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Retail, MFG, CPG: Product Information Management (PIM) is for You

Earlier this year, I returned to the world of e-commerce web sites after a long, long layoff (think the painful, patience-trying time gap between two seasons of “Games of Thrones”, then multiply it exponentially).  It quickly became apparent that the basic business requirements driving e-commerce, and the key integration points behind it, haven’t really changed at all.  The platforms and tools that handle it have evolved a lot, though, and one of the most valuable of those evolutions has been the emergence of PIM (Product Information Management) software for industries like manufacturing, consumer products and retail.  For companies that regularly manage hundreds and even thousands of products, this stuff is a godsend.
If you don’t know Product Information Management, in its most essential sense you could consider it the middleman between your ERP system and your e-commerce storefront.  It serves as a central clearinghouse for product data– a two-way integration point that can take your back-end data and ensure that the buyer sees exactly what you want and need them to see.
PIM sounds like a natural fit for both B2C (think retail and CPG) and B2B (think manufacturing) storefronts, and it is– but what’s surprising is how “emerging” this specialized software still really is, and how few companies are really taking advantage of it right now.  Many outfits trying to manage their product data are still using home-built custom solutions, which is a tough option when you consider that one of the driving principles of most approaches to enterprise architecture is choosing to “buy” a supported product over “building” a custom solution that you need to support, update and modify yourself.
As recently as four years ago, I was involved with a project that essentially wrote a custom PIM system from scratch for a major high-tech manufacturing firm’s B2B operation.  At that time, neither the client nor my team at the time had a strong “buy” alternative.  It was a real eye-opener for me to join Perficient’s award-winning digital commerce practice and learn about our partnership with inRiver, a .NET-based PIM platform that plugs handily into major ERP systems as well as InSite Commerce and other B2B commerce providers.  Having a single, user-friendly interface for product managers and others to enter, update and manage product information nearly blew me away.
It’ll blow you away, too, if you’ve ever managed an e-commerce website trying to store product data in its CMS– or pull it in directly from an ERP system.  Having done both of those things myself at the turn of the century, it amazes me to see that for all the innovations in technology since then, many of the world’s largest companies are still doing exactly that.  They don’t have to.
Check out our guide to the value of PIM and see for yourself.  You’ll see pretty quickly why I ask every e-commerce client I talk to, “What are you doing for PIM?”  Because if you’re not doing something, you’re not only making life harder on your product managers– you’re missing a valuable opportunity to put better information onto the product pages your customers are seeing.  And moving more product as a result.
Don’t wait for the next season of Game of Thrones– download our PIM guide today and get started.

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Rich Wood

Rich Wood has been planning, designing and building enterprise solutions and internet sites with an emphasis on stellar user and customer experiences since 1997. Rich is a National Director for Content and Commerce Platform work in Perficient Digital. One of the rare breed of strategists to truly understand both the business needs of the customer and the platforms that serve them, he is a keen advocate for and accomplished speaker/writer on issues that surround that inflection point. His work has been published on CMSWire, Sitecore and Microsoft partner blogs, and his own LinkedIn page as well as our various blogs here at Perficient, and he has spoken at multiple major conferences including Microsoft's SharePoint Conference 2014. Married and a father of five, Rich enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette University.

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