6 ways PIM improves upstream-downstream connectivity


October 19, 2023

Bridging the gap between upstream suppliers and downstream audiences is key for today's brands and manufacturers.

Supply chains are complex, shifting entities that require significant time and energy to manage. With so many interconnected parts, supply chains can also be prone to shocks and disruptions. From bad crops and material shortages all the way up to market turbulence or changes in consumer preference, there are many ways that supply chains can be impacted. 

But what separates high-performing supply chains from less reliant systems? One of the most important factors that influence supply chain health is how well data flows up and down a supply chain. This data includes everything from product information to inventory levels and shipping schedules. For the supply chain to run smoothly, this data needs to be accurate, up-to-date, and accessible to different stakeholders.  

With a growing number of companies looking to transition towards circularity, ensuring a constant flow of high-quality, actionable information across supply chains is more important than ever. Technology has evolved to make that task easier. An increasing number of brands and manufacturers rely on Product Information Management (PIM) software to help them centralize, manage, and distribute product data throughout their supply chain. This can have a range of benefits regarding supply chain data connectivity. 

Are your products ready to go circular?

Read the latest inriver ebook “The Circular Product Journey” to find out.

What do we mean by upstream and downstream? 

When we talk about ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ in the context of supply chains – we are referring to the flow of products or materials from the point of origin to the end consumer. 

Upstream is where raw materials, components, and anything else needed for the production process are sourced. For example, a clothing manufacturer’s upstream activities could include sourcing fabrics and other materials. Downstream refers to activities that take place after the product has been created like distribution, marketing, sales, and aftersales. For our hypothetical clothing manufacturer, this means distributing clothes to retailers and selling them to customers. 

With so many different companies, teams, and workflows in the mix, there are many potential barriers to a seamless flow of data from upstream to downstream and vice versa. For companies looking to increase visibility over their supply chains complexities include data siloes, integration challenges, inconsistent data quality, and a lack of standardization. 

Against this complex backdrop, PIM software is a powerful solution for bridging the gap between upstream and downstream stakeholders and providing the data connectivity needed in a circular business model. Here are six ways PIM improves this connectivity:  

1. PIM ensures standardization, centralization, and enrichment 

The first challenge that many companies run into is a lack of data standardization across their supply chains. If companies are using different systems to collect data and formats to present it, making sense of it all requires significant time and effort. A PIM solution centralizes product data from a variety of sources like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), and e-commerce platforms. 

green landscape with waterfalls

2. PIM builds supply chain resilience  

Your PIM allows manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers to access the same updated and accurate product information. This helps reduce errors, miscommunication, and inefficiencies as well as allowing for faster, more coordinated responses to market disruptions. Upstream actors, for example, can adjust their production plans quickly based on changing demand patterns in downstream markets. PIM also enables more informed decision-making should any periods of disruption arise. When quick, data-driven decision-making is key to maintaining operations, a PIM solution can prevent stockouts or overstock situations. 

3. PIM creates better products 

By standardizing, enriching, and streamlining data management at the manufacturing end, PIM software can help improve product quality and efficiency. For example, food companies can ensure their ingredients are sourced from sustainable, high-quality suppliers. Clothing brands can use their PIM solution to make sure the materials they use meet their sustainability standards. And pharmaceutical brands can guarantee they are always meeting the highest safety standards. These are just some of the ways PIM can influence product design and manufacture for the better.  

4. PIM informs more engaging customer experiences 

Better products are only one part of delivering higher-quality customer experiences. The other part is empowering customers to make the right decisions for their needs. A PIM solution can help by bringing data collected upstream directly to the end consumer to help them make better buying decisions. For example, PIM software can help provide information on raw materials or the carbon footprint of each complete product. As consumers seek greater transparency in their purchases, bringing this data to the end-user can help brands tip the scale, and turn a potential buyer into a customer. 

5. PIM simplifies compliance 

Customers are not the only parties who need to make informed decisions. Increasingly, companies are required to provide more information about the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of their supply chains. For example, the EU’s incoming digital product passports (DPPs) will give consumers and regulators clear traceability of a product’s entire lifecycle. The ramifications of providing faulty, misleading, or inaccurate data look to be significant. Your PIM solution makes compliance with a growing body of global ESG legislation much simpler, giving you confidence that your disclosures are accurate. 

large waterfalls with sunny skies above

6. PIM enables circularity 

The transition to circularity demands full transparency over a wide range of supply chain processes and outputs. One such output is Scope 3 emissions, which relate to the emissions created indirectly by a company through its supply chain. This includes emissions from resource extraction, manufacturing, and logistics. The ability to understand, report, and act on these emissions is a crucial part of the circular transition, and PIM can help. A PIM solution centralizes data related to production, transport, usage, and disposal across the supply chain. By having this data readily accessible and organized, companies can easily calculate these Scope 3 emissions. 

inriver: The PIM built for supply chain connectivity 

The composable, multi-tenant inriver PIM solution goes far beyond e-commerce to support product data connectivity throughout the entire supply chain. Built on the foundation of a fully extensible PIM data model, the inriver platform bridges the gap between upstream suppliers and downstream audiences to facilitate the transition to a circular product journey powered by the bidirectional flow of data and knowledge. 

Inriver offers the most comprehensive PIM solution on the market, with built-in API-based syndication technology, advanced data sharing, and digital shelf intelligence through our two in-built digital shelf analytics (DSA) capabilities. These are just some of the inriver capabilities that combine to give brands and manufacturers the data governance they need to power their products at every stage of the omnichannel product journey.

want to see the inriver PIM in action?

Schedule a personalized, guided demo with an inriver expert today to see how the inriver PIM can get more value from your product information.

you may also like…

Expanding the possibilities of PIM

Product information management software is often seen as a key tool for sales and marketing teams. But as the demands on product information evolve, so too does the scope of what PIM software can offer forward-thinking brands, manufacturers, and retailers. From sourcing and design through to after-sales services and recycling, PIM is the complete solution for the entire product journey.

  • Johan Boström

    Co-Founder & Board Member

    Johan Boström is one of the founders of inriver and a senior business leader with two decades of experience leading international technology companies.

    read more