In the era of digital transformation processes in companies, more and more areas of their activity are shifting to the Internet. Traditional stationary sales channels are giving way to the e-commerce channel or are merging in accordance with the omnichannel model, where it is necessary to provide a potential customer with a rich and, above all, consistent shopping experience, which includes detailed product information. In order to streamline the company’s operations while responding to consumer needs and expectations, it is worth considering PIM systems dedicated to e-commerce.
The growth of the digital information ecosystem is becoming a consequence of the progressive development of online stores. This is very noticeable in the case of companies that grow rapidly, which means that the number of products gradually increases, and, consequently, the amount of data associated with these products increases. In this situation, to control the chaos of information, it is worth choosing a PIM system. What exactly is it and for whom is this solution dedicated?
E-commerce in microservices-based architecture – PIM as a source of truth in product information
PIM, or Product Information Management, is simply product information management based on data systems that enable efficient creation and dissemination of product information across various channels, including e-commerce systems, mobile applications, websites, catalogs, PDF files, etc. Using a solution such as PIM, you can freely and efficiently manage all product resources, store them in one place, which in turn affects the ease and streamlining of operations for employees, and in general, the entire organization. Speaking of the advantages of PIM, it is necessary to mention the functions of the system, which consist of:
– Import – PIM is a system dedicated primarily to large, growing companies, but not only. For smaller implementations it can be a great field to create product information for the first time. When implementing the system, it is necessary to import data from external sources, which is most often done via CSV, XLS, XML file sources or web service. The incoming data is automatically mapped to custom structures and then transformed to the required form. The import function in PIM is a particularly important part of the workflow for companies that are distributors. Why? Then the data systems can be enhanced with the Supplier Portal function, which shifts the responsibility for entering and updating product information to the suppliers. This in turn translates into lower costs of information management and shorter Time-to-Market, as a result increasing the quality of information which ultimately reaches a potential customer
– consolidation – data cleaning, i.e. verification and cleaning of duplicate data. This is an extremely important issue when importing data from many sources and suppliers. This process can be automatic and run according to predefined rules and algorithms or can be carried out with a quick search and filtering of information.
– enrichment – the next step to be taken after the import of basic data is the detailed description of the product. At this stage, multimedia files (main photos, pictures of variants, realizations, dimension drawings, movies, etc.) and other files (certificates, attestations, PDF documents, CAD files) are assigned. Each product is appropriately classified and then placed in the structure with the possibility of being located in multiple places simultaneously. Thanks to PIM, there are virtually no restrictions on creating structures of any complexity. What does this mean? This makes it possible to reflect a company’s product offering in the best possible way. After the stage of product entry and classification, relationships need to be created between them – this can be information about accessories, kit items, products that are similar or used in e-commerce platforms Up-sell connections. Attribute management is one of the most important elements of the PIM system – particularly valuable here are the mechanisms for inheriting attribute values and massaging large amounts of data
– translation – this is especially important for companies that operate in a global economy – then providing the potential customer with the necessary information about the product in the language they speak is essential. In this case, the PIM system significantly facilitates work by offering extensive tools to support the translation process. Both data and descriptions, names, attributes, unit values and image files can be localized and fully multilingual. PIM also offers support for translators in the form of Translation Memory and automatic export and import using XLIF and XLS formats
– checking – this is the stage before data is published. The process can be carried out at various levels, such as validation of data entry, verification whether mandatory fields have been filled in. You can also build rules of dependent attributes (if A then B). An unquestionable advantage is that, based on access rights, sensitive data is protected – only authorized user groups can gain access to it
– publishing – the exported data can take the form of CSV or XML files and be made available through web services. The data exchange process can occur synchronously or asynchronously. Based on the PIM system, the user has no restrictions on submitting data for publication on different channels.
PIM systems – is it the solution for you?
Many entrepreneurs wonder if PIM is the solution for them. Facing such a dilemma, it is worth verifying whether any of the following criteria apply to your business. If at least some of them agree, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by Product Information Management will enable a significant improvement in the operation of the company.
