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B2B PIM: What Is It, and Why Is It So Important?

eCommerce
4
min read

published on

July 2, 2024

As your B2B eCommerce business grows and you begin offering more products across multiple channels, including enterprise eCommerce platforms, keeping all your product information straight can get messy fast. Inaccurate descriptions, missing details, and inconsistent info? That is a recipe for frustrated customers and lost sales. 

B2B PIM is a fantastic tool for streamlining product information and powering successful B2B eCommerce catalogs. In this article, we look at what PIM is, when it is needed, and the key features to look for in a PIM software solution.

Short on time? Here are the key takeaways

  • Product information management (PIM) centralizes product data for consistency across channels.
  • PIM is critical as product catalogs grow and span more eCommerce platforms.
  • Look for PIM software with strong integration capabilities, especially with your customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise eCommerce platforms.
  • APIs enable integration between PIM systems and eCommerce platforms. Product data from the PIM can be dynamically fed into the eCommerce platform, ensuring up-to-date and consistent product information.
  • Modern eCommerce platforms often offer robust product management capabilities, which can complement or, in some cases, replace traditional PIM systems.

What is product information management?

Product information management (PIM) is how your business centralizes and manages the detailed information required to market and sell your products. 

A PIM platform acts as your single source of truth, gathering, organizing, and enhancing product information such as descriptions, specifications, images, and videos. 

By streamlining this data, PIM ensures accuracy and consistency across all your sales channels, from product detail pages to B2B eCommerce catalogs.

4 business challenges PIM addresses

A product information management system acts as a central hub for all your product data, allowing you to manage, improve, and distribute it efficiently. Here are some specific scenarios where PIM shines:

Launching new products

Bringing new offerings to market involves gathering, organizing, and distributing a wealth of product data. This includes technical specifications, marketing descriptions, images, videos, and more. Without a PIM solution, this process can be time-consuming, error-prone, and chaotic.

PIM software streamlines this process, making it easy to collect information from various sources, enrich it with marketing content, and publish it across your B2B store and other channels. 

With workflow validation features, PIM software also ensures data completeness and accuracy, reducing time to market. For example, a PIM platform can automatically check if all mandatory fields are filled in and if images meet the required resolution, flagging any issues for correction before publication.

Expanding to new channels

As you expand to new enterprise eCommerce platforms, marketplaces, or even print catalogs, maintaining consistent product information is challenging. Different channels often have varying data requirements and formats. Without a PIM platform, adapting your product data for each channel can be a tedious and error-prone manual process. On the other hand, you may not need a separate PIM at all if you use an eCommerce platform that can effectively manage and distribute your product data across multiple channels. 

A PIM solution is a central hub that allows you to easily publish accurate, channel-specific data. This is especially important for industries such as B2B grocery that have complex product attributes and regulations. For instance, a PIM platform can automatically generate compliant product labels for different regions, ensuring you meet all legal requirements while expanding your market reach.

Managing complex pricing

B2B pricing often involves volume-based pricing, customer-specific price lists, and complex discount structures. Manually managing these intricacies can lead to miscalculations, lost revenue, and dissatisfied customers.

A PIM system can handle these pricing complexities, ensuring the right prices are displayed to the right customers across all channels. 

Integrating a PIM platform with your quote management software further streamlines the sales process. Doing so lets you generate accurate quotes and proposals that reflect the latest product and pricing information. For example, a PIM solution can automatically apply the correct discounts based on customer group, order volume, or promotional campaign.

Streamlining order management

PIM software integrates seamlessly with B2B order management software, streamlining the creation, tracking, and fulfillment of purchase orders.

Additionally, by providing a single, reliable source of product data, PIM software reduces errors and inconsistencies that can lead to delayed or incorrect orders. This is important for maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

For instance, a PIM solution can automatically update inventory levels after an order is placed, ensuring real-time availability information for your customers.

What to look for in a PIM software solution

When evaluating PIM B2B software options, look for a solution that offers the following:

Robust data management

Your PIM system should act as your central repository for all product information and ensure it stays accurate and up-to-date. It will gather data from various sources — suppliers, manufacturers, internal teams, etc. — and then organize and refine it so everyone in your organization can easily access the information they need.

Look for features such as a purchase order management system with bulk data import/export, which can save valuable time when updating large volumes of product information. 

Data validation is also essential to ensure accuracy and consistency, automatically flagging errors or inconsistencies for correction.

Additionally, look for a platform that can handle various attributes specific to your industry — whether technical specifications for industrial equipment or nutritional information for food products. 

For example, a PIM platform for the fashion industry should certainly be able to handle attributes such as size, color, material, and style. The level of precision required is typically higher in B2B contexts compared to B2B, too. A B2C company may only need to store color simply as “red”, whereas a B2B business may need to define color by precise CMYK or RGB codes.

