An Insightful Guide to Building Vs Buying a PIM Solution

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By: Manish Shewaramani

An Insightful Guide to Building Vs Buying a PIM Solution

Having recognized the need for their organization to integrate a PIM platform, retail businesses are now faced with a critical decision – to build or to buy. Building a PIM system offers unparalleled customization and control but comes with the challenges of development time and ongoing maintenance.

On the other hand, buying a PIM solution provides a quicker route to implementation, vendor support, and regular updates, albeit with potential limitations in customization. While both options present their own set of advantages and drawbacks, we firmly assert that, for the majority of organizations, opting for a readymade PIM solution from a vendor is the clear preference.

Allow us to elucidate why we believe so. From assessing individual business needs to considering long-term scalability, we will delve into the intricacies of each option to help you make an informed and strategic decision for your organization’s unique requirements.

The Build Vs Buy Decision

Before diving deep into the pivotal decision of building or buying a PIM solution, let’s explore a concise comparison highlighting key factors to help you make an informed choice.

ScalabilityCustom solutions may require significant adjustments for scalability.Many pre-built solutions are designed to scale effortlessly with growing data and business needs.
Third-Party IntegrationsRequires building integrations and connections to other systems.Established vendors often have an ecosystem with pre-built integrations, easing connectivity with other business applications.
Support & MaintenanceInternal team responsible for ongoing support and maintenance, potentially leading to longer resolution times.Solution providers offer dedicated support and regular updates, ensuring optimal performance and quicker issue resolution.
CostInitial costs may appear lower, but TCO includes ongoing maintenance, updates, and potential scalability expenses.Upfront costs may be higher, but TCO is often more affordable, encompassing support, updates, and scalability within the subscription.
ControlBuilding a PIM offers unparalleled control over customization and features.Buying a PIM solution provides a solution with less hands-on control.
ResourcesBuilding a PIM demands significant in-house resources, including hiring and training.Buying leverages the specialized skills of a solution provider, reducing the need for extensive in-house expertise.
FeaturesBuilding a PIM takes considerable time and resources to tailor features to specific needs.Buying leverages the specialized skills of a solution provider, reducing the need for extensive in-house expertise.
Time to MarketBuilding a PIM is a complex undertaking increasing your time-to-market.A pre-packaged solution enables you to have your new PIM operational almost immediately.
User Training & AdoptionCustom solutions may require more extensive user training due to unique interfaces.Standardized interfaces may lead to quicker user adoption, with vendors often providing training resources.

Now that we’ve outlined the essential factors in the build vs. buy decision, let’s delve deeper into each aspect to guide you in making the right choice for your organization’s PIM strategy.

1. Scalability

When considering scalability in the context of building a PIM solution, the journey involves intricate considerations. Building a PIM often demands meticulous planning and execution to accommodate the growing demands of data, expanding product catalogs, and increased user activity.

Scaling a home-built PIM may necessitate substantial adjustments to the underlying architecture, database structures, and overall system design. These adjustments can be resource-intensive, requiring both time and specialized expertise to ensure seamless expansion without compromising performance.

Pre-built PIM solutions, on the other hand, are crafted with scalability in mind from the outset. Established vendors understand the evolving nature of businesses and design their solutions to effortlessly scale with growing data volumes and expanding business needs.

These solutions often feature modular architectures and cloud-based infrastructures that facilitate smooth scaling without significant manual interventions. This not only streamlines the process but also ensures that your PIM system can seamlessly adapt to the evolving dynamics of your organization, saving valuable time and resources.

2. Third-Party Integrations

Embarking on the journey to build a PIM solution involves not only creating the core system but also building integrations and connections to other systems within your organization’s ecosystem. This process demands dedicated effort and expertise to ensure seamless communication between your PIM solution and other crucial business applications, such as ERP systems, eCommerce platforms, and CRM tools.

Each integration point requires meticulous planning, development, and testing, potentially leading to a more resource-intensive and time-consuming endeavor. Choosing to buy a PIM solution from an established vendor often comes with the advantage of a pre-built ecosystem.

These vendors understand the importance of interoperability and typically offer a range of pre-built integrations with commonly used business applications. This not only simplifies the implementation process but also ensures that your PIM system can seamlessly connect with other systems right out of the box.

Leveraging a vendor’s established ecosystem streamlines connectivity, reduces implementation timelines, and minimizes the need for extensive custom development work.

3. Support and Maintenance

Opting to build a PIM solution means shouldering the responsibility of ongoing support and maintenance internally. Your organization’s internal team becomes the first line of defense against issues, ranging from minor glitches to more complex challenges.

While having an internal team provides a certain level of control, it also introduces the potential for longer resolution times, especially if the team lacks specific expertise or is juggling multiple responsibilities.

Choosing to buy a PIM solution comes with the advantage of dedicated support and regular maintenance from the solution provider. Established vendors typically offer comprehensive support packages that include timely updates, bug fixes, and optimizations.

