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soona   we create the best content for commerce   soona   we create the best content for commerce

What is Product Information Management?

Discover the power of Product Information Management (PIM) for seamless e-commerce organization. Learn what PIM is, its benefits, and when to consider it.

soona crew
soona crew
written by
soona crew
written by
November 22, 2023
-
1
min

What to Know about Product Information Management

It’s no secret that running a business takes a lot of work. Between designing products, packaging them, curating sales channels, and marketing, a business of any size can quickly become a juggling act of epic proportions.

That’s before you account for keeping all your digital asset ducks in a row. Staying on top of an ever-mounting pile of photos, graphics, videos, audio files, PR pieces, product copy, specifications, technical literature, and more is enough to keep any entrepreneur or director of marketing up at night.

Luckily, product information management is here to save the day. A good product information manager (PIM) gives you the tools to collate all of that data in one place, with a highly organized architecture, excellent metadata, and powerful search capacity, so you can always find it when you need it.

What exactly is PIM software, you’re wondering? Glad you asked.

Today, we’re here to talk about what product information management is, how a product information management tool works, and the benefits of using one. We will also discuss when you should consider using a PIM, how to make the best use of one, and where to get started.

Ready to say goodbye to disorganized files, wading through figurative piles of digital data, and tearing your hair out looking for that one spec sheet – and say hello to clean, well-organized, always findable photos, videos, and more?

Keep reading.

What Is Product Information Management?

When you run an ecommerce shop, it’s critical you have consistent, vibrant, on-brand imagery for all your product listings. This is easier said than done, of course, given how time-consuming it is to create good imagery. And even once you do get it in hand, someone has to organize, label, and store it.

Historically, this has led to any number of jury-rigged filing systems that quickly become antiquated when a new person at the company brings a new vision to the task. The same can happen when you switch operating systems or migrate from local to cloud-based storage systems.

The result: an icky mess where no one quite knows where to find a previously filed asset, where to file new assets, how to search for them, or even who’s allowed to access and edit them.

That’s where product information management comes in, helping to ensure the business runs smoothly by excising poor-quality assets, organizing high-quality ones, and making sure you know exactly where to find them. To make this dream a reality, you’re going to need a little help from a friend.

And by “friend,” of course, we mean product information management software.

powdered facial cleanser

What is a PIM?

Basically, a PIM is a cloud-based software system that provides a centralized repository for every type of digital asset related to your ecommerce products. You customize the PIM to meet the needs of your organization by choosing a file structure, deciding who can access which types of collateral, and selecting a current version of each asset to avoid mistakes – for example, sending out the wrong product specs to a potential wholesale buyer.

{{studio-ad="/external-components"}}

As your organization grows, the PIM grows with it, preserving your chosen file architecture while adding in new categories where necessary and giving you the same power to label and search for assets as needed. You can even give people outside the organization – partners or influencers, among others – access to certain parts of your PIM if you like.

PIMs are made to be accessed anywhere, by anyone with the correct permissions. No longer must a team member be at headquarters or in a store to access the system. Now they can pull it up on their phone or tablet, on a train or a plane, and work with product information from anywhere in the world.

PIMs in Operation

How might this play out at a company? Let’s say you’re working on a campaign for a cause, and you want to make sure you keep all your product information and PR documentation in one place. You also want everyone on your team, partner brands, retailers, distributors, and influencers to be able to access necessary files – but only the ones for which they are approved.

To accomplish this, you would set up a dedicated place in your PIM software for the campaign. Establish appropriate folders for the different kinds of content and/or arms of the campaign. Set the most current version of each type of content, or the correct versions for different uses of the same/similar content.

Next, you tag each file with the appropriate metadata to say what it is and where it belongs. Then, you would go through and set permissions for each file or data asset separately to ensure the preservation of your data security, making PIMs one of the best ways to stay safe in a cyber-insecure world. Even people outside the company – like influencers – can access everything they need, without any danger of them breaching company security.

When an asset gets updated, all stakeholders get an alert so they know it has changed and can make their plans accordingly, reducing confusion and minimizing the rafts of emails that often accompany adjustments. Where needed, stakeholders can add additional product data and ensure everything is up to snuff.

