The popularity of PIM is growing because of the strong growth and professionalism in e-commerce. PIM is a relatively new concept in business and IT, so I will explain its essence in a nutshell.
A PIM makes it possible to manage complex products in an efficient manner. Companies introduce products that consist of a large number of combinations – such as an outfit consisting of pants, shirt and shoes; or variation possibilities such as a T-shirt in different colours and sizes. The challenge is to manage these assets efficiently and then to be able to communicate this to various output channels. All this in a simple and unambiguous manner.
Relationships and the dependencies among products are other important themes within a PIM. Relationships between a given product and spare or replacement parts, for example, or options, accessories, etc. can be easily recorded and displayed within aPIM system.
In addition to products having their own specific characteristics, there is a trend toward increasing product classification, whether based on international standards such as GS1 or otherwise. One of the powerful tools in a PIM system is the ability to assign classifications to products or product groups. This creates a ‘rich’ product. The product is enriched by many specific features. The end customer receives a lot of information about the product, which is a conversion-enhancing effect.
The deployment of e-commerce causes a blurring of national boundaries. Many companies are increasingly active in international markets. With a PIM system, the translation process can be supported by a workflow, enabling proper management of these processes where, in many cases, external agencies are involved.
A PIM system is not complete without a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. This can also be supported by a workflow within the PIM. The DAM component manages such multimedia objects as the multiple-format images, documents and videos that are associated with catalogues and products. The additional functionality in a DAM (searching, formatting, automatic conversion, cross-referencing, data export, etc.) is part of a mature PIM system.
The PIM has gained an important place in today’s omnichannel environment. It is the central area of the product. In many cases, it even takes over the ‘primacy’ from the ERP. In a future article I will explain how a PIM can be positioned within the e-commerce eco-system.
Chris Jobse, E-commerce/PIM consultant.
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This article was published before at eperium.com