At first, managing product content might seem basic. As long as the specs are right and there’s some creative marketing language, all is well. Right? Wrong. The reality is, product information can make or break your eCommerce sales. Optimized, rich content can drastically increase conversion rates; on the other hand, missing or incorrect data can result in returns and negative reviews.
Making sure your product information is complete, correct, and compelling is hard enough. Then add in the fact that you’ll need to keep that content up to date across dozens, hundreds, or thousands of SKUs, as well as digital channels spanning your eCommerce platform, drop ship etailer sites and marketplace listings. Doing all that manually is nearly impossible—and that’s where product information management (PIM) software comes in.
Before getting started with a PIM solution, it’s important to understand what it’ll do for your business, and how. That’s why we made this complete guide, where you’ll learn:
- Why consistent, accurate, and high-quality product content is so important to help your business grow and thrive
- What PIM is and how it works
- Some of the top features of PIM solutions
- The benefits of implementing PIM software
- AND how you can get started with PIM
Ready to learn all about PIM? Then let’s dive in!
What is Product Information?
Before we dive into product information management, it’s important to define product information. Product information, also known as product data or product content, refers to all the written and visual content available for buyers looking at a particular product.
Consumers can find product information on eCommerce storefronts and marketplace listings, and even non-digital sources like magazines. Business buyers can also consume product information online via B2B eCommerce platforms; but they may receive product information directly from suppliers via product catalogs, EDI transactions, and other file formats as well.
Product information comes in many shapes and forms, including:
- Product names and titles
- Product descriptions (Often called “romance copy”)
- Product attributes
- Technical specifications
- 360-degree images
- Manuals, Instructions, Warranties, and PDFs
Why You Need High-Quality Product Content
If you’re buying products online, you probably already know a bit about the value of good product information. Think about how you yourself go about buying products online. Do you search for products on Google, Facebook or Amazon? Do you look at photos or watch videos to make sure the item fits your needs? Do you check the specifications to make sure you’re getting the right size? Do you read Q&A’s and reviews from other buyers?
We’re guessing the answer to these questions is yes. And if you do all that, so do your customers. BUT if that’s not enough to convince you about the importance of product content, check out these links to see some statistics that prove it: Google, Animoto, SalesCycle
Reviews and other user-generated content are also crucial to digital commerce success. In fact, one study found that products with just five reviews had 270% more conversions than products with zero reviews.
What is Product Information Management (PIM)?
In the simplest terms, product information management, or PIM, is the process of organizing, enriching, and distributing product content to your sales channels. Product information management plays an important role in brand consistency and product data accuracy.
“A PIM” often refers to a PIM solution, which is designed to make this process easier by collecting all your product information in one place.
PIM vs DAM vs MDM vs PLM
With so many acronyms and systems surrounding product content, it can get pretty confusing to figure out which solution type is right for you. Here’s a quick breakdown of the difference between PIM, DAM, MDM, and PLM.
Product Information Management (PIM)
PIM solutions are designed to unify product content, from SKU IDs to product descriptions & specifications, to images, videos, and other accessory files. They sync product content across channels for better consistency and sales performance.
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
DAM systems enable easy storage, enrichment, and management of rich media like images and videos. Some PIM solutions include DAM, so you can upload and manage digital assets within your PIM environment.
Master Data Management (MDM)
MDM is the umbrella under which PIM and DAM reside. MDM systems are focused on centralizing a wider range of data, including product information, digital assets, financial data, supplier information, customer data, and more.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
PLM systems are used for managing the broader product lifecycle, from design, to manufacturing, to launch, to sales, to discontinuation.
Challenges to Managing Product Content
If your business only sells a few items or product lines, and only sells via your own eCommerce store, maintaining your product information manually might not seem that difficult. However, as your brand grows and adds more items and sales channels, managing product content can quickly become overwhelming for a few reasons:
- Different channels may have different content requirements, meaning that you have to juggle multiple versions of content for a single product.
- Disparate information systems create barriers to visibility, and make it harder to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders
- Multiple sources of product content can lead to conflicting data, making it difficult to find the “right” or most up-to-date content
- Increasing SKU numbers can make it impossible to keep product information up to date using manual methods
- Manual data entry can increase errors across SKUs, especially as volumes increase
Without the right methods for managing product content at scale, your internal resources and systems can’t keep up, resulting in outdated or incorrect content. The result is a poor buying experience, which can lead to decreased sales, increased returns, and dissatisfied customers.
How Does Product Information Management Software Work?
PIM software operates by bringing all your product content into a single interface, letting you enrich that content, and then publishing it out to your channels. In doing so, it cuts out the manual work of product information management, making it easier for you to ensure content consistency and accuracy wherever you sell.
