How to Buy a PIM

Deciding to buy a Product Information Management (PIM) system is a step in the right direction for any business focused on taking eCommerce operations to the next level. Your PIM system is the key to making your business more scalable, efficient, and sustainable. In a competitive arena where customer expectations change day by day, ensuring your company can remain responsive to demand will help you outsmart and outsell your competition. PIM creates a streamlined process for managing the product information you need to sell your products through your various distribution channels. Moreover, it helps across all stages of the supply chain, including manufacturing, distributing, and, of course, selling.

When you buy a PIM system, you have a software tool designed to simplify and automate the import, management, enrichment, and publication of detailed product information so you can easily expand your product lines, as well as the markets you choose to sell those lines.

If you want to leverage the power of PIM, you need to know how to approach your PIM purchase strategically. Ultimately, your business objectives and the resources you have available will determine which PIM system is right for you. This whitepaper will give you all the information you need to ensure you buy a PIM that will enable you to reach your goals. You’ll also gain a full understanding of the steps you need to follow to get the most from your PIM implementation.

This is a comprehensive 8,000-word guide, so sit back and get ready to learn everything you need to know about buying your first PIM!


How does a PIM system work?

To make things clearer, let’s break down each function of a PIM system:

Import: Raw product data is imported into your PIM system from several different sources and mapped over to your product categories.

Manage: Your PIM consolidates digital product assets, product information, and detailed specifications for seamless collaboration between your product management team.

Enrich: A well-constructed PIM system automates the preparation and optimization of your product information.

Publish: At the touch of a button, the final version of your product information is exported to your various distribution channels.

Essentially, your PIM is at the heart of your operations, simplifying and automating product management tasks to drive online sales. You can run tasks in bulk, for added efficiency, without the worry of reformatting data to suit each marketplace. Improve collaboration across all departments, ensuring consistency of information for product development, sales, customer service, and marketing.

Why you need a PIM

Your PIM enables you to increase online sales across all sales channels by getting your products to market faster. Your customers have the information they need to make informed decisions because they get exactly what they want from every single product description. Product descriptions will also be totally accurate and up to date, as well as consistent across all versions and customer touch points.

With the right PIM, product data management processes are systemized, so your entire online sales department enjoys increased productivity and efficiency. You can expand your reach because your PIM makes omnichannel marketing a less complex endeavor. As a result, you deliver better conversion rates, lower Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), and stronger Return on Investment (ROI). Suddenly you can extend the capabilities of your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with next-generation product management capabilities. The PIM best suited for your business will integrate with your ERP system, extending its capabilities and making data import easier.

Through improved product content, your marketing team can underpin modern eCommerce techniques like hyper-personalization and Product Experience Management (PXM) to nurture a more meaningful rapport with your customers. You improve the customer experience because you can enrich your products and create a magnetic user journey. In addition, all departments can access at-a-glance product readiness information via a visual Business Intelligence (BI) dashboard with in-depth data analytics and reporting tools. Smarter decisions are made with critical insights.

Scalability is within reach because you no longer contend with the common performance bottlenecks caused by an outdated process. With a central platform to store all content, all departments with authorization can access content from any browser from any location or time zone.

The benefits of deploying a PIM, who will use it, and when to buy PIM

There are three main benefits to deploying a PIM:

Reduced time to market

Powerful automation and totally streamlined processes mean you can quickly get your product to market. Bulk updates enable you to quickly update large volumes of complex data that can then be enriched and distributed across multiple sales channels with a few simple clicks. As a result, you can gain vital extra selling days and create a true competitive edge.

Increased orders and Average Order Value (AOV)

With PIM, it’s easy to create product relationships, meaning you can serve customers with intelligent product recommendations that complement their purchases. With quality product data, you can shine a light on your higher-value items to increase AOV and overall offer better product experiences.

Reduced Returns

You have full visibility over the completeness and accuracy of your product data within your PIM. In addition, powerful workflows enable you to automate large parts of the enrichment process and define rules for when a product can be published. Having these workflows in place means you’ll never release a product with missing information. As a result, you know your customers will only ever see the most accurate and up-to-date information paired with i=high-quality digital assets that leave no room for confusion.

Who uses a PIM?

Once fully deployed, PIM cuts across many departments, including:

  • Senior Business Leaders
  • eCommerce & Online Sales
  • Product Managers
  • Sales and Marketing
  • IT
  • Finance
  • HR

To expedite implementation, the scope should be narrowed to focus on the current business pain points. From there, you can reduce the size of the team involved to streamline the process and avoid common pitfalls of emotional decision-making.

When to buy your first PIM?

Some common signs you’re ready for your first PIM include:

You’re managing thousands of SKUs

More products require more information which quickly becomes a monster to manage. If you’re creating or removing thousands of SKUs, a PIM helps prioritize which products need to be updated and identifies gaps in product data, saving you tons of time.

You’re looking to increase AOV with up-selling and cross-selling

Increasing Average Order Value (AOV) using cross-sells and up-sells is easy with PIM. You can create a bundle of complementary products to address consumer needs and use product data to create personalized product experiences.