This not only ensures optimal performance but also minimizes the burden on your internal team, allowing them to focus on strategic initiatives rather than day-to-day troubleshooting. The vendor’s expertise in PIM solutions translates to quicker issue resolution, often backed by service level agreements (SLAs) that outline response times and resolution commitments.

4. Cost

Let’s talk about the cost aspect. One apparent advantage of building your own system is the upfront expense.

If your company has in-house software developers or designers, you might be tempted to use them to create a PIM instead of paying a hefty upfront cost or ongoing licensing fees. While developing your solution may save you from the initial expenses of a packaged PIM subscription, it won’t spare you from the ongoing maintenance your custom application will need.

If your system is on-premises, consider the costs of acquiring and maintaining hardware, integration, connectivity, and remote access, especially in the current environment. On the other hand, with a purchased, cloud-based PIM, the software provider takes care of all the maintenance costs, including improvements, fixes, upgrades, and more.

This means you avoid spending money on depreciating assets like hardware and the expenses associated with supporting a technology crucial to preparing your products for sale.

5. Control

Creating your own solution offers a significant advantage: control. As the owner, creator, and manager of a PIM platform, you hold the reins on how the software functions.

Your team has the freedom to choose which features matter most, determine the optimal user interface, and prioritize updates, fixes, and other crucial decisions. However, this control also comes with a weighty responsibility.

Building your own PIM system means you bear the responsibility of updating the solution. This involves making decisions about adding new features or implementing changes.

On the flip side, when you opt to buy, your vendor consistently updates the SaaS PIM solution, delivering a continuous stream of upgrades and enhancements at a pace that your IT team might struggle to match. Collaborating with a solution provider relieves you of concerns about enhancing or maintaining your solution.

Instead, you can concentrate on utilizing the solution to deliver exceptional product experiences.

6. Resources

Let’s talk about resources beyond hardware and software costs. Building your own PIM is a big task that demands a lot of resources.

Imagine what it takes for a software vendor to create a solution: many specialized software engineers, product and project managers, and technical support experts, all focused solely on PIM, investing countless hours and lines of code to make a PIM solution that suits all your channels, products, and markets.

For your organization to benefit from a PIM solution, you will need to make a substantial investment, not just in terms of money but also involving your people, processes, and priorities. Alternatively, if you aim for the most efficient way to run your business, consider partnering with a PIM vendor.

They have already put in all the necessary investments and more into their solution.

7. Features

If you aspire to equip your PIM solution with cutting-edge capabilities like embedded workflows, user management features, support for product variants, integrated digital asset management, data quality insights, and more, a homemade solution may not be the optimal choice. Opting to buy a PIM is the quickest and most straightforward path to keeping up with the evolving needs of your growing business.

This approach allows you to concentrate on selling your products without the concern of managing the tools essential for their readiness. Instead of investing precious resources outside your primary expertise, entrust the design of a PIM solution to experts who specialize in this field.

This way, you can dedicate your attention to running your business while your solution provider ensures the smooth and secure operation of your PIM on a cloud infrastructure.

8. Time to Market

A significant advantage of any PIM whether bought, built, or otherwise is the heightened speed of product creation and enrichment, resulting in a faster time-to-market. This grants your team more days for selling, simultaneously cutting enrichment costs and propelling revenue growth.

However, developing, designing, and refining a PIM is a complex and time-intensive undertaking. If you spend time building your own customized solution, your team might miss out on these advantages.

Opting for a readymade solution enables you to have your new PIM operational almost immediately, allowing you to swiftly experience the benefits and monitor the ROI of your PIM implementation.

9. User Training and Adoption

Opting to build a PIM solution implies the creation of a solution tailored to your organization’s unique needs. While this customization offers a high degree of flexibility, it may result in interfaces and workflows that are distinct from standard industry practices.

Consequently, your internal users, ranging from data entry personnel to management, may require more extensive training to familiarize themselves with the custom interfaces. The learning curve can impact user adoption, potentially leading to a slower transition and increased reliance on ongoing training efforts.

Choosing to buy a PIM solution often entails standardized interfaces designed based on industry best practices. Established vendors prioritize user experience, offering interfaces that align with familiar patterns and usability conventions.

This standardized approach can contribute to quicker user adoption, as users are likely to encounter features and workflows that are consistent with widely used applications. Moreover, vendors often provide training resources, tutorials, and documentation to support users in getting up to speed swiftly, minimizing the need for extensive training sessions.

What’s Right for Your Business?

When you think about all the things that matter when deciding whether to build or buy PIM like how long it takes, how much it costs, and how fast you can start using it, as well as the features it comes with it’s pretty clear that for most businesses, buying a PIM system is the smart choice.

Choosing to buy a PIM system lets you concentrate on making awesome experiences for your customers and growing your business, without wasting time, money, or effort on things that are not your main focus.

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