ERP vs PIM - Which System Should Lead in 2020 and Beyond?
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By: Sagar Sharma

ERP vs PIM - Which System Should Lead in 2021 and Beyond?

ERP vs PIM is an interesting topic to discuss and many people often seem to be confused between ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and PIM (Product Information Management). The fact is both ERP and PIM serve different purposes but under one category i.e. data management.

Most of us are familiar with ERP software, which organizes and collects business data through an integrated software suite. It integrates data of all the departments functioning in a business, such as accounts, human resources, production, sales, marketing, and more.

What is PIM?

What-is-PIM

PIM stands for product information management that acts as an end-to-end solution for integrating your product database with your eCommerce, social, and marketing channels for customers to view it effortlessly.

Be it you are a producer, wholesaler, or retailer, you can centrally collect, process, and manage product data as well as deliver your partners and distributors with the available information using several outputs and online channels through PIM.

PIM can be used dedicatedly to subscribe to content from external sources and publish it to multiple channels such as print, website(s), a native mobile commerce app, or a marketplace.

Capabilities of a PIM

Now that you know how PIM is extremely different from ERP, and it is important to provide high-quality information through content/catalog, it is necessary to know the benefits that PIM can offer to you.

  • Product Information Management is completely automatized
  • Easy management of related product content
  • Connects to other systems in a unidirectional and bi-directional manner
  • Straight access to digital and printed catalog design applications
  • Uses multiple file-formats for specific data export
  • Automated connection with Amazon, AliExpress Walmart, etc. like marketplaces
  • Automated connection with Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, etc. which are the best and giant eCommerce platforms
  • Enables creation of instant catalogs using a public or private access
  • Language translation of product information
  • Analysis and shooting of errors and omissions in data quality

Benefits of PIM

  • Offers User-Friendly Environment
  • Delivers Better Product Data Management
  • Improves Customer Experience
  • Reduced business operations and supply chain costs
  • Improved product time-to-market
  • Easy to Integrate with Business Enterprise Systems
  • Maintain product data consistency and quality across all the output channels

Want to know more about the benefits of PIM? Read What Are the Benefits of PIM (Product Information Management) Systems?

Factors That You Should Not Confuse with PIM?

Factors-That-You-Should-Not-Confuse-with-PIM

1. Do not mistake PIM as inventory manager

An inventory manager takes the responsibility of monitoring the warehouse materials, catalog stock levels, and supplies. The primary responsibility of an inventory manager would be updating information about product stock and the recent status of orders and warehouses. In this way, the inventory manager ensures the availability of product data across the online store, marketplaces, physical stores, and other sales channels.

2. A PIM is never a CRM

CRM is ideally designed for customer service teams to manage the customer database, especially for buyer data. However, PIM also plays a crucial role in customer acquisition and loyalty by providing accurate and product information and relevant content, to positively influence your customer’s browsing and buying experience.

3. Do not confuse PIM with DFM

Data feed manager is an extension which spreads the company’s catalog across multiple shopping platforms and search engines, thereby servicing e-marketing campaigns as well. In this platform, a PIM passes on the required information to DFM and collates all product information, orders, sales, and stock across various marketplaces.

What is ERP?

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) one of the software tools widely used by industrial organizations for centralizing their company’s database information and to make their business operations in a simplified manner.

Apart from that, the ERP tool helps organizations to automate their routine tasks and optimizes the employee’s work time. The main objective of this software tool is to increase the company’s revenue and to boost work efficiencies.

Capabilities of ERP

  • ERP solution offers strong financial features which that companies/industries can ensure meeting their financial goals
  • With the ERP system, the company’s Human Resource department can avail of high benefits with full scope.
  • Managing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) becomes easier with the ERP tool.
  • ERP system helps management to keep everything happening inside the organization up-to-date. This includes both back and front office functions.
  • The advanced features of the ERP solution help your business to move faster with effective sales and marketing along with better supply chain management (SCM).

Benefits of ERP

  • Enhances Business Reporting
  • Improved Customer Service
  • Enhances Business Cash Flow
  • High-level Cloud & Data Security
  • Standardize Modern Business
  • Delivers Effective Supply Chain Management

Type of Data Hosted in ERP

  • Product manufacturing
  • Inventory
  • Human Resources i.e. employees and recruitment process
  • Company accounting
  • Big data and business performance analytics
  • Warehouse and distribution network
  • Customer database, the key to Customer Relationship Management

PIM vs ERP – A Complete Analysis

PIM is completely product information-oriented and for direct customer-facing, and ERP is more transactionally oriented. ERP can nicely structure and optimize your sales-related business, and if your organization has more processes like ledger maintenance and stock inventory.