You want to significantly increase organic traffic

PIM attracts search engines to your listings by making it easier to create enriched, keyword-relevant product descriptions. You can optimize your categories to create better product relationships and address technical SEO issues like duplicated content to ensure you follow search engine best practices. You can also improve the overall structure of your eCommerce site with high-quality product relationships, making it easier for your customers to find your products the first time around.

You’re managing product data from multiple suppliers

When you’ve got products coming in from multiple suppliers, data will likely come through in many different formats. PIM stores all product information in one centralized hub so you can check levels of completeness, set up feeds, and speed up how you process supplier data. 

You want to automate your product data across all sales channels

PIM streamlines the entire product information management process, ensuring your product data is optimized ahead of time.

Why should I care about how to buy a PIM solution, who will be involved, and what’s the procurement process?

A PIM solution is a “line-of-business” application like your ERP. To benefit from a PIM, you have to integrate it into your downstream applications, such as your ERP, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, Digital Asset Management (DAM) platform and the systems providing your supplier’s data. Your PIM then integrates to your upstream applications such as your eCommerce platform, B2B portals, etc. If you don’t consider these critical integrations in the buying process, you’ll soon find your choice is not providing the full benefit of a PIM.


Your PIM replaces the current processes of anyone who is involved in capturing, validating, enriching, and distributing product data/images/video/docs. This impacts team members who will need to be trained to use the new PIM solution. The PIM you choose needs a strong support team to provide that training for a smooth deployment of the system.

Finally, this will be a multi-disciplinary and multi-departmental project. A successful deployment typically requires buy-in from all involved, including leadership from these departments. To increase ROI, you will also want to ensure your PIM solution is future-proofed to avoid the expense or disruption of changing the PIM solution regularly. When you have buy-in across all involved departments, you will get the selection process right, so you have a sustainable, scalable solution that meets your needs for life.

Who will be involved in buying the PIM?

For successful decision-making and deployment, you need to involve all key players, including:


The procurement process

You need to be mindful of your overall budget during the procurement process. Clearly, how much you have available to invest in the software will impact which option you choose. If your budget is around $50,000 per year, you’re likely to run into trouble finding suppliers willing to expend too much effort and expense in getting your business. It all boils down to ROI and spending time to complete a lengthy Request For Information (RFI) and go through a protracted formal multistage process just won’t be worth it if they have never dealt with you before.

If you aren’t really sure what costs you are looking at for your PIM system, it might make more sense to have a “T-shirting” exercise. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it involves getting a selection of vendors to provide your key metrics (see below) and asking for budgetary quotes for the platform costs. This is sometimes called a mini RFI process.

Choosing the suitable procurement process

You need to decide which of the following procurement processes make the most sense for the resources you have available:

  1. Formal procurement process:

Here’s what is involved with the formal procurement process:

  • Project team: A project team defines the functional and non-functional requirements for the PIM.
  • The request for information RFI: A request for information is a questionnaire you create to ask relevant questions about a vendor’s products and services. It makes it easy to gather and review consistent information when narrowing down your vendor list. It should be based on the needs of the business, such as integration, training, features, etc. The RFI is sent to the vendors you feel meet your requirements.
  • Receive Back RFI: Once you receive your RFIs, you can select the key vendors you wish to move to the next phase.


  • Create a short list of vendors: Choose the vendors you’d like to move to the next step.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP): The RFP is shared with the short list of vendors as a formal request to respond to your requirements to show you how they meet your needs. This is important as it ensures you compare apples with apples. If you request a proposal instead of sending an RFP, it gets difficult to compare vendors based on your needs. The RFP should contain:
    • Introduction and Executive Summary
    • Instructions to the vendor: Mandatory structure of the proposal that will be submitted to you, proposal language, contact for questions, deadlines
    • A numbered list of requirements taken from your RFI
    • Information regarding Proof of Concept if you are using one (see below)
  • Response evaluation: Use an evaluation sheet based on the RFP to weigh the criteria you outlined against the responses received from each vendor. Add a few more columns to your spreadsheet to reflect Killer Criteria which are the price and your overall impression. Also, be sure to note things other vendors might not provide. This form shows you the basic idea of your evaluation sheet:


  • Vendor selection: With all this work complete, you can narrow your choices down to no more than two or three vendors you wish to approach for demonstrations. Choose the vendors using your evaluation sheet and Proof of Concept (POC) if you do one. Because it is common to see vendors measure up close to each other, your killer criteria tend to be the deciding factor in your decision.
  • Create a checklist by Vendor for demonstration: As you attend each demo, use a checklist to mark off everything they do so you can easily compare vendors.
  • Decide on preferred Vendor: Using your response evaluation and checklist, decide which vendor you prefer.
  • Proof of Concept (PoC): This is optional in the formal process. However, it is a good measure of soft factors and determining if the vendor can deliver on their promises. If you choose to do a PoC, mention this in your RFP, including the time when you will issue the PoC Scenarios to the vendors.
  • Commercials & Contract: This is the final step to formalize your agreement with the vendor.
  • Implementation Project Kick-Off: This is where the rubber hits the road with the deployment of your new PIM.
  1. Agile procurement:

Here is what’s involved with the agile procurement process:

  • Project team: A project team defines the functional and non-functional requirements for the PIM.
  • Define business issues/needs matrix: Along the same lines as the RFI, you need to define the issues your business faces, the needs that are leading to the purchase, and what you need the PIM to do for you.
  • Identify three to five Vendors: Instead of sending out RFIs and RFPs, you use market research to create your vendor shortlist.
  • Share business needs/issues matrix with Vendors: You share your matrix with the vendors so they understand your needs and can prepare a demonstration and quote.
  • Vendor demonstrations & pricing: The vendors perform a demo and explain how they meet your needs, and then provide a price.
  • Decide on preferred Vendor: You choose the vendor based on the one that best meets your budget and service needs.