– a large number of products – what kind of products? Here the classic “it depends” should appear, because while for products with simple characteristics a large number will mean 2000 SKUs, for those with advanced, complex description and diverse properties the value “a lot” will mean 500 SKUs. If the product range exceeds 5,000 SKUs, the need for the support offered by PIM systems should leave little doubt;
– more than one publication channel – in the case of a larger number of publication channels, a PIM system will not only streamline the work of implementing new products, but also minimize the risk of errors;
– complex description – the specificity of the offered products requires a specialized description, which consists of dozens or dozens of attributes? PIM will be helpful in this case, too. The system will streamline work, providing potential customers with the opportunity to obtain detailed information about the products they are interested in, thus accelerating the purchase decision;
– multidimensional products – the way of ordering a product, which requires entering several parameters, often generates even hundreds of possible versions of the same product. In order to streamline the process, the best option would be to use product configurators that will be useful when ordering accessories and add-ons that match the given parameters;
– Global business – Do you operate in foreign markets? The PIM system allows for quick adaptation of product information to the language spoken by the customer. Additionally, it allows you to shorten the full translation to an acceptable level, enabling parallel publication in 20 or more countries. This, in turn, significantly reduces the costs faced by the company
– multiple users – if you run a large enterprise, you are bound to have a large number of employees. The PIM system will enable streamlining of work through, among other things, customizable access rights – individual employees will have simultaneous access to information about the product, the ability to edit or download, and access to information necessary for their work, without simultaneous access to data which does not concern them;
– DTP automation – the company also relies on printed publications, which in the case of your company are still a way to effectively reach the customer? Product Information Management offers an automation tool that enables you to deliver high-quality product information that is highly structured and includes full graphical content;
– External classifications support required – if your business partners require delivery of e-catalogs (most often XML file is the carrier of this type of data), which are compliant with industry standards (depending on specialization they may include ETIM, Datanorm, UNSPSC, eCI@ss, or ProfiClass classification), PIM system will make the operation more efficient, avoiding the need to enter data into another IT system.
Rich content that sells – the benefits of PIM Akeneo
When talking about PIM systems and their variants, it should first be emphasized that they differ from ERP tools, whose main use is to store basic (in the case of ERP tools, it is necessary to enter product attributes, describe them, translate and upload media files), logistical and transactional information. So what to decide on when facing the choice of a system to be most suited to the specifics of the company? There are two options – a commercial solution and an open source solution, which includes PIM Akeneo. As previously mentioned, implementing a system allows you to significantly improve your team’s performance and productivity in expanding and diversifying product information, while delivering the best-fit, most beneficial, multi-channel product experience possible. PIM Akeneo was founded in France, but has subsidiaries in Germany, Israel, England and the US, which proves to be a huge advantage for those opting for this solution. Why. By choosing this open source system, you can use different providers of the service. These are, of course, not the only advantages of PIM Akeneo:
- the system allows you to create workflow and validation rules for your data
- guarantees simple, intuitive navigation of the tabs
- Simplified product catalog management
How else will PIM enrich your enterprise?
Below we have highlighted the most important benefits of this solution:
– shorter Time to Market – meaning a more efficient launch of a new product, the ability to dispense with manual data entry
– increased assortment – efficient and fast information management gives the opportunity to expand the assortment and obtain the long tail effect
– maintaining data consistency in every publication channel – PIM is a system that guarantees consistency not only across all channels, but also across all used languages
– greater control of published content – the use of product information lifecycle statuses supports the user in his work on the publication of product information. The option of a quick review of the entered data, mechanisms enabling the control of their completeness and compliance with requirements significantly facilitates the control of information which is ultimately provided to potential customers
– higher conversion rate – valuable content and a complete description directly affect customers’ purchasing decisions. Knowing the details about the product the user is interested in, he gains confidence that the goods he decides to buy will meet all his needs and expectations – the process of making a purchase decision becomes shorter
– lower costs – the first saving concerns time and is already noticeable at the stage of entering information – instead of the process requiring repeated steps, the information is entered once into one system. Another saving can be observed in the sales department – a well-informed customer will not feel the need to use the BOK, what’s more – having detailed information about the product they are interested in, they will have less reasons to return it. Another advantage worth noting is the defined structure of PIM, thanks to which the systems can be used to automate DTP of product catalogs and other publications.
If you’re still wondering whether it’s worth taking advantage of the solution offered by PIM systems, including Akeneo’s PIM, answer the question: do you want to streamline your work and increase conversions while reducing costs? If so, the choice is obvious.