And just like that, you have an ecommerce and marketing approach that will boost your sales, reach a global audience, enable file sharing from anywhere, and massively reduce the amount of confusion or rework that takes place at your company.

PIM Formats

PIMs may either be open-source, available online for anyone who chooses to use them and update the software at will, or software-as-a-service (SaaS).

While it’s tempting to choose the free option, it’s important to find a product information manager that will accommodate all of the assets you need and grow with you over time, without requiring you to bring on new IT people to make your system work.

Ideally, you can find a PIM that is both free and SaaS. We will discuss such an option below. Before that, though, let’s take a specific look at the benefits of using a product information management tool.

5 Benefits of Product Information Management

Good product information management centralizes data, preserves security, and makes collaboration easy, but it offers much more as well. Here are five of the most important benefits it brings to the table.

a shelf of facial care products

1. A Single Source of Truth

One of the biggest sticking points for growing ecommerce companies is that the left hand starts to lose track of what the right hand is doing. The more products get added to the catalog, the greater the number of team members needed to manage them. That causes confusion, especially when people start inventing their own systems.

With product information management, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The system is right there, so all your people need to do is learn how to use it. Then they know exactly where to a) upload new collateral and b) download it when the time comes to create product listings and campaigns.

2. Total Data Management

It’s up to each organization how they want to organize their product data, but there are a few common approaches. Some companies, for instance, organize by file type: images here, videos there, copy over there.

More and more frequently, however, organizations are choosing to organize their data by channel type. As product-based companies expand their outlets, they must tailor their product information accordingly. (E.g. Amazon and Shopify have different image specs from sales outlets such as Facebook and Instagram, which is where an AI-based image resizer tool can come in handy.)

Therefore, some companies have chosen a data management approach that divides collateral by sales outlet, such as:

  • Websites
  • Ecommerce platforms
  • Social channels
  • Catalogs
  • Mobile apps
  • Email marketing

3. Complete Digital Asset Management

Although a product information management tool is not exactly the same thing as a digital asset management tool, it can perform many of the same services. Not only does it keep all product info in one place, but it keeps information about how to create digital assets within the same repository.

If, therefore, a team wants a refresher about a company’s go-to props or how they like to conduct discovery shoots, then they can navigate to that area of the PIM and find such information easily.

4. Improved SEO

PIMs rely heavily on good metadata. When you fill out the PIM’s metafields completely, it’s much easier to search for assets within the product information management environment, streamlining your workflow. In a sense, you are using search engine optimization (SEO) to manifest a faster search strategy right there in-house.

However, it doesn’t stop there. When you use a PIM, your organization’s personnel are automatically trained on SEO best practices, and these transition outside the internal environment as well. Assets that are clearly labeled, with metadata attached, transition much better to the online sphere, where the bots that crawl search engines take notice of this as well. That means your product listings get higher search rankings and are more likely to reach human eyeballs.

As we all know, product marketing is a numbers game. The more people who see your shop, the more people who will browse your listings. The more people who browse your listings, the more people who will make a purchase – and leave a review, make another purchase, or provide you with free word-of-mouth marketing.

This works whether you run your own website or use an ecommerce giant such as Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy. It’s a virtuous cycle, and it all starts with good organization of your product data at home.

5. A Wider Talent Pool

Because PIMs enable global file-sharing and collaboration, they make it much easier for you to work with people around the world. That means your organization can benefit from talent pools across the country, continent, or globe.

It also means you can outsource some of your tasks if you like. This makes use of economies of scale (since outsource suppliers are expert in certain tasks, such as data management) as well as different exchange rates (since other countries have a lower cost of living, which can reduce your expenditures).

a model applying face oil

When Should I Consider a PIM?

So now you know what a PIM is for and what you’ll get out of it. But it’s still a big commitment, so naturally, you’re wondering, Do I really need it?

And the answer is, maybe, maybe not. Many businesses aren’t to the point where they want to add another tool to the mix, because they haven’t yet hit a wall with managing their assets using a homebrewed file architecture. That’s okay.

