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PIM (Product Information Management) is still a nebulous concept for a lot of people. And it’s sometime difficult to understand why a dedicated tool is needed for catalog management. Here are five good reasons to think about PIM before starting your e-commerce project.
Reason #2 – Avoid spreadsheet nightmares
Without a PIM system, you will have three options to feed your e-commerce website with product information:
Plug your ERP directly to your e-commerce system
A lot of retailers (especially large ones) believe that everything they need in terms of product information is already in their ERP. Save yourself from disillusion or poor product pages: your ERP does not contain enough information to be used without human enrichment.
Enrich information within your e-commerce system
OK – if you don’t have enough data in your ERP, why not simply enrich it directly in the backend of your e-commerce system?
Well, even if tools like Magento have some quite intuitive and simple UI, they are not meant to be used for this kind of purpose. A simple example? When creating a new product in Magento, you have to give a value for every attribute identified as mandatory. If for some reason you don’t already have all the required values for a product (maybe because you don’t have the information yet from one of your suppliers), you won’t be able to create or save an incomplete product.
Let’s be clear on that point: it totally makes sense for a front-end tool like Magento to ask for complete product information, as you don’t want to display poor / inconsistent product pages to your customers. But if you cannot store some “work in progress” product information in your e-commerce system, how will you manage this enrichment work?
Enrich information within spreadsheets
This is usually where Excel comes into the picture. Because spreadsheets often look like a reasonable approach to not waste time on enrichment: everyone knows how to use them and it should not be too complex to import data from Excel into your e-commerce system.
And although it may be a good fit for small and simple catalogs, it will mostly be where a never-ending pain begins for a lot of merchants… To adapt spreadsheets to your own data model (attributes, families, etc.), you will have to make them more complex or multiply them quickly. Experience shows that even for a small catalog, you will end up struggling with dozens of files containing 20+ columns, thousands of lines and multiples tab.
Using a PIM from day one could help you avoid those concerns. A PIM system is not an additional tool for managing your product contents. It is a necessary tool for your own good.
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