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Oct 12, 2020

4 Reasons PIM is better than MDM when it comes to product data

From PIM to MDM to DAM to ERP and everything in between, there are enough data management solutions (and enough acronyms) to make your head spin...


Master Data Management




From PIM to MDM to DAM to ERP and everything in between, there are enough data management solutions (and enough acronyms) to make your head spin. So, we’ve come with a series of blogs designed to help you make sense of it all, and find the right data solution to fit your needs. First up, Master Data Management, or MDM. 

Data, we’ve been told, is the new oil, the new gold, even the new bacon.

No matter what it may be, we can all agree that it’s crucial to the success of your business, and you’ll need to manage it properly to realize that potential. If you lack the right solution to help you handle, interpret, enrich, and distribute that data, it won’t matter how much information you have, your business will still struggle to succeed in the modern world.

So, where to begin? It can be tempting to find a one-size-fits-all solution to manage all of your information, and Master Data Management solutions can seem appealing for just this reason. But, is an MDM solution the right fit for your business and its data needs? Not if you’re planning to use it to manage product information. In that case, you need a PIM, or Product Information Management solution.

Why is PIM better than MDM when it comes to managing product data? Allow us to explain.

Built-in connectivity

Gone are the days of simply having a brick-and-mortar store or a printed catalog as a merchant’s only sales channel. Instead, sellers need to meet their customers where they are — namely, everywhere. The number of channels used by both B2C and B2B buyers is on the rise, with some researchers estimating that the average consumer uses an average of six different channels when researching and buying products, while 67% of B2B purchases were influenced by digital channels. 

That’s why a good PIM solution will offer no shortage of connections to a wide range of channels, including eCommerce stores, multi-vendor marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba, print catalogs and other materials, even social media. This makes it easier to ensure that all of your product information is accurate, complete, and consistent, while also helping to control enrichment costs and get your products to market more quickly. MDM solutions, on the other hand, are typically used to provide a common data record for internal operational and analytical systems. They do not generally contain the level of product information required for an ecommerce shop, a print catalog, or a marketplace listing. And as a result, few if any MDM systems offer pre-built connectors to those selling platforms.

Attribute-supporting strength

Modern consumers aren’t just using more channels than ever before, they also want to know more about your products than ever before. They want to know what size it is, what color it is, what materials went into making it — and much, much more. According to Retail Dive, 87% of customers went online to research products before making purchasing decisions last year. That’s why it’s crucial that any solution you plan to use to manage product data be able to handle hundreds, if not thousands, of attributes.

When it comes to managing large amounts of product attributes, PIM has the competition beat. PIM solutions are typically able to handle a huge volume of product data attributes covering technical data, usage data, and emotional data often delivered in rich product descriptions, images, and much more. This information varies often depending on the channel and the local market. PIM solutions help improve your product experience by making it easier than ever for your customers to find what they’re looking for. MDM solutions, meanwhile, are built to handle no more than a few dozen product attributes needed to identify a SKU. They often manage technical data but are not built to handle narrative text like usage data and rich, emotional product descriptions, leaving your customers looking for more information and likely moving on to the competition.

Digital asset aptitude

Attributes are just the beginning, however. If you want to succeed in the omnichannel age, you need to allow customers to see your product in action or get an inside look at how your product functions via digital assets like photos or videos. This is especially true as competition becomes all the more fierce on digital channels — in fact, recently published research indicates that the majority of consumers use these digital assets when they make purchasing decisions.

When it comes to digital asset management, there’s no question which solution is superior. Unlike most MDM systems, a strong PIM solution will include asset management capabilities that are designed to help your team more efficiently and effectively manage digital assets alongside product information. These asset management capabilities are designed to offer flexibility while also making it easier to organize, manage, and transform your assets. They can also help enable linking capabilities to support different needs in different channels, and a dedicated asset library to help you easily visualize all your digital assets.

Superior supplier onboarding and management

Managing product information isn’t just about organizing and enriching data generated by internal sources, of course. It’s also crucial that any solution that you use to manage product information be able to handle data from external manufacturers and distributors — but that’s often easier said than done. Managing product information from suppliers can be a time-and-resource-consuming process even when it involves existing suppliers, and introducing new suppliers to the equation only results in more friction, which can lead to errors and a slow time-to-market.

Simply put, most MDM systems lack the ability to help manage product data submitted from suppliers. Good PIM solutions, on the other hand, will be able to easily and efficiently onboard and manage supplier data. Top-of-the-line solutions will even make it easy for suppliers to provide product information directly to you, in the format you need, without having to go through the painful, time-consuming manual process of editing Excel sheets, copying and pasting data, and manually reviewing and approving their submissions. The results? Better and easier collaboration with suppliers, faster time-to-market, and better product experiences for your customers.

Choosing the right solution for your business

So what’s the right product data solution for your business? This is just a short list of some of the key differences between a PIM and a multi-domain MDM system. PIM is a dedicated, business-centric marketing solution that offers a much faster deployment and quicker ROI than its more intrusive, complex, and expensive enterprise-wide MDM system cousin. If you’re looking to enable marketing and merchandising teams to increase sales via omnichannel expansion, create great product experiences, expand your product catalog to carry new products, or manage digital assets, then you want a PIM.

Want to learn more about the world of product information management? Discover the sweet science of product experience management with our eBook, PXM for Dummies, or discover the secrets of PIM success with our customer stories!

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