PIM: Three Letters with Great Effect

Dirk NölkeMarch 2020

Why Do you Need a Product Information Management System?

Master data is often distributed in company systems - although they should always have a master with regard to data management. As a rule, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is the master for an article number and is therefore the leading system for assigning and, if relevant, maintaining it. However, there are often different ERP systems and also other master data systems with data that is relevant to product data. Suppliers are also an important source of information for relevant data, just as Digital Asset Management (DAM), Content Management Systems (CMS), Document Management Systems (DMS) or systems with a focus on Master Data Management (MDM). For all this data it is advisable to have a system where everything comes together and where a single source of truth or "the Golden Record of Product Information" is created: Product Information Management Systems - PIM systems for short.

What is the Added Value of a PIM system?

A PIM system prevents article duplicates as well as master data duplicates. Furthermore, the transformation and consolidation of product data affects aspects such as measurement systems (Anglo-American - metric). This centralized system allows, among other things, to manage product data, to increase data quality and to refine products with additional value-adding information, such as unique or special added values. PIM systems offer categorizations and classifications for this purpose. Categorization offers the possibility to structure products based on criteria. These can be categories such as children and adults in the fashion sector or mountain sports and water sports. Classification also supports the management of attributes. Another aspect of PIM systems is the possibility to establish relationships between products. This is used for example to identify complementary or alternative products.

In addition, it is important to ensure data quality. For this purpose an automated validation of data regarding format, completeness or mandatory fields can be used. In addition, reporting on data quality is recommended. After all, product data is an important asset in sales. Workflows and rights systems are also important functionalities, as different people with different tasks usually have to process and orchestrate the product data.

These products enriched and refined with information can then be distributed "headless" to many different systems and channels in different formats. Examples for these different channels and/or formats are the classic webshop, mobile, print, point of sale or marketplace displays such as Amazon, Zalando etc.

The following illustration gives an overview of the tasks.

Overview of the tasks
Overview of the tasks


From the perspective of an omnichannel approach, product information systems play an important role. The selection of suitable software, especially with regard to the connection of external systems, should be well evaluated. Here, both the connections to the existing master data systems and the connection to the playing channels should be examined.

For further reading, the following book is also recommended:

Product Information Management by Jorij Abraham

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