I often get the question how a typical ‘PIM-organization’ looks like. In other words, who in my organization is going to work with PIM? There is no real simple answer to this question. It all depends on your organization. What I will point out here is some general functions which can be mastered using a PIM system.
Master Data Management
PIM can be the foundation of your information organization, meaning that basic product data can be maintained in PIM, rather than in an ERP environment. It is good to make a distinction of the kind of information in coding data and marketing data. Coding data needs to be there to identify a product (both internal and external), whereas marketing data needs to be there to be able to sell the product to a specific group of customers.
The Master Data Manager deals with the coding data and keeps track of products in a rather technical way. He assures the uniqueness and the integrity of the basic product data. Although not ideal, in smaller organizations this function will be combined with either the buyer function or category management function.
As the owner of the assortment, the category manager will have an important role in the total PIM process. He will provide all product information needed (including visuals) to populate the PIM system. He is the linking pin in your organization to the vendors. In most cases he will have an assistant to do the tedious job of getting all the correct content in time. If the organization is big enough a direct integration with suppliers/vendors is preferred, making them responsible to supply the PIM with the correct product information. As the ultimate responsibility stays with Category Management, there need to be a process in place to check the validity of the provided data before publishing it.
If products are technically defined and reside in the PIM, the marketing department can start to enrich this basic information in a more output oriented manner. What I mean by that is that every output channel can have their own specific needs regarding the output. A Christmas flyer may need different text than a yearly catalogue or the website. Also consider different target groups. The tone of voice can vary from customer group to customer group whereas the basic product description will stay the same for all customer groups.
It is Marketing who decides how to use the data in the different campaigns. It is also Marketing to make the campaign planning. This can be done in the PIM system, so again guaranteeing the overall consistency. There is only one single version of the truth.
I want to point out one specific output channel; eCommerce. In fact it can be considered as ‘just’ another channel, but it has many appearances. The webshop is just one of them. An Amazon feed is another important one. Also SEO, search and internationalization has to be taken into account. So within eCommerce there are many stakeholders with their own needs. These need to be part of the total PIM landscape and processes.
In the end it comes down to the customer buying your product. A consistent representation of your product is therefore essential. The customer must be able to find his required product fast, not only in the webshop, but also in the store and via Google. PIM becomes the most important source in your organization as it contains the one version of the truth. All departments need to cooperate in the most efficient way to maintain and develop the content in your PIM to be able to reach this ultimate goal.