The right PIM system within an organisation

The management of correct and detailed product information is becoming increasingly important for many companies. The volume of information is growing, the number of products increasing, the products are sold in more countries and laws and legislation impose demands on the product information. Implementing a PIM (Product Information Management) system is more frequently becoming a strategic choice. Why one PIM system is more expensive than the other is a question that is frequently raised. Understandably, after all suppliers state that they manage product information and this is certainly so in all cases. There are big differences among the various PIM systems. The differences are mainly in the underlying technology, the current functionality and last, but not least, how the supplier’s organisation is set up. Chris Jobse, PIM consultant at Eperium, describes the differences between the PIM systems here.

Three different PIM types

PIM suppliers can be roughly divided into three groups:
1. Enterprise PIM
There are players that have been active in the market for years and often come from the world of print and, to a lesser degree, from the world of e-commerce. These often highly advanced products facilitate a wide range of functions, which are sometimes accommodated in (separately sold) modules. Thanks to their years of experience, these PIM suppliers also have the advantage that they have much support worldwide and that they are a stable factor in the world of IT suppliers. In short, operational risks are kept to a minimum. Examples of these are the Informatica PIM (formerly Heiler), Hybris and Stibo.
2. New players
In addition to these ‘big’ systems, new players have appeared on the market in recent years. Based on new development technology, PIM systems have been developed that respond particularly well to the ever-growing e-commerce market. This usually entails smaller companies (around 50 persons) that have developed PIM products from within a specific sector and have introduced them to the market as generic products. The functionality is often somewhat more limited than the big PIM systems, especially in terms of the possibility to load automated product information in the system. This usually involves implementing a great deal of additional software. Examples of these PIM systems are the DAM Group, Perfion, ContentServe, inRiver and many more.
3. Open Source
As a third group, I have to give the so-called Open Source products a mention. These products are indeed also technically modern. The Open Source PIM systems currently available on the market offer extremely limited functionality. The nature of Open Source is that the Community contributes to the further development of a product. If the underlying organisation is not set up adequately, the commercial risk is high. A PIM system within a company is often a business-critical application. Examples of Open Source PIM systems are Akeneo and PimCore. Do I now know which PIM system I need?
The abovementioned information certainly prompts consideration for which commercial risk can be covered, but not which PIM system is suitable for my organisation. To determine this, several more factors will have to be taken into consideration. For example, which functionality a PIM system should support will have to be explored.
  • Are printed catalogues widely used?
  • What are the plans for e-commerce in the future?
  • Will several websites be supported from within one product database?
  • Will the e-commerce site support multiple languages?
  • How many suppliers have to be connected to the PIM system?
  • Do the suppliers have to be able to change/add data in the PIM system themselves?
  • Etc.

What should I do?

There are still a number of factors that have to be taken into account in order to be able to make the right choice. This is difficult. What’s more, the choice to be made is a strategic choice within your organisation. You see, setting up a PIM costs at least as much as the licence. Processes in your organisation will have to be brought into line with the PIM and more importantly, your customers will ultimately have to benefit from having access to the correct item information. If you do not have the required expertise in-house, it pays to engage a specialist that can help you with the selection and implementation process.
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