What is PIM?

Product management focuses on successfully executing the product life cycle from beginning to end; launching successful products and services for businesses and consumers alike. Whether it be iPhones, air fryers, or your favorite streaming service — product management was responsible for their journey into being.

The product management process is a complex and fast-paced one that generates a significant amount of information, from product specifications, to instructions for users, troubleshooting, FAQs, and even nutritional information. Oftentimes, the term product information management (PIM) is used in conjunction with this information, but what is PIM?

PIM is the process of gathering and organizing all relevant information necessary to market and sell products through a variety of distribution channels. Given the complexity of this process, and the sheer volume of information generated, PIM tools are often employed to assist product managers in this process. Essential PIM tools are often used to assist in information capture, management, and distribution during the product life cycle and beyond.

PIM software centrally stores and administers product information, as well as mapping workflows and distributing information to designated marketing and sales outputs. Since PIM software is the repository of all product information, the product management team can be confident that the information is synchronized and consolidated into a “single source of truth,” which keeps the team moving in the right direction. This synced and consolidated content also assists marketing and sales post-product launch, when they use PIM information as a resource for their marketing materials and e-commerce sales content.

Know the PIM System

Product managers, whether having years of experience or fresh out of a boot camp, will benefit from understanding and using essential PIM tools.

A chart highlighting PIM software functionality.

PIM software is a process-driven application fueled by centralized product data, and enables collaboration on product content by a variety of teams and stakeholders. It serves as a single, central platform to translate, store, manage, enrich, and automate product information and content, distributing it to marketing, sales, and e-commerce channels.

To do this, the PIM software ingests all types of product information, sorting and cataloging it while “deduping” — or, collecting information that it thinks is very similar and asking for guidance on which version is the correct or most recent instance. This ensures that teams are all working with the same, most recent information which avoids mistakes and delays. Information is also formatted and sanitized to make sure all media are in the appropriate format and all data elements are populated correctly and valid.

PIM software manages a variety of Information including

Product management information: Product requirements, specifications, prototype information, workflows, consumer research etc.

Sales and marketing information: Market research, pricing, profit margin, channel requirements, inventory, and supply-chain data

Client- and user-facing information: Product descriptions, photos, videos, nutritional information, fabric identification, warning labels, FAQs, usage directions etc.

With all product information centrally located and up-to-date, product managers are able to quickly access the data needed to move their product successfully through the product management life cycle. They are also able to easily add additional product information to the PIM database as new information becomes available, such as subsequent prototypes or testing data.

How to Implement Product Information Management

The question of how to implement product information management software can be difficult to answer unless implementation best practices are followed. Here is a brief overview of how to implement essential PIM software and tools.

Determine where all product information and templates currently reside throughout the organization. Often, you will find that this information lives in multiple places, in various formats, with various versions.

Review the content you’ve collected, and try to determine one master version for each piece of content to speed this process and categorize your content in a hierarchy that makes sense to you. For example, if your product is fashion socks, your sock content may be organized by size, style, pattern, and color.

Determine which format(s) you will require for your copy, pictures, videos, flow charts, diagrams, etc., and apply that consistently across all of the content you’ve gathered, as well as any content you plan to add in the future. This is sometimes called hygiene and governance.

Where do you plan to send or use your content? Will it populate internal product management life cycle processes, public-facing websites, e-commerce platforms, printed catalogs, or all of the above? Depending on the outlet(s), you’ll need to make sure your PIM can accommodate the appropriate application programming interface (API).

Using the socks example above, if your business is selling on an e-commerce platform, you’ll need copy, graphics, and potentially videos that can be sent through an appropriate API to the e-commerce platform.

Consider how you will use your product information management tools, as well as how others in the organization will use them. Create a list of key requirements, and then review all available options to choose the one that best aligns with your needs.

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Using PIM Software

There is no one solution, or one PIM software, that will work for everyone. Here is a summary of some of the more popular product information management tools to help you decide which is the right one for you.

A graphic highlighting 5 different types of PIM software.

