What Is Product Information Management (PIM)?

Allison Lee

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January 18, 2021

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Product information (a.k.a. “product data”) is your most valuable asset in ecommerce. 

It’s the foundation of every product listing, and it has the power to make or break your customer’s experience with your brand. 

For example, say you’re selling clothes on Amazon. There are some obvious details that you need to include about your product (like gender, category and size) and some less obvious details that you should include (like care instructions, pattern and fit type). The completeness of your data can impact whether or not you appear high on search results and/or if buyers are satisfied with their purchases. 

Beyond completeness, there are a number of other product data issues that can trip sellers up. In this article, we'll explore why PIM is important and what it really means to your business, plus what solutions exist today to make it easier.

What Is PIM?

PIM is short for product information management. It represents the process of managing accurate, comprehensive product data that your company can use to create product listings and do business. PIM is crucial to every step of running an ecommerce business: from listing to marketing, to fulfillment and inventory management. 

PIM software helps to clean, map and enrich that product data. It provides a central repository for information like SKUs, sizes, measurements, images, titles, descriptions, prices, warranty info and much more.

Software is especially important for multichannel sellers who juggle hundreds of spreadsheets and individual seller accounts. Instead of having to manage data on a channel-by-channel basis, sellers can log into one system to access their entire catalog. 

The best software can additionally help to format product data correctly; marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart Marketplace each have their own listing requirements that, if ignored, can lead to delisting or suspension. 

Put simply: a PIM system ensures that you have a single source of truth for your catalog that everyone on your team can rely on, and reduces the amount of time-consuming, error-prone work. 

Why Is Good PIM Important?

PIM has far-reaching benefits. While not a glamorous part of the job, it’s arguably one of the most important for the reasons listed below. 

Increasing Visibility on Marketplaces 

High-quality data produces high-quality listings. Marketplace SEO algorithms rely on complete, accurate and properly formatted product information to rank your listings properly. The information you provide will also determine whether or not your product is shown on filtered search pages; you must fill out the field for your products to appear when a corresponding filter is applied. 

Driving Sales—and Reducing Returns

It’s best practice to provide rich, unique product titles and descriptions for each marketplace. With a good PIM solution, you should be able to easily track and customize these fields per channel, plus ensure that your product data is consistent throughout. If your listings feature complete, compelling copy and specs, then you should naturally see a dip in returns because of “item not as described.” 

Read Also: 8 Ways to Reduce Returns on Amazon

Creating High-Quality Marketing Campaigns

Whether you’re dealing with a paid or organic campaign, your team needs to have the most up-to-date information about your products. Google Shopping and other platforms may even auto-retrieve that information from a feed to decide how to serve your ads. Or in another instance, your marketing team may refer to item specs to decide what to promote. As an example, imagine that you’re selling desktop organizers. Your team should know the:  

  • Physical dimensions - Are your desk organizers suitable for small or multi-purpose work environments, especially at a time when many people are working from home? 
  • Available colors and styles - Will particular colors and patterns attract certain buyers?
  • Materials - Can you appeal to green or eco-conscious markets?
  • Affiliated brands or designers - Are there any influencers or brands that you can partner up with? 

If these details are non-existent (or worse, incorrect), they can foil your marketing campaigns and spoil your brand's reputation. 

Managing Orders and Inventory

Your product data needs to match up across the board, not only for the purposes of your listings, but also for accurate order fulfillment. The last thing you want to discover after you make a sale is that you’re out of stock because your inventory and catalog data didn’t line up. Or, that an order was mispicked because an employee couldn’t easily locate product details within your system. Furthermore, a good PIM solution ensures that all of your channels are in sync, so you know exactly which items to reorder and when. 

Activating the Flywheel Effect 

All in all, the goal of a good PIM strategy is to offer a good customer experience. With high-quality product listings, you can experience higher rankings and more sales—and, in turn, better customer reviews that lead to even higher rankings, more sales.

Additional Advantages of PIM Software

The more you can streamline routine parts of your business, the less risk there is for human error, employee burnout and delays that make impatient shoppers turn to your competitors. More specifically, here are common reasons why sellers choose to use a PIM software:

  1. Automation. Manual data entry is a waste of time, especially if you're paying your employees by the hour. A PIM solution helps to cut this time in half (if not more) by eliminating repetitive tasks. In return, your employees can devote their time to tackling more creative problems and actually growing your business.
  2. Error detection and resolution. By centralizing product information, you can rest assured that information is consistent across all of your sales channels. At the same time, listing errors are bound to pop up from time to time—a good PIM software should help to decipher and address these errors quickly. 
  3. Scalability. Without a PIM solution, expansion means a lot of upfront investment in time and effort. For example, every time you add (or edit) a new product, you’ll have to create listings across every single platform. Or, every time you sell on a new sales channel, you’ll have to relearn a new SEO algorithm and rule set before you can list a single product. PIM solutions simplify this process by allowing for bulk actions and optimizing data for you. 

5 Features to Look for in a PIM Software

Once you know investing in a PIM solution is a good fit for your business, it's important to zero in on the right choice. Look for tools that offer these features so they can do as much of the heavy lifting as possible.

1. Integration Capabilities

Look for a system that has reliable integrations into your top sales channels and applications. This can include everything from marketplaces to shopping carts, domestic to international channels. Your system should be able to collect and disseminate information from each.

2. Change Management Tools 

Being able to push out accurate product details isn't enough. Your PIM solution should also know the unique taxonomies of each channel and understand how your data needs to be translated. Excellent PIM solutions will properly format your data for you and notify you if a marketplace suddenly changes its requirements, which happens more often than you may think

FYI: Zentail's SMART Types technology is the first and only change management solution of its kind. SMART Types will automatically adapt your data to new marketplace changes, helping you avoid hours upon hours of combing through and correcting your catalog by hand (which is required by every other ecommerce platform out there). 

3. Bulk Editing Capabilities

You may need to change the details of your existing products over time. For example, if you sold desk organizers in 2019, a whole new world of use cases and applications opened up in 2020, when companies shifted to remote work setups. A PIM solution would allow you to modify product descriptions, titles or even categories on the fly, so you could appeal to a new type of buyer. Or, if you’re running a sales promotion, the right PIM could help you easily adjust or schedule these promos across channels. 

4. Reporting

Smart, integrated reporting tools give you the insight you need to make quick, but informed business decisions. For instance, say you want to know what percentage of your sales came from which product on Amazon, or whether the sales (by volume or per unit) are more profitable on Shopify or through Walmart. Gathering all those reports by hand from each channel is tedious and unreliable, whereas a centralized tool should give you this information all from one dashboard. 

5. Customer Support

When it comes to selling online or using a new software, mistakes and issues are bound to happen. It’s therefore important that your software partner has a readily available support team. Given how fast ecommerce moves, you don’t ever want to be left hanging or waiting days just to get an answer to a simple, yet important question.

Ready for a Better PIM Solution?

We can’t conclude this article without mentioning that Zentail’s PIM solution is second to none. In addition to our industry-leading tech and easy-to-use interface, Zentail is backed by a five-star-rated support team and trusted by today’s top 1000 Amazon sellers. Reach out to us whenever for more information. 

Regardless of which platform you go with, we urge you to be picky and understand what you need out of your PIM solution. Your product information is as precious as gold in ecommerce; don’t let it go neglected. 

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