You proceed with Commercials & Contract and the implementation as you would with the formal process.

Which to choose?

If you are a resource-heavy business with a team who can spare weeks of time and effort to create, send out and collect information from RFIs and RFPs, the formal process is the better choice. Because it involves many manual tasks, it is more time-consuming and can create difficulties for the suppliers, it isn’t really suited to smaller businesses. It’s definitely more thorough and sees a low risk of failure, which means you’re likely to meet your business needs. However, it’s just too lengthy and expensive for most companies, and vendors who see a small budget will be less likely to respond to your request.

Agile is clearly a simpler process. You get a better flow of information and clear communication, which means even small businesses can manage the tasks involved. However, it’s also easier on the vendor side, especially when lower budgets are involved. It’s the choice for objective/outcome-led businesses because it can be completed in a matter of days. Vendors are more engaged because they have a rapid/low-cost sales cycle. However, just keep in mind you are at higher risk of not finding the best fit.

Do you need external support when buying a PIM & what is vendor’s sales process?

Some companies feel safer going with an external consultant to help or manage the process of buying a PIM. There are pros and cons to going the consultant route:


  • They’ve been through the process many times and have a procurement methodology and templates in place
  • They’re familiar with the main Vendors in the market, so know who you should approach
  • Vendors take consultant requests more seriously as it shows you are searching for a vendor in earnest
  • The entire project is managed for you
  • Consultants are more objective and focus on the business needs without making emotional decisions
  • Their experience streamlines the process and reduces risks
  • As an objective player, they have a much higher probability of getting a final budgetary sign-off from the Senior Leadership Team


  • Consultants can add upwards of $1200 per day to your budget, which eats into the budget for the actual PIM
  • In some cases, they’re less objective in their vendor selection because they have existing preferences
  • They don’t know your business as well as you
  • They aren’t accountable for the selection because they’re long gone once implementation is underway

It really depends on your budget and comfort level with going it alone. If you have a knowledgeable team and a lower budget, then a consultant really isn’t necessary. Budget always comes into play, but if you simply don’t have the knowledge, a consultant might be worth the investment. Although big companies have both resources and knowledge, they have the luxury of going with a consultant to minimize risk.

Knowing the PIM vendor’s sales process

Most PIM Vendors will follow a defined internal sales process. This is often based on a proven method such as “MEDDIC.” You’d be surprised how useful it is to understand what answers they’ll need to determine whether their solution will be a good fit for you. As mentioned, vendors have to weigh the cost benefits of putting in the effort to go all out to woo you. Understanding the PIM provider’s sales process will enable you to get the best out of the buying process. It also ensures that the selected vendors will respond to your request, which will significantly speed up the process.

What is MEDDIC?

MEDDIC is an acronym for:

  • Metrics: What is the economic impact of their PIM solution for you?
  • Economic Buyer: Who is the person in your business that will make the final decision to buy?
  • Decision Process: Is there a defined project, and have you got a defined process/timetable for reviewing alternatives, making a selection and contracting with a preferred PIM solution provider?
  • Decision Criteria: What criteria will be important when you make your decision (functional fit, overall cost, time to deploy)?
  • Identify Pain: Have you identified the issues you currently have with your product information processes?
  • Champion: Who is the person in your business (is it you or someone else) that will be running the selection process and getting the PIM project signed off?

This sales process is designed, so the vendor finds qualified leads based on their criteria. If you’re dealing with vendors using this method, you have to be careful to show them that you’re worth their effort, perhaps sticking to the agile process to save them time and money.

The different types of PIM solutions

As with all IT software, there are different types of PIMs available. Here are the choices to consider:

On-premises PIM 

An on-premises PIM platform is purchased, licensed software housed on your own servers. You’re responsible for the PIM implementation, integration, maintenance, upgrades, and any customizations you want to make. You can either go for open source, where you can access, inspect, and make amends to the source code as you see fit or a proprietary platform where your PIM provider will be responsible for all upgrades and the development of any new features and functionalities.

Pros of on-premises:

  • Full control over coding/development of new features/functionalities
  • Stability – on-prem PIMs have usually been in place for a while and have remained unchanged

Cons of on-premises:

  • Requires significant initial investment/purchase and storage of hardware etc.
  • Requires a dedicated team of developers to set up/maintain the solution

SaaS or Cloud PIM

A Cloud PIM is hosted on the cloud by a third-party provider. They’re more scalable and flexible platforms than on-premises PIMs and are generally subscription-based. It’s usually offered as a SaaS PIM solution, so your PIM provider will have a team working alongside you.

Pros of SaaS:

  • Continued support/benefit from expertise
  • No need to host on-site
  • Less investment in terms of hardware etc.

