The Top 6 E-commerce Platforms to Build a Website With in 2021

The Top 6 E-commerce Platforms to Build a Website With in 2021

The Top 6 E-commerce Platforms to Build a Website With in 2021

Top 6 E-commerce platforms to build a website with in 2021

Selling online doesn’t have to be as pain-staking as they make it out to be. With the right e-commerce platform, you can give your customers an online store that is easily navigable, offers enough payment gateways, has a smooth-running order and content management system, and a sleek web-design to top it all off.

Choosing the right platform for your store is a crucial decision which will have a lasting impact on your business. You have to consider the cost of each platform, and decide whether you want to opt for an open-source platform or a cloud-based solution. After thorough research, we have gathered the 6 best e-commerce platforms in the market that you can use to jump-start your online business. These platforms are:

  • Shopify
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • Squarespace
  • Magento
  • Wix

We’ll dive into all the important features for these e-commerce platforms to give you an overview.


Shopify is a long time player in the e-commerce industry, and one of the most popular and trusted platforms. It hosts over one million stores, has 2.1 million active users, and $155B+ worth of sold goods on the platform. With built-in features that help accommodate new users easily, Shopify has a very user-friendly interface. 

Extensions and Integrations

Shopify has its own in-built App Store that supports thousands of applications, allowing users to increase their portfolio and make use of various functionalities for their online stores. If you’re looking to gather in-depth analytics of your website and viewer behaviour, or you want to manage your product data using a PIM software, you can find these and many more on the Shopify App Store. Similarly, if you’re looking to boost your SEOs, the store has a bunch of apps for that too. You name it, and Shopify will have an app for it.

All you need to do is determine what your website needs, and then look for it on the App Store. It’s also a great idea to read up reviews before you install an app or integration.

Pricing & Payment Options

Shopify’s plans start from $29/month and include all the main features, but the significant difference comes from the transaction fees per payment received from the customer. The fees for online credit card rates start from 2.9% + 30¢, and there is an additional charge of 2% for using any payment provider that isn’t already registered with Shopify.

We’ve listed out Shopify payment plans for you:

Basic Shopify plan: $29/month

2 accounts: 

  • Shipping discount up to 64%
  • Online credit card fee 2.9% + 30¢ or 2% using other providers
  • Shopify plan: $79/month

5 accounts

  • Shipping discount up to 72%
  • Online credit card fees 2.6% + 30¢ or 1% using other providers.
  • Advanced Shopify plan: $299/month

15 accounts

  • Third-party shipping rates calculations
  • Shipping discount up to 74%
  • Online credit card fee 2.4% + 30¢ or 0.5% using other providers

The cheaper plans are suitable for smaller businesses that can’t afford to pay for the bigger plans. However, the higher transaction fee is a big drawback, and businesses also miss out on custom reports that can give them valuable insight into consumer trends and behaviour. Shopiyfy has a 14-day free trial which you can sign up for without any credit card information. This gives you enough time to test out the platform, acquaint yourself with the Shopify Admin features, and create a store before going live.

You can use the in-house developed Shopify Payments platform for your Shopify store which is integrated with most major gateways from credit cards, to Google Pay, Apple Pay, Stripe, etc. You can track and manage all your payments, and the platform offers increased security protocols with Level 1 PCI compliance and default fraud analysis.

Customer Support

A 24/7 customer support line is available over email, live chat, and phone for users paying for Shopify. This isn’t something every e-commerce platform is able to provide its users, which makes Shopify one of the best when it comes to customer support, with the platform being available in different countries around the world, having varying time zones. 

You can also reach Shopify’s support team via Twitter. After starting a Twitter support session, you’re simply redirected to a direct message at Shopify’s Twitter, where you can have a conversation with a representative, similar to the live chat. 

Shopify provides a huge and easily searchable knowledge base, offering guides on multiple topics related to orders, products, deliveries, and so on. They also provide you with valuable materials that give advice on growing and scaling your e-commerce business.

Order Management System (OMS) and Content Management System (CMS)

Shopify’s streamlined CMS interface allows sellers to easily add, edit and upload their product data, and track inventory of whichever products they wish to. Sellers can add keywords to aid in searching for products, and the drag-and-drop feature lets users set up their stores easily, and exactly how they want it.

The CMS admin interface immediately notifies sellers if inventories are running low, with an interactive real-time statistics panel. An in-built CMS is ideal for those selling on multiple channels, and dealing with multiple vendors, as keeping track of orders and inventory otherwise would be complicated and tedious.

Shopify also offers fulfilment services that let users outsource their shipping, such as through Fulfillment by Amazon. This CMS has been designed specially by SEO experts in order for Shopify stores to rank on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

There are also hundreds of Order Management extensions available on the Shopify App Store. Information and reviews of these extensions are easily available on the Shopify Blog. These extensions allow sellers to keep up with all new orders, and track shipping and payment of these orders. Sellers can customize their order views filtered by their most current status. There is also an option for automatic cancellation of orders with immediate chargeback. 


The name says it all for this e-commerce platform that is best suited for companies with big operations. BigCommerce is built for large enterprises offering a wide range of products, or for startups looking for immediate expansion. It’s also well suited for users that have brick and mortar stores and are looking to start online operations. 

