At CQL, Product Information Management (PIM) is a topic that frequently comes up in conversations with our clients. Some clients, particularly those in the ecommerce space, have come to us with questions around how to get product data to flow between their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and their website or ecommerce platform. This is one of the primary functions of a PIM.
In this post, I will outline the five main reasons you should consider building a custom PIM, and highlight how it can improve your business’ efficiency and bottom line.
1: You Need To Connect Or Integrate Disparate Systems
It would be great if your company’s data was in one place and could be easily accessed through a single interface, right at your fingertips. That’s a nice idea, but in reality, it’s hardly ever that simple. Whether on purpose or by accident, your company has likely implemented many different systems over the years to serve different business needs.
Things like your ERP system, Warehouse Management System (WMS), ecommerce platform, a digital media library, and even some spreadsheets (probably lots of spreadsheets) are often separated. Many of these systems either rely on, or store data related to, the products you sell. Each of them holds a piece of the puzzle when it comes to your product data, but none of them have everything, and many of them probably don’t even talk to each other.
A PIM system is designed to solve these problems by bringing all of your product data together into one place. A custom PIM can be built to integrate with each of these separate systems. The PIM then acts as a “hub” through which all your product data can flow from one system to another. Since your PIM is connected to all these other systems, it also serves as the one place where you can get a complete view of your product data.
2: You Are Entering The Same Data Into Multiple Systems
Here’s a line I’ve heard way too many times – “I enter the data on this screen, but then I have to go over here and put it in again”. When your systems are not talking to each other, this is far too often a reality. At best, duplicate entry is a pain, and at its worst, it can cause serious problems.
That’s where a PIM comes in. You enter your data once (either in the PIM or in another system connected to the PIM) and the PIM makes sure it gets everywhere else it needs to be. A custom PIM can also implement data validation rules specific to your business, leading to not only time saved, but better data quality, as well.
3: Your ERP System Just Doesn’t Understand How You Sell Products
The way product data is represented in your ERP can (and often is) quite a bit different than the way you want to present that data to your customers. Let’s say that the product name in your ERP of “RECEIVER LH PIN #75342-10 USE 030-2754” – is that really what you want to show your customers on your ecommerce site? No, probably not, and definitely not if SEO is a concern. That name might make sense to the guys on the manufacturing floor, but it’s not exactly very consumer-friendly.
In addition to simple things like unfriendly product names or descriptions in your ERP, there can be issues based on the differences between how manufacturing thinks about a product vs. how marketing thinks about the same product.
Here are some examples of different viewpoints we’ve seen between manufacturers and marketers:
- What manufacturing thinks of as a single product with different options may actually be marketed as completely different products (think two cars that have the same chassis but are marketed as different models)
- The exact opposite of the above, where multiple manufactured products are bundled together as a single product (like a fireplace with the gas logs and remote ignition)
- Regional or international differences in how a product is marketed and sold (at what point does a “boat” become a “yacht”? Depends on what country you are in…)
These are all problems that a custom PIM solution can help solve. Your PIM can help bridge the gap between how manufacturing and marketing think about products. It encapsulates the rules and restrictions specific to your business or industry, and presents different views of your product data to different systems. With the right PIM, your ERP can present product data in a way that makes manufacturing sense, and your ecommerce system can see the same information in a way that makes marketing sense.
4: It Takes Too Long To Get New Products to Market
Time to market is always important. Every day you wait to get a new product out in the market can mean lost sales to a competitor. A PIM solution helps you get your products to market faster in several ways.
Direct integration with all the systems holding your product data (especially your ecommerce system) makes it easier to get the data you need to merchandise new products. These integrations also prevent the need for duplicate data entry and the delays caused by that work.
Custom business rules inside your PIM can also help with data validation, reducing data entry errors, and time-consuming QA and re-work. If you have multiple sales channels, your PIM can serve as a hub for serving your product data out to all of them.
So, setting up a product once in your PIM means it’s available not just on your ecommerce system, but also on your dealer or affiliate network, Google shopping feed, or Amazon product feed. All of this combines to get your product out there faster and in front of a larger audience.
5: You’re Spending Way Too Much On Licensing Fees
Packaged PIM solutions often come with high initial costs and substantial yearly licensing fees. In addition, you’re probably paying for a lot of features that you don’t need or use, and are also probably missing features that you do want.
While a custom PIM will likely have a higher initial cost, it’s built specifically to your business’ needs. You pay for just the features you need, exactly as you want them. Once CQL builds it, you own it. There are no per-user or yearly licensing costs for your custom PIM.
A custom PIM can also help companies save money on licensing fees for now-redundant software and programs. We often find that, after a custom PIM build, a significant number of people who used to need access to an ERP or other system no longer need that access. They can get the data or reports they need through the PIM. This results in fewer per-user licenses that need to be maintained for these other systems, yielding additional cost savings.
Contact CQL for Custom PIM Options Today
If you find yourself in any of these situations above, you may want to talk to us about a custom PIM solution that fits your unique business needs. Contact us today!