However, most organizations find that as soon as they hit a certain number of products, it becomes hard to track all the imagery and other assets. This happens sooner than you think, often while listings still number in the dozens and not even hundreds.

Why? Because a good ecommerce strategy is thorough. Each optimized product listing contains a handful of assets or more, including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Photography: If you switch out your photos by season, material type, or any other variation, the number of images will grow exponentially.
  • Videos: Same as above.
  • Product specifications: If your products work differently for different people or applications, this can also quickly balloon. (For instance, how a peel works on dark versus light skin.)
  • Copy: Each product has its own product description i.e. copy. And, that product description can change based on whether the listing is on Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy; for mobile or desktop; seasonally influenced or not; etc.
  • PR collateral: Are you running campaigns on the product currently, or have you in the past? These represent more documents related to the product.

… and so on. Hopefully now it’s easy to see how even a short product line from an up-and-coming startup can require a PIM if you want to keep your files organized, accessible, and optimized for search.

Who Needs a PIM Right Now?

All right, then, let’s get down to brass tacks: who needs a PIM and just can’t wait? Chances are good you do if you:

  • Use multiple ecommerce platforms, all of which have their own specifications, image dimension requirements, and ways of doing things
  • Have hundreds or thousands of SKUs, or dozens of products with very highly tailored campaign information
  • Have a large team, all of whom contribute to at least some aspects of your product information and will, if you’re not careful, start to step on each other’s toes (if they don’t already)
  • Represent multiple brands or product lines that can quickly blend together if you’re not careful
  • Have a global audience requiring multiple languages, cultural approaches, legal documentation, etc. – or if you plan to expand to a global marketplace eventually

If any of the above describes you, and especially if you fit multiple categories, it’s time to consider PIM software. Once you get it, though, how can you maximize your product information management tools? Let’s turn to this next.

matcha tea

How to Make the Best Use of a PIM

The point of an omnichannel marketing strategy is to get the word out to as many people, on as many platforms, as possible. This is where PIM software can majorly streamline your workflow, helping you organize for different channels.

Depending on the product information management tool you use, your PIM can even integrate with those channels. (For instance, Product Catalog by soona integrates easily with your Amazon Seller account for simple, painless uploading of new product data and creative whenever you need. More on that below.)

In order to make the best use of your product information manager, here are some best practice steps to take:

  1. Integrate all possible data: Make sure your PIM architecture accounts for every data type. You don’t want to end up storing assets anywhere but in the PIM if you’re going to use one. Even if you haven’t created that exact collateral yet, plan for it in your initial stages.
  2. Resize images and graphics: Before uploading them to your product information management tool, resize images as needed. That way, when team members go to download the necessary creative, they will find shiny, pixel-perfect content that’s ready to go.
  3. Choose a single organizational structure: As discussed above, some companies organize by asset type, while others divide by channel. Either way, choose one. Make sure to hold thorough talks with stakeholders before deciding on an approach to avoid ruffled feathers and account for all opinions.
  4. Give necessary access upfront: While PIM systems do allow people to request access to assets, it’s better if you designate a team to decide who gets access, how, and how you’ll handle requests in future. You want a single source of truth on the single source of truth!
  5. Get your metadata right: Metadata will determine how easy it is to find assets at a later time. It’s tempting to rush through the laborious setup phase, but don’t. Take the time to label each asset correctly and follow the same regimen for each asset you upload. Your future selves will thank you.

Naturally, though, you can’t use a PIM correctly or incorrectly if you don’t have one. It’s time to take a look at the only product information management solution you’ll ever need: soona.

Get Started With Your New PIM Today

Here at soona, our goal is to ensure users have exactly what they need to make the best use of their beautiful product photos and videos on ecommerce sites. As discussed at length, though, that’s a lot harder when you can’t even find what you’re looking for among the warren of old files on a mix of hard drives and servers, as well as in the cloud.

You’re busy, so we know how important it is to streamline your workflow. Our PIM software, Product Catalog, helps you do just that. Now you can easily upload digital assets, organize and label them, set permissions and current versions, and more. It’s never been so simple to run your storefront.

