How to Define PIM? Q&A with Thor Johnson

PIM stands for product information management and it helps e-commerce teams speed time to market and improve customer experience across channels.

06 Jun 2019


How do you define and explain PIM? Walking into the inRiver office as a day-one intern, I immediately felt a sense of progression, innovation, and determination to learn about PIM and the value inRiver brings to its customers and partners.

It was just a few seconds later that I realized I hadn’t the slightest idea what PIM was, or what it stands for, for that matter.

Luckily, Rhode Island Native, now Malmö, Sweden resident and CEO of inRiver, Thor Johnson, sat down with me to begin the learning process. Johnson provided me with intriguing and guiding insights into the world of PIM and all things inRiver.

Thor Johnson, CEO inRiver


Below is a glimpse into my interview with Johnson, featuring the most intuitive and applicable information from the perspective of a curious newbie.


1. Question
: Let’s start it off simply… what does PIM stand for?

Answer: Product Information Management. Plain and simple.


2. Question
: We’ve established what it stands PIM for, but what does PIM really mean?

Answer: That a simple question on such a complex subject. Well, in the most simplified way, PIM can be broken down into four parts: create and accumulate product information, curate it for your various markets, engage customers with that information, and evaluate your performance.

We’ll look at Ethan Allen, one of our clients that has been widely recognized for their innovation in omnichannel marketing. For them, product launches are continuous, and each product has the possibility to include a lot of customization. Merchandising and marketing for each product includes bundles and ‘shop the room’ and they sell across different channels and markets. A PIM solution helps Ethan Allen deliver the most accurate and relevant content to buyers across channels. Managing product content manually is not an option for a global manufacturing company of that size.

This is where PIM really comes in. In the olden days and in many cases, still today, companies have their product information in Excel spreadsheets, or on servers, or even stored on laptops scattered across an organization. What’s required to market and sell effectively today is to ensure every product, every description for each county, in each language, in each channel is merchandized appropriately. A PIM enables this and stores all that data in one place, enriches it, and pushes it out as instantaneously as anything can be. This keeps that vital product content up-to-date, accurate, and consistent.

3. Question: Who needs PIM?

Answer: Well, it might be easier to narrow based on who doesn’t need PIM. My favorite custom leather portfolio craftsperson using Etsy doesn’t need a PIM. There is no demand for the product information in 17 different languages, in 10 different materials, with 100 different bundles or configurations across 10,000 products.

Alright, now that we’ve established that, who does need PIM? Well, big companies or large enterprise organizations that have complex and highly customized product offerings that are sold omnichannel do.

The mission of inRiver is to help make our customers be the very best at selling and marketing their products in the most strategic and meaningful way. This is what we do for over 1,500 brands and 500 customers globally from manufacturing companies to retailers and fashion brands, to medical devices, to beverage companies.


4. Question
: Why has the demand for PIM grown so greatly over the past few years?

Answer: It really comes down to the fact that e-commerce has just absolutely exploded in the past five years stemming from marketplaces like Amazon and the need to be omnichannel. Everyone wants to be everywhere at all times, delivering relevant content to consumers in different and engaging ways. Businesses need to  be on marketplaces including Amazon, Walmart, Target, but also, on their own website.

The content needs to be displayed consistently, yet presented differently with different messaging on each platform, in the right language, and in the right format. PIM does just that in a fast and scalable way that enables marketers, merchandisers, and product managers have control of the content from anywhere in the organization.

That’s the importance of having a PIM solution like inRiver that is a SaaS solution. No hardware, no downtime, just performance. The growth of the industry requires PIM.

 

Global e-commerce growth


5. Question
: What’s next for PIM?

Answer: That’s a really great question. The whole concept itself just came out of nowhere and progressed so fast, there’s no way to say where it is going for certain except for a higher rate of adoption. I believe PIM is like marketing automation in the early days, it is just getting started and there is a very exciting future on the horizon.


6. Question
: What’s the hope for inRiver in the future?

Answer: The hope, I’d say is growth, and a lot of it. More customers, more partners, and of course, growing our team of inRiverians globally. It’s an exciting time to be in PIM and there is no better team than inRiver to be part of.

Want to learn more about how PIM can help your organization drive revenue growth? Read the latest eBook, Can PIM Help Organizations Drive Revenue Faster.