Choosing a product information management (PIM) system can be overwhelming. You’re aware of the benefits a PIM system will provide for you, but how do you know what functionalities your business needs to prioritise with PIM?
Here are some questions you should ask to help you find the best solution.
Benefits of PIM Systems
Firstly, let’s address some of the benefits a PIM system can offer. Maintaining excellent customer service combined with managing products or services data can be a challenge, leading to one of the many benefits of a PIM system – its ability to centralise product data. Here are some more key benefits:
- Time savings and increased customer satisfaction – streamlines your product data management into one, centralised location
- increased speed to market – gives you a single source of truth with the ability to pull data from the backend of your system
- Gain consistency across your products and services – provides the right information about your products and services at the right time, giving your customers a fluid experience with your business
Read about the above benefits in more depth here.
What do I want my PIM to achieve?
To get the most out of your PIM system, you must develop some key performance indicators (KPIs) as these can help you to keep your system integration on track. Consider some KPIs like these:
- Reduce time to market by X percent
- Establish an easy onboarding process for products/services on each channel
- Reduce time spent on updating product/service content by X percent
By taking time to plan, you’re going to get the most out of your PIM system as you know exactly what you want it to do for you.
Which type of PIM systems could work best for my business needs?
Two main types of PIM systems are:
- On-premise – this type allows users to create a system from scratch. This means you’ll have complete control over your system design and data. However, developing is very complex (not to mention the actual implementation) so the setup costs can be quite high. You’re also responsible for all the maintenance, keeping up with updates and data security - also costly and time-consuming
- Cloud SaaS – unlike on-premise PIM systems, cloud SaaS (software-as-a-service) comes with lower setup costs, maintenance costs and data security management because the cloud vendors handle that for you. Updates are all automated too. The drawbacks are your data will be hosted on a third party rather than your own systems. This means you’ll be reliant on an SLA for data access and won’t be in control of updates
Delve deeper into the on-premise vs cloud SaaS debate in our blog post here.
What features do I actually need?
You don’t want to invest in more features than you need. Here are a few key features your PIM system should include:
- Flexibility and easy configurability
- Scalability - you can scale features up and down in line with your business needs
- Ability to integrate with your other business systems, such as a CMS and ERP – this will ensure the consistency and visibility of information across the business will be kept high
- Easy data importing
- Bulk editing capabilities to improve time management and reduce time wastage
- Content analytics to provide accurate, up-to-date and relevant information 24/7
- Easy to create and manage categories
- Ability to view data by channel/category
How easily will it integrate with my ERP?
We mentioned it briefly in the section above, but it really is that important. It’s vital that your new PIM solution slots seamlessly in with your existing ERP system.
Firstly, you need to consider how closely you want your PIM and ERP systems to integrate. We suggest asking yourself these questions:
- Should a product/service’s lifecycle begin in PIM or ERP?
- Do you need your ERP data to be visible in your PIM system?
- Do you need to maintain PIM data in ERP without opening your PIM tool?
- Do you need to generate outputs in your ERP?
The answer to each of these questions will vary depending on your business, meaning you need to have a think about these factors before you commit to installing your PIM system.
Customisable or standard exports?
If your company uses unique naming conventions, it might be a better idea to look for a PIM system that offers customisable exports. This type of export allows your PIM to adapt your data naming and formatting while still exporting it to different channels.
Does it come with asset management?
If you want data and images linked to the right product, choose a PIM system that comes with asset management. You also need to make sure your PIM solution is easy for your whole team to use, especially if you’re handling multiple apps, catalogues, emails etc.
The more channels, formats and languages you use to publish your product/service information, the more important it is that your team can still easily access and use this data. You don’t want your employees to spend more time on these tasks than they should be, so pick a PIM system with good, easy-to-use asset management capabilities.
Can the system pull data from any source?
As above, you need to consider where your data will be coming from. This will make sure your PIM system can handle these sources, which will save your team time from doing it all manually. This boosts productivity, efficiency and lowers the chance of inaccurate or missing information.
Plus, consider how complex your data is. The more complex your product information is, the more carefully you should think about choosing a system that helps you manage it effectively.
Can the PIM publish data to any channel and in any format and language?
This is particularly important if you’re a global corporation or you’re planning on global expansion one day. The right PIM should be able to post across many channels, be versatile in formats and publish in a variety of languages.
How much support does the vendor offer?
The right PIM system might be easy to use but that doesn’t mean it’ll work flawlessly 24/7. And implementation projects are notoriously complex and full of potential pitfalls to avoid.
So, when you’re choosing your PIM system, you should also consider the vendor you’re buying it from. Will they provide you the level of support you need throughout the setup in addition to ongoing maintenance of the system? This is particularly important if you’re new to PIM systems, but with the right vendor, you should be able to integrate your new solution effortlessly.
Learn how you can increase average basket value
A PIM system is one of the best ways for your business to save time and money. However, it’s just one tactic in increasing your overall basket revenue. There are other systems you can invest in too, such as a sophisticated CMS or a modern CRM system with sales force automation capabilities.
Download our guide on how to increase your basket revenue below to learn more about other tactics and how PIM systems play a role too.
This blog was originally published in August 2020. It has been updated for 2021.