PIM vs. PDM: What is a Product Information Management System?

Last updated on September 26th, 2022 at 12:04 pm

If you are in the ecommerce business, you know how difficult it is to maintain an ever-expanding product catalog. As your company grows, so does your list of SKUs, product descriptions, and pricing.

You may have come across product management systems such as PIM and PDM in your research. But what do these systems help you achieve?

The mounting product data has the potential to get out of hand quickly. And if you’re expanding to new target demographics or engagement channels, you’ll need to adapt to new pricing and product messaging. Adding suppliers with their own product catalogs and product data is another complexity to consider.

Organizing this data manually is a tedious, expensive, and error-prone operation. If you don’t have a system in place to compile this product information into a single source for your marketing, sales, and customer success teams, you may not be able to keep up.

You risk sharing outdated or blatantly incorrect information with potential customers.

How do you manage growing product information effectively? You need the proper product information tools to facilitate a seamless experience from start to finish.

Keep reading to learn about PIM vs. PDM and the benefits these systems may offer your ecommerce business.

What is PDM?

Product data management (PDM) is a data management system that uses software to organize, process, and control product data. This is achieved while culling data in a centralized location.

The system brings all pieces of data together, such as computer-assisted design (CAD) and other data such as product models, parts, instructions, and notes.

Furthermore, PDM software can be integrated into other business processes, creating an extensive software ecosystem. This allows you to compile a complete, structured database, which will expand as your product lifecycle management progresses.

PDM system features and benefits

All of your company’s teams can benefit from a PDM system, including engineers, quality control teams, project managers, purchase managers, and salespersons.

A PDM system can offer several advantages to your company, such as:

  1. A PDM system allows any member of an organization to easily and efficiently find accurate and up-to-date information they need to perform their jobs.
  2. PDM systems minimize errors and associated development costs as much as possible.
  3. These benefits lead to improved productivity while the product’s lifecycle is reduced.
  4. PDM software can also improve your value chain and optimize the operational resources of your business.
  5. PDM systems facilitate collaboration between global teams and offer the visibility (and single source of truth) required for adequate decision-making.

A PDM can offer your company multiple options for managing product data and information, but it has drawbacks. You may benefit more from a product information system (PIM) in most cases.

What is PIM?

PDM systems have many benefits but cannot specialize in all products, limiting their usefulness for some purposes. While they adequately serve engineering and executive positions, they do not fully address the needs of sales- and marketing-related positions.

For example, when companies manage a lot of product information, customer data, and files from different sources, they often transfer them through multiple systems. Product information management (PIM) systems help businesses collect, analyze and distribute product data through various sources.

PIM offers a higher level of efficiency and specialization when it comes to managing product data. It not only organizes large amounts of data but does so in an optimized way. When it comes to maximizing resources, information, people, and resources, a PIM system is a perfect tool.

As you likely know, managing data is one of the biggest challenges ecommerce companies face, especially with an expanding product catalog. Therefore, using tools that help manage product data efficiently is essential.

This is why PIM systems have become one of today’s most highly-demanded solutions.

Most ecommerce platforms, CRM systems, and ERP software integrate with PIM solutions. This integration leads to product information that is up-to-date and more accessible across your organization.

For ecommerce businesses with products that change frequently, centralized data is particularly useful because it allows them to adapt business models and messaging quickly.

PIM systems are sometimes confused with other product management software, such as product experience management (PXM) tools, master data management (MDM) solutions, content management systems (CMS), and product data management (PDM) platforms.

PIM system features and benefits

A strong product information structure is essential for managing an expansive catalog of products and SKUs. A PIM solution helps you manage complex product lifecycle processes by efficiently managing product information such as:

Basic product data

PIM systems capture basic product data, such as SKUs, universal product codes (UPCs), product titles, article numbers, and other attributes.

Product assets

Customers are more likely to purchase a product when the description includes videos or pictures of it in use. Robust PIM software can store videos, digital images, and other assets that communicate how products are used.

Product taxonomy

Some products are manufactured to be complementary to other products. With PIM software, you can easily catalog product taxonomy, including relationships, variations, and any categories that make up your company’s product structure.

Technical information

You likely review product information for details first when you purchase a product. For example, if you’re adding a t-shirt to your cart, you probably consider its size, color, fabric, and materials.

All of this information, in addition to complex product information such as measurements, weight, and warranties, would be stored in a PIM system.

Localized information

If your company operates in more than one region, you may need product language that is specific to those regions. PIM systems can organize copy translated into multiple languages, regional currency information, and other data to help you provide a seamless customer experience.

Marketing data

Your company’s product marketing data can include keywords, customer personas, and SEO information such as mobile-friendly descriptions, Google categories, and Amazon ASIN codes. It’s easier to stay on top of and update this data over time with a PIM.