The platform offers a plethora of features, with a lot of advanced features suited for professionals with more experience. They also have a whole community of designers and developers available to lend your business a helping hand. This platform, however, isn’t as user-friendly as Shopify. While you can use customizable templates to beautify your store without having any coding knowledge, users must possess some knowledge on web design to efficiently use the platform’s advanced features. 

Extensions & Integrations

Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce also offers various apps and integrations for sellers to add to their functionalities, and provide the ultimate consumer experience. Some of the apps are free, and others can charge a high fee depending on what you need.

Pricing & Payment Options 

BigCommerce offers different pricing plans that businesses can choose from. They all come with different features, of course. But the major difference arises in the types of reports you can get. 

  • BigCommerce Standard: $29.95 per month.
  • BigCommerce Plus: $79.95 per month.
  • BigCommerce Pro: $299.95 per month.
  • BigCommerce Enterprise: Custom pricing according to features.

BigCommerce is very convenient with its payment gateways, as they offer over 65 options dealing in over 140 currencies. They also don’t charge any extra fee for using third-party integrations, unlike Shopify.  All of their online payment solutions are PCI compliant and integrated into the platform, so that businesses don’t have to go through any hassle of setting these up themselves. 

Customer Support 

BigCommerce’s support team is available 24/7 via phone, email or chat. These representatives can answer any queries related to setting up your store, growing your business, boosting conversion, and much more. 

There is also a Help Center full of online resources that can guide you through everything you need to set up a full and running BigCommerce store. 

Order Management System (OMS) and Content Management System (CMS) 

BigCommerce is great for multichannel selling and offers one of the best CMS in the market, that allows you to manage larger product catalogs easily, and comes with an abandoned cart recovery feature that is great to lure customers back to your website. 

The platform is PCI compliant and users can connect to other CMS solutions (including custom solutions) while utilizing the BigCommerce shopping cart. It’s also one of the best platforms for SEO optimization with built-in analytics enabling your business to track performance levels, and identify your user metrics and trends, allowing you to make better decisions by identifying your target audience’s buying behaviour.

While there are many integrations for Order Management on BigCommerce, you don’t necessarily need them for your business immediately. BigCommerce has in-built tools through which you can manage your orders. If using channel integrations like Amazon, BigCommerce consolidates all orders from those channels for you, creating a single location for all your orders. 

If you want additional order management tools not already integrated with BigCommerce, you can choose from extensions like NetSuite, Brightpearl, and Order Desk, which will help you seamlessly coordinate all your fulfillment processes. 


Magento is an open-source solution, available in self-hosted and cloud-hosted options, that is more suited towards brands that have IT and development teams on hand. In more recent years, Magento has launched Magento 2, also known as Magento Commerce Cloud, allowing for easier data integration. 

This platform lets you keep 100% control of your e-commerce business and while some businesses might see this as an advantage, other smaller businesses prefer giving control to platforms and only carrying out basic operations from their own end. Having full control of the platform means regular bug updates that need to be done by your own team, and requiring entire site integrations. Doesn’t sound like a pleasant task if you’re a small business or startup without the expertise, does it? That’s why Magento is more suited for businesses who have the resources to take on a lot of the business functions themselves, and wish to have full autonomy of their online stores. 

Integration & Extensions

Magento users get access to a digital marketplace from where you can buy different themes and extensions to make your website look more appealing. Magento Business Intelligence is an analytics tool that allows the platform’s users to get a view of the customer journey and performance which can help them make better business decisions, and enhance user experience. 

Magento is the only e-commerce platform that offers white label services. The Magespacex extension  enables smaller companies with fewer resources to expand with the help of Magento. Magespacex executes the plan under the brand name of the company meaning your customers will never see a different brand name or logo. This service is great for companies that want to expand, but face financial or other restrictions. 

Before you finalize the purchase of any extensions, refer to a developer to confirm version compatibility of the extensions you intend to buy. There is a possibility that an extension could cause errors and impact your page load speed. Thus, experts suggest to limit the number of extensions on your Magento store. 

Pricing & Payment Options

 Magento has two plans: Magento Community Edition and Magento Enterprise Edition. The Magento Community Edition is completely free, and users just need to download and install to set up their stores. This free version allows users to apply unlimited customizations to make the store according to their needs. 

The Magento Enterprise Edition comes with countless features and tools that users can integrate with their online stores. However, these come at a hefty cost starting from $22,000 per year. 

The platform is integrated with PCI Compliant Payment Solutions, but website owners are responsible for setting up their own payment getaways. They can also get extensions from the Magento marketplace. The platform has integrated checkout, payment, and shipping modules, but again, users need to set these up themselves. 

Customer Support 

There isn’t any direct technical support with the open-source Magento version. However, users can access guides, walkthroughs, and forums dedicated to any questions related to Magento’s platform or customer support page. There are also developers available for hire who specialize particularly in Magento’s online stores. 

Order and Content Management Systems

The Magento OMS is a flexible and affordable solution that allows managing, selling, and fulfilling inventory requirements through multiple sales channels. It helps provide customers with a seamless experience, increasing sales while reducing costs and accelerating the time to market.

