Your online business has been a success in the past years. You have expanded your customer base, opened another storefront, and added quite a few new products. Yet, you start noticing quite a few errors slipping your attention while managing your product catalog. Does this mean you need a new Product Information Management (PIM) system?
It surely does! Successful businesses drive the demand for the best product information management software. Allied Market Research reports that the global PIM market size was valued at $9.90 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $59.25 billion by 2027. Flourishing ecommerce industry and the global COVID-19 pandemic are to blame for such a demand growth.
But what is a PIM system, how can your business benefit from it, and how difficult is it to integrate it with your Magento store? The answers to these questions (alongside some Magento PIM integration tips!) are all in this article. Read on!
What Is a PIM system?
Product Information Management (PIM) software provides a single place to gather, handle, maintain, update, and organize product information. Merchants use PIM systems to create product catalogs and distribute SKU-level data across their ecommerce channels. This way, they save much money and cost on handling product information and descriptions.
Ecommerce PIM software eliminates the painstaking tasks of using spreadsheets or Excel documents to handle product data. PIM tools smoothly connect to your ecommerce storefront import data from ERPs, DAMs, media servers, supplier spreadsheets, and/or flat files (Excel) sent via an FTP.
Usually, an ecommerce PIM system handles the following types of information:
- Technical info: product specifications like color, size, material, and weight.
- Emotional info: vivid product descriptions, stories, and images that help to create an emotional connection with the customer.
- Usage info: product descriptions with where and how to use, and sample usage suggestions.
Take note: PIM software focuses exclusively on product descriptions and specifications. It is not the same as ERP which manages inventory and processes orders, thus, acting as a business command center. The two systems may share some common data but use it for different purposes: an ERP — for organizing and optimizing sales and procurement processes; and a PIM — for marketing and sales.
When Do You Need a PIM System?
There are many reasons to consider Magento PIM integration, and we’ve already spilled the most important one above: marketing. A PIM system becomes an important marketing tool if your company:
- has a complex product content setup with a large assortment of products or attributes and needs immense manpower to organize the quality.
- has multiple distribution channels (omnichannel commerce) and wants to choose which products will be released in each channel.
- wants to accelerate the launch of new products on the market.
- sells internationally and wants to process diverse products in various languages and markets.
- wants to provide higher quality product information and avoid a lack of consistency between different channels.
- needs to update product information systematically and collect data from multiple suppliers.
- expands or transmits product offerings multiple times per year.
- wishes to minimize customer complaints and have fewer product returns.
- wants to improve compliance processes and adhere to specific regulations in every country.
- needs to track sales progress and build custom product feeds.
Ecommerce Benefits of PIM Software
PIM software can address all the aforementioned concerns. According to Scaling eCommerce report, Magento PIM integration can increase sales conversion rates up to 4X, decrease returns by as much as 40%, offer three times faster time-to-market.
Let’s see the benefits of PIM software for ecommerce in more detail.
Increased Employee Productivity
Imagine that your team has to upload 1,000 SKUs in your product catalog. They write enticing product descriptions, add images, and shoot videos for each item. Seems doable, right?
Now imagine you need to upload those same SKUs on other distribution channels (like marketplaces or social media) and localize them for each language version of your website. Doing this job manually will take a lot of time and effort, which you and your team can spend on perfecting images and product specifications.
PIM automates the whole data management process. The system will retrieve the information from your ERP (or any other place you’ve used to upload your SKUs) and spread it out across your distribution channels. Meanwhile, your marketing team will stop pulling their hair out and spending time on tedious, repetitive tasks. They will easily keep track of all product information, reuse it whenever needed, and collaborate across divisions, departments, and countries.
Enhanced Omnichannel Experience
Your employees are not the only ecommerce players to appreciate PIM integration. As a business owner, you’ll be able to establish coherent brand presence across channels and stay in plain sight of your customers.
With PIM, you can deliver the right product content in the right context at the right time. Because PIM will consolidate info from different sources, you’ll be able to enrich the content and quickly tailor it to the requirements of the web, mobile, social media, in-store premises, etc. The agility of the system will help you deliver seamless omnichannel experience. The increased customer conversion rate and boosted ROI will follow. Who knows, maybe you’ll boost your revenues by 80% thanks to PIM, as in the case of Intersport!
