What is PIM and Why Do You Need It

In Product management, there are a multitude of channels and methods to provide information and updates to your staff and customers about your product. But to efficiently manage multiple channels about new updates, ensure that all digital assets are updated properly and ensure that your salespeople have the information they need to close their deals can be a massive undertaking, especially if you work in an organisation with hundreds of staff members. That’s where Product Information Management tools come into the picture.

What is PIM?

A PIM tool is an application that serves as a central platform that helps your team manage, update, and track product information and marketing content so that it can be effectively distributed across multiple marketing and sales channels.

PIM tools are useful not only because they provide a central repository for marketing and sales staff to pull up-to-date data from, but also because you can track which channels are being used and which ones to update.

What types of companies should use a PIM system?

Although a PIM seems like a great fit for most companies, there are some companies who can benefit a lot more from PIM than others.

If your company has a product that goes through a number of updates over its life cycles, whether in regards to features, functionalities, the markets it addresses, or will have a number of changes in how much information should be communicated to end customers, then it makes sense to use a Product Information Management tool.

One great example of where PIM can be applied well is with SaaS products, where regular feature updates, bug fixes, and marketing information will need to be delivered on a regular basis to ensure that people who are using the data for marketing and sales purposes will have updated information to pull their sources from. This ensures they can provide accurate information to prospective customers without having to constantly go back to the engineering or development teams.

Examples of Product Data

So far, we’ve talked about what PIM solutions and what they can offer, but knowing exactly what data can be used in a PIM can be helpful to sales and marketing personnel.

Some great examples of product data includes

- Basic features and functionalities

- Iterative updates throughout the product life cycle

- New Versions of existing product

- Additional SKU variants of a product

- Product entry into new markets

The Data Life Cycle in Product Information Management

In PIM, there is a life cycle for the data that is published within the tool. From the moment it enters the system to the moment it becomes outdated and irrelevant, this life cycle is used to define the usefulness of specific data points in relation to the product’s own life cycle.

The four steps here in the data life cycle are:
  • Collect: Collecting accurate data from various sources and of various types for the products in question
  • Consolidate: Ensuring that all collected data is accurate and consolidating the same to ensure there are no duplications within or across multiple channels
  • Enrich: Using the product information at hand and the efforts of different teams to ensure that available product information is enriched to provide maximum value to the customer
  • Distribute: Using PIM tools, this step is where the enriched data is distributed to various channels to provide accurate information to salespeople, marketing personnel, and customers.

How does PIM help your business?

Through the usage of PIM, there are a number of ways you can maximize how efficiently your business runs.

1. Provide Uniform Product Data

When you have a complicated product with lots of information points, such as rich content, product descriptions, user-generated content, illustrations, videos, dimensions, SKU information, colors, etc, it can be difficult to keep track of them all.

This becomes even more complex for sales departments, who are required to know the product in and out when they sell the product to a customer. If a salesperson cannot recall a specific feature or add-on to the product at a given moment, it can lead to a lost sale.

2. Expand How Product Data is Used to Create Customer-centric Experiences

Customers are demanding customer-centric experiences in everything, from having customer-centric browsing experiences in the digital space, to having tailored content that relates to the customer in digital commerce spaces. Customer-centric experiences aren’t just a nice-to-have option anymore, they’re part of marketing ethos.

For marketing teams, PIM solutions become more important where different types of audiences will need different content and methods to get them interested in the product.

That’s where PIM comes in, instead of having isolated silos of information between different marketing teams and channels, your product data will need to be integrated so that all of your marketing efforts are working together to achieve a common goal, instead of trying to chase after their own KPIs.

3. Automating Workloads

In the last point, we talked about how marketing efforts need to be customer-centric. But with a limited workforce, there is only so much that a small team can achieve. And hiring more people to scale operations can become too expensive to be a feasible solution.

What PIM offers in automation is through methods such as automatically categorizing products based on their product description, enriching existing content, and standardizing product information and attributes. You can even use automation to correlate product images with their respective data points.

This helps not only sales teams, but also your teams engaging in digital commerce to upload and maintain product data into ecommerce channels so that they are providing customers with the latest product information to enable them to make an informed decision.

Features to look in PIM Solutions

When it comes to PIM solutions, there are a number of features that you should be looking for before you narrow down on one for your organization.

  • Is data easy to import from other tools, even if they are manual?
  • Can you view granular data on a channel-by-channel basis?
  • Can you edit data for each channel or all channels in bulk?
  • Can you create and manage different categories based on your particular product?
  • Are you able to view content analytics to see how different content is performing in terms of engagement, sales, and customer interest?

Top 5 Tools for PIM

Although there are a plethora of tools for Product information management, there are a few standouts that we’d like to recommend to give you a leg up on your search.

1. PIMWorks

If you’re looking for a multi-channel solution that can give you robust control over your various channels, then PIMWorks is one of the better PIM solutions to have that as a strength.

2. SupplySail

SupplySail features a robust system to easily create and customize product catalogs, improve inventory control, and grow revenue.

3. Informatica

Informatica is a PIM solution that boasts of having a highly useful and customizable role-based interface, so you can easily see which people in the solution have access to which product information.

4. Feedonomics

Feedonomics is a PIM solution that is especially useful for remarketing old or cold leads, with multi-channel features to support the same.

5. Agility Multichannel

Agility Multichannel is a different type of PIM solution wherein it focuses on print media over digital media. If you have customers or salespeople who are focused more on proving product value through print media, or are in areas where internet connectivity may be limited, Agility Multichannel is worth a look.

Conclusion

Each PIM solution will have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to remember to choose a solution that will provide most of what you need, if not all. Features such as inventory control, increasing product lifecycle, reducing return rates, and creating customizable product catalogs can all be invaluable features when selling a product to customers. Make sure these features are available in the PIM solution that you choose, beyond having multi-channel availability, which should be considered as standard.

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