PIM glossary

The most essential terms and concepts impacting digital marketers, merchandisers, product teams and e-commerce teams today.

In business, particularly in the digital realm, there are seemingly endless lists of acronyms, buzzwords, and terms. Compared to 25 years ago, many terms have developed new, separate meanings in the digital context.

Knowledge of these terms helps teams navigate our complex and ever-changing digital world. Businesses need to stay ahead of the curve and always strive to deliver the best customer experience both on and offline. E-commerce sites need to be fast, responsive, relevant, easy- to-navigate, and offer streamlined browsing and buying across platforms.

Here’s a guide to the most essential terms and concepts that impact digital marketers, merchandisers, product teams and e-commerce teams today.

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A/B testing (aka “split testing”) — a process where one compares two different versions of a web page or content to determine which version is more effective. Both versions are shown to a select number of visitors at the same time, and the version with higher conversion rate is chosen to be sent to the remaining audience.

Affiliate marketing — performance-based marketing that allows a publisher and advertiser to team up and market to consumers. The publisher promotes a service or product through a company or website and the advertiser pays the publisher a fee or set commission from products sold. This type of marketing can be designed with banners, ads, or links.

Amazon Marketplace — an e-commerce platform where independent vendors sell on Amazon.com alongside the company’s own product offerings. In 2017, over half of units sold on Amazon were from third-party sellers, generating a total of over $30 billion in revenue—and the Amazon Marketplace continues to grow.

Asset management — the organization of all your content assets which make your company unique and valuable. Effective asset management means integration and optimization, and delivering assets consistently, no matter the channel.

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Blog — a regularly updated online log of relevant articles written in a more conversational tone. Each blog post is typically focused on one topic and gives readers the opportunity to comment and share the post. See inriver’s blog.

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Channel marketing — relates to the different channels in which a product or solution may be marketed and sold. Channels may include social, e-commerce, marketplaces, physical stores, or others as they continue to evolve.

Circular economy — a circular economy is one where nothing goes to landfill. Goods and resources are recycled, reused, refurbished, and maintained to extract every ounce of use across a range of applications in order to prolong their useful lifespan.

Composable commerce — first coined by Gartner back in 2020, it’s a term for composable technology architecture solutions that are custom-built for an organization’s unique needs.

Content optimization system (COS) — a holistic solution created to assist the management of websites and other aspects of digital marketing in one system. It is a system that permits content providers to access multiple techniques to improve search results and rankings.

Content syndication — content syndication is the act of distributing or delivering your product content to third parties (most commonly, retailers or marketplaces). Most require use of templates to ensure you’re providing the right specifications and meeting the requirements to sell through their channel.

Conversion rate — the percentage of users who perform a certain action, such as the percentage of consumers who make a purchase from a site they visit. Conversion rate can also be measured by other metrics, such as the percentage of site visitors who register for or subscribe to something, download whitepapers, or return to a site a certain number of times. Conversion rate is an important metric to marketers and digital teams. They can be attributed to revenue as they often lead to a purchase or are entry into a buying journey.

Corporate sustainability — see ESG.

Customer relationship management (CRM) — a solution helping an organization to manage and analyze customers’ interactions throughout the customer life-cycle. A CRM system is used to aggregate customer information and can include anything from point-of-sale information to marketing or communications data to help improve customer relationships. Examples of CRM systems include Salesforce, Zoho, Microsoft Dynamics, Hubspot, and numerous others.

Customer experience (CX) — interactions between a customer and an organization throughout their entire business relationship. The type of interaction can comprise awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, purchases, and service. Specific aspects impacting customer experience include:

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Data modeling — how you organize data into entities and relations. The distinction between model and data is, that the model is the way of structuring data, the data is the actual content. A data model can be considered a database representation of a set of predefined building blocks.

Digital asset management (DAM) — also referred to as a digital asset management system. Similar to a digital content database, DAM is a way to organize, store, edit, and distribute media assets like images, audio, and videos.

Digital experience platform (DXP) — a platform consisting of a set of integrated technologies designed to enable optimal digital experiences across the full customer lifetime journey. It provides the infrastructure to collect and connect data to and from every channel, including analytics.

Digital product passport (DPP) — a necessary document that accompanies a product on its journey, consolidating data from material sourcing and extraction through to end-of-life recycling. The DPP will be permanently affixed to each product in the form of an NRC chip, QR code, or RFID tag.

Digital shelf — your e-commerce presence. It is where buyers go online to learn about and ultimately purchase products. Placement on the digital shelf plays a vital role in consumer relations as it provides a place for shoppers to interact with products and brands and is the heart of e-commerce engagements.