Improved Data Quality Control
No business is immune to human errors. PIM reduces the risk of it, though.
PIM software tracks that all data across channels is complete and accurate. It usually has user-specific dashboards highlighting critical workflows and data completeness. An admin can also audit the changes to an entry and restore it to the previous versions. The insights of such smart data quality management are vital for business intelligence (BI) and analytics. People will be confident in what they are buying, so a merchant can eventually expect lower return rates and fewer bad customer reviews.
Structured Product Info for New Technologies
PIM should be your #1 choice if you’re about to embrace AI and ML in ecommerce. Many advanced systems can already analyze your images and compare them with your product descriptions, translate text automatically, narrate your customer the story of your brand and/or a selection of products, among other things. But all this calls for structured, quality information.
PIM software centralizes and organizes product information, so it becomes easier to implement the latest technologies. A PIM system will be a sort of food for AI enabling voice site search, personalized recommendations, or fit algorithms. The technology will bring a customer closer to the brand and result in higher conversion rates.
Best PIM Solutions for Your Magento 2 Store
Currently, more than 130,000 retailers use Magento 2 as a basis for their ecommerce websites. There are plenty of product information management vendors that can help you to operate product information for your Magento store. Here’s the list of the best product information management software for Magento.
Akeneo is a highly customizable open-source PIM software that enables merchants to manage all necessary product content and data in one place and export it to different channels. Akeneo is available in three editions: Community (free), and Enterprise and Cloud (subscription-based). With Akeneo, you’ll have the option to import your data from different Excel and CSV files, connect to third party systems, and onboard your suppliers to get a full and clear view of all your imports. Merchants can easily connect their Magento 2 store with the Akeneo PIM software to easily export and import thousands of products.
Price and type of software: Free / Open Source
Integrations: Magento 2, WooCommerce, Google Shopping, eBay, AliExpress, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, WordPress, BigCommerce, and more.
Target audience: Akeneo’s features fit almost every type of business.
InRiver PIM software helps B2C and B2B multi-channel commerce to handle and distribute relevant product content from a central master file to various sales channels in multiple languages. InRiver also includes a Planner App, so you can plan and track activities, control the work process, and cooperate with your sales team directly in PIM. Third-party apps like Magecloud offer smooth inRiver integration with your Magento 2 Store.
Price and type of software: Contact Vendor/Cloud, SaaS, Web.
Integrations: Amazon, Google Shopping, Magento 2, Shopify Plus, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and more.
Target audience: InRiver fits both B2B and B2C retailers. It’s ideal for any business with lots of product data across multiple channels.
Pimcore is an enterprise-ready, open-source PIM software that manages both data and workflow. Pimcore centralizes and structures all marketing and technical product information, allowing you to deliver product data across all customer touchpoints. Pimcore is the only open-source, consolidated digital platform comprising Product Information Management (PIM), Master Data Management (MDM), Digital Asset Management (DAM), and ecommerce functionalities.
Price and type of software: Free/Open Source
Integrations: Magento 2, Shopify, Amazon, Google Shopping, eBay, Facebook, and more
Target audience: Pimcore fits companies of any size and in any industry.
Salsify is a cloud-based PIM software platform that collects and stores marketing content, product descriptions, and logistics data in multiple languages. It also supports analytics on content performance and is available through custom-priced packages based on your business needs. Salsify integrates easily with all major ERP (enterprise resource planning), DAM (digital asset management), and ecommerce platforms. A third-party connector called Trellis offers smooth Salsify PIM Magento integration.
Price and type of software: Contact Vendor/Cloud, SaaS, Web
Integrations: Amazon, Magento 2, Shopify Plus, SAP, Oracle, and more.
Target audience: Salsify PIM is a comprehensive tool for big teams with a lot of data changes.
Bluestone is a user-friendly API-driven PIM software that manages digital images and product content. It also helps to build a structure for your categories and subcategories which can be exported and imported in various formats, including CSV.
By connecting new sales across all market channels, Bluestone PIM improves customer experience and speeds up the launch of new products. Bluestone PIM Magento 2 extension delivers an easy and automated catalog management for products, images, categories, and attributes in Magento.
Price and type of software: $1,000 per month/Cloud, SaaS, Web
Integrations: Magento 2, Amazon, Adobe InDesign, and more.