Magento’s CMS offers a convenient drag-and-drop page builder which doesn’t require technical skills – you choose a page layout and build a page by dragging content blocks (like headings, banners, media), filling them in with data and arranging them on a page. You can easily switch between editing and previewing to achieve your desired page look and feel. A drag-and-drop page builder gives ecommerce teams the freedom to focus on creative vision, rather than some kind of programming expertise. 

Users can buy a full-fledged CMS software from the Magento marketplace to further improve content management with tools already integrated in Magento. 


WooCommerce is not your typical standalone e-commerce platform. It’s a little different, and also super easy to install! It’s a free plugin that can turn your WordPress account into a fully functional e-commerce site. 

Extensions & Integrations 

WooCommerce supports over 400 extensions, including payment processing, inventory management, and stock control. Being able to choose your own plugins means you can customize your website according to your needs, and while these do come at a cost, they’re still relatively cheap. You can also get plugins for other integrations for email marketing, multi-channel integration, drag and drop feature, and multi-vendor features.

Payment & Pricing Options 

Since WooCommerce is a plugin, you’ll need a WordPress site that can use plugins. The very first thing you’ll need to do is choose a host for your store and buy a plan. This is actually quite easy. It is recommended to use hosts like SiteGround, Bluehost, and Pressable

WooCommerce is technically free, but you still have to pay for hosting. Hosting can cost you as little as $3.95 per month and as high as $5,000. 

The next cost would be for registering a domain, or site name. Like hosting, domain registration is usually lower in cost initially, but rises over time, with discounts that you can avail when you buy multiple years of service. You should expect to pay around $15 for each domain name you use, per year. 

Moving on to payment gateways, if you’re using WooCommerce, you have access to all the major online payment gateways including PayPal, Square, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Alipay, 2checkout, and so on. You just need to figure out which one is more convenient for your customers, as the payment gateways will play a huge role in the growth and accessibility of your WooCommerce store. 

There is no setup cost or monthly fees for WooCommerce Payments. If you’re using  a U.S. issued credit or debit card, you will pay 2.9% + $0.30 for each transaction made. For cards that have been issued outside the U.S., there’s an additional 1% fee.

Another choice is to use Paypal. If you have a basic Paypal account, you won’t need to pay a monthly fee. However, you will pay 2.9% + 0.30 cents per sale to Paypal. This will direct all your customers to the Paypal site, where they can pay with their personal account or credit card.

If you wish to accept credit card payments directly on your site, you can upgrade to Paypal Pro. This costs an additional $30.00 per month. Other options for your WooCommerce payment include Stripe which is 2.9% and 0.30 cents per transaction with no additional fees, and which is 2.9% and 0.30 cents per transaction + $25/month. 

Customer Support

A 24/7 customer helpline is available for users if they run into any trouble. 

Being an open source platform, there is also no limit on the number of products or images you upload, and WooCommerce enables you to access the large community of helpers and supporters at WordPress. 

Order and Content Management Systems

WooCommerce has a great order management system where you can add customer notes, edit stock manually, mark items you shipped, and manage the fulfillment process. 

These functions make WooCommerce one of the strongest contenders in the market, allowing users to set up their e-commerce websites quickly and easily, and with much lesser cost involved. Customer refunds can directly be managed through the WooCommerce dashboard without any hassle.

Working on top of the world’s most renowned Content Management System- WordPress, WooCommerce provides its users with the most seamlessly integrated onlin with content optimized for the web. WordPress is also one of the best platforms for SEO practices, so users on WooCommerce can have their content ranked on the best search engines. You can show customers products related to their current purchases, and returning customers can experience a more personal journey by being recommended products based on their previous purchases.


Squarespace is a SaaS website platform provider best known for their work with the creative community. It’s mostly used by smaller businesses with low SKU volumes. 

Extensions & Integrations 

You can connect Squarespace Extensions on all plans. There’s no additional cost of connecting extensions on Squarespace, however, there are some third-party services that require subscriptions. You can view the pricing details for each service on their details page in Squarespace Extensions save time by connecting your site to automation extensions that streamline key tasks, like sales tax reporting and order fulfillment.  

However, these extensions aren’t official Squarespace integrations, so they don’t come with functionality guarantee or compatibility, so users must contact integration support directly as Squarepsace doesn’t provide any help in this area.  

Pricing & Payment Options

Both monthly and annual payment plans are available for Squarespace users, however, the latter is cheaper. A downside to using Squarespace is that it only supports Stripe and Paypal, making payment processors very limited.  

  • SquareSpace Personal: $16/month
  • SquareSpace Business: $26/month
  • SquareSpace Basic Commerce: $26/month
  • SquareSpace Advanced Commerce: $40/month 

Customer Support 

Squarespace has numerous guides and videos on how to use their platform. Users can also book webinars to have an interactive session with one of their experts to understand the basics of the platform. There is also 24/7 customer support, and a community forum that provides guidance on advanced customizations. 

Order and Content Management Systems

With an easy to use interface, the platform allows you to set up product pages, manage inventory, track any outstanding orders and manage your customer base from a single location. The online stores are perfectly integrated with the platform so adding products to your website catalog is a cup of tea. 

And the best thing about SquareSpace? Its renowned Content Management System. Yes, the platform offers one of the best CMS in the market that lets you maximize your business potential and manage your website better. You can also make use of Analytics integrated into your website to read and understand customer behaviour and product trends.  

