In this article, we will delve a bit deeper into the similarities and differences between the two systems- in the hopes of clearing any questions you might have.
A frequent question we get asked at Pimvendors is: what exactly is the difference between a PIM and an ERP? We will get things clear for you. Naturally, if you still have any questions, feel free to send us an email!
As you know, ‘PIM’ stands for: ‘Product Information Management system’. Some of you might be thinking: ‘Wait, I have a product information section in my ERP. Why would I need to switch to a PIM?’ Well, when looking at it from a fundamental level; a system is nothing more than a structured collection of files. Look at a PIM as more of a (master) data maintenance system for your customer-facing product information, in contrast to a more generalized collection of raw product data. Also, a PIM is much more networking centered than an ERP and has certain functionalities and compatibilities which come in handy for this purpose.
For instance: PIM allows you to subscribe to incoming data sources; publish them to listening systems and maintain your data quality management (DQM) with more ease and oversight than possible with ERP. What this comes down to, is that you as producer, wholesaler or online retailer are able to centrally collect, process, and maintain product data as well as provide your partners and distributors with this information through various output channels and (online) media.
Furthermore, a PIM is specifically built to start subscribing to content from other sources and publish them to listening systems. This could be print, website(s), your native mobile commerce app or a marketplace. Even though this could also be done with an ERP, it would require considerably more effort, as the level of configurable automatization is lower than that of a PIM. Not only would you need extensive custom work done; there would be no guarantee it would keep working after an ERP upgrade, or change in interfacing systems.
On the other hand, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are more transactionally oriented. They are meant to structure and optimize your sales-related business products. Your ERP would be at the heart of your organizational processes, e.g. in control of your stock inventory and ledger.
If you have an ERP, a well-suited PIM is meant to be an expansion of its capabilities, and the synergy of both systems will significantly increase your process- efficiency and sales. If your ERP -as a leading system- is the general collection of raw product information; a PIM is able to receive, enrich and transfer that data for marketing and sales purposes. However, If you have a PIM as your leading system, the flow of data goes the other way around. A long-tail strategy will profit from this kind of set-up. The ERP will receive the sales from the eCommerce environment and is then able to absorb them into the bookkeeping.
The unique advantage that comes with a PIM is the possibility to introduce product taxonomies. As discussed in a different article (Taxonomy), the addition of product hierarchy and taxonomy in your product data allows for more efficient use of your website and helps you boost your ecommerce sales. Taxonomy lets you define product attributes, product grouping, automatic image-resizing and the incorporation of synonyms. An ERP is unable to dynamically group products based on differentiating attributes. What would be 7 different items in ERP, would just be one grouped item in a PIM.
There are many benefits of a PIM vis-à-vis ERP, but here are some of the most important ones:
A PIM is designed to be able to import and collect your product data from different sources;
A PIM allows you to normalize your data processing and monitoring, with the primary goal of increasing data quality;
A PIM enables you to export your product information through various channels, or their publications.
How do I find the best PIM?
We recommend that you would start thinking from your own eCommerce output. Where do you need your content most? Are you publishing on a website? An app? Digital marketplace? Furthermore, when selecting your PIM, it’s important to find one suited to other eCommerce systems, such as CMS and a configurable search engine.