Product pricing

Arguably one of the most critical data points to get right is pricing. PIM software stores product pricing alongside customer reviews and testimonials that your team can use to promote products in various places.

Design information

To provide a seamless customer experience, you should display your products consistently with the rest of your business’s branding. Your PIM can be configured to store marketing notes and style guides to ensure your marketing campaigns align with your creative direction.

Emotional information

Another essential data point to collect is what emotional connections your customers make with your products. A PIM can organize data related to product imagery, customer personas, targeted product descriptions, and more.

Who uses a PIM system?

Many different types of businesses use PIM systems, including:

  • Small businesses: When you store data in a centralized location, it’s easier to share it with retailers, partners, and customers
  • Marketplaces and online retailers: PIM software makes it easier to add new product categories and support geographic expansion
  • Manufacturers: PIM tools can speed up the time-to-market of products while reducing the costs related to product information creation (which may lower your pricing)

Why use PIM vs. PDM?

While both PDM and PIM benefit all departments within an organization, PIMs take it a step further.

PIM software acts as a centralized hub for all of your product information, which can benefit your brand in many ways. It helps you coordinate product launches, reduce onboarding employee time, open new business channels, and design marketing campaigns.

By automating many of these processes, your team can spend more time bringing more products to market and finding new ways to engage potential customers.

Reliable data

Data coming into a PIM system is de-duped, assigned a category, and inserted into the correct location within the PIM catalog.

PIM administrators can set up rules for prioritizing different types of information so that PIM users always see the most recent version of each piece of information. This lowers the risk of using out-of-date or incorrect information when creating marketing materials with deprecated products, obsolete specifications, or incorrect prices.


Often, your sales team has to wait for the marketing team to disseminate product marketing materials that are targeted to the average customer. When using a PIM, your sales team can choose from multiple approved product descriptions to design a sales proposal specific to a target prospect.

Personalization is possible by selecting a product and using a template and pricing structure they feel is a good fit for their sales target.

Omnichannel experiences

Brands often employ an omnichannel strategy to reach out to their customers across multiple channels. This can quickly become a product for product marketers—especially if you’re not using an efficient way to organize product data.

Managing product data for each channel is much easier when using a PIM. You can assign product assets to a hierarchy of catalogs and then match them with product campaigns. This allows your marketing team to launch new content quickly with on-demand changes.

Centralized product information

One of the significant benefits of a PIM tool is that it organizes disparate data within a business system while guaranteeing the accuracy and quality of information throughout the product lifecycle.

A centralized product database helps enhance the efficiency of sales and market­ing departments while helping businesses create a better product catalog without cluttering up their ERP systems.

Improved marketing efforts

PIM allows marketers to combine and use product data to build more effective commercial campaigns. Brands can use improved specifications to prepare messaging with greater detail, leverage customer data more efficiently, and use targeted information to develop personalized campaigns.

With all of this data at your fingertips, your marketing team can test endless combinations of products, videos, images, titles, and attributes to see what approach performs best.

What information does a PIM system store?

Typically, PIM solutions store everything related to the product, including its descriptions, configurations, taxations, compositions, technical details, software versions, and other types of associated information.

PIM systems can also store rich media files (such as videos, images, or product documentation). The following points of data can be stored in a PIM application:

  • Basic product data: UPC, MPN, ASIN, GTIN, model name, product images
  • Rich content: Reasons-to-buy, product story, bullet points, PDFs, videos, manuals, guides
  • Marketing information: Short marketing description, warranty notes.
  • Product specifications: Material, product color, product weight, hazardous warnings, product dimensions, package dimensions, package weight

Depending on your specific business, the type of products you sell, and your individual needs, you may have different types of information that need to be managed by a PIM.
>How to choose a product information management tool

There are countless PIM solutions available at every price point. However, it’s vital not to make a quick decision, as you need one that is best for your particular use case.

Here are some best practices when choosing a PIM system:

  • Find a tool that best fits your specific demands by making a list of requirements before proceeding to the next phase.
  • Determine if the system is compatible with your ecommerce channels and existing platforms (anywhere you sell on or gather data from). If not, does the software offer custom integrations with your third-party services?
  • Any worthwhile PIM must be flexible enough to support you through unexpected repositioning or significant business growth.
  • Make sure any PIM you choose is user-friendly so that your employees will be comfortable enough to use it daily.

Importance of a good product information management system

While a PIM system will benefit any business, it’s especially helpful for those with complex products, a large product catalog, or an omnichannel sales strategy.

With a PIM in place, you can democratize product data, so your teams are equipped with the data needed to do their jobs effectively. You need a premier PIM platform to decrease your time to market and increase customer engagement.

Are you ready to explore the benefits of a comprehensive ecommerce solution that creates a seamless flow of data across your existing platforms? Talk with an expert at Flxpoint today.

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