Similarly, a PIM solution for the electronics industry might need to handle highly technical attributes such as voltage, wattage, and connectivity, with the precision required for professional or industrial applications.

Seamless integrations

Your PIM platform should seamlessly connect with your other systems, such as your eCommerce platform, customer relationship management (CRM) software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

Effective integration allows for smooth data flow and reduces manual effort, ensuring all your systems work with the latest product information.

For example, connecting your PIM platform with your CRM system gives your sales team instant access to the latest product information while talking to customers. Linking it with your ERP solution automates tasks such as updating inventory and fulfilling orders. Integration with your eCommerce platform also ensures that your product data is accurately reflected in your B2B shopping cart, making the purchasing process smooth and hassle-free for your customers.

This interconnected approach to managing your data not only makes things run smoother behind the scenes but also leads to happier customers.

Expert tip: One of the strengths of DJUST is our flexibility when it comes to PIM systems. We can easily integrate with any PIM you already use, or even replace it entirely with our own solution.

If you prefer to stick with your existing PIM, no problem. We can seamlessly connect it to all your other tools and systems, regardless of who made them. But if you're looking for a simpler solution, our enterprise headless commerce platform can actually take the place of a separate PIM. It's designed with a user-friendly interface and seamlessly connects to everything else you need, thanks to our unified commerce approach.

Flexible catalog management

A PIM system with robust catalog management software capabilities supports you as your product catalog grows and evolves. These capabilities include creating and managing multiple catalogs that cater to different brands, regions, or customer segments. 

Your PIM platform should also be able to handle complex product relationships, such as bundled products, accessories, or replacement parts.

Some advanced systems offer tools such as an AI product description generator, to help create compelling content at scale. This can be particularly valuable for businesses with large product catalogs.

Additionally, good software will be flexible enough to adapt to your unique categorization and attribution needs. Basically, you should be able to define custom categories, attributes, and relationships that reflect your business requirements. For example, a furniture retailer might categorize products by room, style, or material, while a chemical manufacturer might categorize them by chemical composition or application.

Scalability and performance

Your PIM software should be able to handle your current and future needs as your business grows. This means it should be scalable — capable of accommodating an increasing number of products, users, and data without compromising performance. 

We recommend looking for a solution that offers cloud-based eCommerce hosting options, as eCommerce cloud platforms can provide greater scalability and reliability than on-premise solutions.

Performance is also important, especially for businesses with high traffic volumes. A slow PIM system can lead to frustrated users and lost sales. So, ensure the PIM software you choose is optimized for speed and can handle your anticipated traffic levels. Consider factors like eCommerce scalability and performance when evaluating different options.

To gauge a PIM platform’s speed and responsiveness, take advantage of demos, examine published performance benchmarks, and look for features such as caching and efficient database indexing.

Workflow and collaboration features

Product information management is a collaborative effort involving teams from marketing, sales, product management, and more. A good PIM solution should facilitate this collaboration with built-in workflow and collaboration tools. These can streamline processes, assign tasks, track progress, and ensure everyone works with the latest information.

In addition to these tools, look for workflow validation features, which ensure data quality and completeness. These can automate checks and approvals, ensuring all product data meets the required standards before it is published to your sales channels. This can help reduce errors, improve efficiency, and enhance the overall customer experience.

The bottom line

Product information management (PIM) simplifies and streamlines the management of all product information, ensuring accuracy and consistency across multiple channels. When choosing a PIM solution, look for solid data management features, seamless integrations with your other systems, the ability to easily manage your growing product catalog, and tools that make teamwork and collaboration easy.

PIM may not be necessary for every business. In some cases, we recommend simply bypassing a PIM and moving directly to B2B eCommerce if it aligns with your business goals.

For businesses that do required PIM, DJUST’s unique approach lets us work with any PIM platform you choose, creating a truly unified commerce experience. We believe in the power of composable commerce for B2B, which means you can pick the best tools for each job (including your favorite PIM) and plug them into our headless eCommerce platform. This gives you the flexibility to create amazing product experiences for your customers while simplifying your operations and boosting your bottom line.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does PIM mean in business?

In business, PIM stands for product information management. It refers to the process and technology used to centrally manage and distribute product data across various channels, ensuring consistency and accuracy.

What is the difference between eCommerce and PIM?

ECommerce refers to the buying and selling of goods or services online. PIM, on the other hand, is the practice of centralizing and managing all the information needed to market and sell products across various channels. This includes product descriptions, specifications, images, pricing, and more.

Why is PIM important for eCommerce?

Effective PIM ensures product information is accurate, consistent, and compelling across all sales channels. By centralizing and streamlining product data management, businesses can improve efficiency, reduce errors, and deliver a better customer experience. PIM software is a key tool for achieving these goals.

About the author
Arnaud Rihiant
Founder & CEO @ DJUST

Expert in topics on B2B, eCommerce, market trends, business strategy

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