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It’s a question we hear often from clients, but not often enough. Even though there are similarities, the difference between the PIM and MDM domains is quite stark. For most, however, the difference between PIM and MDM is unclear, 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 organisation. It covers multiple domains, such as customer-, product-, supplier- and location data. It’s focused on data inside the organisation.

Organisations frequently make use of specialised MDM tools to deploy MDM efficiently. These technologies may link the organisation’s many data sources to a centralised repository. This repository ensures the organisation’s many departments and systems use synchronised and consistent data.

The capacity of an MDM solution to create connections between various data kinds is one of its main benefits. For instance, organisations may get essential insights into consumer behaviour, preferences, and purchasing patterns by fusing customer and product data. This connection allows businesses to find new income prospects and make educated decisions.

The MDM solution makes integrating and harmonising data between various internal systems easier by serving as a middleware layer. It acts as a link, ensuring that data definitions and formats are uniform and consistent among different sources. The MDM tool assists organisations in achieving data consistency, correctness, and compliance by enforcing data governance policies and upkeep of data quality standards.

MDM offers businesses a robust platform for data-driven decision-making, operational effectiveness, and enhanced consumer experiences. Thanks to this, businesses may eliminate data silos, improve data cooperation, and realise the full potential of their essential data assets.

  PIM – Product Information Management

Product Information Management, on the other hand, focuses solely on the product domain. It is mainly externally focused: ensuring product information is consistently communicated to the customer across all channels.

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

Within a PIM Tool, it is possible to manage a complex product efficiently. It enables your organisation to maintain a product portfolio of many combinations and variations. Again to effortlessly present these complex products consistently 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 different colours across different sizes. At the core, this is one product (with one description, price, etc.) with a wide range of variants that differ in size and colour.

Another critical 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 a solution for Product Data Management.

Finally, though products can have unique attributes that differ across organisations, we see a trend toward industry-wide standard classifications. A growing number of standards are managed by centralised 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

Despite considerable overlap in the product domain, PIM (Product Information Management) and MDM (Master Data Management) are separate systems with different foci. In short, PIM systems help transmit product data to external channels, whereas MDM solutions help manage internal data sources and their interactions.


  • Emphasises the management of master data throughout an organisation.
  • Deals with various data types, including employee, supplier, and customer data.
  • Ensures data integrity, correctness, and consistency across the whole organisation.
  • Ensures compliance and data governance.
  • Ensures that master data has a single source of truth.


  • Concentrates on maintaining product information particularly.
    Enhances and centralises product data for efficient external channel connectivity.
  • Oversees the management of product characteristics, details, pictures, prices, and other pertinent data.
  • Effective administration of the product catalogue and distribution to various sales channels.
  • Increases consumer satisfaction by providing reliable and consistent product information.

While PIM and MDM systems are used to manage data, their main goals and functionality differ. While PIM aims to maximise the transmission of product information to external channels, MDM concentrates on managing internal data and preserving data quality throughout the organisation. By understanding these distinctions, organisations may choose the best system or set of systems to fulfil their unique data management requirements.

When contrasting PIM with MDM, there are a few more factors to take into account in addition to the key distinctions already mentioned:

  • Data domains covered by MDM generally go beyond goods and include customer, supplier, financial, and other data types. It strives to give a thorough overview of the critical data assets throughout the organisation. On the other hand, PIM systems are specialised in handling information about products and guaranteeing its correctness, totality, and accessibility.
  • Data Relationships: MDM strongly emphasises connecting various data items and hierarchies. It creates linkages and correlations between various data types to understand data interdependencies comprehensively. Conversely, PIM focuses primarily on organising and displaying product information for marketing, sales, and e-commerce reasons. However, it may also handle data connections within the context of items.
  • Data Governance: Data governance, which includes data quality management, data standards, data stewardship, and data policies, is heavily emphasised in MDM. It guarantees that all organisation-wide data satisfies predetermined standards and is trustworthy, reliable, and compliant. PIM mainly focuses on maintaining product-specific qualities and maximising the distribution of product information to external channels, even if it may include specific data governance features.
  • Target Audience and Use Cases: MDM solutions are designed to meet the needs of various stakeholders from different departments, such as IT, data governance teams, and business units. It provides the framework for data-driven decision-making and overall organisational operational effectiveness. Conversely, PIM mainly focuses on marketing, sales, and e-commerce teams that need precise and compelling product information to promote and sell client items.

Organisations may better understand MDM and PIM systems’ distinctive advantages and goals by considering these additional variables. They may choose the best solution or set of solutions to assist their data management activities based on their unique data management needs and business goals.


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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