In simple words, a compatible PIM provides extended support in maximizing the capabilities you have created in ERP for your business. When both ERP and PIM functions together, it improves the efficiency and sales of your business. ERP can collect all the raw data of your business and integrate the information across all departments of your organization for internal purposes.

Well if you look at ERP from the high level, it is just a structured collection of files. ERP provides the collection of raw product data more of a generalized view, whereas PIM is more of a data maintenance system that allows your customers to view direct product information in an integrated manner.

Compared to ERP, PIM has a customer-centric approach towards networking, along with exhibiting certain functionalities and compatibilities that are available by default. A simple way to understand ERP vs PIM is with PIM you can subscribe to incoming data sources, produce them to listening systems and ensure your data quality management with more ease, thereby making monitoring possible through ERP.

A PIM has a high potentiality to receive, transfer, and enrich the data for marketing and sales purposes and ensures a unified approach to all vendors, marketers, wholesalers, etc. With PIM ineffective, the ERP receives the sales from the online channels which are later recorded in bookkeeping.

Even though the product management can be done using ERP, it requires great effort since the level of automatization required for configurations is lower than that required for a PIM. It may either end up in extreme customized work or may not work properly even after an ERP upgrade or change in interfacing systems.

ERP vs PIM is a never-ending war unless you understand from the deep down of its concept. ERP focuses on collecting data of every department in an organization and makes it available across teams for better productivity and business growth, with ease of accessing internal data.

PIM focuses more on product information and ensures any disparate data of ERP is also captured and listed chronologically, enabling product teams to work and collaborate on different types of data displayed for customer’s view with high quality.

How PIM can help ERP to be fit for purpose around product data?

1. Playing competitively equal to each other’s strengths

ERPs are an essential source to input static data into the software. You can use ERP for filling stock and analyze the whereabouts of products. But forcing it to do the things that it does not fit into can create problems. While PIM gives complete freedom to ERP to focus on its purpose, it takes the responsibility of all rich product data like images, videos, technical specifications, PDFs, and detailed product descriptions.

PIM is a beneficial solution in terms of time management and sales aspects as well. Businesses need not spend time tracking product information within the ERP; instead, it is now within the platform itself. Since the sales data appear unique to your company, you can easily focus on higher sales conversions by differentiating your competitors easily.

2. Streamlining data as a single database

Sometimes ERP can be quite complicated because some companies tend to work with multiple ERPs to maintain their product information. Therefore, it becomes a costly solution since the data is spread across areas. Along with that, the company has to bear the implementation, customer support, software price, and the cost of training. Additionally, running multiple ERPs can lead sometimes to the loss of data as well.

This is where PIM streamlines the process by centralizing all disparate data into a single location.

3. Enhances the quality of product data

PIM allows viewing the entire lifecycle of a product from the beginning to the end in every small aspect. PIM ensures a product goes through all stages; it has to be covered through text, images, videos, or more and passes on to the relevant teams step by step and provides an accomplished product data, distributing to all sales channels in a limited time period.

4. Opportunities for new sales channels

Another way to show that PIM can be the best fit for ERP is the expansion of new sales channels. PIM performs exceptionally well by linking its platforms to various eCommerce systems, resellers, and retailers. Sales channels can claim huge benefits by doing so. For example, a technology retailer can think of selling their software/hardware on Amazon, but unfortunately, their ERP system may not allow the functionality to open a new channel.

By integrating PIM with ERP, the seller can easily place their product on Amazon. Moreover, multiple brands can distribute a plethora of their products quickly by implementing PIM in their system and help increase online conversions extremely well.

Final Verdict

Depending on your business need, you can have either PIM/ERP or both in the system, to boost sales and ensure higher online conversions. However, PIM is one step ahead of ERP by performing diversified functionalities. Having PIM implemented in your system can help streamline the entire product data collectively in a single database.

Keep reading our blogs for more information or clarifications of PIM if you are stuck in the middle and need some help.

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