Ready for a gold-standard product information management tool that will grow with you forever, for free? Time to learn more about soona if you haven’t already. And if you’re already a user, you can download it for free today!

What to Know about Product Information Management

It’s no secret that running a business takes a lot of work. Between designing products, packaging them, curating sales channels, and marketing, a business of any size can quickly become a juggling act of epic proportions.

That’s before you account for keeping all your digital asset ducks in a row. Staying on top of an ever-mounting pile of photos, graphics, videos, audio files, PR pieces, product copy, specifications, technical literature, and more is enough to keep any entrepreneur or director of marketing up at night.

Luckily, product information management is here to save the day. A good product information manager (PIM) gives you the tools to collate all of that data in one place, with a highly organized architecture, excellent metadata, and powerful search capacity, so you can always find it when you need it.

What exactly is PIM software, you’re wondering? Glad you asked.

Today, we’re here to talk about what product information management is, how a product information management tool works, and the benefits of using one. We will also discuss when you should consider using a PIM, how to make the best use of one, and where to get started.

Ready to say goodbye to disorganized files, wading through figurative piles of digital data, and tearing your hair out looking for that one spec sheet – and say hello to clean, well-organized, always findable photos, videos, and more?

Keep reading.

What Is Product Information Management?

When you run an ecommerce shop, it’s critical you have consistent, vibrant, on-brand imagery for all your product listings. This is easier said than done, of course, given how time-consuming it is to create good imagery. And even once you do get it in hand, someone has to organize, label, and store it.

Historically, this has led to any number of jury-rigged filing systems that quickly become antiquated when a new person at the company brings a new vision to the task. The same can happen when you switch operating systems or migrate from local to cloud-based storage systems.

The result: an icky mess where no one quite knows where to find a previously filed asset, where to file new assets, how to search for them, or even who’s allowed to access and edit them.

That’s where product information management comes in, helping to ensure the business runs smoothly by excising poor-quality assets, organizing high-quality ones, and making sure you know exactly where to find them. To make this dream a reality, you’re going to need a little help from a friend.

And by “friend,” of course, we mean product information management software.

powdered facial cleanser

What is a PIM?

Basically, a PIM is a cloud-based software system that provides a centralized repository for every type of digital asset related to your ecommerce products. You customize the PIM to meet the needs of your organization by choosing a file structure, deciding who can access which types of collateral, and selecting a current version of each asset to avoid mistakes – for example, sending out the wrong product specs to a potential wholesale buyer.

{{studio-ad="/external-components"}}

As your organization grows, the PIM grows with it, preserving your chosen file architecture while adding in new categories where necessary and giving you the same power to label and search for assets as needed. You can even give people outside the organization – partners or influencers, among others – access to certain parts of your PIM if you like.

PIMs are made to be accessed anywhere, by anyone with the correct permissions. No longer must a team member be at headquarters or in a store to access the system. Now they can pull it up on their phone or tablet, on a train or a plane, and work with product information from anywhere in the world.

PIMs in Operation

How might this play out at a company? Let’s say you’re working on a campaign for a cause, and you want to make sure you keep all your product information and PR documentation in one place. You also want everyone on your team, partner brands, retailers, distributors, and influencers to be able to access necessary files – but only the ones for which they are approved.

To accomplish this, you would set up a dedicated place in your PIM software for the campaign. Establish appropriate folders for the different kinds of content and/or arms of the campaign. Set the most current version of each type of content, or the correct versions for different uses of the same/similar content.

Next, you tag each file with the appropriate metadata to say what it is and where it belongs. Then, you would go through and set permissions for each file or data asset separately to ensure the preservation of your data security, making PIMs one of the best ways to stay safe in a cyber-insecure world. Even people outside the company – like influencers – can access everything they need, without any danger of them breaching company security.

When an asset gets updated, all stakeholders get an alert so they know it has changed and can make their plans accordingly, reducing confusion and minimizing the rafts of emails that often accompany adjustments. Where needed, stakeholders can add additional product data and ensure everything is up to snuff.