Target audience: Bluestone fits companies of any size and in any industry.
Top 5 Tips to Harness the Power of Magento PIM Integration
Magento alone is a powerful and flexible ecommerce platform. It has robust native capabilities but may not cope with the increasing product catalog. In tandem with any of the aforementioned PIM systems, your Magento store can do wonders and yield more sales and customers.
Here are a few tips on how you can get the maximum value out of Magento PIM integration.
Tip #1: Consolidate Magento Robust Ecosystem
As an open source system, Magento is highly customizable. A merchant can add any custom features and integrate any third-party apps to streamline business operations. This pro can still turn into a huge drawback. If your store’s ecosystem becomes abundant with features (which is the case of many enterprise-level companies), the system slows down both on the server and on the client end. And PIM is the cure to the problem.
PIM is your answer to the question of how to speed up Magento 2. It will centralize and optimize all product data, thus leaving a huge load off Magento’s back-end and usability. Eventually, your website will become lighter and load faster, especially in the face of upcoming sales seasons.
Tip #2: Manage Multiple Magento Storefronts with PIM
Magento allows setting up multiple storefronts. You can configure your website to appear in several languages and/or have different catalog structures or prices. Yet, these multiple stores will share cart, user sessions, payment gateways, etc. They will also retrieve product data from a single center — your PIM system. PIM software will organize and optimize all information in one repository for your marketers, content writers, and translators to focus on customer-driven content.
Tip #3: Create a Powerful B2B & Fashion Platform
What differentiates a B2B and fashion sectors from other ecommerce industries? Huge volumes of product information. Magento can perfectly handle it on the back-end, be it for the fashion retailers with thousands of SKUs in different shapes and sizes (see our related Carbon38 case study) or for B2B stores with custom catalogs and prices (see Benum). PIM will organize this information in logical, quality chunks of content and ensure all product descriptions and specifications are in place.
Tip #4: Connect Your PIM to ERP for Fast Time to Market
Magento is known for its flexible API-led ecommerce architecture. Normally, third-party integrations connect only to the Magento core product and do not necessarily interact with one another. So your product data will first travel from your ERP to Magento back office and then to your PIM system.
Connecting your Magento ERP to a chosen PIM system will streamline your sales and marketing operation and increase your time to market. All the master product data, including updates, digital assets, supplier information, etc. in an ERP will go directly to the PIM software. Eventually, the ERP-PIM tandem will make your business more agile, saving time on releasing a new product on the market and driving up the profits.
Tip #5: Maintain Positive CX on Magento
Customer experience (CX) is affected by many factors that Magento alone can’t always assure. Magento is great with commerce operations, adding and editing products, and secure financial transactions. However, it will never segment and target different users while narrating a consistent brand story. PIM will take charge of the basic CX layer and streamline findable, information-rich, personalized content your customers are looking for.
How to Integrate a PIM System into Magento 2
There are two ways to implement Magento PIM integrations: via API and using an extension. The former is more complicated and requires some technical knowledge to install the connector and implement the solution. The latter can be implemented by a merchant alone given that a third-party extension satisfies all business requirements.
To add a PIM solution to your Magento store, follow these steps:
- First of all, you should import the category and product data into the PIM system.
- Next, conduct a Magento facility test. Make sure that the same ﬁelds of the PIM database exist in Magento.
- Then, create the PIM connection channel and give the ﬁelds the same name in the PIM system and in Magento.
- Install the third-party extension.
- Conduct initial tests with just a few products to ensure that everything works properly.
- Verify that all product content is synchronized accordingly, especially images and custom attributes, which are usually the most problematic.
- If the results are satisfactory, add the rest of the products until the catalog is full.
To summarize the importance and benefits of PIM software to a Magento store, we’ll quote the report of Akeneo brought by Fred de Gombert, the company’s CEO and co-founder:
PIM itself may not sound sexy, but it’s a critical foundation for virtually every strategic initiative in eCommerce and product marketing today.
Indeed, PIM solutions may seem complicated to implement; yet, they drive business performance and marketing. The right PIM system will manage, centralize, enrich, and distribute product data from various sources and in different formats across multiple channels. And a Magento merchant can make a killing having integrated PIM into a high-SKU store.