A PIM workflow looks like this:
And here's how it works:
- First, the PIM system sources content from your incoming channels. Integrated PIM solutions can connect directly to your ERP or accounting system, and pull some product data in automatically. Other data, like images and descriptions, can be uploaded from XML or CSV files or retrieved directly from your supplier
- The PIM software automatically maps and translates incoming data to your fields and attributes to cut down on manual entry. You can set required fields for your own eCommerce store, and map to channel-specific fields required by marketplaces like Amazon or Facebook.
- Within the platform, you can also enrich your product content. You can add romance copy, images, and videos to a product, or edit existing content for better optimization. Collaboration features like task-specific user views, configurable alerts, and product statuses keep everyone on the same page.
- Before content is published, a PIM system will complete a series of validation checks. These ensure that each product has the correct and complete content needed for each of your sales channels. With automated alerts, you won’t miss a thing.
- Finally, the PIM solution publishes the content to your channels. For integrated channels, like your eCommerce store, content is synchronized automatically. For non-integrated channels, the system can create downloadable files, which can be uploaded into your seller portals.
Key Benefits of PIM Solutions
We’ve already covered the challenges to product information management above, so it makes sense that the key benefits of PIM solutions are designed to make the whole process, well, less challenging! Here’s how PIM software can help your business grow and thrive:
Your product content quality and accuracy will climb.
An integrated PIM solution lets you create better content, faster, without sacrificing accuracy. It leverages a central source of truth, plus product workflows, user alerts, digital asset management, and readiness checks to ensure your content is primed for success before it’s seen by consumers.
You’ll have higher conversion rates, and fewer returns.
Better product content gains more visibility and gives customers the confidence to buy online. With more complete and accurate product data, you’ll have fewer frustrated customers returning items that didn’t meet their expectations.
Your marketing team can be more productive.
You hired the best in the biz to find new ways to connect with customers and build brand loyalty-- not to spend all day on data entry. PIM software lets your team spend more time creating amazing product stories, while eliminating tedious manual processes.
You can sell more products in more places.
Whether you’re growing your product portfolio, or expanding into new markets, PIM can help you scale without straining your internal resources. Plus, with omnichannel support, you can create channel-specific content like product titles and descriptions to help with SEO visibility and increase your sales.
Important Product Information Management Features
There are plenty of PIM solutions out there, which can make finding the right provider difficult. To make the right choice for your business, you’ll need to consider two things: the features included in the system itself, and the expertise and support provided by the vendor. Here’s what to look for in a PIM solution
What to Look for in a PIM System
The ideal PIM solution will connect with your existing business systems, like your ERP and your eCommerce store.
You need a system that will cut out manual processes, so you can scale your business.
A PIM solution is only as great as your user experience. Look for a system that is easy to navigate and makes collaboration simple.
Your business is unique, and so is your product content process. Your product information management solution should let you define product information workflows across content sourcing, enrichment, and publishing.
Digital Asset Support
While there are systems specifically for Digital Asset Management (DAM), the best PIM systems have DAM modules for storing and enriching photos, videos, and other rich media.
As your business grows, you need a PIM solution that can map content to multiple channel types, from your eCommerce store to your Amazon listings to your drop ship partners and more.
A cloud-based solution makes it easy to scale, and lets you manage product content from anywhere.
What to Look for in a Vendor:
Your PIM provider should have experience with businesses like yours! Look for vendors who understand your industry, and who have extensive experience with omnichannel support and integrations.
With product information management, having the right support is essential to success. The best providers have customer service support from in-house experts who can understand your business needs.
Cost of Ownership
Price plays an important role in any technology investment. Make sure to consider long-term costs, as well as short-term fees like onboarding and set up. Looking at the total cost over 3-5 years will give you a better view for vendor comparison.
Protecting your business data is crucial in today’s digital age. Make sure you choose a provider who’s invested in data security measures like data encryption, SOC compliance and data recovery/restoration.
Reputation and Recognition
User reviews are a great way to get to know a potential vendor’s reputation, but 3rd-party evaluations like the IDC Marketscape offer in-depth, unbiased looks at a provider’s capabilities.
How to Get Started with Product Information Management
The first step to getting started with PIM is deciding it’s the right decision for your business. With this guide and our Do You Need PIM Quiz, you can make sure you’re ready.
Once you’ve decided to explore PIM options, it’s time to talk to some PIM experts. Chat with other business owners about their experiences. Hop online and do your own research. And when you’re ready, reach out to providers to start the evaluation process.
TrueCommerce’s PIM solution, Product Manager, offers many benefits for SMBs who want to grow their multichannel sales, without sacrificing product content quality. Product Manager integrates directly with your ERP/business system and eCommerce storefronts, and leverages configurable automation to save time, increase information accuracy, and let you create richer, higher-converting product content.
For more information, or to schedule a free demo, contact one of our specialists today.