PIM Software Solution- A Buyers Guide

As the retail industry keeps evolving, retailers and organizations continue innovating technology-enabled processes for refining product operations. Whether a business is just starting out or has been established for a while and has multiple SKUs, supplier, vendors and customer under its belt, product information management plays a critical role in the end to end retail.

From managing and enriching product content, generating high-quality product catalogs, exporting data to third-parties, onboarding vendor or suppliers to syndicating master data, PIM software PIM Software plays a key role in all departments of an organization. The industry has seen a lot of interest in product data and more organizations are actively evaluating technology for product information management than ever before. However, it is also necessary to understand which PIM software is the most ideal for your business. While some businesses require only core features and specific functionalities, some may need advanced PIM technology systems which allow for sophisticated distribution and flow of their product data.

Selecting the correct PIM software lays the foundation for any successful retail story. Businesses must have robust product information management systems in place to be able to meet the need for accurate product content both within the organization and externally.

Take a look at the PIM Software buyer’s guide to understand which key features you can benchmark while actively comparing PIM solutions from different vendors and which capabilities are key priorities for your business.

1. Internal Master Data Management

Typically, within the organization, Product Data Attributes are required by multiple software systems internally. They could be required by ERP systems, CRM systems, logistics systems, Accounting & Invoicing systems as well as other internal applications or systems. A product data platform should be designed to sync with other internal systems and serve product attributes as part of the Master Data within the organization.

PIM solutions with these capabilities at the core of their architecture are ideal for serving Master Data Management (MDM) needs and being a central hub for all Product Attributes within the organization regardless of which interconnected system requires them.

2. Central Product Attribute Management & Enrichment

Organizations that aim to collectively manage and refine their central product experience and enrich product attributes at a central location need a specialised platform. Product content can be extremely fragmented in an organization. Various internal departments are responsible for specific data functions. For instance, images may be controlled by the marketing department, the Sales Department may have the details of the product, the R&D department may maintain information regarding the ingredients and composition, while only the compliance department has access to certifications’ information.

In such scenarios, it is critical that your PIM system has a central but flexible data model. One that is common for the entire organization but also allows the flexibility of adding or modifying attributes when needed. This allows for departments to manage and enrich product content centrally and develop a central consistent product experience. This feature supports sophisticated product management and data enriching tools that allow product managers to expand the detail level of the product experience.

For businesses which are looking for enriching, expanding and managing centralized product data, this feature is something to look out for.

3. Product Data Syndication to External Entities

This feature allows organizations to syndicate their product content with external entities. It further empowers businesses to organize, compile and syndicate data to third parties making multichannel data distribution simple.

PIM solutions with this capability must be able to supply any external system with the required data through a connection and maintain control over data access. Each of these external systems has their own data protocols which can be connected to the internal PIM via an API connection. As a result, these kinds of PIM software solutions can serve the request by supplying adequate, accurate and complete data in the required format whether XML or JSON which are commonly accepted. Such seamless transfer of product data allows businesses to automate their B2B content distribution, while also syndicating and updating any changes to the existing product data. Not every technology solution has sophisticated APIs to serve third-party applications outside the organization and is a specialized feature.

4. Vendor & Supplier Onboarding

Vendor and supplier onboarding processes can be cumbersome as they require multi-level verification and documentation. It also requires organizations to validate in real-time, whether these vendors and suppliers are compliant with the organization’s standards and regulations. Some specialized PIM software solutions allow retailers to invite vendors and suppliers to directly upload their product content into the system as part of the onboarding process.

Apart from this, PIM software with specific onboarding features can also automate other regulatory processes once the onboarding is complete. Having an efficient onboarding and administration process in place helps businesses save time and cost as well as empowers unified product data and workflow management.

This is a beneficial feature for retailers especially as it fosters multi-level involvement for all stakeholders. However, similar architecture can also be leveraged by multi-brand corporations too. Organizations with a centralized onboarding PIM software encourages vendors and suppliers to take charge of their own data and keep enriching it.

5. E-commerce Data Management

This PIM feature is specifically designed to meet the needs of the E-commerce organizations. The focus remains mainly on product content such as product specifications, images, videos, sound files etc. These PIM systems help enriching and synchronising attributes by making them more in tune with the e-commerce needs. E-commerce platforms that wish to push data in a customizable manner can benefit from PIM systems specially designed to support e-commerce data management.

PIM systems purposely built for only managing e-commerce data can be integrated to the platform and also serve third-party requests. These systems are designed specially keeping in mind requirements of popular e-commerce platforms and technologies.

6. Product Sheets & Print Document Creation

These PIM solutions are designed to help support, develop and export printable content. Brands can utilize these features to fuel their market presence by developing strong, product-rich catalogs and circulating them.

Marketers, sales executives, R&D or product departments that require print catalogs and product sheets can benefit the most with these features and there are PIM solutions built specifically around this need. If producing high-quality product sheets and print documents is a key priority, this is one capability to evaluate before selecting a solution.

7. Digital Asset Management

Most PIM systems can perform basic product information functionalities such as storing and organising digital data. However, integrating PIM with a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution can offer enhanced opportunities for supercharging the product data. Optimum Digital Asset Management (DAM) is feasible in an organization with integrated data and product management system for enhanced omnichannel distribution of multi-media content.

A PIM-DAM integration can support and enhance the media related to the product. Implementing this hybrid model in business can support complex media and marketing requirements such as developing campaigns, posters, ads, images, videos, sound files, descriptions, etc that help customers evaluate and make a decision. Such systems can help manage both product and non-product related digital assets. If images and digital assets distribution is a key requirement, seek out a solution that offers a feature-rich DAM module or capabilities.

8. Product Marketing Data Source

Organizations which aim to integrate their content and distribute it across market networks or use it for campaigns need to consider syncing a product marketing data channel with their internal PIM systems. This assimilation of product market data and product information management is ideal for generating marketing campaigns and executing results.

Marketers and executives can benefit from the content storehouse solution that facilitates the execution of product and marketing campaigns.

9. Product Lifecycle Management

These solutions are ideal for organizations that encompass a large product base and look towards PLM systems capable of automating and updating the inventory logistics beyond the “design to build” stage. PLM capabilities enable enhanced product performance across departments by providing end to end product management throughout the product’s lifetime.

Product Lifestyle Management (PLM) systems are specialized and offer different capabilities from general PIM systems.

10. Internet of Products Applications

The changing retail scenario has empowered businesses to look towards technology-enabled retail solutions. Internet of Products (IOP) applications and platforms allow organizations to virtualize SKUs or instances of their products in the form of attributes and expose these attributes to consumers and consumer applications in the retail ecosystem. This capability is typically built on top of a product data network and allows consumers and end users to interact with a digital representation of a product.

For example, consumers being able to pull up digital labels off products, digitally activate product warranties on their purchases, track and trace the route their products route before finding its way to them and several more innovative possibilities that open up when SKU or serial level product records are maintained over standard product attributes. If building innovative product interactions is a key requirement, then look for Digital Interaction enabled PIM solutions.

Every PIM solution in the market specialises in certain capabilities and are purpose-built for certain key requirements. Evaluate what is important to your organization and your product data initiative, prioritise the key requirements and then benchmark the systems you’re evaluating against these to end up with the right technology platform.

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