The platform offers sleek templates and design capabilities allowing businesses to make their websites more appealing and aesthetic. The design of this web CMS is simple and straightforward. Drag-and-drop editing allows you to easily make changes and updates to your pages however you wish.  

Squarespace also offers WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing so you can see what your site looks like to visitors. This saves you the huge chunk of time you’d otherwise spend going back and forth between editing the site and then previewing it. 

You can also upload multiple files at a single time to the image and document library. These files can be organized and added to any page on your site, so you don’t have to locate and upload each file individually. You can also import information directly from another website to yours by copying and pasting the URL.

Although Squarespace doesn’t have an in-built shopping cart feature, you add third-party links by embedding HTML.


Wix powers over 500,000 businesses and is known for its user-friendly interface. Offering competitive pricing, this platform is most popular amongst entrepreneurs and other small business creatives that need basic features for their online stores. As you first sign up with Wix, their Launch Experts help you get your store online quickly which is a great feature, especially if you’re new to online stores.

After recent developments, the company now offers multi-channel integration, abandoned cart recovery, dropshipping and print-on-demand capabilities. It also provides $300 worth of online ad credit and some online marketing tools. Despite these features, the platform isn’t well suited for larger businesses as it lacks a lot of advanced features. Businesses already using Wix will also need to upgrade at some point as the initial plan only offers 20GB of free space and limited features, so if you’re looking to increase your product catalog, you will have to change your pricing plan. 

Extensions & Integrations 

Wix has an App Store, known as the Wix App Market, which works like the Shopify and BigCommerce app store. You choose what you need, and integrate those features into your online stores, and there you have it: an enriched user experience!  

Pricing and Payment Options

Wix has an array of plans to choose from, based on your business’s needs. Some of those plans include the following: 

  • Wix Combo: $13/month
  • Wix Pro: $22 /month
  • Wix Business Basic: $23/month
  • Wix Business Unlimited: $27/month
  • Wix Business VIP: $49/month
  • Wix Enterprise: $500/month

If you just need a website without an online store, then Wix’s General Website category is for you. If you plan to sell products online, you’ll need a Business & e-commerce plan.

Users have very flexible payment options, with over 40 providers including PayPal, Stripe, and Square. They also have Wix Payments, which is an in-house developed payment platform that accepts credit/debit card payments and integrates them with other payment providers. In upgraded plans you can also accept foreign currencies through Wix Payments, allowing you to access international markets.

Customer Support 

Wix’s online Help Centre has answers to almost everything as it’s packed with useful how-to’s, detailed walkthroughs including video tutorials. Wix Customer Care Experts offer 24/7 live support in English for all issues, including those regarding billing, charges & subscriptions, and so on. Customer Care offers phone service in multiple languages.

Wix support can also be reached via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. So users have multiple ways to get in contact with the Wix team if they ever run into a problem. 

Order and Content Management Systems 

Wix is an all-in-one website builder that includes web hosting services and a drag and drop interface, making it super easy to use, and excellent for beginners. Furthermore, you can manage your store, refunds and tracking through Wix’s dashboard. Wix also has a mobile app through which you can add products, fulfill orders, track your inventory, get notifications, and more. 

Wix offers both: direct and drop shipping, so users can set up shipping rules, add custom shipping rates, and print shipping labels. A great perk is Wix’s partnership with USPS, which gives discounted rates on shipping costs.

Wix provides a plethora of useful reports including Google analytics, customizable reports, top products’ reports, and business insights. The availability of different statistics depends on your package.  

With in-built SEO, you can have your own personalized SEO plan and make your website appear on Google. Wix’s powerful tools are suitable for different types of businesses and websites, and it offers competitive pricing so companies with different budgets can build their website with the platform.

A common challenge for Retailers on E-commerce platforms: 

Uploading product data

E-commerce is a highly competitive industry, and maintaining your storefront is a vital part of the business, but definitely not the easiest. Uploading product data to e-commerce platforms is a tedious task with many important factors to it. So why do retailers struggle with maintaining their online stores? 

Manual Product Updates (Long, hands-on processes in onboarding product)

A lot of retailers store their product data in excel sheets, which has to be updated and uploaded to store fronts manually. This takes up too much of their time and effort that could otherwise have been used for more important tasks. This becomes a huge cost to the business as every second lost in business can cost you money. 

It also leads to a lot of inaccurate and inconsistent information on storefronts as any information updated manually contains errors. When information contains errors, it ends in consumers making uninformed decisions when purchasing from your website, leading to increased returns and refunds. 

Product Images are Scattered 

Product images are an important aspect of e-commerce businesses. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores where the consumer can touch and see the product right in front of them, e-commerce stores don’t hold that feature. They fill this void through images which allow consumers to imagine what the product would feel like, and whether it would fit their needs. So if your product images are not right, or of high quality, you’re losing out on millions of potential sales. 

During peak seasons like Christmas, it happens often that product images get mixed up. This means that the image of one product may be showing for another product, or certain images are just missing from your store-fronts, misleading customers. This usually occurs when feeds are uploaded in bulk, or when product images are stored in different files and folders with no central base for them, and information gets lost or mixed up.

Longer Time to Market 

When product information is scattered all over the place, with employees working tirelessly to bring it together in one place, it undoubtedly creates a delay in putting information out on store fronts. This means your products are taking longer to reach the market as compared to your competitors who may be using more efficient tools to manage their product data. Your competitors reaching potential customers before you? Doesn’t sound very efficient. 

