3 things to consider when implementing a PIM

Three things to consider when buying a new PIM system

For most organisations that use one, a PIM (Product Information Management) system is the definition of mission-critical infrastructure. Switching between platforms is a major undertaking and represents a big commitment of resources and time, not to mention risk.  

But sometimes, switching can deliver tangible, long-term results — from reduced licensing or operational costs to the realisation of new commercial opportunities.  

This post isn’t intended to persuade you about the merits of one PIM system over another. Instead, we look at three areas that everyone should consider when replacing their PIM system or purchasing one for the first time.  

The upfront cost 

PIM systems are highly specialised and vitally important enterprise applications, engineered to meet specific business needs and deliver high levels of reliability and uptime, which is key for business continuity. Inevitably, this often translates into a steep price tag.  

The upfront cost and payment structure of any PIM licensing deal should be one of the first factors you consider. Take time to scrutinise the terms of any licensing deal, paying attention to:  

  • The overall annual cost, and whether the licence is structured as a recurring monthly cost, an annual lump sum, or a single one-off payment.  

  • Whether the licence covers the features you need. If you need an on-prem or private cloud solution, but the proposed deal only covers a SaaS subscription, then it’s time to return to the negotiating table. 

  • Will the licence fee change with the number of users or products? 

  • Does the fee include technical and developer support, long-term updates, security patches, and everything your organisation needs to keep your PIM system protected and operational?  

The long-term costs

This point is often the hardest to determine - nobody knows what the future holds. But, by considering a few points, you can make some reasonable assumptions:  

  • Is the licence fee or subscription fixed, and if so, for how long?  

  • How quickly can you integrate the new system into your operations? Developer-friendliness is an important attribute – and one that is often overlooked.  

  • Most PIM systems have an API or include ready-to-use extensions, but how capable are they? If your broader technology landscape changes, your PIM system should have the flexibility to adapt.  

  • Are they scalable? Some PIM systems work best with smaller organisations dealing with smaller inventories, but struggle at scale. Likewise, some systems are intended for organisations dealing with hundreds of thousands of items and users but are overkill for smaller organisations.  

  • Does the licensing agreement cover your expected support needs? If you need to tap into the vendor's expertise beyond your contractual allowances, how much will it cost? Over the lifecycle of an application, these costs can (and do) mount up.  

Developer and administrative friendliness

The developer-friendliness of a solution has an outsized influence on the value you’ll derive from your PIM system and will make the integration easier. 

You can customise the application to your organisation’s unique needs, rather than accept a one-size-fits-all solution. An extensible PIM typically has shorter deployment times and can reduce the time-to-market for new features and integrations.  

If your chosen PIM system supports advanced authentication features (like oAuth or SAML), it’ll also play nice with whatever identity access management (IAM) tool you use, like Ping Identity, ForgeRock, or Okta. This, in turn, means that your workers will be able to securely access it — even when they’re working remotely.  

A developer-friendly PIM can be a game-changer. It can save you money. After all, developer time isn’t free. And it can radically increase the amount of value you derive from your investment.  

Making the right decision

At the start of this blog, we said that we wouldn’t be advocating one PIM solution over the other. However, it’s worth listing a few major PIM solutions, if only to illustrate the vast differences between providers and why any PIM procurement process demands careful consideration.  

  • Akeneo: This cloud-centric PIM system puts user-friendliness and extensibility first. Akeneo’s greatest strengths are its ability to create product hierarchies, as well as its vast library of ready-made integrations. And there’s even an open-source version for those looking to build something completely bespoke, or simply wish to try before they buy.  

  • STIBO Systems: For those who prioritise flexibility, this highly-ranked PIM system is a worthy choice.  Its powerful API makes it simple to customise, extend, and integrate, and it’s engineered to deliver total visibility over your inventory and supply chain data. This is a platform we know well, with the SQLI Group ranked as the Stibo System Integrator of the Year 2023.  

  • Informatica PIM: A popular choice for B2C businesses operating at scale, this highly usable system makes it easy to onboard new suppliers and access sales data. For data-driven retailers, this is a worthy choice.  

  • InRiver PIM: This well-rounded platform has something for large B2C and B2B retailers alike. While its licensing fees aren’t the cheapest, InRiver PIM is undeniably capable — and, therefore, worth considering.  

  • ContentServ PIM: Designed for easy-deployment, easy long-term maintenance, and high data visibility, it’s no surprise this PIM platform powers many of the world’s leading B2C brands. For those looking for a solution they can deploy quickly, ContentServ is a compelling option.  

Those four vendors represent a tiny proportion of the available choices. And yet, they demonstrate how platforms differ in terms of capabilities, cost, and specialisation. It’s important you pick the right solution for your business.  

And before you go down this path, it’s worth talking to experts who know the industry inside out. SQLI has decades of experience, implementing PIM solutions of different types, for different industries, and for clients with the most bespoke needs. Our experts can walk you through every step of the process: from evaluation and procurement to deployment and integration.  

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