As a company, you have encountered growing obstacles in expanding your products portfolio and bringing it in front of your customers, and finally decided that it is time for you to take things to the next level and start using a PIM. You made a research on available PIM solutions and now have a shortlist. The next step? Booking a demo for each of them, to see with your own eyes what they look like, how they work and, most importantly, how they can best serve your company's purposes.
We thought it would be useful for you to have a few topics ready in your discussion with a PIM specialist, if you don't have them already. Here are our suggestions:
1. How will your PIM help me handle the future growth of my company?
Be sure to ask your PIM
provider about the scalability of their solution.
PIM must help you grow. And for sure one thing it must not do, is impose limitations of any kind on your growth perspectives.
Your product data will only grow in volume, and sometimes this growth can be exponential. A well designed PIM must not falter going from a thousand items with tens of thousands of product attributes, to over a hundred thousand items with millions of product attributes. Usually a PIM system will place no theoretical limit on how much data it can handle, and most businesses will be served just fine by most PIMs. But if your product range comprises above average data volumes, ask for a test with a big volume of programatically generated product data.
Another important aspect not to be forgotten, is that you should have no limitations in the number of sales channels allowed by the PIM. And if your company is international or you plan to go to new markets in other geographies, then don't forget to ask about the scalability of multiple-language product information that the PIM allows.
Ask for a demo environment where you will be able to test the various PIM features for yourself.
2. How will your PIM help me improve customer satisfaction?
Improving customer satisfaction has to be one of the main reasons why anybody would consider using a PIM. That is because any PIM solution has to:
a) ensure data quality through internal checks that look at such parameters as completeness, consistency and accuracy; data quality assurance is a main feature of any good PIM solution
b) ensure that relevant product data is delivered to the relevant channels as fast as you need them there, so that they are always up-to-date and provide all needed data points for the customer to take an informed buying decision; an added bonus is that complete and correct information that the customer sees at buying time will mean less returns on your sales further down the line
c) enable your company to access new sales and marketing channels
Discuss all these things with your PIM provider.
3. How does your PIM handle digital assets?
By 'digital assets' various people may understand various things. Many will only understand that it's about file-level data that you can attach to your products (images, data sheets, safety compliance sheets, graphics, videos, or other types of files describing the product). Others will include in the digital assets category everything you can take into consideration when evaluating the scalability of the systems that will manage your product information, including: number of SKUs safely handled by the system, product attributes or description limits, number of storage locations and if there is any limit in the number of languages the system supports.
Whatever your understanding of the 'digital assets' term, your PIM will need to place no limitations on all above parameters, or at least on those that you deem important for your business.
4. How does your PIM connect with my other IT systems and with online platforms?
This is a very important aspect to take into consideration, as a PIM will always have big data volumes coming in from various systems, and data just as big and important going out to sales or marketing channels. You will need to integrate your PIM with existing systems (ERP, CMS, webshops or e-commerce platforms) and with possible future implementations of these that you may consider going to. For example, you now use SAP but consider switching to a different ERP in the not-so-distant future. Or you currently have a locally-sourced webshop platform, but for maintenance and future-proofing reasons you consider upgrading to a more established flavor like Sana, Magento or Shopify. It is important to find out about PIM's connectivity with your current setup as well as its flexibility to handle your future connectivity needs. The cost and duration of such future customisations should be discussed upfront.
Also, ask about API connectivity. Any modern PIM system should provide such an interface for exchanging information with other systems. API connectivity should ideally be fast and ready for real-time data updates should your sales channels require it.
5. How can your PIM facilitate overtaking product information in bulk?
Sometimes you find yourself faced with large volumes of product information that your system has to ingest in a timely manner and with as little manual intervention as possible, so that the PIM stage in your data processing will help shorten your time-to-market. Your PIM has to be able to import large data files from your suppliers. If your business belongs to an industry where specific data exchange formats are used, like BMECat or DataNorm, your PIM will need to support those formats also.
In importing bulk data, you need to be able to choose a subset of the items that you will find in a vendor-supplied file, or a subset of the product attributes that it contains, in any configuration that you think is optimal for your business.
6. Are there any prerequisites to a PIM implementation?
Any PIM that you may consider using will need certain preparation steps, mainly concerning your product data but not only. You may even need to operate a few organizational changes upon going the PIM route. So yes, this is a topic worth discussing well in advance with your PIM provider as it will give you the chance to be prepared for the transition to PIM and make this a success by using it to its full potential. The training provided by the PIM supplier will also need to be a topic, as it can make or break the success of your PIM implementation.
For a quick and smooth transition to PIM, the project must be a high priority with proper management and strategy. You can find more details in our blog article about getting ready for the PIM implementation process.