1. Prepare your project (in advance)
The key requirement before considering purchasing a PIM is to clearly define your overall business goals. You have to know for what purpose(s) you consider implementing this type of Data Management solution. It is as well crucial that you specify your needs in the most complete and detailed way possible: Multichannel Marketing actions, catalogue publishing automation, data quality and data governance, etc. Do not forget to carefully analyse your current organizational design and data structure: Where do your strengths and weaknesses lie? What would you like to keep or improve? If you are not in an imperative need of redesigning your whole data structure, focus on the priority areas that need support. Be also aware that setting up such an ambitious project takes time! A period of several months is to be expected from the vendor selection to the final integration and leverage of a PIM system within your company. Finally, do not forget that besides your internal staff, external actors will eventually be associated with this PIM solution: your communication agency, your graphic designer or your suppliers. They will all need to be trained on the solution or at least informed about the new way to go.
2. Choose the right vendor
You will need someone to accompany you – never implement a PIM all by yourself! There are several open source solutions which are free of charge, but it is essential to have a professional to guide you through the complexity of a PIM system. This experienced professional functions as a partner who exactly understands your challenges and needs in an in-depth manner: whether it is one simple need such as the automation of catalogue publications, or larger projects such as the harmonization and management of all company’s data.
3. Select an internal person for the project
Don’t underestimate the process of turning your data mess into actionable insight! Over a period of several weeks or months, an assigned partner from the PIM vendor will be involved with your data setup as well as the optimization of the system’s usage by your teams. Carefully select a person from your organization to collaborate with this partner – this demands good team work. Since this is not only an IT project, the right person for this job is someone with a global view of ALL data resources and processes. He will need to have insights and thorough knowledge of all departments handling all relevant key information, ranging from your product descriptions, up to your Multichannel Marketing efforts including all information that is distributed through multiple channels. Therefore, choose wisely because PIM is based on true business ownership and needs a generic leader with a global view.
4. Carefully select your data
PIM is not a place to just ditch all of your data, the goal is to create structured, clean, organized and secure product information. It will develop into the main source of reference of the entire company. Even if data originates and flows from multiple sources, a PIM must represent all of those valuable information sources – but now within one repository. Carefully select which data will form part of the PIM, and in the process, you ensure that it is cleansed and accurate. Making sure that there is only one version you are about to store, since this enhances your overall data quality. Nevertheless, a PIM is not intended to replace an ERP or a CRM System, it must simply connect/align to all of them in order to cover all contents and develop them into a sustainable point of reference. Simply to speak, you can compare it to an airport: each passenger has a direction, and the airport unites all of them!
5. Do content quality checks
While you’re already at it, work on your content: the success of your online and offline appearances strongly depends on the content you produce, especially since it is constantly exposed to a multitude of your customers. In particular your eCommerce visibility needs special attention, since it functions as a lead generating platform and is THE source to attract highly qualified customers. The way you design your content will become a company success driver and it will generate more traffic to your website, if done correctly from the beginning of implementing a PIM. Consequently, the better the quality of your product information, including descriptions as well as corresponding media, and the more comprehensible the thread of information about your products on your website, the higher the customer conversion will be in the end. Having this all set in place, try to observe the performance of your products to constantly improve their quality levels.
6. Define and set up individual workflows
After you have successfully organized and added your product information within the PIM, it is important to define workflows. The process of enriching, maintaining or updating your data can be rather time-and human resources consuming. When implementing a workflow with clearly defined processes, you can control and navigate users on how to fulfill the task in a time-efficient manner. With a PIM solution you have the authority to limit user modifications, in order to secure your data and ensure it is safe. Bare in mind, that these steps are highly case-sensitive and require each user to individually design their workflows.