What is PIM and Why Should Brands in Ecommerce Care?

product information management ecommerce

When your brand decided to start selling on online channels, whether it’s brand.com or official store on e-marketplace — or both, uploading the product information on the channel is a crucial step for this venture and a lot of information need to be included to make up the product detail page.

For example: technical information about the product size, color, weight, and materials; usage information as to where to use, how to use, and instructional videos; as well as enriched emotional information to set the scene and lifestyle of the product’s users, including stories and imagery to help create an emotional connection with potential buyers.

Reebok website - PIM

A product page on Reebok’s website shows multiple angles of the product on the user and a brief description to help consumers establish an emotional connection with the product. Source: Reebok Thailand.

All of the above are what we called “digital assets” and you can imagine the mountain of digital assets you have to store somewhere in the cloud the wider your product selections are. Not to mention if your brand is selling on more than one online channel or if there are multiple teams from different markets needing to reuse the same materials for different purposes.

These are the scenarios many global brands can relate to and PIM is the solution to make sure brand’s ecommerce process is optimized.

What is PIM?

PIM is the acronym for Product Information Management or the process of managing product data, its information, and materials that are needed to sell and distribute your product.

Having a good, centralized PIM system provides you with a single place to collect, manage, enrich, merchandise, approve, and distribute information to multiple sales channels easily.

It’s an important aspect of scaling ecommerce business because it improves the product catalog management process and ensures the quality, accuracy, and completeness of your product information across all channels are the same.

Here is a way to visualize how PIM works:

How PIM system works

Does your brand need PIM?

If your brand is in the business of selling products online, needing to grow, as well as customizing and localizing product in different markets — while doing it all quickly and efficiently — you should be looking at PIM solution to prevent any further struggles while scaling the business.

Take a look at the quick calculation of product assortment below:

Assuming the administrative task of 1 SKU per channel per year is 46 minutes. If your brand is selling each 100 SKUs on three different online channels (a website and two e-marketplaces), you need 232 hours just to do product assortment per year.

(PIM) can automate up to 80% of the manual tasks, reducing the previous example of 696 hours per year down to 139 hours.

If you have a presence in three different markets, it reaches a total estimation of 696 hours (assuming all SKUs are active that year). Imagine if your brand is a fashion brand that releases hundreds of new SKUs each season.

PIM has the ability to boost product team productivity because, without it, your team will be spending most of their time going between multiple applications and platforms doing manual, repetitive tasks to keep up with the pace of growth and success.

It can automate up to 80% of the manual tasks, reducing the previous example of 696 hours per year down to 139 hours, clearing up your product team’s time to finally do what they were hired to do: which is to create new desirable products and sell them across different channels.

PIM also speeds up the time to market, as the product enrichment process can often be a busy flow between suppliers, offices across multiple geographies, and an intricate approval process workflow. Enabling a clear guide in a PIM system can offer each of the working teams a visible next step, improving productivity and collaboration between product information creation, approvers, departments and countries.

Why is PIM so hot right now?

PIM software market is growing at a rate of 25.3% annually and it’s estimated to reach $15.8 billion USD by 2021. The top reasons for adopting PIM are addressing customer expectations through the accurate distribution of product images and digital media.

Today shoppers are tech-savvy, attention-short, and cash-rich. Success in retail is all about the detail and if shoppers can’t find what they want or don’t see the information they need from one retailer, they will go to another website — and it might not be yours. An investment in making it fast and easy to collect then distribute information will ensure accurate product information and keep your consumers engage with your brand.

How to choose the right PIM?

Now that we established the importance of PIM for scaling an ecommerce business, there are few considerations that can help your brand determine the right PIM platform based on your business’ needs and make sure it helps them sustain your ecommerce business.

1. How many sales channels my products listed and published on?

If your products are solely on your own webstore then you possibly do not need a PIM system. But if you are selling on other sales channels (e.g. marketplaces, social media) then you need to have a centralized place to store, maintain and manage consistent information across all sales channels. More points to consider is how data are extracted and what are sales and marketing channels connected to drive impressions and sales?

2. How complex is my product information, taxonomy and relationship management?

It is not always about how many SKUs do you have, but also how many types of product information do you have? How they are structured, categorized and the hierarchy relation?

How can related products be associated (e.g. accessories, replacement parts, upsell, cross-sell, components, substitutes)? These factors need to be addressed and handled when choosing PIM.

3. Does the PIM offer the customization options?

Your PIM platform should be flexible enough to support content information that matched to your supply chain, exchange data with your ERP, system workflows and be able to present analysis data available to indicate the effectiveness of the product information.

4. Does the PIM workflow adaptable with your working process?

How easily can product information be tracked to maturity for approval and visibility of tasks to each department along the approval process. Which roles are allowed to create new content, approve content etc. How easy is this to administer ?

5. Where is the product content source for PIM to get from?

Generally, product information is generated internally in the company but there may be a case where it is from external source. PIM system should be able to handle all of your sources without manual intervention. How do we get product information into the PIM and how easy is this to do?

Want to learn more about choosing the right ecommerce platform and PIM system? Contact mandy@acommerce.asia for more information.