How to Onboard Complex Product Data with a PIM

Onboarding complex product data involves the ETL process: extract, translate, and load. This process is still managed by most companies using Excel spreadsheets as an ETL tool. With a PIM, you can transform the data on the fly as it’s onboarded with complex workflows. Here we look at how you can seamlessly onboard complex product data with product information management software (PIM).

1. Onboarding complex product data

The extract, translate, and load or ETL process, extracts data from its original source, translates it for the intended new source, and loads it. It is difficult to imagine that over 90% of companies are still using cumbersome Excel spreadsheets as an ETL tool. Although this has been the accepted process of choice for decades, spreadsheets make this a tedious process. This is because spreadsheets still depend on manual processes. As a result, they lack the scalability you need to expand your product lines. Excel is also limited in the amount of data it can manage, which means your company isn’t scalable.

2. Using a PIM to onboard complex product data

Unlike manual spreadsheet ETL processes, a PIM applies workflow logic to enable you to construct and reconstruct data for this onboarding process. Instead of contending with multiple spreadsheets and tabs, all your data is centralized in one location. As a result, it is very easy to create and structure new data templates. Because each product has its own attribute set, it can get awfully complex. However, with a PIM, it makes it easier to sort through attribute sets, breaking them up into three parts. For example, with length, you would also have the number, then the unit of measurement used to provide that number.

Spreadsheets aren’t designed to handle relationship attributes. Because certain products work well together or are intended to be purchased together, this is an essential feature in the onboarding process. With a PIM, you can quickly link products based on various attributes and many-to-one relationships. If you know Excel, you don’t have to worry about the lookup and ‘VLOOKUP’ functions to search for a single piece of data and match it up to a corresponding piece of data. You can also deconstruct and reconstruct data easily.


3. Why Pimberly?

Pimberly PIM diagram

With Pimberly, you can transform product data, or ETL, on the fly. It enables you to leverage automated complex workflows to deconstruct and reconstruct your data automatically. Pimberly is the most technically sophisticated PIM, simplifying the complicated ETL process, so it becomes repeatable for streamlined product data onboarding. When any field is updated, it is automatically reflected across all sales channels, so you no longer need to contend with time-consuming lookups. You can make bulk edits without worrying about missed data updates on a massive spreadsheet.


Spreadsheets are also incapable of dealing with variations in a logical, searchable fashion. When you have product variations, you need a PIM to identify variations, group items and provide easy access to updates. You can also onboard complex product data or expand your reach to different geographies. A PIM uses localized data to translate descriptions and apply international currencies, pricing and shipping information.

Increase Channels

When you free yourself of spreadsheets, you enjoy rapid product onboarding that enables you to increase SKU counts significantly. You can automate up to 80% of manual product data management processes, making it easier to adopt an omnichannel strategy. Because a PIM manages your product data efficiently, you can:

  • Easily set up new sales channels
  • Tailor your product data and digital assets to meet the different requirements
  • Set up validations to ensure all product content is accurate and complete
  • Send automatic notifications to the correct team member when information is missing

Non-relational vs. Relational Databases

PIM is a non-relational database enabling you to store structured and unstructured data, unlike relational databases like Excel. While a relational database collects data with pre-defined relationships, which is then stored in tables with columns and rows, a PIM is not restricted by the tabular format of rows and columns that make it impossible to store unstructured data and your digital assets. As a result, you have more flexibility using a single database that includes a digital asset management tool (DAM) to store and retrieve all product data efficiently. You can:

  • Increase speed
  • Become scalable
  • Organize huge amounts of varied formats of information
  • Collect all types of data without worries about fitting in with existing datasets

Pimberly’s PIM is a future-proof solution enabling you to adapt to changing technologies, add as many sales channels as you need and manage multiple variations of data seamlessly.