Think about it. If you are able to put out product information faster and more accurately, how would you reap the benefits of this increased efficiency? Well, your time-to-market will drop drastically. Your products will be put out for the public much faster than possible with manual uploading. A faster time-to-market helps your products reach a larger audience too, which means more sales. Doesn’t that sound perfect? It can be, with the right solution in place. 

So what would be the ideal way to get accurate and complete product data out to your customers, without spending hours on manually uploading all this information? 

Product Information Management software: Integrated Feeds & Automatic Uploads 

The ultimate solution to all your product data feeds lies in a Product Information Management system (PIMs) that automates all your product information sharing, and allows for better collaboration between manufacturers and retailers. 

Manufacturers play a crucial role in product data collection, and can greatly improve the process of information sharing for retailers. 

PIMs such as Apimio, Akeneo, inRiver, and more allow manufacturers to provide retailers with all product information, not requiring retailers to put in extra time to edit and upload the information to their online websites. Manufacturers can make sure all product information is consistent and accurate, and the right images are attached with each. This will ultimately reward the manufacturer with higher yields and a better image of their brand. So enabling seamless product integration for retailers allows manufacturers to enjoy more sales and profits.    

Expecting retailers to protect your brand image is a long-shot as they’re handling products from hundreds of different manufacturers, so they can’t guarantee a good product experience for each. Hence, it’s in your hands as a manufacturer to provide the most optimal product experience to your end consumer by integrating your retailers in your PIMs. This will allow you to be in control of the information that you give out regarding your products, and it reduces the chances of inconsistent information being put out which can severely damage the trust consumers have in your products. 

Apimio makes all of this attainable for you. You can have all your retailers integrated on your platform and share all your product information through a single source. Rather than maintaining traditional excel files, you can directly upload your product listings to the PIM platform for your retailers to access. This reduces the chances of having repetitive or redundant information on your e-commerce platforms, and you can ensure that consumers have access to the right information. As a manufacturer you can oversee all your product data, and the whole supply chain. 

In conclusion

There’s no perfect e-commerce platform that would serve every business. They each differ in what they can offer a business, and it’s up to you as a business owner to decide what suits you and your needs best. Once you know exactly what you need in your online store, you can easily compare the e-commerce platforms available in the market to decide which serves you best. 

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What is Master Data Manegement (MDM)?


Master Data Management or MDM can mean different things to each organization, depending on how they’re used in a database. An MDM typically refers to a framework of technologies that help to manage all information within a company. This information can include employee data, Customer Data, HR Entries, or Finance information. 

What is PIM?


A Product information management system or more commonly known as PIM system is a product-oriented software tool that allows organizations to centralize and enrich all of their product data to deliver accurate and compelling product descriptions and images in a globally scalable multi-channel marketing environment.


It provides a single source of truth for product data. PIM solutions make it easy to enrich product descriptions and images to ensure they look great on any e-commerce platform, websites, marketplaces, and more. 


How do PIM and MDM differ?


The fundamental difference between an MDM and PIM solution comes from the needs that they each meet for an organization. 


A PIM system deals with all product data issues, such as accuracy, consistency, completeness, and syndication across online selling channels. Enterprises are constantly striving for a faster time-to-market in this evolving e-commerce environment, with faster product introductions, omni-channel enablement, and higher ROI. A PIM solution becomes a necessity when collaboration is required between vendors/suppliers and retailers, and there is no centralized system to carry this out. Manual management of data through spreadsheets, and communication from different areas causes major setbacks, giving rise to the need of an automated system. 


MDM systems are much broader than PIM systems as they focus on centralizing company-wide data of different entities. An MDM helps in enhancing agility and outcomes of business processes. It allows data to be analysed for better decision making, provides smarter data governance, and gives an over-all view of company-wide data which helps improve customer relationships. This is beyond the scope of a PIM. 


However, because MDM is an enterprise-wide deployment covering several aspects of a business, it doesn’t cover a particular aspect in depth. Although product data is part of an MDM, it does not allow companies to manage their product information the way that a PIM does. Through an MDM, companies can’t ensure accurate, complete, and enriched product catalogs for omnichannel selling. This can only be done through PIMs as they specifically cater to such needs. 


So, where MDM provides organizations with a single data source for all information, it doesn’t enable product data optimization the way that a PIM does. PIM centralizes just product data for marketing and distribution purposes. PIM is, therefore, an easier and more useful implementation for sales and marketing teams, while MDM is a much larger database. This makes PIM a subset of MDM with a more focused purpose. 


Why should you use a PIM over an MDM to optimize product data?


A PIM solution is the best way to enrich product data and descriptions. It removes the redundant and time-consuming manual tasks that are required when using spreadsheets to manage product information. PIM tools connect seamlessly to e-commerce platforms, online marketplaces, and other selling channels. 


Expanding into new markets and channels online is made easier with a PIM system in place, as you can connect your dashboards and export product data immediately. They can be useful to marketers, e-commerce and product managers, as well as buyers looking for richer product descriptions and complete catalogs online. 