Cons of SaaS:

  • No option to customize features/functionalities
  • No control over data security

Multi-Tenant SaaS or Single-Tenanted SaaS 

You can choose between a Multi-Tenant SaaS or Single-Tenanted SaaS. A single-tenant cloud environment provides a software resource per client run on the cloud server, while the multi-tenant is shared by more than one client, each operating from its own space.


Pros of Single-Tenancy:

  • More secure and reliable
  • Easy recovery of backups
  • Easier migration
  • Full control over the environment for more flexibility on updates and upgrades

Pros of Multi-Tenancy:

  • Lower cost due to shared resources
  • Maximum resource usage for optimum efficiency
  • A perfected onboarding process for easy setup
  • Less down time due to maintenance
  • Easy upgrades provided by the SaaS company


Open-source enables users to make their own changes and amends to the source code to meet their specific business requirements.

Pros of Open-Source PIM:

  • Little to no initial investment is required, with many options available for free
  • Completely configurable, enabling you to tailor it to suit your specific data models and business needs
  • Changes can be made at any time without limitations to the number of APIs you can add
  • Access to a large global community that offers guidance, best practices, and support

Cons of Open-Source PIM:

  • You’ll need a dedicated team of developers to implement and maintain it
  • Aren’t as user-friendly, with little to no training offered free of charge
  • Vulnerability to cyber threats as the security of the platform is not provided
  • Harder to find compatible connectors, and no complementary plugins are offered
  • Longer, more challenging implementation as you’re on your own

Combined PIM & DAM

This combination enables you to store product data alongside digital assets. As a result, you can create a central hub where you can gather, store, optimize and publish all your media files and associate them with the relevant products. It streamlines the process and makes it easier to collaborate across departments such as sales, marketing, and customer service.

PIM eCommerce Tech Stack Diagram

Pros of PIM & DAM:

  • Central repository for everything needed to effectively market and sell products online
  • Reduces interface risk of having two separate systems
  • Reduced cost with only one platform fee
  • Better for the environment with less energy expended to run two separate systems with duplicate data

Cons of PIM & DAM:

  • You might have already spent money on a DAM

When it comes to choosing the right type of PIM software, you want to ensure you’re consistently delivering amazing, seamless experiences across all channels and in all different languages. You need to streamline processes to focus on the above so team members can concentrate on their respective areas of expertise. This enables everyone to deliver better results.

Understanding your PIM/DAM requirements

Now we’ve helped you narrow down your vendors and determine the type of PIM software, we can look at defining your PIM/DAM requirements. How do you know what you need from a PIM so you can develop your model for effectively and efficiently selecting the right solution the first time? This boils down to what you do and what your future strategy looks like. You might have a specific function or run a vertically integrated business.

Your position in the supply chain significantly changes the type and use of product data that you capture, and the processes involved in using it. The key is to choose a PIM/DAM solution that you can implement for many years. That means it needs to remain sustainable and scalable, not hinder your ability to grow. So, what does your business need?


As a brand or manufacturer, your main concern is providing downstream sales channels with quality eComm-ready data. This helps you get your products to market faster. Since you’re responsible for the physical packaging and accompanying documentation such as product care, service, installation instructions, etc. but not the ‘digital product packaging,” your needs circle around the following:

  • Ability to create kits/modules: Managing the concept of components and a finished product with a PIM that enables you to take raw materials and/or components and create a finished good or module ready to sell.
  • Complex product associations: Managing vast volumes of complex product associations such as buttons or zippers for garments and aligning them with complex product associations easily. Think of a function such as ordering spare parts.
  • Multiple part codes: The ability to associate different product codes with the finished goods or components produced for multiple customers/brands.
  • More complex digital assets: Ingesting, storing, and auto-signing digital assets to be used with the associated components/products such as documents, 3D CAD images, images, videos, etc.
  • Downstream access of product data/digital assets with their customers: Securely granting access to customers’ product data and delivering product data in the right format via the right method in the right frequency. Batch file transfer capabilities for real-time APIs.
  • Spec Sheets, Instructions & Size Charts: Simplifying the Spec Sheets production process to suit different areas and languages across all sheets, including care instructions, material contents, allergy warnings, regulatory warnings, size charts, installation & service instructions. Managing all the respective data to generate the document/images is key. They have to populate in the DAM against the product, and if any changes are made, immediately recreate that asset and archive the old version.
  • Brand collateral: Ensuring updated product data, digital assets, and brand logos are easily available to retailers, with capabilities to vary assets based on geography or sales channel with strict governance to ensure brand consistency and speed to market.
  • Complex Variants: Restricting product channel exports to ensure appropriate product variants are valid for that channel and are sent in alignment with complex rules.


A distributor tends to have rights to sell a manufacturers/brand’s products in specific geographic locations and/or specific industry sectors either on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. Smaller brands tend to have exclusive arrangements, while larger brands have 2/3 distributors per region.

