Open Source (and its closely related brother: Open Core) has seen a surge of interest lately as business owners and developers alike have discovered the benefits of working with (and contributing to) open-source systems. But is it relevant for PIM as well?
What is an Open-Source Product Information Management System?
Choosing the best Product Information Management system should not begin by listing companies or doing our Quickscan, but with a fundamental question: should you choose an open-source or a Software as a Service (SaaS) PIM system?
Maybe you didn’t think about this till now, or you have just come across this issue while revising software specifications. What does it mean that a Product Information Management system is open-source, and what are its benefits and disadvantages for your company?
We’re here to help you by explaining what an open source Product Information Management system means when managing the product and catalog information of any retailer or eCommerce business.
What Exactly Is PIM?
A Product Information Management (PIM) system is used to collect, enrich, optimize and publish product information online in one place. This gives a lot of advantages to getting article information in order when it is used in multiple systems (omnichannel).
Managing information such as product descriptions, colors, images, videos, dimensions, and manuals is more efficient via a PIM than separately in each system or with Excel files. Your webshop and other systems retrieve this data from the PIM and display the correct product information. More information can be found in this article as well.
Why PIM and not Excel?
Do you like Excel? Probably you do (and even if you do not like it, you are probably using it anyway). Excel is free and flexible, but it also has its disadvantages. Excel has limitations in the areas of version management, quality control and linking to multiple systems. Why not transfer its best features to a Product Management System? So that you can effectively edit, delete and enrich product-content, without worrying about constant data refreshing problems, or performance?
What is an Open Source PIM?
Open-source software means that users are allowed to access the source code, so they can make any changes, additions, connections and any customizations they want. Of course, this is not a simple task and requires specialized developers with knowledge of the development language and the specific system. This holds even more true when it involves such a delicate system as a Product Information Management, which handles many references, channels, platforms and materials.
Free access to the code implies that the license is free, but working with open source systems also comes with a cost. There will be no licensing costs and your team will be free to modify the code to the taste or requirements of your company (of course, within legal limits). But if you wish to add new features or extensions, these plugins (and enabling their features) will frequently have a cost.
Types Of Open Source PIM
The open-source Product Information Management systems belong to the most modern and recently created PIMs, aimed at businesses that like to work with cutting edge technologies. Normally, these systems offer other complementary services such as Asset Management and Web Content Management to complete their users’ experience.
Pros And Cons Of An Open Source PIM
The main key of an open-source system is that it requires the presence of a developer or team that knows how to implement and manage the PIM. If you are a retailer with a small team or that lacks specialization in this type of code, managing an open-source can be tricky and carry many problems. In addition, the free thing should not mislead you, because the more complete you want your tool to be, the more resources you will need (either a bigger IT team or new extensions, integrators and complementary programs).
- The PIM adapts to you and not vice versa: you can configure the software according to the requirements of your product catalog, on any platform.
- Unlimited API connectors: you can add all the ones you need, not only those offered by the PIM system.
- More affordable licenses.
- Need for a senior IT team for implementation and customization.
- Difficulty finding extensions and connectors.
- Contract of complementary plugins for functions not included in the license.
- Absence of in-person training and some functions, such as Content Syndication.
Benefits of a PIM
When an organization is dealing with large quantities of products and a rapidly changing range that is used on multiple channels, the benefits of PIM is visible:
- A product is only entered once in one system.
- Products are all imported according to the same rules, which guarantees quality.
- The same optimized and complete information in every channel, with the right tone-of-voice.
- Less management and manpower to enter, less cutting and pasting.
- Less searching for information, there is more structure in the product data.
- In addition to digital, it can also be connected to print (via InDesign).
- Faster distribution of product information because systems are linked with a strict workflow.
- Prevent returns because a product’s information matches customer’s expectations.