Which PIM system should you choose? The answer to this question is not necessarily straightforward. After all, choosing a PIM (product information management) system is a long-term decision, and you need to carefully analyze your company's needs and assess different solutions available on the market.
As web and mobile developers specializing in ecommerce, we work with many companies that want to implement product data management into their processes. The app we often recommend is Akeneo, and in this blog post, we'll share the most significant advantages of this software. First, let's explain what a PIM solution typically is.
What is PIM software?
Regardless of which of the available PIM systems you'll choose, the tool's role remains the same. It's a space where you can store product data, including technical attributes, descriptions, and media files. Such a product database constitutes a single source of truth regarding your products. It helps you keep high quality, relevant information in your online store, your printed catalog, or any other channel you use to display product information.
Different channels can feed your PIM system. Data can be entered manually by various team members (from sales, marketing, etc.), imported from your company's ERP system or external sources, like a database from a manufacturer.
How is a product information management (PIM) system useful for your business?
Since you're looking for the right PIM solution for your team, you're likely already aware of the benefits of implementing a PIM system. But if you're still on the fence as to whether or not your company should invest in a PIM tool, let's recap the most significant gains:
- You'll have a centralized, organized, and accessible space for all product data you might need for different sales channels.
- Employees from different teams will be able to seamlessly collaborate on creating and updating standardized product descriptions and attributes, thus maintaining high data quality.
- You will be able to share product data easily with your business partners and import data from manufacturers.
- You can easily translate product information into new languages when branching your business to new markets.
- Customers visiting your ecommerce or online product catalog will see complete and consistent product descriptions.
- Your teams won't waste time looking for misplaced product attribute spreadsheets or old databases.
These are the main benefits that you should be able to experience by implementing virtually any modern PIM software. Granted, apps available on the market have different features, and it's crucial that you compare them with your company's requirements. To give you a better idea of what a powerful PIM solution can help you with, we've listed the main advantages our clients see once they implement Akeneo, a leading PIM system. You can use the following list to see if Akeneo checks all of your boxes or to compare its features with other PIM systems you're currently evaluating.
Why do we recommend the Akeneo PIM system to our clients?
There are multiple reasons behind our decision to partner with Akeneo and make it our PIM of choice when working with clients. First of all, this solution is extremely flexible, and we've learned that you can tailor it to different store sizes and types of products. That's important because the tool can be 100% suited to your company's processes with no unnecessary screens and fields you always leave blank. As a result, companies can focus entirely on maintaining data quality and supporting sales.
Here are other reasons why we prefer to work with Akeneo over other PIM systems:
Leading PIM software on the market
Akeneo has been named a leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Product Information Management Applications for Commerce 2019–2020 Vendor Assessment report. The IDC study assesses 14 different PIM solutions, but only 5 of them are named leaders, Akeneo included. It's a promising indicator of this app's current capabilities and future potential.
Open source and enterprise versions available
Akeneo is a system that comes in the form of two products: a free open source PIM called the Community edition and the Enterprise edition that comes with extra features, plus advanced permissions and data management options. It is yet another sign of Akeneo's flexibility—depending on your needs and the budget, you can pick the version that works best for your company.
Cloud edition available
If, for some reason, you don't want to host the PIM system on your servers, you can opt for the Cloud edition. It provides you with all the benefits of the Enterprise edition without having to secure your own hosting infrastructure. It can help you speed up the development process and start using the PIM quickly on the cloud.
We've mentioned it already in our guide to picking the best ecommerce platform: it's advantageous to choose systems that run on a popular technology. Why? You will have better chances of finding good specialists for your IT team, plus the onboarding phase for new programmers will be shorter. Akeneo PIM is based on one of the most popular PHP frameworks, Symfony, so it's a technology that's very familiar to many software developers out there.
Partnership with Magento
If you're a retailer that needs a PIM tool for your online business, you have to consider how to transfer the data from PIM to the ecommerce platform. Akeneo offers a stable connection with Magento, one of the top open-source ecommerce systems. If your store runs on Magento, you'll have no problems displaying up-to-date product information for your clients. Keep in mind that Akeneo offers connectors for other popular ecommerce platforms as well.
The Akeneo marketplace features integrations between the PIM and other tools that are vital to you from the business perspective. For instance, you can connect a Content Management System (CMS) or your Digital Asset Management (DAM) app. In our opinion, strategically connecting different tools that support multiple aspects of your retail operations can tremendously help you achieve a better return on investment. Plus, it's great for your team's productivity, as they no longer have to juggle data between various systems.
API is an effective and flexible way to connect PIM solutions with other tools in your business ecosystem. When it comes to Akeneo, the API is particularly powerful, as it covers all of the features available in the frontend of the app. Reliable API documentation available for you from the get-go will enable your team to plan the implementation and make informed decisions about different integrations.
Take a peek inside Akeneo
Now that you know why we've picked Akeneo as our preferred PIM solution let's look at the software from a user perspective. When you log in to the app, you see your product catalog. One thing that may catch your attention is the completeness score—you can see at a glance how much information there's still left to fill in for a given product. It's usually more than one person who's responsible for providing product attributes and descriptions. Some insights come from the marketing teams, some details are provided by people responsible for production and logistics. Being able to assess completeness right away is a good indicator of whether this product will be ready to hit the shelves soon.
You can also see which product family a given product is assigned to. Introducing product families to your product structure is a great way to make the data entry process faster and more convenient for your employees. Essentially, various types of products will have various attributes: companies that sell electronics, for instance, know that very well. Not all products in the store will have screens, so the "screen size" attribute is only relevant to a part of the inventory. Having a single universal template for all of your products means that you have to leave several fields empty and make sure they're not displayed on the website. When you create a product family in Akeneo, you can define a list of attributes used and displayed across all products in this category. All in all, the structure of products in Akeneo can be customized according to your company's processes.
Importantly, you can also define unique titles, descriptions, and attributes for various sales channels. For instance, you may need very technical product data for your printed catalog and a more compelling copy for the ecommerce. Keep in mind that you don't need to hire an IT specialist to add new attributes or define families in Akeneo. Your team will be able to do it on their own. Changes can be made faster, which is crucial when a shorter go-to-market time spells significant boosts for your sales.
Akeneo allows you to access the editing history of each product even in the open source edition. If you're using the enterprise version of Akeneo, you can easily revert the changes in case there are some mistakes. The enterprise edition of this PIM software enables you also identify owners of each product category in your database. Owners are the ones who can accept changes made in a given category. For even more data security, you can decide which user can edit which category. These features will be important for larger retailers where you usually have category specialists already in the team structure. It makes sense to make these people responsible for specific product information as well. A well-designed validation workflow will make it less likely that erroneous information makes it to your online store or a product catalog.
Are you ready to choose the right PIM software for your company?
Choosing a PIM system for your team's needs may require you to rethink your company's product data management processes. It may turn out that you have been limited by the tools you were using up to this point. With a powerful PIM tool, the process of managing product information should be efficient, mistake-proof, and beneficial for the ROI of your business.
If you want to discuss PIM systems with experienced ecommerce developers or you're already convinced you want to implement Akeneo in your business- definitely reach out to us. As one of Akeneo Solution Partners, we can share our product know-how and implementation experience with you. Drop us a line here.