Product information management, commonly referred to as PIM, is one of the most overlooked but completely essential components of running a commerce-driven business. Having access to information about your individual products available when and where it’s necessary can greatly enhance the customer experience from beginning to end of the transactional journey.
It can also be the backbone of an effective and powerful marketplace strategy.
The world of eCommerce is one that’s constantly evolving and moving forward with platform innovations and new software solutions. It’s safe to say that the days when businesses use spreadsheets to keep track of their PIM are long behind us, though many seem to have missed the memo.
Beyond software solutions, there are certain product information management best practices that will always be relevant and important to maintain. To help you out, we’re going to talk about some of those in this article.
But first, let’s take a deeper dive into just what exactly PIM means.
What Exactly Is PIM?
When you’re selling a product, that product has a lot of data associated with it. Where it lives in the catalog, user and professional reviews, product description, images, informational videos, marketing material, instructions, etc. is all a part of that product’s information.
What PIM means is taking all that information for all of your products and keeping it up to date and accessible when it’s needed.
If you’re only selling one product, then PIM might seem pretty easy. However, if you’re selling several or many products, keeping track of all that data can quickly become overwhelming.
Luckily, there are plenty of PIM software tools out there to make product information much more manageable. Oftentimes, these software solutions will even allow you to push product data to your digital catalogs or external marketplaces.
Separate Your PIM and Your ERP
Many companies don’t recognize the importance of having a dedicated PIM solution. This can be a problem.
Most businesses are using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to manage everything from HR to inventory to PR to accounting and invoices. Somewhere in there, for many of these businesses, is their product information, lumped in with all that other data and completely lost in the mix.
This isn’t good! Product information changes frequently and must be maintained in a way where it’s visible and accessible.
By separating your PIM and your ERP, you’re maintaining optimal visibility over both sets of data. Additionally, the two can work in tandem with ERP being used for the bulk of your internally facing data and PIM being used for supplying rich product data for marketing and many other things.
Because most companies don’t bother separating the two, you’re already ahead of the game with a clear and accessible way to handle your PIM outside of your ERP.
PIM Best Practices
Now, let’s get on to some tried and true best practices to help you get the most out of your PIM.
1. Enhance the Structure of Your Catalog
If anything can be said to be the true center of focus in PIM, it’s catalog structure.
The catalog is going to be seen across a variety of channels, and it’s important to present the relevant product information in a way that’s clear and easily navigated. That means it has to be structured in a way that will give any potential customers everything they need to make an informed purchasing decision.
A strong catalog does the following:
- States the product category and relevant attributes
- Specifies attributes for various channels
- Includes high-quality product descriptions and includes pictures and videos when available
- Suggests alternative products within the same category
Enhancing your catalog structure to hit all of those marks will make for a better customer experience. That, of course, means more sales.
2. Establish Requirements and Plans for Implementation
Of course, to properly structure and fill in a catalog, your products need to have the available data.
The best way to ensure this is to establish a set of standard requirements for product information.
A strong set of basic standard requirements for products might look like this:
- Product Category - Is it a tool for grilling? An indoor decoration for homes? A television? Correct implementation of product categories ensures that it’s being shown to customers who are looking for something like it.
- Product Description - This is where you put the description of the product. What it does, what sets it apart from similar products, etc., it all belongs here.
- Videos - If your product has any video material to support it, make sure to include it. This can be how-to videos that show the product being used, marketing videos that tell the customer why they need it, etc. Videos are a big help with telling the product’s story and aiding the customer in making an informed decision.
On the implementation side, you want to have a procedure in place for putting your product information to work for you. This includes choosing the right PIM software for your needs.
3. Integrate Your Product Information
Of course, the point of PIM is to have all of a product’s information in one place so it can be accessed as needed. For that to happen, all that scattered data about the product needs to be gathered and compiled in a single location.
Furthermore, the information should follow a consistent structure for easy formatting within your PIM system. It should also be easily scalable to integrate any new information as it’s acquired.
4. Strengthen Product Information Where Possible
It’s not good enough for product information to be available. It has to be strongly presented as well. Remember, you’re trying to catch a customer’s attention and present the product in a way that makes it desirable.
So what does that mean? It means descriptions should be comprehensive and contain any relevant information that could help a shopper make a purchasing decision. You can still have a catchy one or two-sentence description at the top, but make sure to fill in the details with robust copy below that.
It also means that any visuals should be high-quality and serve to show off the product. A badly taken photo where the product is blurry or not fully within the frame isn’t going to help anybody. You want visuals that show off all the shiny lights and flattering angles in a good light.
5. Track and Optimize Product Performance
One of the greatest benefits of using a PIM system is the ability to optimize product information to drive bigger sales.
While monitoring sales and performance across demographics is one half of the equation for maximizing sales, acting on those observations is just as important.
Through market research, you can determine which portions of your product information are getting the most results with your audience. Perhaps you’ve discovered that products with how-to videos are performing better than the rest. No problem! You can work through your PIM software to add in more how-to videos.
Another important aspect of optimization is using SEO tactics to help your product pages rank higher in search engine results. SEO itself is an entire art in itself, but the basic idea is discovering relevant keywords that people are searching for and then implementing those keywords into your product information to show relevance to search engine intelligence.