As a result, you can represent hundreds of brands and thousands of customers ranging from large multinational retailers to small one-man businesses. Offering your customers a high-quality multi-brand “eComm-ready” data set that enables them to get on their eComm platforms rapidly and effortlessly is a major consideration. Therefore, your PIM requirements include:

  • Ability to ingest a multitude of varied file and data formats for many product data feeds: Ingesting data from all your manufacturers/brands and managing the different file formats, different data structures, and field names.
  • Complex data validation & transformation: Validating data and transforming it into a consistent form, such as ensuring a color is spelled the same way.
  • Enterprise processing capability: True Enterprise-class architecture to manage all the data coming in.
  • Master Data Management: Creating a process that stores many different “values” for the same product/attribute with the ability to determine which data source is the “master” and which gets ignored. Audit records are also needed to show what primary was used and why.
  • Vendor Self Service: Providing a self-serve Vendor Portal to enable manufacturers/brands to access the data securely, upload it, and identify data issues.
  • Product Data Templates (PDT): Automated PDT creation for distributors’ Category of Products that can be shared with manufacturers/brands so they can understand exactly what product data, in what format, and what validation rules exist.
  • Language translation interfaces: Understanding varied languages and which attributes need translation to enable distributors to automatically generate the required translation files via a translation service and send it back to the PIM.
  • Ingestion and auto allocation of digital assets: Ability to auto-populate associated product images, videos, and documents with the product/variant.
  • Generation of multiple product data feeds for its customers: Ability to adapt to the customized product data feeds that are optimized for customers’ exact platform requirements.


Retailers come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own complexities and brand-based approach to selling, including:

  • Their own website and/or brick-and-mortar store
  • Printed Catalog
  • Market Places such as Amazon/eBay/WalMart
  • B2B purchasing portals
  • Listing in multiple languages and selling in multiple countries
  • Selling products under multiple brands
  • Selling wholesale to other Retailers – especially for their over-stocked items
  • Various numbers of products/SKUs/suppliers
  • High average unit value items (e.g., jewelry) or low unit value (e.g., pens)
  • Products requiring a large number of attributes (e.g., laptops) or a low number (e.g., T-shirt)
  • A high churn in products (e.g., fashion) each season/year or rarely churns (e.g., nuts/bolts/screws)
  • Various sized e-Comm teams with single or multiple locations

As the last step in the supply chain, this is where the customer makes their purchase. As a result, you need to reduce the time and cost to bring a product to market but increase the number of customers. You also want customers to buy from you more frequently and increase the Average Order Value of each purchase. Last but not least, you also need to reduce return rates. Therefore, the key steps you want your PIM to streamline include:

  • Quick ingestion of products: Ingesting hundreds of products from a varied number of suppliers as quickly as possible.
  • Language translation interfaces: Understanding what languages and which attributes need translation so distributors can automatically generate the required translation files and get them back to the PIM, so it is populated against the product.
  • Ingestion and auto allocation of digital assets: Auto population of associated product images, videos, and documents to the product/variant.
  • Cross-sells, up-sells, and alternate products: Creating associations amongst products to encourage upselling and cross-selling or to present alternate products of varying prices and features to increase the average basket and avoid desertion when products are sold out or too expensive.
  • Multi-brand/use case: Storing multiple “variations” of product attributes/digital assets to be used in different channels and run for specific output product data channels.
  • Campaign Management: Holding multiple campaigns for incremental revenues with access to specific product descriptions/prices/digital assets that can automatically be switched on and off based on time/date.
  • Shop the look: Putting products into collections for sales tactics such as shopping the look for fashion or a room.
  • Ability to handle multiple channels now and in the future: Easily set up products for different channels and marketplaces based on the required product data, attributes, and digital asset formats for each channel.
  • Transforming images: Storing one version of each asset in the highest definition so it can automatically be transformed/resized and renamed for use in various mediums, channels, and marketplaces.

“Software only” or “full service” PIM vendor & what are the costs?

There will potentially be four areas of cost when deploying a PIM solution.

  1. PIM software license

The cost of your PIM License depends on not only what you need now but what you will need in the future. Below is a table of metrics that should cover most of the typical variables that could affect the PIM Software License:

  • Your business metric now and in the future
  • Number of SKUs
  • Number of Languages
  • Number of Data Imports Feeds
  • Number of Data Export Feeds (e.g., website, Amazon)
  • Number of Connectors – to other platforms (e.g., ERP, eCom)
  • Number of Brands
  • Number of Users
  • Amount of Storage Needed
  • Number of Marketplaces (e.g., Amazon/WalMart)
  • Level of Support Required
  1. Hardware & storage requirements

 If you are using a SaaS PIM/DAM platform, then there should be no additional costs for running the platform. That said, if you’re installing the PIM/DAM solution on-premises, then you’ll need to understand how much it will cost for the following:

  • Hardware
  • Storage
  • Software
  • Datacenter
  • Power
  • Accommodation
  • IT support

Don’t forget to factor in any replacement hardware over the lifetime of the PIM implementation. Also, if you’re looking at a customized, single instance SaaS deployment, there could be additional costs for running the platform over the license costs. Be sure you clarify this with the vendor.

  1. Implementation costs

This is a cost often overlooked in the whole PIM budget calculation. PIMs won’t implement themselves, and they also need to be integrated into existing platforms. This is the first part of the costs. The second is training your team on the new PIM platform. The key parts of implementation costs will be:

  • Understanding the required product data needs for your sales channels
  • Importing and transforming/cleansing existing data
  • Designing and implementing process automations
  • Implementing and testing data/platform connections
  • User acceptance and stress testing
  • Going live

Again, having a detailed scope of work in writing is critical for implementation as it sets out what is required and who is responsible for each deliverable. Remember, if your PIM Vendor is using a third-party connector provider, those costs may be passed on to you in some cases. As well, there could be integrations or customized functionalities written.

