Akeneo technology iconBenefits of implementing a PIM system in your retail business

Benefits of implementing a PIM system in your retail business

Let's start with a couple of scenarios. Does any of them sound familiar to you?

  • Whenever you want to find some details about the products you're offering, you need to look through outdated spreadsheets or clunky databases.
  • Some products in your ecommerce are described in more detail than others.
  • When someone clicks on the wrong button when updating a product description in your ecommerce system, they can cause a site-level outage.
  • When introducing new products into your store, you struggle to get well-organized product information from the distributor.
  • Different teams in your company have their own systems of organizing product information and product-related assets.

If you can relate to one or more of these scenarios, then you're likely in need of implementing a product information management (PIM) tool in your company. Since we've helped numerous retailers to implement PIM, we decided to create a series of posts that will give you more insights into this process. In today's blog post, you'll find out more about the benefits of PIM systems and how they compare with other methods of storing product data. Let's start by explaining what PIM software typically is.

What is a PIM system?

A product information management (PIM) app is a space where you can store and update all product information you need for your business. It also allows you to easily plug this data into other systems or share it with external partners. The PIM tool we're recommending to our clients is Akeneo PIM - an open-source solution that's both flexible and reliable. You'll learn more about it in the second blog post in this series. For now, let's discuss how effective product information management can help you delight your customers.

How can product information management help you meet the needs of your clients?

The COVID-19 pandemic heavily influences current global shopping habits. The most significant shift? Opting for online shopping instead of visiting brick and mortar shops. Several retail categories, including OTC medicine, groceries, or house supplies,  have recorded considerable online growth spikes. So chances are that, even if you were running a brick and mortar retail business up to this point, you've decided to add an online channel to your offering. Naturally, your clients will expect to see high-quality, comprehensive product information before they trust you enough to make an online purchase. The best way to satisfy them is to keep your product descriptions consistent and up-to-date. In order to efficiently manage these descriptions at scale, you should use a dedicated PIM solution.

Yet another trend you shouldn't ignore is that clients demand personalized experiences. More than half of shoppers are more likely to return to a site that offers recommendations. You can also use an interactive product configurator—it can increase the ROI for both B2C and B2B businesses. Again, in order to deliver personalized product recommendations, ads, and configurations, you need to be able to manage product data easily.

Advantages of a PIM solution over other tools

You might think: do I need to invest in a dedicated PIM tool when I can keep my product data in a spreadsheet or directly in my ecommerce system? See, effective product information management is not just about keeping your product-related information in one place. It's also about being able to edit, update, and share it quickly and safely. In this section of our guide, we'll show you the benefits a professional PIM solution has over other methods of storing data in your business.

Spreadsheets vs. a PIM system

Using a spreadsheet to store product information doesn't have many upsides besides being free and accessible. Unfortunately, spreadsheets don't support product data standardization—anyone who edits the spreadsheet can use their own standards of describing a product. On top of that, spreadsheets don't allow for much automatization, don't support different file types like images or videos, and are not collaboration-friendly (unless you're using online spreadsheet tools). In short, it isn't easy to create a robust product data management process when you're relying on spreadsheets.

ERP vs. a PIM solution

You could say that storing product information in one's ERP system is a step forward as it allows you to integrate product-related data with the company's resources. That's true, but probably everyone who has ever tried to "adapt" their ERP to product information management purposes would know that it's not a tailor-made solution. It's especially difficult to create new attributes or attach media files. Many ERP systems also come without API, so integrating data from one system to another won't be simple. As a result, businesses that rely on ERP to store product information often boil it down to a bare minimum.

Ecommerce system vs. a PIM app

Most ecommerce platforms allow you to conveniently add product descriptions and attributes. Why would you implement a whole new PIM software then? There are two main benefits of dedicated PIM tools here. First of all, you have to remember that editing product information in your ecommerce platform is essentially working on the production. Mix something up in the description, and your customers will see it on the website. A typo might seem innocent enough, but you can imagine that consequences can be much more severe, for instance, mass-editing (or deleting!) products. Ecommerce systems rarely allow for creating workflows, for example, having new descriptions verified by a senior employee. PIM systems, on the other hand, give you a lot of power when it comes to creating permission structures and workflows. 

The second downside of storing product data directly in the ecommerce platform is that it typically only allows you to create one version of your products' descriptions and attributes. That's enough when you have just one channel —ecommerce, but what if you also print a catalog or need shorter descriptions for your mobile app? Ecommerce platforms usually aren't flexible enough to manage product data across multiple channels.

Learn more about a leading PIM tool - Akeneo PIM

We hope that this blog post made you realize the benefits of introducing effective product information management processes and tools to your business. In the next part of the series, we'll cover the particular advantages of Akeneo, an enterprise-level PIM we  successfully implement for our clients.