Both B2B and B2C companies have learned over time that providing excellent information about a product is vital for the customer experience. However, producing good content can be difficult, particularly if you have a number of channels. It is vital to ensure good data quality, create a uniform user experience for customers in all channels and have a simple process for uploading data from a number of sources. “That is why PIM, or Product Information Management, has transformed most e-commence projects that we have worked on”, says Søren Handlos from Knowit Experience in Copenhagen.

“If you offer your customers a well-organised, uniform user experience, which enables them to make a purchase decision via your online store in the best possible way, we know that we have delivered”, says Handlos. “At the heart of this is product data, PIM,” says business developer Jan Georg Lehmann-Røed, who recently supplied a complete B2B PIM project to one of Norway’s leading breweries, Hansa Borg.

PIM enriches the parts that ERP could not reach
“Before PIM, we used Excel and often fell into the trap of expanding the ERP system to include fields for sales descriptions or took fields which were intended for a specific scenario and used them for something else. In many projects, this forced the ERP system to be something other than it actually was, i.e. a product information system. By introducing PIM, one leaves the ERP system to do what ERP systems do best, i.e. process product-critical details while PIM deals with information,” says Handlos.

“Regardless of whether you want to present your products to the general public or have a method where your employees can find all the information they need concerning a particular product for internal use, there is little doubt that PIM as a product information system reduces the complexity and makes everyday life simpler.

How has PIM changed the world?
“PIM systems help the world to centralise the product information that is to be presented both to end users and internally within the organisation. In an organisation where product information is spread throughout the organisation, a product information system will always be needed. Product information such as images, technical specifications, documents, translations, prices and other financial information are spread across different divisions and departments within the organisation. A PIM will collate and centralise this product information from the various isolated areas within the organisation in a single product information database which everyone can share.

“PIM can also streamline the day-to-day work of those who are involved with communication, marketing and product development, as the most recent versions of text, images, sizes and shared products are collected together in a single system. With PIM, a marketing department can manage larger and more changeable ranges in a shorter period of time and with better results. In a digital world with constantly changing screen sizes, resolutions, media and user behaviour, PIM will be a vital tool in the sharing of information,” explains Lehmann-Røed, drawing on his experiences of the PIM project carried out with Hansa Borg.

How has PIM changed our e-commerce projects?
“PIM has changed our approach to projects where we work directly with the products of our customers. We can now help customers directly with product histories, as customers can easily gain access to their PIM system without any need to take into account large security holes by giving the customer direct access to ERP information.

What is required of our customers? What form of ownership is it important to have?
“The customer must be involved in the process where the various entities that are to have a life-cycle in PIM are designed. The most common entities that are used are generally products, articles and resources. “It must be defined at an early stage what product types are to be used and what properties the products are to have. This must be defined so that there is a clear distinction between products and articles, ensuring that the information process is as painless as possible.

In most cases, it is also necessary to take responsibility for the importing and exporting of data to/from PIM. PIM is a tool for centralisation and product information, but the customer must define which channels and needs they have for their products,” concludes Søren Handlos.

Case

Hansa Borg’s PIM project resulted in even more satisfied drinkers

It was the need to safeguard data quality, create a uniform user experience for customers in all channels and have a simple process for uploading data from a number of sources that sparked the PIM project between Knowit and Hansa Borg.

“To reduce the time to market and secure data quality and good user experiences, Hansa Borg needed a central, reliable and controlled place where they could collate data concerning their products. This required a tool where users could easily work with data and where data processing is effective and error-free. At the same time, it had to be easy to distribute data via different channels, e.g. to online stores, apps and catalogues in a controlled manner,” says business developer Jan Georg Lehmann-Røed from Knowit.

Management challenge to systematise data in PIM
“The mapping was carried out in two thorough workshops involving ten people from across Hansa Borg’s organisation. For Hansa Borg, PIM is now a tool for both IT and sales, but it is actually just as important for the brand manager. Time to market and real-time updating helps everyone, including the customer and the customer’s customer, with consistent and accurate information.

“Hansa Borg managed to organise their product data, and in many cases now know better than the pub or bar what their customers prefer. Today, Hansa Borg tells a consistent and up-to-date story about their products in all channels and markets. In this way, Hansa Borg has strengthened its competitiveness in the battle for customers, because their customers, the drinkers, are now even more satisfied. All because Hans Borg now has an iron grip on its own product data.

Fact box:

The point of a PIM system is that it gives control over information, and makes the message that you are disseminating more consistent across different channels.

What is PIM (Product Information Management)?
By using PIM to streamline the production and maintenance of large quantities of product information, the business saves valuable time when selling via a number of channels.

PIM is a tool for marketers, product owners and product managers to create marketing and sales information relating to products and manage all product-related content (text, media, etc.) in one place. This information can then be distributed from the PIM system to different sales and marketing channels.

PIM systems also simplify the production of written material and catalogues. Large and small catalogues, printed advertising and much more can be produced in just a few clicks. The information in the PIM system is synchronised with Adobe Creative Suite, and the information in your marketing material is continually updated with the right information and characteristics for every single product. You will also avoid errors, as the PIM system contains the only information and the correct version of the product information.

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