product information and digital assets separately, or in two systems which will have to be synced to work together.

Instead, Catsy’s PIM includes DAM functionality, providing you with a streamlined system that is a central repository for all your product content. This means Catsy PIM creates a single source of truth for your entire ecommerce operation, with product information and digital assets directly linked for the sake of organizational ease.

Click here to read Catsy’s blog on PIM & DAM.

How PIM Drives Efficiencies

PIM stores all of your product information and digital assets in one central repository. Gone are the days when you needed to search through folders to find a specific bit of information in an Excel file or a Digital Asset. A core tenant of PIM is improving discoverability of content which helps in saves time and drives efficiency.

Centralization also creates a single source of truth. So instead of spending hours tracking down individual pieces of text to be updated, when changes need to be made, they are made once across your entire operation.

PIM with workflow takes this organization even further by allowing changes to be made only upon approval by specific users. All users are assigned to a specific permission group, such that junior users cannot make changes without approval by a senior user. Workflow also tracks all changes and records which user is working on what piece of content.

How PIM Drives Revenue

Maximizing revenue in today’s digital sales environment means delighting customers with product pages. These have to be packed with the information and images they need to make strong purchasing decisions. PIM allows you to bring all your product content together, ensure its accurate and up-to-date, and push it out across all the websites you sell on.

Further, PIM allows you to customize and tailor your brand message by site, so you can more effectively target and convert specific buyer personas.

ROI Expectations for a PIM

Expect to see ROI from a PIM investment to come in two forms: revenue growth and cost reduction.

Revenue Growth

PIM will give your organization better control over your product data and images. This will lead to a number of benefits directly resulting in an increase in sales. Sales growth depends on how you sell your products and what products you sell. But one thing is certain, PIM will increase the number of views your product pages get. Secondly, and most importantly, PIM will lead to higher conversion rates when customers look at your products.

This conversion rate increase can take place with regard to both online and offline sales. In both cases, you’ll see a compounding benefit. Higher conversion rates with online sales will lead to higher rankings on Google or the marketplace the product is sold on. This is because shoppers search for specific products, and when they purchase your product, it tells Google your page is the correct result for shoppers’ searches.

With regard to offline sales, PIM gives reps better access to answer questions and subsequently share information with potential customers. If your reps can land that first sale, it’ll surely lead to many more. PIM gives your reps the tools they need to earn a potential customer’s respect and win the sale.

Cost Reduction

PIM helps businesses cut costs in a few different ways. Some are more obvious than others.

It’s common for marketing departments to have to spend a good deal of time on product data and image sharing. Whether they’re sharing content internally or externally, the process of gathering all the necessary information takes much too much time today. PIM centralizes content and simplifies the process of finding it. This combination will save your marketing team massive amounts of time when responding to data requests.

A second way PIM saves a business cash is by reducing returns. Once a PIM has been implemented, your business will have accurate and robust product data on all channels, online and off. This accurate and robust data ensures shoppers never make buying decisions based on incorrect or out-of-date information.

The third way PIM will cut costs for your business is a direct result of the ongoing digital revolution. Every day, businesses need to publish product data and images in ever more places. If product content is updated, teams take far too much time manually sending out information. That is, if they get around to it at all. A PIM becomes the single source of product content you connect to all endpoints where it’s published. This means as data is updated internally, it is efficiently sent out everywhere it’s published, both online and off.

How much to expect to pay for a PIM?

PIM has many different features, thus there are many ways it can benefit a business. For some businesses, a feature rich PIM that “can do it all” is the right choice. Obviously, a feature rich PIM will be costly, but it will be worth it for the business. On the other hand, if you have basic needs, a more affordable, lightweight PIM is the right choice. When selecting a PIM, the first question you need to ask concerns what you need to get out of your PIM. It is largely the expectations you have that will determine how much you’ll end up paying.

When is a PIM not right for you?

