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Product Information Management: Know Your Product

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July 24 2013

Author: Simon Walker

Previously on the blog I’ve discussed the importance of Master Data Management (MDM) solutions to various industries, focusing on retail in particular.

In this post I wanted to take a look at one established and widely used application for MDM in the form of product information management or PIM, and consider the important role it can play in future-proofing a business.

Businesses of all types use sophisticated and expensive systems to help run their operations, including finance, CRM, order management, stock and merchandising, all of which require careful management and are integral to how a business works. As a result they can’t easily be changed to meet moving trends.

This doesn’t really tend to pose much of a problem for retailers though, as it’s generally the front end that regularly needs to adapt in order to provide the best customer experience. The rise of ecommerce, the potential of social commerce, and changing marketing methods all mean that the front end of a business will face regular change and needs to be underpinned by those long established core systems.

This is where a PIM solution comes in.

Businesses can use spreadsheets, third party applications or an ecommerce platform itself to bridge the gap between front-end and core systems, but all these methods have their limitations.

A PIM solution can provide a link between the existing systems and the consumer-facing aspect of a business. It allows for enriched data to be centrally available so that it can be distributed to all channels, devices and partners far more easily than before. It also offers all the benefits of conventional MDM solutions such as increased flexibility, easier quality assurance and providing a ‘single version of the truth’.

So PIM helps to bridge the gap that retailers can face between the growing demands of their customers and the investment already made in their systems and infrastructure. But, at the same time, it also plays a key role in future proofing a business against future developments and changes in the market. The time invested in specifying and planning the data structures within PIM is well spent as it allows you to ‘manage once, use many’ in the future.

Who knows what developments retail and ecommerce may face in the years to come? With the recent mass adoption of tablet devices, and trends such as ‘showrooming’, and even Google Glass set to impact the market, a PIM solution will drastically reduce the efforts required to tailor front-end solutions to meet their needs.

With technology – and consumer tastes and demands – changing at a rapid rate, I believe that a PIM solution will fast become a key consideration alongside CRM, ERP and order management and help to future-proof a business for years to come.

By Simon Walker, Stibo Systems, Director Ecommerce Innovation

 



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