What is a PIM?
Product Information Management, abbreviated PIM, is responsible for the central administration of product data and the functions behind it.
First of all, product data of different characteristics and quality are created by the manufacturer of a product in the various departments such as development, purchasing/stock management, sales and marketing. These are usually available in different systems and formats: technical data and drawings from development, article numbers, price quotations, quantity scales, customs and tax data, advertising texts and illustrations from marketing, legal information such as data sheets and declarations of conformity, multimedia content, etc.
The task of the product information management is to bundle this multitude of information centrally and make it available to different stakeholders. This task is the very reason why the PIM system is so important. It offers the possibility of media-neutral data storage.
PIM systems serve as connection points between various systems. In order to fulfill this function, they have interfaces for exchanging data with other systems and can import product data from ERP systems or various documents, provide electronic catalogs, or send marketing information to a online shop.
In between, a PIM system provides a user interface for entering, correcting, enriching and translating product data. In addition, products can be categorized and related to each other (e.g. assortments, accessories, successor models, etc.).
Most systems also offer workflow functions for mapping business processes (e.g. assignment of tasks and subsequent control and release processes) and, in combination, provide role and permission management.
Content delivery for online shops
The most common use in B2C is the transfer of data to a online shop. For this purpose, texts and media objects specially adapted for this distribution channel are dynamically transferred to the webshop.
In the B2B sector, electronic catalogs are playing an increasingly important role in data exchange between suppliers and customers. This is particularly true in e-procurement. For this purpose, descriptive information, categorizations and classification features can be managed in the PIM.
Print catalogs and publications
Layouts can be created from PIM systems via interfaces or integrations to graphics software. Placeholders and templates are used. The content structuring is usually already done in the PIM itself by assigning the articles to sections and categories.
Online retailers with a large or rapidly changing product range benefit from the possibility to integrate product information directly from the manufacturer without having to create their own description texts and media. Some PIM systems offer web interfaces for suppliers and manufacturers who can store and maintain product information there.
The subject of PIM has only become more widely known under this term since about 2003. Driven by factors such as ever more extensive and faster changing assortments and the necessity to consolidate data from heterogeneous sources in order to meet the requirements of the up-and-coming online trade.
As an intermediary between different IT systems, the PIM solution approach is therefore essential today.