You probably don’t want to implement a PIM if...
  • your product pages and catalogs don’t require consistent updating
  • you sell across a small number of channels
  • you work with a small number of manufacturers/suppliers
  • the number of SKUs you sell is small
  • your products are not very complex or have a small number of attributes
  • your products have a small number of possible attribute configurations
  • your product attributes have a small number of possible values
  • the prices you charge are stable
  • you run a mall operation
  • you employ a small number of people
  • Click here to read Catsy’s blog with instructions for picking the right PIM.

    What is a rough to-do-list when implementing a PIM?

  • Gather images
  • Gather SKUs
  • Partner with PIM provider to create product attribute hierarchy that fits your products and attributes.
  • How long does it take to implement a PIM?

    The implementation process involves configuring the PIM to meet your exact needs and specifications. Once this has been done, you will need to gather all your product information and digital assets, to be loaded into the custom solution created for you. How long this takes tends to vary depending on how clean and organized your data is when you begin, but generally it takes anywhere from 6 week to 2 months.

    It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the successful smooth functioning of your PIM is directly related to the care taken during implementation. This is why Catsy prides itself on the close relationships we develop and maintain with our customers. We also work tirelessly to improve our customer service, because (G2 Customer Service Quality Badge here?)

    Which channels need a PIM?

    Websites

    Regardless of whether you designed your website for ecommerce or to be an informational catalog, a PIM helps you organize your own branded, company website to compete with compelling product pages. It could be an informational resource for contractors, installers, or your end users, or is instead optimized to feature all your product specs alongside rich, robust product information. Regardless, such a site must be populated with robust and accurate content. A PIM makes this happen.

    Ecommerce Marketplaces

    You could be selling on top marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. To do so, you need your product listings to be complete and accurate. A PIM along with a syndication module makes this easy.

    Retail Channels

    If you are selling through Home Depot, Lowes, or any of 400 other top retail channels, accurate, up-to-date product information is critical for these channels. The content you provide is key to helping them with proper product placement and marketing. A PIM does in this.

    Dealer Channels

    Many brands still use a robust dealer network to sell and service products. This could involve distributors operating in your specific vertical. so sending product content to them is critical. A PIM enables this.

    Spec sheets, Pricebooks, and Catalogs

    Established industries commonly rely on printed sales materials to market products to their clients. Presenting product content in a way buyers are already familiar with is one way to ensure robust sales into the future. A PIM covers this.

    Print on Demand

    This business vertical produces highly customized products, often for individual customers, as the need arises for them. Print on demand requires product information in the form of specifications to sit alongside images, such as CAD drawings, with must be brought together for presentation. PIM organizational and search functionality means you no longer have to dig through hundreds or thousands of folders for the right image or icon, increasing productivity and resulting tasks in a fraction of the time.

    Sales eCatalogs

    New business growth means salespeople have to be able to answer potential customer questions quickly with accurate information. This information must include any and all up-to-date changes that have been made. PIM ensures a single source of truth for your product information and images, so your salespeople always have the answer they need to close deals.

    Customer Service eCatalogs

    While the information and what it’s being used for may be different, PIM ensures customer service information is accurate and up-to-date, regardless of how often it is updated or otherwise changed. PIM provides a single, centralized source of truth for all product content, which can only be changed by an authorized user. This means when your customers contact you with follow-up questions about service, your agents are always giving them exactly what they need to know to solve their problem.

    Parts Catalogs

    Everyone from the individual homeowner, to contractors, to enterprise corporations need to buy parts for the machines and appliances they own or use to conduct business. Manufacturers and suppliers need to provide them with accurate, up-to-date information, so their customers are empowered with the information they need to make informed buying decisions. PIM is specifically designed to do this.

    ERP

    Ecommerce companies create product SKUs in their ERP system first. Dimensional and logistical data can be set to flow automatically from an ERP to your PIM. However, there will be times when the descriptions, managed in your PIM, need to be pushed out to your ERP. So, ERP systems stand to benefit from the content enrichment potential a PIM brings.

