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It’s a question we hear often from clients, but not often enough. Even though there are similarities between the two, the difference between the PIM and MDM domains is actually quite stark. For most, however, the difference between PIM and MDM is not entirely clear and they use the terms interchangeably.

But before we start comparing the two, let’s explore the two domains separately:

MDM – Master Data Management

Master Data Management covers the critical details of an organization. It covers multiple domains, such as customer-, product-, supplier- and/or location data. It’s focused on data inside the organization.

To link these different data sources inside an organization you need an MDM tool. It allows organizations to create a central repository with a single, consistent version of critical business information and data. This central repository covers more than just product data and allows you to link different kinds of data. For example: by linking customer- and product data to better understand customer behavior or identify revenue opportunities.

The MDM tool acts as ‘middleware’ by providing a central space to link multiple internal systems and maintaining predetermined definitions of data.

  PIM – Product Information Management

Product Information Management on the other hand focuses solely on the product domain. It is mainly externally focused: making sure that product information is communicated to the customer in a consistent way across all channels.

From a marketing perspective, it is important to showcase products visually in an attractive way, through both photos and videos. PIM (especially when supported through DAM – Digital Asset Management) makes it easy to present a rich and consistent product portfolio to the outside world, in print or through digital channels.

Within a PIM Tool, it is possible to manage a complex product in an efficient way. It enables your organization to maintain a product portfolio consisting of many combinations and variations. Again with the goal to effortlessly present these complex products in a consistent way across off- and online channels.

One of the focus areas of PIM is simplifying the management of variants. An example can be found in fashion, where one product can be sold in many different colors across many sizes. At the core, this is one product (with one description, price, etc) with a wide range of variants that differ in size and color.

Another important theme is managing relations and dependencies between products. Relationships can be alternatives, accessories, or linked replacement parts. All these relationships can be created and managed in a PIM. In this sense, a PIM is actually a solution for Product Data Management.

Finally, though products can have unique attributes that differ across organizations we see a trend toward industry-wide standard classifications. A growing number of standards are managed by centralized authorities such as GS1. A PIM can support you in adhering to these (industry-wide) classifications by generating templates for your product categories.

PIM versus MDM

As we’ve seen there are multiple important differences between Master Data Management and Product Information Management, even though they overlap in the product domain. In short: an MDM Tool helps you manage internal data sources and their relationships, while a PIM supports you in communicating your (product) data to external channels.


Want to learn more about PIM?

If you have any questions regarding Product Information Management, from PIM Selection to Implementation or how a PIM would fit in your IT landscape? Feel free to browse our Knowledge Base of articles on everything PIM related.

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