As mentioned above, you need to clarify who will be writing, implementing, and supporting any integrations or customized functionality when working with a software-only vendor. If customized functionality is included in the core PIM platform, the third-party writing and supporting these functionalities become an essential supplier, which again contributes to your costs.

  1. Ongoing support

In most cases, support is included in the Annual License Fee for a SaaS Solution. However, if you need any support over and above the standard included, you might face additional costs. For example, if further training is required, or you want them to train new team members, they might charge a fee for their time. For on-premises installations, remember to include the support costs for the hardware/software for the servers/storage.

The cost and effort to deploy a PIM solution call for a thorough process when selecting your PIM. By going into the process with your eyes wide open, you are more likely to take all the most important factors into consideration and reduce the risk of making the wrong choice. With the right PIM, you can increase online sales across all sales channels, get your product to market faster, and provide your customers with the information they need to make informed decisions.

Hopefully, we’ve provided a better understanding of how to buy a PIM so you can gain full advantage of all the functionality of a suitable, well-thought-out PIM implementation.

If you’re interested in discussing how a PIM solution can help you reach your goals quickly and efficiently, book your personalized demo today.

Appendix A

Information Template for a PIM Solution

This appendix describes what information you should provide to a PIM/DAM solution provider to ensure that you not only get a well-qualified response and that they will respond.

  • Company Description

    Write a small section about your company and include your company metrics.

    Example – “RSTUV, Inc. is a $200m revenue, 500 employee retailer of children’s clothing based in Belvidere, Illinois that sells direct to consumer through 25 retail stores in the USA and online.”

    1. company name
    2. what your company does – i.e., manufacturer/distributor/retail
    3. B2B or B2C or both
    4. What types of products
    5. Countries you operate in
    6. Number of employees
    7. Turnover
  • Explain the reason for looking at a PIM and the problems you are trying to solve.

    Draft a summary of your current problems and why you are looking to consider a PIM solution now, problems could be:

    1. Takes too long in time & effort to get a product listed online
    2. It’s difficult to manage associated items, cross-sells, and upsells
    3. High level of returns due to poor/inaccurate product descriptions/data
    4. Current product data enrichment processes are manual and cumbersome
    5. Experience lots of errors/omissions in product data/descriptions
    6. Remove duplication between online/instore/print marketing
    7. Looking to expand your product catalog significantly
    8. Product digital assets are difficult to manage
    9. Wanting to expand digital assets into video/3D/pdfs
    10. Looking to expand languages
    11. Listing on more marketplaces
    12. Creating additional niche branded online web stores to expand reach
    13. Easier management of sales/campaigns such as Father/Moms Day, Black Friday
    14. Introducing instore digital POS promotions, digital shelf tickets


“We’re looking to expand our product ranges to include children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and travel goods, manage additional languages and look to list on additional marketplaces such as eBay & Wal-Mart. Our current processes are heavily reliant on siloed teams working on shared spreadsheets for data enrichment with limited ability to trap errors and understand bottlenecks. In addition, we would prefer an integrated PIM/DAM to remove the current shared drive/multi-image and be capable of video and 3D”

  • Basic metrics enable a PIM provider to give a reasonable estimate as to the fit and cost of their PIM solution

Metric Now Future
Number of Products
Number of Categories (eg homewares/clothes)
Number of SKUs
Approx. Number of New Products per year
Max Number of Variants in a Product
Number Languages
Number of Websites/Portals
Number of Marketplaces (eg Amazon/WalMart)
Number of staff involved in product data
Number of customers that take a product feed
Number of suppliers providing product feed
  • Current platforms enable a PIM provider to understand the software they will need to be integrating to.

Platform Type (where appropriate) Platform Name
ERP/Warehouse/Finance System
eCommerce Platform
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
Order Management Platform (OMS)
Marketplace Listing Platform
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
Customer Relationship Platform (CRM)
Sales Support Platform
  • Timescales and other systems that may be getting replaced/upgraded at the same time.

    Example – “RSTUV, Inc. is currently looking to upgrade its eComm platform at the same time and expect to be rolling out the new platforms by Q4 202X.

Who in your organization will be responsible for determining whether a PIM/DAM project will go ahead and ultimately choose a preferred solution provider?

Ideally, state who you are and what department you are from, and your preferred method of contact – usually email unless the response is urgent.

