Data Governance, Videos, Blog

What is PIM?

Jared Hillam

Jared Hillam

January 4, 2014

See how Product Information Management can deliver agility to your organization's marketing and supply chain teams.

Text from the Video:

If you’ve seen my video about what Master Data is, then you know about some of its inherent consistency challenges.  But there is one type of Master Data that is particularly vexing.  And that’s Product Data.  See unlike many other types of Master Data like Customer, and Company, there are few solid outside data sources to validate product data.  This is because the manufacturer of a product largely determines the products name, weight, color, description, etc.  So segmenting product data can be very difficult even for a human to do.  This challenge is magnified because product data is used so much to market your company.  If that data is wrong it only complicates the life of Marketing and Supply Chain teams.

Let’s follow some product data from inception to consumer communication so we can see what a challenge this can be for corporations.  The very first step actually starts with the supplier, since they are the originator of the product data.  Let’s say that the supplier decides to downsize its packaging.  From an outsider looking in, this seems like a simple change.  But in reality it requires an entirely new SKU, including an update to several other points of data that appropriately identify the product.  The updated SKU gets delivered to the retailer usually as a line item in a long spreadsheet of products from the Supplier.  What the supplier might not understand is what a burden this little update puts on its retailers.  You see, now the retailer needs to piece apart the suppliers new SKU in a variety of ways.  First, the retailer needs to determine that this product isn’t being supplied by another distributor, which would introduce a duplicate record.  But don’t forget the retailer has to do this with very few concrete cross reference points.  Additionally, the retailer needs to parse through the new product information to ensure that it has all the important consumer communication points identified like weight, color, type, etc.  Once this parsing has occurred it then needs to be married up with the retailer’s current product catalog hierarchy.  This is just like the hierarchy you might find in an Amazon store, like: Grocery & Gourmet Food › Pantry Staples › Condiments, Pickles & Relishes › Mustard › Yellow Mustard. This type of categorization is critical, particularly for on-line stores that rely on extensive categorization to enable customers to find their products. When the new SKU has made it through this deduplication and categorization gauntlet it then becomes part of the retailer’s catalog of products.  But this is just the beginning as now we need to take this data and use it to communicate with customers.  Now take a moment here to consider how many products your favorite store has.  The number of products can be exhausting to manage, and they can represent a Marketing nightmare.  In the example of our SKU, the retailer will have multiple channels and campaigns for selling its product, like:

·         Newspapers with coupons

·         Publishing mobile coupons

·         Publishing on the web store

·         Publishing to social media platforms

·         Publishing to partnering web stores

With all these target channels and campaigns, most Marketing departments fall into a trap of duplicating efforts between the channels, which requires a constant rat race, particularly because new SKUs are added all the time.

These headaches are exactly why Product Information Management or PIM solutions were created.  You see PIM solutions provide a centralized and managed process for onboarding and connecting product data to the rest of the organization.  They do this by:

1.        Providing a Supplier interface that allows them to upload their product data.

2.        Enabling data profiling capabilities so users can easily evaluate the data coming in from Suppliers.

3.        Parsing the data that comes in from the product description so size, weights, color, etc can be accurately categorized.

4.        Ensuring that duplicate products from multiple suppliers can be consolidated into a single product description.

5.        Persisting that data into a centralized product catalog that can be shared across the organization

6.        A digital media management interface where marketing professionals can centralize their media assets for each product

7.        An efficient method of connecting the various channels to the digital media hub.

Now I’ve spent the bulk of this video focusing on the retail industry, but PIM solutions can be used in any situation that product data is being managed.  These solutions increase your flexibility to add and market new products by managing the entire processes under a single roof.  I’ve only scratched the surface of how a PIM solution can help your organization.  I recommend you reach out to Intricity and talk with a specialist.  We can help you bridge your business and technical requirements to determine if this is a fitting project for your organization.


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