Before the introduction of product information management software (PIM software), companies kept reams of paper files to track product information. Now, with the ability to store information and assets digitally, more and more companies are turning to PIM software to centralize their product information and data.
An added challenge of the digital landscape is the sheer number of sales channels that now exist, including ecommerce, retail stores, print catalogs, dealers, and personal selling. Different channels require different assets and data (and different permissions), and PIM software can help sales teams keep track of what information goes where, as well as improve data quality to ensure each piece of data is relevant and accurate.
Having organized product information also helps ecommerce businesses create a high-quality customer experience, as it allows both customers and sales staff to easily find information about the product that a customer may be looking for. Not to mention that PIM software can also help marketing teams streamline their omnichannel marketing strategy and increase consistency across ecommerce channels.
But before I go any further, a definition of PIM software is in order.
What is PIM Software?
The main purpose of PIM software is to collect all accurate product data in one central program, providing all departments with a single source of truth when it comes to their products—both existing and new products. This allows company access at any time when specific data or master data needs to be altered or used for everyday tasks.
PIM tools include product data management across multiple distribution channels. Using a centralized program for information means that all relevant employees can see identical information. When something is altered or updated, the system automates the changes in real time for anyone accessing the system.
The product data stored in PIM software covers anything that has to do with the marketing and selling of a product. This includes, but is not limited to, the product catalog, SKUs, product descriptions, product attributes, product lifecycle, taxonomy, pictures, product resources such as installation guides or technical specifications, videos, and any relevant reference numbers, production information, and warehouse information.
Some examples of PIM systems include Akeneo, Salsify, inRiver, Pimcore (an open-source option), and Plytix. If you’re considering purchasing PIM software in the near future, check out our list of the 10 best PIM Software for product information management.
Important PIM Software Features
Here are some of the features that PIM software often includes.
- Product content management (PCM) involves managing content around the product, such as descriptions, features, benefits, product names, and more. An important part of this feature is product content syndication, which ensures content is consistent across all sales channels, retailers, and distributors.
- Product data management (PDM) is more about the data of the product, including price, sales data, units of measure, technical specs, and more.
- Catalog management ensures you can manage product data across your entire product catalog, as well as product assets such as images, logos, and videos.
- Data enrichment involves improving the overall quality and accuracy of the product data, through pulling from more data sources, increasing visibility, and providing data cleaning capabilities.
- Translation and/or localisation helps handle multilingual product data quickly, maintaining accuracy globally and in real-time
What Other Software is Related to PIM Software?
There are a few other software types out there that often go hand-in-hand with PIM software. Sometimes, all these types of software are combined in a suite of tools. Other times, you might use these separately or integrate them to gain efficiencies.
- Master Data Management Software (MDM): This type of software is also used for storing data that will need to be accessed by everyone in an organization, but it is used for all company data rather than just product data. This includes customer and client data, company KPIs, transaction and sales data, and more.
- Digital Asset Management Software (DAM): This type of software is focused on storing and managing assets, which can include things like files, documents, images, videos, invoices, brand fonts, brand logos, and more.
- Content Management System (CMS): This type of software allows companies to add, create, change, update, and edit digital content. This includes product content such as descriptions, prices, and features, as well as other website content like blog posts, about pages, or contact pages.
- Enterprise Resource Planning Software (ERP systems): This type of software is more for managing overall business processes like accounting, inventory management, customer relationship management (CRM), purchase order management, order fulfillment, supply chain, and more.
- Product Experience Management Software (PXM): PXM software is closely related to PIM software, but PXM software focuses more on the user experience of the product through the whole customer journey. It’s meant to help ensure customers find exactly what they need, no matter which sales or ecommerce platform they are interacting with.
Cost of PIM Software
As with any type of software, costs can vary greatly depending on the type of software and the unique needs of users. The same is true of product information management software.
Factors that can affect the cost of PIM software include licensing costs, customization, implementation, automation, training, number of users, scalability, and any ongoing maintenance. Once you pinpoint your needs in terms of each of these factors, you’ll be able to nail down a pretty good cost range for the type of software you need.
Costs for PIM solutions can be broken down into costs associated with analyzing your needs, aligning the solution with your company, implementing the solution, and licensing fees. Once you assess each of these categories, you’ll have a better idea of what the overall cost of PIM software is going to be.
Each business is going to require different things from a PIM solution. Each complexity will alter the cost range for PIM software across these 4 PIM cost categories.
The costs that come with this phase are related to needs assessment, and costs are focused on the search for PIM software. This involves assessing the current market, going to conferences, or joining workshops. If someone on-site can not do this, then hiring a PIM consultant can help, but this will incur more costs.
The analysis will also include an assessment of the company. You’ll need to understand the stakeholders, business requirements, budget, and any go/no-go criteria for PIM software.
A PIM solution must align with your company’s goals and vision, as well as your existing process ecosystem for product information, IT, and more. Who and what will be affected by the new solution? Are there things that cannot be changed?
Once everything is assessed, then customizing the system can begin in earnest. This includes integrations and functionality with other software, like those mentioned above, setting a lead on product information and product content, adding channels, and team workflows.
Once alignment and customization have been completed, then implementation can begin. The costs in this phase include onboarding, team training, migrating content and processes to the new PIM platform, and any costs associated with installation. These costs tend to occur during the first year to 18 months, although customization will continue as the system needs upgrades and amendments.
This is the main cost behind PIM software, but it’s important to understand that it’s not the only cost, as noted in the phases above. Some SaaS PIM software options charge by the month, often ranging from $450 to $850 per month, while some software providers charge annually, at around $15,000 per year.
Most software companies charge on a sliding scale, charging more for more features and users and less for fewer features and users. Here are some factors that might affect the plan you need.
- Business model
- Number and types of products being managed
- Number and types of product categories being managed
- Types of information being managed
- Level of complexity of the relationship between products
- Number of languages that the software will need to support
- Number of employees that will be using the software
Finding prices online can be difficult as vendors want to create a proper quote to meet the company's specific needs rather than guess and overestimate the cost. The wide range of costs reflects the wide range of variables involved in assessing what the final invoice will be, so any prices given without consultation are going to be off the mark.
No matter what the cost of PIM software is, chances are that it will save your company money down the road by providing data that is centralized, accurate, and user-friendly.
Delivery, purchasing, inventory, and customer inquiries are all going to be optimized, meaning more money is saved, which counteracts any costs from installing and having PIM on site.
Need expert help selecting the right Product Information Management (PIM) Software?
If you’re struggling to choose the right software, let us help you. Just share your needs in the form below and you’ll get free access to our dedicated software advisors who match and connect you with the best vendors for your needs.
Streamline Your Data with PIM Tools and PIM Software
What is your current PIM process? Are you considering investing in a product information management system? Let us know in the comments below.
For more information on essential ecommerce tools, tips, and trends, subscribe to The Ecomm Manager newsletter.
More great ECM content:
- 6 Product Information Management Best Practices
- How To Create An Online Product Catalog Using PIM Software
- 10 Best PIM Software For Product Information Management
- Ecommerce ERP Guide: How To Take Control of Your Business Operations
- 10 Best Ecommerce ERP Software
- 10 Best Ecommerce Product Data Management Software
- 20 Best Ecommerce Tools