Appenix B

Potential Questions to include in your RFI

Area Question
AI Support AI-based product description generation?
AI Use AI-based tools for checking/correcting grammar and spelling in product fields?
AI Use AI to improve product description persuasiveness/sentiment (i.e., the system suggests wording changes that will lead to higher conversion rates)?
AI Utilize AI to automatically tag content/generate metadata (e.g., for images, and videos)?
AI Can you grade data quality across your product range (e.g content quality, SEO, completeness)
API How many REST API’s do you make accessible for your PIM application?
API Are the APIs that are exposed to your customers the same as those used internally to build your PIM application?
API Leverage webhooks to sync/ integrate with external services? (If so, please provide a link to documentation)
API Do you version your APIs or evolve them?
API Do you make Postman (or similar) API collections available to merchants/ users?
API Do you impose a rate limit on the number of API calls for your PIM application?
API How are your APIs secured
Attributes Allow product relationship taxonomy, enabling product substitutes, cross-sells, and up-sells? How are these relationships created & maintained
Attributes Can attributes be configured i.e., calculated from other attributes?
Attributes Support one-to-many and many-to-many relationship mapping between products and other entities (parts, dealers, etc.)
Attributes Support heuristic, probabilistic, and deterministic matching algorithms?
Attributes Support unlimited product attributes?
Attributes Support unlimited product hierarchies?
Attributes Are attributes dynamically hidden from products where they are not relevant?
Attributes Do you have an HTML editor in both WYSIWYG and source code?
Catalog Do you have a web-based digital catalog to easily share with internal/external customers, that also includes digital assets?
Catalog Can external customers access new product launches from a portal – follows on from the above point, if they say yes.
Catalog Provide customer-specific catalogs with multiple price lists (i.e., specific clients have unique catalogs assigned to them)?
Catalog Support predictive catalog decision-making? (i.e., the system will suggest a catalog structure based on data/content being uploaded)
Catalog Generate all the required InDesign files for printing, utilizing InDesign character, paragraph, table, and object styles
Catalog From product data held produce price listings, technical sheets, sizing guides, etc.
Catalog Produce output in various formats – InDesign, print PDF, interactive PDF, JPEG
Catalog Multiple, user-definable output styles and templates give designers control of output and offer unrivaled flexibility
Catalog Full pagination and ordering, Various types of indexes created, e.g., product code index, title index & index of terms managed in Pimberly
Catalog fully compatible with scoped & localized data, e.g., for language or season-specific publications
Catalog Production stages to give all users overview of lifecycle management
Catalog Customers can choose to work in single pages, double-page spreads or multi-page documents
Catalog Versioning of assets allows viewing of previous versions
Connectors How many commerce platforms do you have pre-built integrations with (e.g., Magento, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify, etc.)?
Connectors What many ERPs do you have pre-built integrations with (e.g., Oracle, Infor, SAP, etc.)?
Connectors What many PLM systems do you have pre-built integrations with (e.g., Bamboo Rose, Centric Software, PTC, etc.)?
Connectors What many Marketing Campaign Management vendors do you have pre-built integrations with (e.g., Marketo, Hubspot, Salesforce (Pardot), etc.)?
DAM Support the ability to classify and search derivative images?
DAM Support the ability to batch searches of images?
DAM Support for relational data modeling of content metadata (i.e., this component of an image/audio file is related to another component of an image/audio file on another product)?
DAM Support XML, CAD, vector graphics (CGI), and other structured content types?
DAM Have the ability to syndicate rich media?
DAM Automatically attach images to products by naming convention
DAM Access Image Metadata and map to & populate PIM attributes
DAM Ability to adjust the size on export
DAM Ability to adjust file type on export
DAM Ability to create file names dynamically from attributes on export
DAM Auto associate products that appear on the same image i.e., Shop The Look
DAM Ability to auto crop on export
DAM Ability to auto generate PDF documents such as Spec Sheets/Sell Sheet
DAM Ability to auto-generate combination images such as Logo x Product
DAM How do you ingest bulk image sets
DAM Do you have the ability to drag & drop images into the DAM
Data Allow merging controls to be extended to the attribute level (i.e., Users can define which fields are populated\updated from which source)
Data How many formats (file types, methods, etc.) does the PIM system support data ingestion?
Data Incorporate data from other systems in reports/visualizations?
Data Support exports consisting of just changes, down to the attribute level?
Data Auto-generate product descriptions
Data Detect and assist spelling mistakes and grammar – if so, how?
Data Allow data validation rules per attribute channel
Data Allow unlimited variants for each attribute
Data Can attributes be renamed on import and export
Data What hierarchy levels does the PIM support i.e., Style, color, size?
Data Can you Bundle products together for the shopping experience i.e., Mothers’ Day
Data Do you support different ‘tones of voice’ for sales channels?
Data How do you support date/time product releases
Data Can the PIM support manual reject / edit / approval functionality?
eComm Enable A/B testing of product information/content?
eComm Enable sales conversion analysis?
eComm Provide SEO tools to optimize content/data for search indexing?
eComm Support the ability to present personalized product information to a customer based on their data and in-session activity?
eComm Support ratings and reviews management associated with specific products or attributes?
Language How many languages does your PIM application?
Language How many languages does your PIM application fully support in the UI?
Language Does your PIM auto translate language – if so, how?
Language How many languages does your PIM application allow product attributes to be held in?
MarketPlaces Support Amazon/Amazon Business taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support eBay taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support Etsy taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support Alibaba taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support Walmart taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support Wayfair taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support Google Shopping taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support Facebook taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support Instagram taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support Instacart taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support GDSN taxonomies/data export standards out of the box?