And just like that, you have an ecommerce and marketing approach that will boost your sales, reach a global audience, enable file sharing from anywhere, and massively reduce the amount of confusion or rework that takes place at your company.

PIM Formats

PIMs may either be open-source, available online for anyone who chooses to use them and update the software at will, or software-as-a-service (SaaS).

While it’s tempting to choose the free option, it’s important to find a product information manager that will accommodate all of the assets you need and grow with you over time, without requiring you to bring on new IT people to make your system work.

Ideally, you can find a PIM that is both free and SaaS. We will discuss such an option below. Before that, though, let’s take a specific look at the benefits of using a product information management tool.

5 Benefits of Product Information Management

Good product information management centralizes data, preserves security, and makes collaboration easy, but it offers much more as well. Here are five of the most important benefits it brings to the table.

a shelf of facial care products

1. A Single Source of Truth

One of the biggest sticking points for growing ecommerce companies is that the left hand starts to lose track of what the right hand is doing. The more products get added to the catalog, the greater the number of team members needed to manage them. That causes confusion, especially when people start inventing their own systems.

With product information management, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The system is right there, so all your people need to do is learn how to use it. Then they know exactly where to a) upload new collateral and b) download it when the time comes to create product listings and campaigns.

2. Total Data Management

It’s up to each organization how they want to organize their product data, but there are a few common approaches. Some companies, for instance, organize by file type: images here, videos there, copy over there.

More and more frequently, however, organizations are choosing to organize their data by channel type. As product-based companies expand their outlets, they must tailor their product information accordingly. (E.g. Amazon and Shopify have different image specs from sales outlets such as Facebook and Instagram, which is where an AI-based image resizer tool can come in handy.)

Therefore, some companies have chosen a data management approach that divides collateral by sales outlet, such as:

  • Websites
  • Ecommerce platforms
  • Social channels
  • Catalogs
  • Mobile apps
  • Email marketing

3. Complete Digital Asset Management

Although a product information management tool is not exactly the same thing as a digital asset management tool, it can perform many of the same services. Not only does it keep all product info in one place, but it keeps information about how to create digital assets within the same repository.

If, therefore, a team wants a refresher about a company’s go-to props or how they like to conduct discovery shoots, then they can navigate to that area of the PIM and find such information easily.

4. Improved SEO

PIMs rely heavily on good metadata. When you fill out the PIM’s metafields completely, it’s much easier to search for assets within the product information management environment, streamlining your workflow. In a sense, you are using search engine optimization (SEO) to manifest a faster search strategy right there in-house.

However, it doesn’t stop there. When you use a PIM, your organization’s personnel are automatically trained on SEO best practices, and these transition outside the internal environment as well. Assets that are clearly labeled, with metadata attached, transition much better to the online sphere, where the bots that crawl search engines take notice of this as well. That means your product listings get higher search rankings and are more likely to reach human eyeballs.

As we all know, product marketing is a numbers game. The more people who see your shop, the more people who will browse your listings. The more people who browse your listings, the more people who will make a purchase – and leave a review, make another purchase, or provide you with free word-of-mouth marketing.

This works whether you run your own website or use an ecommerce giant such as Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy. It’s a virtuous cycle, and it all starts with good organization of your product data at home.

5. A Wider Talent Pool

Because PIMs enable global file-sharing and collaboration, they make it much easier for you to work with people around the world. That means your organization can benefit from talent pools across the country, continent, or globe.

It also means you can outsource some of your tasks if you like. This makes use of economies of scale (since outsource suppliers are expert in certain tasks, such as data management) as well as different exchange rates (since other countries have a lower cost of living, which can reduce your expenditures).

a model applying face oil

When Should I Consider a PIM?

So now you know what a PIM is for and what you’ll get out of it. But it’s still a big commitment, so naturally, you’re wondering, Do I really need it?

And the answer is, maybe, maybe not. Many businesses aren’t to the point where they want to add another tool to the mix, because they haven’t yet hit a wall with managing their assets using a homebrewed file architecture. That’s okay.

However, most organizations find that as soon as they hit a certain number of products, it becomes hard to track all the imagery and other assets. This happens sooner than you think, often while listings still number in the dozens and not even hundreds.