    CRM

    Most sales teams have a process tied around a CRM system, where they maintain a list of sellable products. Each opportunity and every deal has products attached to it in your CRM. These products necessarily require accurate descriptions, at least one small thumbnail image, as well as accurate and up-to-date dimensional data to drive sales. Simply, PIM is the source for this data and a PIM can be set to feed your CRM automatically when updates are made.

    Who uses a PIM within an organization?

    Product Managers

    Product managers have to set goals for product releases and sit over all tasks that have to be completed to bring a new product to market. This means coordinating all of the various departments with information to contribute to the product pages that will sell the product online. It also means ensuring that descriptions and specifications are accurate and that pages are fully optimized with digital assets, like images, videos, and CAD drawings.

    Channel Managers

    Channel managers are responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with the sales channels you sell products on. They are responsible for ensuring your brand message is conveyed correctly by channel with appropriately targeted product content, and that the sales strategy is being followed.

    Marketing Managers

    Marketing managers need to pull together product content to ensure product pages are optimized according to the brand message. They will also need specific pieces of product information to write accurate, compelling product descriptions and feature bullets. Feature bullets have to create robust need for the product in the mind of the customer by tying product benefits to the problem customers want to buy your product to solve.

    Copywriters

    Copywriters are responsible for creating all product page text necessary to market and sell products. They will need to gather this information from various internal departments and work closely with the managers listed above to ensure brand messaging is leveraged to create robust product pages that convert visitors into buyers.

    Photography / Art department

    The art department’s photographers will need to be able to identify out-of-date digital assets quickly and efficiently, so they can be updated. They will need to make sure that digital assets are made available to anyone who needs them, so that only the newest videos and images are being used to sell products.

    Sales Reps

    Sales reps will need the most accurate and up-to-date information possible to determine which products customers are most likely to buy and to explain them to potential buyers. Likewise, they will need to be able to impress potential customers with the newest visual sales content, like videos and images featuring products.

    PIM’s role as a central repository for product content, information as well as digital assets, creating a single source of truth, serves the needs of all these roles crucial to the successful marketing and sales of products online today.

    Who uses a PIM within an organization?

    While the individuals and departments listed above will find using a PIM dramatically improves productivity, leading to increased sales and the potential for massive market share growth, PIM isn’t designed for all of a company’s departments to use. The following are departments that won’t need to be involved with your PIM.

    • Finance
    • HR
    • Limited use by operations

    MDM & PIM

    PIM is but one slice of the overall MDM pie. Master Data Management refers to the relatively stable, non-transactional master data necessary to run your business, from: human resources/internal teams, vendors, customers, and of course products. Without a PIM, organizations struggle to account for organization, management, and adjustment of this key data segment.

    2019 Trends with Regard to PIM

    • Analytics driven
    • Buyer persona driven
    • Brand driven ecommerce

    The History of PIM

    The history of PIM can be broken down into three eras: the no-need era, the nice-to-have era, and the must-have era.

    The No-Need Era

    When print dominated, PIM was not really a need. This era ran from the 1980s to 2000 or so. When print was one of the main marketing channels, there was no real need for a PIM because the printing a catalog was only an annual exercise. Thus constant updating was not only not necessary, it was not possible.

    The Nice-to-Have Era

    Early ecommerce made PIM a nice solution to have available, but it was far from ubiquitous across the industry. By 2001, you had to feed multiple channels, meaning data which thus far had lived inside print documents, had to be liberated. During this era, among others, three key developments took place.

    • The first book shedding light on what a marketing database was supposed to look like was written.
    • This spawned an era of data digitization when companies used scanners to import documents. Likewise, product specs were being imported into Excel.
    • This “Dawn of Excel” when Excel sort of did the job, constituted an improvement, which while manageable was far from a perfect solution.

    The Must-Have Era

    By about 2011, mainstream ecommerce had made PIM a necessity, due in part to three key factors:

    • The explosion in the proliferation of sales channels
    • Those channels had specific data needs
    • PIM was thus directly tied to revenue