For ecommerce retailers few tasks are more tedious and time-consuming than maintaining accurate, current product listing data. If your catalog includes more than a handful of products the job can soon threaten to become overwhelming.
Fortunately, there is software that can help reduce the burden on brands. We’re talking specifically about Product Information (PIM) solutions. For many retailers these solutions are key to managing large quantities of product data efficiently.
In this article we’re exploring different types of PIMs, their benefits to retailers, and which commercially available solutions currently have the best offerings.
Before we get into the specifics of PIMs and the ways they can benefit retailers, let’s begin with a definition: A product information management (PIM) solution is software that helps businesses centralize and manage product data. A PIM system consolidates product information into one database, making it easier for businesses to update and maintain their product catalogs.
PIMs are a subset of Digital Asset Management Solutions (DAMs). Many can be used alongside DAMs like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Salesforce, among others.
There are many possible uses for PIMs across industries, but within the eCommerce context their main function is to empower companies to manage every aspect of their product catalogs, including inventory, pricing, and shipping.
On Amazon, PIMs help sellers manage product listings, optimizing search engine results and improving customer discovery.
Types of Product Information Management
PIMs are not all alike. There are several different commercially available PIM solutions, each with a unique focus or selling point. The most common types of product information management systems are:
Product Data Management:
Product Data Management (PDM) is an industry-standard term for a product information management system that standardizes how teams manage product data within an organization.
PDMs typically include cataloging, price management, order processing, and other business processes. PDM solutions provide a centralized location where retailers and marketplace sellers can store, update, and share product information.
Many PDM solutions offer automated inventory tracking, barcode scanning, and reporting. These are helpful features for Amazon Sellers as they streamline inventory management.
Product Resource Management:
Product resource management (PRM) solutions manage product resources such as images, videos, descriptions, and reviews.
PRMs also includes tools for creating new content and updating existing content. They differ from Product Data Management solutions in that they focus on the content associated with products as opposed to the product data itself.
PRMs are often used alongside PDMs to manage all aspects of a seller’s product information.
Product Life-Cycle Management:
Product life-cycle management (PLM) is software that helps companies manage their product development process. PLM solutions include tools for managing product designs, prototypes, and manufacturing processes.
PLM solutions are helpful for sellers who manufacture their products or work with manufacturers to develop new products.
Media Asset Management:
Media asset management (MAM) systems store, manage and distribute digital media assets such as images, videos, and audio files.
Many MAM solutions offer features for editing and transcoding video files. This feature is helpful to sellers who need to optimize their product videos for different devices and platforms.
MAM solutions also offer security features to protect digital assets from unauthorized access.
Cross-media publishing (CMP) software helps companies publish their content across multiple channels. CMP solutions allow sellers to syndicate product information across marketplaces, websites, and social media platforms.
CMP solutions enable sellers to update product information from one central location and have that information automatically syndicated to all their other channels.
Product Information Management & Syndication:
Product information management and syndication (PIMS) solutions offer many of the same features as CMP solutions, including the ability to manage product information and distribute it across multiple channels. However, PIMS solutions often include additional features for managing product reviews, ratings, and comments.
These solutions are most useful for sellers that want to both syndicate product information and also to track and manage customer feedback.
Product Experience Management:
Product Experience Management (PXM) is software that helps companies manage the customer experience.
PXM solutions offer features for managing customer reviews, ratings, and comments. They also include tools for analyzing customer feedback and identifying trends.
How PIMs Benefit Retailers
PIM solutions offer a variety of benefits for retailers and marketplace sellers, including:
- Reduced product time to market: PIM systems can automate many of the tasks involved in product development, such as managing product designs, prototypes, and manufacturing processes. Automating these tasks reduces the burden on teams, which can help reduce time to market for new products.
- Better operational efficiency: PIM systems can help improve operational efficiency through better inventory management and centralized listing management. Inventory management features give sellers accurate information about inventory levels, empowering them to make smarter decisions about when to reorder products and how much inventory to keep on hand. PIM systems also provide centralized listing management, wherein sellers can create and manage product listings in one place. This feature, though it may sound simple, is essential to streamlined operations.
- Seamless product data: Few things are more essential for retailers than maintaining accurate and up-to-date product data. PIM systems usually include several features to help sellers update and maintain product data seamlessly. One way is through data enrichment, a process that helps sellers improve the quality of their product data. Using a PIM system, you can automatically enrich product data with information from multiple sources.
- Better Omnichannel Experience: These days most brands can’t afford not to be omnichannel. But executing an omnichannel strategy isn’t without challenges. Fortunately, PIMs offer several features to help brands improve their omnichannel experience, including:
- Centralized channel management, which allows retailers to manage all of their channels in one place. This feature saves retailers from being forced to update each listing individually.
- Channel-specific product data allows for the customization of product data to specific channels and marketplaces. For example, if you’re selling on Amazon, you can use a PIM to create Amazon-specific product listings. Doing so allows you to optimize specifically for Amazon, improving your listing’s chances of ranking well in search results.
- Omnichannel reporting means the ability to track performance across all channels, a feature that makes it easy to identify high-performing channels and ones that need to be optimized.
Hopefully by now it’s clear that PIM solutions can do a lot to streamline operations for ecommerce retailers. For retailers with large product catalogs investing in a PIM solution will likely be a gamechanger. By automating the process of managing and updating product listings retailers can save time previously spent on product management while simultaneously gaining confidence that their data is accurate across channels.
However, for smaller brands and ones with limited product offerings the expense of a PIM solution might not make sense. For those brands Emplicit offers an alternative solution in FlatFile Pro.
Though not a PIM, Flat File Pro offers many similar features at a lesser cost. Flat File Pro offers retailers the ability to back up their Amazon listing data, protecting your business against data loss due to fraud or human error. With Flat File Pro you can also manage all of your Amazon products at once with bulk edits.