Inriver PIM

Inriver is one of several PIM tools that you can use for product information management. Inriver is a scalable tool that can work with several businesses of varying sizes, in different sectors. This product emphasizes its ability to easily onboard information from multiple sources (internal or external to your organization), with no hardware or upgrades required.

Inriver is a SaaS product, (software as a solution). As a PIM tool, it takes the user’s custom model and transforms it into a standard integration model with generous customizability post-integration. Key functions include mapping product relationships for spare parts, guided up-sell/cross-sell as part of assortments or product kits, and a clear focus on the customer journey.

Inriver has a high degree of functionality which adds a layer of complexity, so it is perhaps a tool that is best for those with prior PIM experience.

Akeneo PIM

Another production information management tool is the easy-to-use and adaptable Akeneo. Their Enterprise Edition PIM tool automates previously manual tasks, manages as many digital assets as necessary, and operates as something of an “omnichannel” resource for teams.

Akeneo boasts its own unique features to help sellers simplify their commerce process. The Akeneo PIM also values security and includes a password manager to protect valuable information without sealing it off entirely.

Akeneo is a great PIM option for project managers who are still learning and have less experience with PIM software.

Syndigo, the Active Content Engine

Syndigo is a PIM tool that also functions as an active content engine.This means that, in addition to standard PIM functionality, this software places a greater focus on continuous optimization that controls all content and data flows at every point.

Additional features include the hosting of master data management (MDM), analytics, syndication capabilities, sales reports, and much more.

Given the enhanced functionality of this PIM tool, it may be more accessible for product managers with previous PIM experience.

Catsy

Catsy takes all of the relevant specs for a product from multiple data channels and disseminates that information into something easy to understand for both seller and consumer alike. Catsy’s emphasis on comprehension (that everyone should know what they’re buying and selling) makes it a good product information management tool for those looking to emphasize user comprehension.

In addition, this PIM tool will inform the business of information that might be missing from a description or a product, so the information can be populated prior to being exposed to clients or customers.

While functionality-rich, this PIM tool is suited for all levels of product management professionals.

Kontainer

Kontainer is a PIM tool that also functions as a data access management (DAM) tool, and is known for creating a central “hub” for its users. There, any information can be easily accessed and consulted, making this PIM a good fit for novice product managers who are looking for organization and data management functionality without having to weed through additional bonus features.

Because Kontainer centralizes everything in its hub, it’s probably best suited for small or mid-size businesses, as companies with an overwhelming amount of data to sift through may find its central hub overwhelming.

When to Use PIM

Because PIM software can be used in a variety of ways, there is not a set standard that indicates when a PIM tool is “necessary.” However, as a product manager, it will be your goal to grow and reach more consumers who are likely to purchase your products. As a result, in order to scale up without falling victim to manual errors, inaccurate product information, and disorganization, a product information management tool is a smart way to responsibly manage growth.

Optimal times for PIM software implementation include when a company is introducing a new product line, prior to a period of anticipated rapid growth, or after the merger of two organizations with disparate product lines.

What Is PIM Software FAQs

Catalog management solutions compile all data and product information necessary to produce a single digital point of reference — similar to a physical catalog.

Content management system (CMS) website software enables users to create, edit, publish, and store digital content from a singular hub. A few examples of CMS website software include WordPress and Joomla, both of which are free. Squarespace and DotCMS are also examples of CMS website software, but they both require payment to use.

A product information management system (PIM) is a data tool that compiles, organizes, and integrates product information into a single source for easy access and security for businesses and product managers. PIM tools are essential for organization in e-commerce and e-tail.

Summary

Product information management tools, or PIM, are popular aids for businesses and product managers alike when compiling and organizing large amounts of product data and information. There are many PIM tools available on the market, so it’s possible to find the right one to fuel your product life cycle and organizational goals.

If you’re interested in learning more about different types of PIM tools and how they best apply to e-commerce and retail, consider a product management boot camp to fast-track your knowledge and familiarity with these essential PIM tools and product management life cycle best practices.

Reserve your spot in an
upcoming boot camp.

It only takes a minute to request information and receive a full curriculum overview. You will also be put in touch with an admissions representative who can answer questions and get your application started.

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