Digital shelf analytics (DSA) — the ongoing process of analyzing data from your e-commerce presence. Analytics leverage the metrics and data available to help identify the performance and availability of products and the supporting assets and ultimately help you make decisions to enhance products on the digital shelf.

Digital shelf management — a key part of any successful e-commerce strategy, digital shelf management includes monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing your digital shelf channels and touchpoints to boost performance, increase conversions, and ensure your omnichannel strategy is optimized for success.

Digital shelf monitoring — an essential pillar of selling online, digital shelf monitoring includes regularly assessing the health of your digital shelf channels and touchpoints to ensure your e-commerce strategy is optimizing for conversions.

Digital shelf optimization — the continuous process of ensuring all digital touchpoints are optimized for conversions with accurate and complete product information that empowers customers to make informed buying decisions.

Dynamic data model — the attributes and relationships between data structures in real-time. As opposed to a static model that represents just one point in time, dynamic models continuously refine data and make integration of new data simple and scalable.

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E-commerce — the buying and selling of goods, services, or information over the Internet. It is proliferating as new platforms and channels evolve, making it easier and more enticing for consumers to use.

Elastic data model — refers to all data elements of a product. This is a visual representation of all your data including entities, attributes, or relations. There are best practice data models that include a standard structure most common in PIM solutions. Inriver’s elastic data model is customer-led, not industry-led, to ensure you meet changing needs without sacrificing what makes your products unique.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) — ESG stands for ‘Environmental, Social and Governance’. In practical terms ESG functions as a framework for companies looking to report on all non-financial risks and opportunities that impact their operations daily.

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Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) — Global Data Synchronization Network is an internet-based, integrated system allowing trading partners (manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, food service operators and healthcare organizations) to securely access and exchange accurate, validated product information in real-time.

Guided selling — a process helping potential buyers choose the product that best fulfills their needs. It is a way for vendors of products to actively guide their customers to a buying decision and increase their conversion rate.

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Integration framework — combines the ability to transform each customer’s unique marketing model into a standard integration model view with a toolbox of product-centric functionality. An integration framework means you no longer re-invent the wheel for each integration project. Instead, configure the relevant components you need, letting you develop and iterate quickly, and with confidence.

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Live commerce — live commerce is the selling of products online through live video while shoppers interact with the brand in real time. This is hugely popular across APAC and has been rising in popularity in the US and EMEA, especially for younger generations in the retail and fashion verticals.

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Master data management (MDM) — Master data management (MDM) helps businesses centralize all their data and ensures it is consistent across all departments within an organization. Usually used by companies with complex product data to cleanse and improve business operations.

Media asset management — creating, storing, and organizing images, videos, PDFs, 3D, and AR to help sell your products. Businesses are seeing the benefits of adding different types of media like downloadable PDFs of their data sheets to their digital channels. Sharing assembly instructions, detailed specifications, CAD drawings, etc. to make all the difference when converting a sale and delivering a great customer experience.

Micro-moments — the small interactions consumers have with brands all the time, as defined by Google’s content marketers, Think with Google. From discovery and research stages to actual purchasing, consumers on average experience over a hundred micro-moments per day. These occur on the spot, in the middle of tasks, and ultimately shape preferences and influence decisions.

Microservices — refers to any service or component that has an API and isn’t monolithic. A more specific definition of microservices is a tightly scoped, encapsulated, loosely coupled, deployable, and independently scalable application.

Mobile commerce (m-commerce) — the purchasing and distribution of products on mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, or any handheld wireless device.

Multichannel — the interaction between companies and customers over multiple channels, such as in-stores, through direct mail or email, or on their websites and social media platforms. Digital marketing success depends on the ability to span multiple channels and reach the highest number of target consumers.

Multi-channel retailing — a strategy to offer your customers multiple sales channels to purchase products from you. This could be in physical stores, directly from your website, through a retailer or marketplace or social media app. It’s a way to offer customers more than one way to purchase your product.

Multi-tenant SaaS solution — In a multi-tenant environment, the SaaS vendor provides a single version of its software (or application) for all its customers — also known as tenants. Each customer has some level of customization and their own secure instance, keeping their data secure and invisible from other tenants.

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Omnichannel — when the shopping experience extends seamlessly from the store to the phone, to the desktop, voice and mobile device. An omnichannel approach to e-commerce means not only that these different areas exist, but that they’re fully integrated.

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PIM data — the raw structured and unstructured product-related data that is onboarded into the PIM system from across the value chain. This data is then organized, enriched, and distributed from the single centralized source provided by PIM software.

PIM data model — the data model on which PIM software is built. The PIM data model determines how product data is collected, organized, structured, and related within a centralized hub.

PIM implementation — the process of implementing PIM software, covering configuration, migration, integration, KPI establishment, and data modeling.

