There’s no denying the critical function of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) when it comes to the visibility and management of product sales. You may rely on such a system for everything from the organisation of product data to the analysis of sales reports. However, it’s a mistake to rely solely on the ERP management of your daily operations and customer communications.
The balanced integration of a Product Information Management (PIM) system will be essential whether you’re planning on switching to another ERP system or upgrading your existing ERP. The use of such an integrated system will make the switch or upgrade that much easier when it comes to the handling and migration of product data. And it will ensure the streamlined management and flow of your product data to the customer channels.
Keep on reading as we explore the reasons for making the transition with a PIM system.
ERP or PIM as a leading system?
Great reasons to implement a PIM next to your ERP
An ERP is purposefully designed for the management of internal business data. However, it is insufficient for the processing of promotional material such as textual product descriptions and media files. That’s where a PIM can make all the difference. Such a system enables the efficient management of marketing aspects including product descriptions, technical features, and associated media. Providing user-friendly options for marketing channel processing, it is ideally suited to integration alongside an ERP system.
Here are some of the functions that you can perform with a best-in-breed PIM:
- Define and update product hierarchies
- Integrate an unlimited number of object types and attributes
- Categorise products across a variety of channels and catalogues per channel
- Use in-built tools for the cleansing and enhancement of product data
- Make collective or localised data updates as needed
- Store a range of assets including product images, manuals, and schematics
- Publish product information in a range of languages.
Given the capacity for the organisation and publication of essential product information, it’s advisable to implement a PIM either in advance or alongside your ERP. The PIM may then be used for the management of external product communication across individual ‘touchpoints’, while the ERP allows you to look after internal and commercial processes.
The connection of the ERP and PIM is a no-hassle process, with standard connectors enabling the flow of information in both directions.
Having implemented a PIM system you won’t be reliant on a specific ERP. Nor will you depend on such platforms as the CMS or InDesign for the handling of product information. The specific data model and product data of your business will be generated and managed within the PIM system (rather than the platforms themselves). And it will be transferred to each of the other systems via the PIM.
Why it’s not a case of ERP vs PIM
To further illustrate the importance of the PIM let’s consider how the management of your business data will play out if you opt for an exclusive ERP system implementation. While the ERP may give you confidence in the central management of your business data, you will inevitably find it ill-suited to the processing of product content.
There’s a greater risk of your product data being disorganised if you don’t have a PIM system in place. This could lead to content being misplaced or lost, with a negative impact on the customer experience. There’s likely to be a negative impact on sales and customer loyalty if you aren’t able to ensure the consistency of product marketing.
No matter how advanced your chosen ERP may be, it will not allow flexibility or granularity in the organisation and optimisation of product information. You can expect an immense challenge whether attempting to increase the length of a product description or alter a data field parameter within such a system. And you’ll be frustrated by the difficulty of publishing product information across a variety of customer-facing platforms.
Thankfully it’s possible to combine the processing of your core data, processes, and software through the dual adoption of PIM and ERP systems. Working in perfect sync, these systems enable you to transfer valuable real-time data to your marketing teams and achieve the best customer experience.
You can rely on a PIM for:
- Collection of core data, including names, SKUs, UPCs etc.
- Storage of product specifications such as weights, colours, and sizes
- The transfer of digital data into marketing assets
- Track inventory
- Monitor and use the CRM for customer behaviors and journeys
- Centralise customer data
- Identify billing and payment issues
A case in point
As an example, let’s consider the case of Damstahl, the global leading wholesalers of stainless steel. Their chosen ERP system didn’t have enough data fields for the range of steel products being bought and sold. More dimensional attributes were required for the support of their webshop and catalog - an issue that’s bound to be familiar to the community of ecommerce retailers.
Damstahl made the smart decision of implementing the Perfion PIM prior to their ERP upgrade. This allowed for data-based discussions with all those involved and impacted by the ERP and PIM project. Synergies could be created, with data being handled simultaneously across each system. They were also able to categorise and separate data between the PIM and ERP system, avoiding any duplication in the process. They have been able to process data simultaneously across both systems.
"We are excited about the way that the Perfion PIM system enables us to filter data and display it in views that would never be possible in an Excel sheet, for example. Getting PIM in place early in the ERP upgrade process has enabled us to benefit from working with data once instead of handling the same data twice."
Those of you keen to enjoy the combined benefits are advised to follow the Damstahl example and begin the process of PIM implementation as early as possible in your ERP upgrade project. This will mean that you’re able to take advantage of enhanced product information processing and ensure that the bulk of the data migration work is done before the new ERP is fully integrated.
Contact Perfion to discuss the dual implementation of the best-of-breed PIM with your new or updated ERP.
Download the guide:
ERP or PIM as a leading system?
As there is always overlap between PIM and ERP, finding a balanced approach between the two systems is crucial for your daily operations and communication with your customers.
There are two main scenarios: either ERP or PIM is the primary system.
In this guide we lead you through the selection process.