PIM systems are much faster to implement compared to MDM, and deliver business value much sooner. To catch up with the extraordinary growth in omni channel selling and speeding up the time-to-market for your products, it’s essential you have a PIM solution in place. A PIM has the ability to syndicate product information to various customer touchpoints. PIM solutions can carry out product data optimisation on a global scale, improving the customer experience. 


Can PIM and MDM go hand in hand?


Depending on an organization’s size of operations, they can use a PIM and MDM to work simultaneously. In such a use case, the PIM will optimise product data for multiple customer touchpoints, while the MDM can help develop relationships among customers, products, vendors, and retailers, and analyse these overtime. The Product MDM will allow for better analysis and forecasting to achieve supply chain efficiency. 


While PIM and MDM are heavily related, they’re not the same. If you have difficulty managing your data to make data-driven decisions, implementing both a PIM and MDM system will clean all of this up. They will feed off each other to ensure your brand is unified no matter where your customers see your branding.


However, combining these two systems may not always be ideal as there will always be certain data sets that won’t be part of the MDM, and will be dispersed across other systems. Therefore, it won’t sufficiently meet requirements of marketing teams that require speed, efficiency, accuracy, and consistency in product data at all times. 


Want more information on what a PIM does, and how it can help your business? Check out our page here

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PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

An ERP contains different parts of data, including product, customer, logistics, and financial.

A PIM system on the other hand is designed solely to manage and store product information in a central location, and optimize it for sales and marketing purposes.

read more
PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)


Digital transformation comes with hefty challenges. One of those is figuring out which technology would be the most optimal for your business. You can often confuse different databases in their purpose and functions, ending up with a tool that might not serve your intended purpose. 


In this article, we’ll answer a very important question for you: how does a PIM differ from an ERP? Is there a difference between the two, at all?


What is an ERP

An ERP system carries out all the central management of a company, receiving information from all departments, automating processes of data management, and obtaining and analyzing reports. 


All companies in this day and age have an ERP as part of their systems as it helps in organizing and optimizing any sales-related business processes. Purchasing, manufacturing, warehousing, order processing, and any other logistics are managed through an ERP system. The size of the ERP system depends on the size of the business’s operations. Solutions like Akeneo and Oracle are complex and more expensive. There are smaller ERP systems in the market that are suitable for SMEs, such as Epicor. 


Automation of tasks is just one of the advantages of an ERP system. But more importantly, it provides businesses with a single database that stores all their sales and marketing content, removing silos and streamlining processes. 


What is a PIM

A PIM is a software that solely focuses on product data: descriptions, images, videos, and other digital assets. It is a platform that enables businesses to oversee all their product data used for sales and marketing purposes. This centralized system is the base of information that is fed into any distribution channel, whether it be a print catalog, a website, or just the ERP system. 


Rich product information is the centre of PIM systems. They hold everything from product descriptions and tools to convert measurements and languages to product videos and images. A PIM system doesn’t just benefit the marketing teams of companies but creates product catalogs for the user-front that increase conversions.  


PIM is also more functional by itself, whereas, an ERP is more of an underlying backbone for several critical functions. What an ERP lacks is the ability to be applied to niche areas such as product enhancement. On the other hand, while a PIM has more emphasis on product data, it has lesser visibility into the overall operations.


How does a PIM differ from an ERP

An ERP contains different parts of data, including product, customer, logistics, and financial. The system will keep track of stock, product price, as well as all warehouse locations. However, there is a lot more to a product than these, but an ERP can’t handle it. 


A PIM system is designed to manage and store product information in a central  location, and optimize it for sales and marketing purposes. Teams can access all data related to their products, and create rich product catalogs. 


PIM solutions allow teams to add product descriptions in multiple languages, product images and other digital assets to form complete product catalogs for the public front. Essential PIM functionality also gives your e-commerce managers the ability to take that enriched information and publish it to your web stores or share it with your retail partners.


How does a PIM enhance the purpose of an ERP 

A PIM-ERP integration helps you realize the benefits of each and explore how they complement each other by playing to each other’s strengths. Together, they offer benefits to a company that wouldn’t be recognised if only a single system was being used. 


  • A Centralized Database 

Businesses continue to grow and evolve, with operations becoming more complex. This can often lead to the use of multiple ERPs within the same organization. As a result, product information will be scattered across different systems, in different departments. 


Multiple ERPs can be very costly, but they bear an even bigger cost for business: the risk of losing valuable product data. With data spread across various systems, there is no centralised control around it which is very vital in e-commerce to share information across departments and selling channels. 


PIM helps to centralise all disparate data into a central location. Manufacturers and retailers can then seamlessly share their product data feeds, and access all digital media and product content in one place. The PIM system sits right above the ERP solution, channeling everything into one source. With PIM solutions like Apimio, you can create groups within the same tool to choose which product catalogs to share with what retailers.


  • Improve the Quality of Product Data

ERPs don’t actually have any way of enriching product data. They can help track inventory levels, or see which product is selling faster than others, but can’t create richer product catalogs. A PIM solution can enhance the overall quality of product data as they’re specifically designed to do so. 


PIM solutions notify users of any duplicate or similar-looking entries, or if there are any missing product attributes. Having a centralised location for all product related information including its digital assets allows you to achieve a level of accuracy and consistency in product data across all your selling platforms, which isn’t possible with an ERP system. 