PIM integration — the process of integrating PIM software into the wider enterprise tech stack.

PIM software — this is the technology behind product information management, which provides one central location for all your product content to be maintained, enriched, modified, and distributed to the proper sales channels.

Product content management (PCM) — used as a main repository for product data to centralize and automate product content towards different channels.

Product content syndication (PCS) — the digital distribution and synchronization of product-related content to online sales channels, including all owned and third-party channels like marketplaces and social media platforms.

Product data management (PDM) — a system for managing design data in one central location and is used in engineering processes usually within manufacturing to ensure quality control standards are met.

Product data syndication (PDS) — the publication and synchronization of product data with sell-side partners. PDS helps you sell, distribute, and manage products across channels.

Product experience management (PXM) — assists the creation of great product content through management of product information, digital assets, and marketing resources. It’s focused on features that enable the 3 C’s from: conversions, content, and context.

Product information — product information refers to the wide range of data created by and associated with, a product.

Product information management (PIM) — centralizes, maintains, enriches, modifies, and refines essential information about products. PIM systems enable users to swiftly publish this info on websites, catalogs, Amazon, and other marketplaces with a few clicks. It’s a centralized repository for the content that tells a product story. PIM is essential for organizations with a large range of products, those that require frequently updated product details, and any business that relies heavily on e-commerce. Without a PIM solution, manual updates and data silos cause errors and inconsistent product information impacting revenue and customer experience.

Product lifecycle management (PLM) — serves as a repository for all product development data related to design and iterations of products at the start of the product journey, typically seen as non-customer-facing activities. PLM is primarily a product management tool that supports R&D, testing and compliance, manufacturing, procurement, and more.

Product stories — demonstrate and detail how a product can and will be used in different scenarios. Like a storybook, they illustrate the user problem or situation and show how the product solves it. There are no plot twists- just clear, detailed content that helps the shopper learn about the product and its specific details and functionality

Product syndication — distributes product data, content, and information from a single centralized database across all online channels. Product syndication is a key part of any winning omnichannel strategy as it delivers content to all owned and third-party digital channels.

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Return on Investment (ROI) — the key metrics used to ascertain the return on initial investment made on a Product Information Management solution. These key metrics typically look at qualitative and quantitative measurements that combine to create a full ROI picture.

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SaaS PIM — Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) PIM is a type of PIM software licensing and delivery model. PIM software is licensed on a subscription basis and centrally hosted.

Search engine results pages (SERP) — the most important webpage for marketers. When consumers are looking to solve a general problem or researching the best option to purchase, they often first turn to Google for a generic search. From there, consumers narrow down their options to just a few information sources out of the huge volume across the web via the search results. Because of this, it’s essential for brands to increase their visibility by optimizing how their site, content and products appear via search engines.

Single-tenant SaaS solution — a single-tenant solution runs on dedicated cloud infrastructure. There’s no sharing whatsoever. The infrastructure, database, and application are solely yours. It’s a similar concept to a traditional on-premises solution – it’s just hosted in the cloud.

Social commerce — social commerce is all about enabling customers to buy products easily and directly through social media for their complete buyer journey, from discovery to checkout, all within the social media platform.

Social signals — the culmination of a webpage’s shares, likes, and overall social media interactions as viewed by the various search engines. These different activities impact a page’s organic search ranking. Increased social signals indicate high quality content and influence rankings.

Supply chain transparency — knowing where and how all your products are made and then being able to communicate this information to both internal and external stakeholders, whether that’s your marketing team, your resellers and marketplaces, or your customers.

Syndication — the selling, distributing, and managing of products across channels. Syndication is a sub-discipline of PIM. It enables you to share product information with distribution partners, online retailers, data pools, and marketplaces seamlessly.

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Unstructured data — unstructured data is the most common type of data. It’s so prolific because it includes media, text data, audio, email, and others. Datasets (typical large collections of files) are not stored in a structured database format and are not predefined via data models.

Upselling — the method of offering a customer the chance to purchase a similar product with the
same qualities, but better specifications and is more expensive.

Usability — the ease of use of a site, page, or process. In e-commerce, it’s important a website visitor can find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily. This includes prominent and intuitive navigation, clear and simple design and making sure all the essential information is in the right places, is easy to access and consume. When usability is high, customers typically engage more on a site. The more time consumers spend on a site, the more opportunity to drive a conversion or a sale.

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Workflow engine — manages and monitors the activities in a workflow such as pre-defined tasks, notifications, completeness requirements and compliance policies. It helps plan and design the flow of data using pre-defined blocks.

Workflow management — defines how a company wants their products to move through processes, from onboarding, to enrichment and product data syndication to digital shelf analytics.

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