Product Information Management (PIM) is an invaluable process for any business that handles enormous volumes of data for marketing and selling. You can find product data management tools and systems in pretty much any company that distributes their products across different channels, including eCommerce websites, platforms like Amazon and eBay, and similar.
It is evident then that PIM is an excellent fit for the automotive industry, especially for the aftermarket automotive sector. It works for both business-to-customer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies that deal with the following:
- Electronic and online ordering
- Product characteristics that frequently change
- A wide array of products and complex product data sets
- More than one sales channel
- Various localization requirements
The way your auto parts shop – store and share data – can be completely revolutionized with a PIM tool.
Challenges of the Automotive Industry
Car parts businesses don’t interact solely with their customers. They are also in constant touch with their suppliers, service providers, a business partner or two, and sending messages across different departments. All of these communication channels require complex data sharing.
In the aftermarket automotive industry, product information is no longer just a summary of dimensions and warranty policies. New car designs are cropping up left and right – resellers now need to enlist compatible vehicle configurations for each product they offer.
An average auto parts store has to handle the following product data:
- Product category
- Part number
- Product group code
- Part terminology
- Marketing and pricing details
- Product attributes
- Fitment requirements
- Digital assets, and more.
This abundance and variety of information are too overwhelming for manual consolidation. Spreadsheet tools and programs can only do so much – they are likely to lead to inaccuracies and errors such as redundant retrieval of data and unnecessary maintenance work.
PIM vs. ERP
Product Information Management (PIM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are not the same, even though they frequently get mixed up.
ERP is a tool for managing daily business processes. These processes include accounting, compliance, human resources, customer relationship management, risk management, supply chain management, and more. Essentially, ERP is at the very core of the business. It receives information from all departments, automates data management processes, and analyzes and generates reports.
PIM, on the other hand, is like a central repository for product information. It doesn’t have anything to do with the day-to-day business operations in your company. Data such as product lifecycle information, digital assets, product specifications, technical specifications, product metadata management, and more are all stored and consolidated on a centralized PIM platform.
If you are using both systems, they should be well-integrated. PIM can draw information from ERP related to the products your business is selling, as well as marketing materials for campaigns and promotions.
Benefits of a PIM Solution
Once you realize that you can no longer handle all the different spreadsheets and SQL cross-scripting, a PIM software solution will prove to be just what your aftermarket auto parts store needs. Here are the main benefits of incorporating PIM software into your business:
- Drastically reduced inefficiencies and redundancies
- Automatic reception of organized and unorganized product data from various sources – no more manual consolidation
- Generated product information that is ACES and PIES compliant for easy distribution across multiple channels and to suppliers
- Integration with existing systems (such as ERP)
- Useful data assets for rendering on the front-end eCommerce website.
The final result of installing a PIM solution in your business is a centralized data source that helps you easily share information with your trading partners, suppliers, eCommerce platforms, and other third-party providers. All of this leads to improved productivity, performance, and reduced time to market.
What PIM Is Not
Product Information Management solutions frequently get confused not only with enterprise systems but with other similar tools as well. Here is a brief overview of how PIM is different from other standard management systems.
PIM vs. Inventory Manager
Inventory management software oversees inventory stock levels and warehouse supplies. It has vital functionalities that alert you to low inventory levels of certain products, order tracking, which products have been sitting on the shelves for too long, and similar.
PIM has nothing to do with the current state of your inventory. All the product data stored in a PIM tool is there regardless of whether or not you’re out of stock.
PIM vs. CRM
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Customer service teams use CRM to collect customer data, such as which location most customers come from, what products they’re most interested in, their buying habits, and more.
PIM doesn’t collect customer data. However, it directly affects the customer shopping experience since accurate and extensive product data leads to increased sales conversions. If your customers find what they’re looking for on your digital channels, they won’t feel the need to search on other platforms.
PIM vs. DFM
Another one in a line of acronyms, DFM means Data Feed Manager. PIM is not the same as DFM, but they are related. DFM is responsible for spreading the company’s catalog across various search engines and platforms.
Just like PIM pulls information from ERP, DFM tools pull information from PIM. They synchronize orders, sales, product information, and stock across multiple marketplaces, which is incredibly important for an auto parts store. If you’re selling car parts on your website, Amazon, and eBay Motors, you could benefit from an integrated system that seamlessly manages all these channels at once.
Perfect PIM Solution for Your Business
Just like with any other type of management software, there is no one-size-fits-all. The best PIM platform is the one that fits the size of your business and your needs. If you don’t have an ERP, CRM, DFM, or inventory management software, then you don’t need integration with these systems.
If you don’t need a custom-designed user interface, then you shouldn’t pay for a solution that has one included in its price.
Before you decide to invest in a PIM solution for your store, take a moment to answer a few questions.
- What size is your business now? What size will it be in the near or distant future?
- How many departments will be sharing this information between them?
- With which external sources will you be sharing this information?
- Similarly, from which external and internal sources will you collect your information?
- How many products do you hope to have on offer?
- What product information is vital to keep track of?
- Will you be branching out to different marketplaces? How about different localizations, such as internationally?
- Do you need a PIM system on your computers, or will you be more efficient with a cloud-based solution? Do you want to be able to access it from any smart device?
Knowing the answers to these represents a good starting point. Before you commit to a PIM solution for your vehicle parts business, make sure to discuss all the details with your software provider.
In this modern digital age, technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Businesses are moving from manually populated spreadsheets to intricate management systems with automated features and reduce the chance of errors.
The aftermarket auto industry greatly benefits from PIM software platforms. They centralize all product data in one place and organize it according to the latest standards. A PIM solution is almost necessary if you are running a business that you hope will grow and expand in the coming years. It will increase your productivity, customer satisfaction and allow for smoother workflow overall.
Illumaware is a leading provider of PIM solutions for the aftermarket auto industry. Contact us for more information on how this versatile system can help you make the most of your business. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!