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Up-to-date, centralized, productive. A product information system (PIM system) in e-commerce stands for this and much more. The PIM system helps to optimize the management of all product-relevant data such as text, images or PDFs, thus facilitating the daily work of product and content managers. It not only collects all information in one place in a media-neutral manner, but also ensures a consistent presentation on all channels (web shop, mobile, print) and can thus contribute as a decisive factor to the success of the company.

Anyone who has ever dealt with the topic of e-commerce knows the problem: Many different paths lead to the same goal. Why is that? There seems to be an infinite number of systems and concepts for successful e-commerce. And the question of data storage also offers many different possibilities. MAM, DAM, PIM? If you are used to dealing with other things, it can be difficult to keep track of all the different PIM systems – especially since some of them differ in seemingly insignificant details. To shed some light on the subject, the following explains what a PIM system is, how it differs from other similar systems, and why PIM is a strategic decision for companies.

Scope of functions of a pim system

PIM System – Definition and Explanation of  Terms

A product information management system (PIM system) is a database application to store, maintain, and then make product information available to various stakeholders. Sounds pretty dry at first. But further in the text: Which interest groups are we talking about? The data can be delivered to a platform such as the online shop or to an internal department such as sales or marketing. The goal of a PIM system is to create a central location for product information – this is often referred to as a “single-point-of-truth” or “single-version-of-truth”. Classic examples of information in a PIM are product name, dimensions, variant, color, and anything that describes the product in more detail. Examples of information that is not maintained in the PIM system are price, availability or inventory.

Information management with a master data management (MDM) system

„MAM, DAM, MDM … What’s the difference?!“

MAM = Media Asset Management

DAM = Digital Asset Management

MDM = Master Data Management

A MAM is a system in which digital content (photos, videos, audio files, etc.) can be stored and managed. The content can be tagged and then distributed across different channels. Some PIM systems have an integrated MAM functionality, which differs from provider to provider and cannot always be described as a full-fledged MAM system.

In principle, a DAM is very similar to a MAM, but in addition to photos and videos, it stores additional content such as instructions for use or all product-related documents (PDFs, data sheets, 3D models). Similar to MAM, the content can also be tagged here and made available via various channels.

An MDM or master data management forms a central unit in the company and connects all parties who work with master data, such as employee data or customer data. The MDM is suitable as a company database for internal purposes, whereas a PIM system is an external product database and delivers product data mainly to external bodies that ultimately communicate with the customer (online shop, print catalog…).

The difference between the three system types lies both in the data to be kept and its level of detail as well as in the processes supported by the respective system. In the PIM system, all data including assets such as images or PDF files come together, while in DAM and MAM only media data is kept. MDM is more similar to PIM, but deals with the entirety of data in the company, including finances or suppliers. A PIM system therefore belongs entirely to the product data. This allows it to concentrate exactly on what it was built for: Central product data maintenance for the best data quality – this is exactly where the strength of the system lies!

PIM System - Comparison of MAM, DAM, MDM and PIM Systems in E-Commerce

10 PIM system advantages at a glance

  • Teamwork: Collaborate on a system and outsource unnecessary work
  • Processes: Make the processes lean! Moment… do we have processes at all?
  • Data quality: Forget the chaos of Excel! Finally consistent data management
  • Visibility: More specifications = more visibility on the marketplaces
  • Faster product releases: Faster than the competition thanks to central information maintenance
  • Reduce returns: The customer must know what he is ordering!
  • Translation Management: Maintain multilingual product information
  • Interfaces: After all, what would a central source be without giving access to it?
  • Asset management: Create and maintain images, PDFs, videos centrally in the PIM system
  • Strategy: Two steps ahead of the competition!

"What does a PIM system have to do with a strategic decision? Do we need that in the company?"

Whether a PIM system is necessary depends on the individual case…
In the digital age, information is hard cash. Whether B2B or B2C, today’s shoppers use more channels than ever before. Buy online, pick up offline? No problem! No PC at hand? Take our app! Want personalized prices because you are a bulk buyer? Sure, just log in to our online store and find the information you need! These options are increasingly demanded – even expected – by customers. That’s according to Sapio Research’s 2017-18 study on digitization in the B2B sector, which surveyed more than 300 B2B companies worldwide:

“75% of the companies surveyed from the D-A-CH region said that their customers had asked about the possibility to shop online.”

“Sounds promising, but we are still working on our online shop, why open another construction site and introduce PIM?”

Because PIM is the cornerstone of a website, an online store, an application, or any application with product data. What would systems be without information? Just a blank page! And with inconsistent data? Not much better! In fact, confusing information is now a reason to abandon a purchase. Not to mention the lack of findability, because – you know what’s coming – there’s no information to filter. Once a PIM system has been created and firmly established in the company, all channels are filled with the central database. And with long-term effect, because now there are rules and processes for how each new product should be entered. Happy retailers, happy customers. But is it all that simple?

Pim as a strategic Decision

PIM system - relationship between product information vs. price and acceptance

Why does it depend on the individual case?

Because PIM systems are not appropriate in every context. For a retailer with a total inventory of up to 200 products maintained by two to three employees, a PIM system is overkill. After all, you don’t buy a warehouse when the garage will do. PIM systems really thrive where there is nested, complex, or large product data. Especially with a mass of 3000 products, data maintenance becomes more and more complex. The tables really get on your nerves! Add multilingual product data and Excel is no longer a reliable support. Whether a PIM system makes sense depends on many factors and should be discussed with a PIM expert. After all, a PIM implementation should bring one thing above all else: progress.

Back to the strategic PIM decision

In addition to the clear need for a reliable database, the focus is on channels. If goods are sold through different channels, they must all have the same level of information. Let’s take the example of a company with a sales department and an online shop. Two channels, two sources of information for the customer. If the customer wants to find out about sales and complete the purchase process online, he expects the same information in the store. If information is suddenly missing or, in the worst case, incorrect, it can lead to a purchase being abandoned. After all, who buys sight unseen?

What’s next for us? What are our goals for the system landscape?

The words “optimize” and “processes” are bound to be mentioned in response to this question. Over the years, the IT landscape of many companies has become a perpetual construction site. A system is bought here, a shop is created there, an update is carried out, and suddenly it is no longer clear which system actually does what. During a PIM project, it is therefore important to turn off superfluous systems and take a closer look at the overall benefit of all systems. And for whom the alarm bells are ringing: Don’t worry, no jobs will be lost. The result will be a shift in tasks that will ultimately increase productivity and make collaboration much easier. That leaves more time for what really matters!


In short, it’s all about taking the wheel and putting the full power of an orderly product landscape on the road: solving old processes, optimizing them, and staying one step ahead of the competition! With an orderly mind, you can react more quickly to change and have the opportunity to actively shape the future instead of being shaped by it.

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