Apimio ensures all product images you put up are optimized for your selling channels, and the product descriptions are complete and meet listing requirements for all e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces.


  • Opening up New Sales Channels

A PIM solution allows expansion into new selling channels through product data syndication. PIM systems like Akeneo, inRiver, Apimio, and more, can link to different e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces. This seamless integration gives retailers and manufacturers a way to communicate easily, and provides a pipeline that carries product data from the PIM dashboard directly to user-facing storefronts. 


If a home-goods maker decides they want to sell on Amazon or AliExpress, an ERP system won’t unlock this channel for them. However, if they have a PIM integrated with their ERP, they can easily add new channels to their dashboard and upload their product catalogs. The brand can distribute their products quickly, increase online conversions and raise awareness.


In conclusion

The interdependence of business functions and overlapping business data are crucial to deliver efficient and accurate product data. A highly integrated setup of PIM and ERP systems can ensure there is no redundancy or information mismatch, and decision-makers draw data from an aggregated set. 


Schedule a call with one of our team members and we will help you start with your own PIM today!

Recent Articles

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

An ERP contains different parts of data, including product, customer, logistics, and financial.

A PIM system on the other hand is designed solely to manage and store product information in a central location, and optimize it for sales and marketing purposes.

read more

12 E-commerce Trends To Look Out For in 2021 (Checklist)

12 E-commerce Trends To Look Out For in 2021 (Checklist)

12 E-commerce Trends To Look Out For in 2021 (Checklist)


The e-commerce environment is constantly changing and evolving, with new technologies embracing the market. Companies are consistently battling each other to win a greater share of the pie. 


Our biggest prediction for 2021 is that e-commerce will be taken over by M-commerce, with social media like Instagram and Facebook dominating online shopping. 


Our aim with this blog is to help you learn about the trends that are likely to take place so you can implement them before they become too mainstream. So let’s dive right in. 


1. Mobile Commerce will dominate e-commerce

By the end of 2021, mobile devices are expected to make almost 73% of total e-commerce sales. Besides, 30% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their carts in the middle of shopping if they find out that your website is not mobile-friendly. 


By now, your online stores should already be accessible through mobiles, and while that is a good sign, it doesn’t necessarily mean your stores are optimised for mobile phones. Your website could be lagging on mobile phones, or not displaying correctly. All these contribute to the user experience- and not a good one, causing customers to log off your websites. You could be losing millions in sales due to this. 


So, start off this year by ensuring that your web stores are optimized for mobile phones, and you’ll see the results yourself. 


2. Self-service platforms will continue to rise in popularity

Getting started online was once a long and painstaking process. But, 2020 has changed the narrative and shown us how quickly small businesses and solopreneurs can digitally pivot their businesses.


Rather than going the expensive route the first time around, brands can search for platforms that can help get their websites up to speed quickly.


Brands just starting out will not have to worry about having a whole team of IT and development on board to get their website up and running. The market is flooded with e-commerce platforms and tools that can assist you in starting your online business in no time. And in 2021, we expect this to be the trend. 


3. New Payment Options: Cryptocurrencies  

Lack of payment options can be a reason behind abandoned carts on your online stores. A customer may add products to their cart, fully intending to go through with their purchase but as soon as they’re about to checkout, they notice you don’t offer their preferred mode of payment. And there goes your sale and a potential customer. 


If your online store doesn’t offer your customer’s preferred payment method, they will not buy from you. Most e-commerce businesses accept digital wallets such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung, as well as credit and debit cards. However, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are becoming increasingly popular. These also hold advantages for online shop owners, such as low transaction fees and no reverse payments. 


As Bitcoin is expected to rise even higher in value this year, we expect e-commerce businesses to start accepting cryptocurrencies to carry out transactions by the end of 2021. 


4. Consumers will prefer sustainably produced goods

Green consumerism is gaining popularity with each passing day. A lot of people now emphasize the need to support sustainable practices and buy products that preserve the environment and can be recycled. These sustainable practices don’t just end at environmental sustainability but stretch out to good labor practices associated with brands. 


Online marketplaces such as Amazon have taken the pledge towards sustainability, and other e-commerce brands are likely to be following suit as humans look for ways to reduce waste and preserve the earth for future generations. The focus on green consumerism is a clear indicator that e-commerce brands that prioritize environment-friendly practices will dominate the market in the coming years. 


Green consumers are also flexing their purchasing power, with 65% of buyers wanting to make purchases from brands that aim for sustainability according to the Harvard Business Review.


So if you were underestimating the power of sustainable business practices, here’s a reality check for you. The power a little green symbol on products can have on consumer perception is beyond measure.  


5. Advanced customisation for products

Although product customisation has been in the market for a while now, being able to provide last-minute personalisation at an affordable price is something that can put you ahead of your competition in 2021. 


Take a look at Nike: it allows you to customise every aspect of your Nike Airs, making customers feel unique wearing a product that is owned by many. 


3D printing is changing manufacturing and fulfilment processes to enable quick customisation towards the end of the product journey. Plus, with 3D printers becoming more affordable and available, it’s only a matter of time before customisation becomes the norm.


6. Smart home assistants

You’ve seen people telling Alexa and Google Home to change the lighting of their rooms or play their favourite music, and while that is (often) what people use these smart home assistants for, there’s more. Alexa and Google Home have been taking over the e-commerce industry quietly since 2017. We expect this take over to become even larger in 2021.