MarketPlaces Support the ability to preview how product pages will look on individual product pages/channels, such as those mentioned above?
MarketPlaces Support automatic detection of changes for specific channels (i.e. the system detects if the taxonomy changes for Amazon Business and notifies users/ adjust accordingly)?
Pricing How many pricing options do you regularly offer customers for your PIM application?
Pricing What are the key factors determining price?
Pricing Do you charge for channels
Pricing Do you charge based on user count
Pricing Do you charge for languages
Pricing Do you charge for using the DAM
Pricing Do you charge for Connectors
Pricing Do you charge for workflows
Pricing Do you offer a sandbox, and if so, what is the charge?
Reference Provide an online library of products and services so merchants can pre-populate and cross-check with their product information?
Reference Enable merchants to contribute their product information and content to a catalog repository, which other users can access and utilize for their own catalogs?
Reference Provide access to external content repositories (enabling the PIM to act as a content hub)?
Reporting What reporting/dashboards enable a customer to identify bottlenecks?
Reporting Enable customers to tailor reports to different personas?
Reporting Enable reporting/benchmarking of PIM API call performance/responsiveness?
Reporting What BI reporting tools do you support
Reporting What user-specific performance reporting exists
Software Do you offer a Free POC? If so for how long?
Software How often are minor product updates released to customers?
Software Support multi-factor authentication for users?
Software Do you offer a marketplace or app store of complementary, pre-integrated solutions/plugins?
Software Is your PIM application cloud-native?
Software What cloud infrastructure (IaaS) providers can your digital commerce application be deployed on? (e.g., AWS, Azure, GCP, etc.)
Software Do your customers have the ability to deploy your digital commerce application on the cloud infrastructure (IaaS) of their choice?
Software Is your application true SaaS Multi Tenanted
Software What is the % uptime promised in your SLA to customers with standard support?
Software What is the % uptime promised in your SLA to customers with premium support?
Software What is your actual % uptime delivered to customers?
Software How often do you provide customers with a product roadmap update?
Software How do customers request new functionality
Software Do you inform customers directly in the PIM application when a new feature is available from the roadmap?
User Experience What user authentication is available (OAuth2, SSO, etc.)
User Experience How do the UIs change to reflect the specific User/Task/Activity?
User Experience Do you allow permissions to be set at multiple “levels” including object, field, action, and dimensions also per language/geography?
User Experience Are users able to see a complete history of all previous changes made to product information/content – by product/user?
User Experience Utilize corporate directory data to assign permissions (Active Directory, LDAP, other identity management systems)?
User Experience Provide the ability to compare products side by side (i.e., based on dimensions or other attributes)?
User Experience Support bulk edits – both horizontal and vertical?
User Experience Detect when the data in an external system/ selling channel becomes inaccurate?
User Experience Enable customers to visually explore their entire product catalogs, including relationships and hierarchies?
User Experience Let users edit product information directly within reports or search results?
User Experience Support accessibility standards?
User Experience Enable drag-and-drop configuration of the application UI for administrators?
User Experience Enable configuration of workflows without coding?
User Experience Do you provide retail-specific functionality? (If so, please briefly describe)
User Experience Do you provide manufacturing-specific functionality? (If so, please briefly describe)
User Experience Do you provide distribution-specific specific functionality? (If so, please briefly describe)
User Experience Do you provide Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) specific functionality? (If so, please briefly describe)
Vendor Portal Offer self-service tools for suppliers to upload product information and content?
Vendor Portal Provide rule-based validation checks to ensure the quality of data prior to ingestion – and reporting?
Vendor Portal What are the costs of the portal?
Vendor Portal Does this have the ability for Upstream and Downstream access?
Workflows Can PIM workflows be managed and configured entirely without code?
Workflows What level of complexity and functions can be used in workflows?
Workflows Provide a graphical workflow designer?
Workflows Provide notifications (for assignment, completion, overdue, etc.) and task status dashboards?
Workflows Can 3rd party stakeholders (such as suppliers) be included in workflows, enabling PIM users to assign tasks and notifications with 3rd parties – if so, how do they get access?
Workflows Allow workflows to be triggered based on both external signals/events (e.g. a product going out of stock)
Technical support Do you have a dedicated technical support team?
Technical support What hours of support are covered?
Technical support Where is your support based – is it 24x7x365 coverage?
Technical support What placement methods are available (self-service, e-mail, phone)?
Technical support Is there access to a knowledgebase?
Technical support What SLAs are offered?
Implementation Do you provide implementation services or utilize a 3rd Party?
Implementation What is the typical implementation timeline from start to end?
Implementation What are the key milestones/stages & known prerequisites or dependencies to start?
Implementation What resource will be provided during implementation? What is the recommended resourcing expectations client side?
Implementation Is implementation resource chargeable? If so, how is that broken down and tracked? How is it billed (i.e., weekly, monthly, per milestone, end of project)?
Implementation What is the typical delivery model/method (i.e., Prince 2, Agile), and how will the tasks be managed?
Implementation What is the typical delivery & communication style during the project (i.e., face-to-face training/meetings, online training/meetings) & how much contact time is expected each week?
Implementation How are changes in requirements managed?
Implementation Are there any known delivery risks, and how are these mitigated?
Implementation What governance and tools are used to track deliverables during the implementation?
Implementation Why do you think you can deliver this project?
Implementation Can the client be involved in the configuration of the solution?
Implementation Do you charge for re-training/extra training?

What our customers are doing with PIM

Pimberly Success Story: Westcoast
Pimberly Success Story: Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports

See us in action!

Creating a product in Pimberly Screenshot