PIM challenges: 6 common implementation mistakes to avoid


August 10, 2023

Get the most out of your PIM implementation process by avoiding these common mistakes.

At inriver, we’ve worked hard to make our PIM as intuitive and easy to set up as possible. This is why we’ve been able to help hundreds of companies turn their valuable product information into a strategic asset. However, as with any SaaS journey, the implementation process of PIM software can have many challenges along the way, requiring the right planning and organization at every step. 

A truly successful PIM implementation needs cross-functional collaboration across the organization, including sales, marketing, compliance, and management. With such a diverse set of stakeholders involved, ideas with even the best of intentions can cause issues in the implementation process.  

To help you get the most out of your PIM journey and overcome any challenges that may arise, here are some of the most common PIM implementation mistakes – and how you can best avoid them. 

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1. Not having a clear vision 

Any technology project needs to have a clear end goal as well as a road map of how to get there. PIM is no different. A common mistake with PIM implementation is either rushing to implement too quickly or not having a focused objective of what your PIM will accomplish for the business.  

There are several key considerations that form the foundation of a comprehensive PIM vision. From a planning standpoint, think about strategic goals, milestones, KPIs, and ways of measuring success. From a more technical perspective, there are practicalities such as configuration, modularity, automation, and any necessary integrations to contemplate. By integrating these aspects of PIM into one plan, you’ll be able to solidify a more concrete vision for the outcomes you want from your PIM journey and how to achieve them. 

“The common “crawl, walk, run” approach is very applicable here. Your desired future is likely to create a closed-loop approach to improve your content on the digital shelf. But, be systematic about it and be sure to lock in your data model in a crawl phase, with syndication in the walk. Ensuring a solid foundation will allow you to run faster in the end.”

David Copeland, Director of Sales Engineering, inriver

2. Having unrealistic expectations 

Modern PIM solutions can do a lot. They can automate previously manual tasks and streamline content distribution across a variety of channels. Realistically, though, even the most advanced PIM solutions cannot do everything. Linked to the idea of having a clear vision is the importance of having realistic expectations. 

Your PIM is an important part of strengthening your omnichannel strategy and the single source of truth it provides can revolutionize your internal workflows and external outputs. However, PIM is primarily concerned with your product information – and it’s important to remember that. The good news, though, is that your PIM solution doesn’t have to do everything.  

For example, if you need a solution for all your training videos or marketing visuals, then you’ll find digital asset management (DAM) software a better fit for your needs. However, you’ll be able to integrate your PIM with your DAM and the rest of your tech stack, meaning you can focus on getting the most out of your PIM solution without having to compromise the output of any other software in your stack. 

man in forest checking route on paper map

3. Overestimating data migration and data quality 

Like much of the digital world, PIM software is all about data. Breaking siloes and creating a single source of truth for product information requires someone to take on responsibility for that information. If you are merging data from multiple suppliers or teams, you will need clear rules about how the data is collected, communicated, and distributed. Even if you plan on automating certain processes, it is still essential to have human oversight. 

Another important factor that can be overlooked is data quality. A common challenge for PIM implementation projects is overestimating how simple the data migration to the new system will be. If the data is coming from multiple legacy systems, it could be full of inconsistencies, out-of-date information, duplications, and inaccuracies. 

How can you get a clear line of sight on all your product data during your PIM implementation process? One effective way is by conducting a comprehensive data audit near the beginning of the project. This will provide you with a clear understanding of what data you will be working with and, ultimately, make your PIM implementation easier.  

4. Delaying the project while waiting for the perfect data 

On the flip side, many brands and manufacturers who are considering adding PIM to their tech stack underestimate the quality that their data needs to be before they embark on the implementation process. This causes some organizations to postpone the implementation process while they get their data in order. This can have significant implications for your data management and, ultimately, increase the time you must wait to unlock the true value of your product information. 

Unfortunately, many brands don’t realize that delaying a PIM implementation project while you sort out your data is unnecessary. That’s because PIM itself is an excellent tool for helping you clean up your data management. Even with scattered data sitting across various internal siloes and teams, the right PIM solution will let you onboard this data with ease, introducing you to the benefits of PIM from the very first day of your data overhaul.  

“Over the years I have seen delays due to data cleanliness far too often. The brands that have gotten a faster return on investment are those that created an iterative approach and got started leveraging the PIM and getting early wins despite the lack of perfectly clean data.”

David Copeland, Director of Sales Engineering, inriver

5. Not involving stakeholders and key decision-makers 

Identifying key users from each team or department is a step that needs to be taken as early as possible. This will not only give you a much clearer picture of the scope of the implementation but will help you engage positively with stakeholders, too. If there is one thing that will sour a team’s enthusiasm about a new solution, aside from poor UX of course, it’s the feeling that a decision has been made for them without an opportunity to provide input. 

Your PIM implementation will likely impact the established workflows of several teams. You want that impact to be as positive as possible, so it is important to work with marketing, sales, and other teams to understand how they work and how PIM can add value. 

6. Assuming everyone understands PIM as well as you do 

The people leading a new technology onboarding project can often be so deep into the implementation process that they underestimate their colleagues’ skepticism or uncertainty about the project and the challenges they face with a new PIM solution.

Non-technical users will likely require more specialized and targeted training. Building this adoption time into your implementation roadmap can help take the pressure off and allow all users to get used to the new system. This will then, in turn, make your PIM journey more successful in the long run.  

On brand, on budget, on time

Successful PIM implementation can be a game-changer for your brand. With the single source of truth provided by PIM, you get consistency, accuracy, and control across all internal workflows and external outputs. Inriver understands the challenges that come with PIM implementation – and how crucial it is to get the process right. That’s why we work with an international network of trusted implementation partners and have a global team of inriver experts who are ready to help with every step of your PIM journey.  

The inriver PIM is the most complete product information management solution on the market, and the only one to have both content syndication and digital shelf analytics capabilities built into the solution. Our PIM solution has been designed to help you get more value from your product information at every stage of the product life cycle, from sourcing and design to repair and recycling. Want to find out more about how inriver could turn your product information into a profit maker at every touchpoint? Get in touch to book a personalized, guided demo today.  

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  • Dave Copeland

    Director of Sales Engineering

    Dave has worked in the software industry for the past 20 years and within e-commerce for the past five, focused on solving the biggest issues facing brands selling on the digital shelf today. With a passion for solving problems, Dave believes that with the right technology, process and people, brands have an amazing opportunity in front of them.

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