Why? Because a good ecommerce strategy is thorough. Each optimized product listing contains a handful of assets or more, including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Photography: If you switch out your photos by season, material type, or any other variation, the number of images will grow exponentially.
  • Videos: Same as above.
  • Product specifications: If your products work differently for different people or applications, this can also quickly balloon. (For instance, how a peel works on dark versus light skin.)
  • Copy: Each product has its own product description i.e. copy. And, that product description can change based on whether the listing is on Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy; for mobile or desktop; seasonally influenced or not; etc.
  • PR collateral: Are you running campaigns on the product currently, or have you in the past? These represent more documents related to the product.

… and so on. Hopefully now it’s easy to see how even a short product line from an up-and-coming startup can require a PIM if you want to keep your files organized, accessible, and optimized for search.

Who Needs a PIM Right Now?

All right, then, let’s get down to brass tacks: who needs a PIM and just can’t wait? Chances are good you do if you:

  • Use multiple ecommerce platforms, all of which have their own specifications, image dimension requirements, and ways of doing things
  • Have hundreds or thousands of SKUs, or dozens of products with very highly tailored campaign information
  • Have a large team, all of whom contribute to at least some aspects of your product information and will, if you’re not careful, start to step on each other’s toes (if they don’t already)
  • Represent multiple brands or product lines that can quickly blend together if you’re not careful
  • Have a global audience requiring multiple languages, cultural approaches, legal documentation, etc. – or if you plan to expand to a global marketplace eventually

If any of the above describes you, and especially if you fit multiple categories, it’s time to consider PIM software. Once you get it, though, how can you maximize your product information management tools? Let’s turn to this next.

matcha tea

How to Make the Best Use of a PIM

The point of an omnichannel marketing strategy is to get the word out to as many people, on as many platforms, as possible. This is where PIM software can majorly streamline your workflow, helping you organize for different channels.

Depending on the product information management tool you use, your PIM can even integrate with those channels. (For instance, Product Catalog by soona integrates easily with your Amazon Seller account for simple, painless uploading of new product data and creative whenever you need. More on that below.)

In order to make the best use of your product information manager, here are some best practice steps to take:

  1. Integrate all possible data: Make sure your PIM architecture accounts for every data type. You don’t want to end up storing assets anywhere but in the PIM if you’re going to use one. Even if you haven’t created that exact collateral yet, plan for it in your initial stages.
  2. Resize images and graphics: Before uploading them to your product information management tool, resize images as needed. That way, when team members go to download the necessary creative, they will find shiny, pixel-perfect content that’s ready to go.
  3. Choose a single organizational structure: As discussed above, some companies organize by asset type, while others divide by channel. Either way, choose one. Make sure to hold thorough talks with stakeholders before deciding on an approach to avoid ruffled feathers and account for all opinions.
  4. Give necessary access upfront: While PIM systems do allow people to request access to assets, it’s better if you designate a team to decide who gets access, how, and how you’ll handle requests in future. You want a single source of truth on the single source of truth!
  5. Get your metadata right: Metadata will determine how easy it is to find assets at a later time. It’s tempting to rush through the laborious setup phase, but don’t. Take the time to label each asset correctly and follow the same regimen for each asset you upload. Your future selves will thank you.

Naturally, though, you can’t use a PIM correctly or incorrectly if you don’t have one. It’s time to take a look at the only product information management solution you’ll ever need: soona.

Get Started With Your New PIM Today

Here at soona, our goal is to ensure users have exactly what they need to make the best use of their beautiful product photos and videos on ecommerce sites. As discussed at length, though, that’s a lot harder when you can’t even find what you’re looking for among the warren of old files on a mix of hard drives and servers, as well as in the cloud.

You’re busy, so we know how important it is to streamline your workflow. Our PIM software, Product Catalog, helps you do just that. Now you can easily upload digital assets, organize and label them, set permissions and current versions, and more. It’s never been so simple to run your storefront.

Ready for a gold-standard product information management tool that will grow with you forever, for free? Time to learn more about soona if you haven’t already. And if you’re already a user, you can download it for free today!

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