Almost 20% of smart speaker owners have been using these to order products, track their deliveries, or compare products online. This figure is expected to rise to 52% in the next three years.


Now is the time to optimise your e-commerce stores and fulfilment processes for voice search, or you will be lagging behind your competitors. 


7. Custom packaging will turn heads 

The packaging is the first thing that strikes a consumer’s eye; it’s a clear reflection of your brand. Lousy packaging will most definitely lead the consumer to believe that the product you’re selling is also as mediocre as the packaging is. A well-packed product is an indicator of a brand that values customer perception and experience. 


It is also a fact that unique packaging attracts customers more and gives them a reason to be more excited about what they’re buying. This also helps your products stand out. Customisation, as we mentioned earlier, is always a winner. 


So if you plan to customise your product packaging, there’s a number of ways you can go about it. Through the packaging, you can highlight different aspects such as features, or durability. You can also lean more towards aesthetics, or opt for environmentally friendly packaging that is sleek yet simple and resonates with your customers. All these will definitely help make your products stand out from your competitors. 


8. Social Media will continue to evolve 

Social media is not what it used to be. It’s no longer a channel by which people connect with others. Social media has evolved as a marketing tool, enabling brands to expand their target audiences. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have been equipped with “buy buttons,” which allow retailers to sell through them. Online stores have also been establishing links with social media platforms, enabling customers to make purchases through the latter.


Most social media platforms have been focusing on catering to online shoppers. But more importantly, social media has become a channel by which brands can receive optimal exposure. Social media exposure results in more people becoming aware of a product or service. Such is why it would do e-commerce companies good to come up with social marketing strategies.


9. Shoppable videos 

Consumers spend about one-third of their time online watching videos. Customers are up to 85% more likely to buy a product when they’ve watched a video about it. Suffice it to say: this is a perfect time for social selling via video to become a major trend.


We’re all familiar with the trend of tapping on an Instagram post to buy the products we see on our phone screens. So why can’t the same logic apply to video? Shoppable videos are the new trend to look out for in 2021. 


It’s easy to see why: If social distancing means retail brands won’t have the live interaction with the customers they previously depended on, a shoppable video might be the most viable digital replacement. 


10. Analytics will flourish

In the world of e-commerce, customer data will continue to gain value. Many brands focus on the basic, but vital metrics provided to them, such as click-through-rate on specific campaigns and conversion metrics that indicate where the bulk of traffic and sales are coming from.


However, as we roll into 2021, many will uncover data capabilities and get even more granular.


11. AI will get less artificial and more beneficial

In previous years many of the benefits of artificial intelligence were a bit early to be realised in e-commerce, but that will change dramatically in 2021.


As concepts such as machine learning and chat-bots become more mainstream, brands can leverage AI to yield real business impact. For example, AI can already be used to make recommendations for what customers should purchase next based on their history. Brands can also leverage concepts such as voice search to position their products in front of customers. AI will also be able to assist on the backend and help in making inventory predictions.


We all know companies like Netflix can attribute a huge part of their success to personalising each user’s experience on its platform. Apparel brands and retailers are now trying to do the same, but there are limitations to the current approaches. 


Many brands lack in-depth product data. Relying on a small handful of attributes per product simply isn’t enough to make detailed inferences about your customer and their attraction to a particular style. AI can help in making experiences more personal for customers. 


AI can also help you learn more about individual customers and the emotional context that plays a role in their purchase behavior, understanding why many customers on your site abandon carts.  


12. Omni-channel selling will be the norm 

Most businesses are already aware that customers want to view content in multiple ways. Tablets, mobile phones, and desktops are just the beginning. And we’ve mentioned in other trends, brands are discovering new ways to sell their products through social media.


Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Personalise are two products from Amazon Web Services (AWS) that enable brands to improve the customer experience and communicate with customers across multiple channels.



There are many e-commerce trends to look out for in 2021, but if there’s one thing we’re absolutely sure about is that it’s booming! The convenience and ease of online shopping have prompted a surge in online purchase habits from consumers. Coupled with the pandemic, 2020 has seen some of the highest-recorded numbers for online activity and these numbers are still growing exponentially. 


What could you gain out of following these trends? You can stay one step ahead of the curve. Leverage your knowledge to give your customers the ultimate experience that will drive your sales. 



Recent Articles

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

An ERP contains different parts of data, including product, customer, logistics, and financial.

A PIM system on the other hand is designed solely to manage and store product information in a central location, and optimize it for sales and marketing purposes.

read more
7 reasons to leave Excel Spreadsheets for a PIM

7 reasons to leave Excel Spreadsheets for a PIM

7 reasons to leave Excel Spreadsheets for a PIM

excel sheets leave for pim

Since its release in 1985, Microsoft Excel has been the go-to solution for businesses to manage and organise their product data. But just because something has been done a certain way for this long, doesn’t mean it must continue. Some traditions can be detrimental. 


Product data is complex and long with multiple features. It doesn’t just include the product’s attributes, but many other digital assets such as images and videos. Storing these in a spreadsheet can lead to erroneous formats. Some digital assets just can not be stored in a spreadsheet. But this isn’t all. Spreadsheets are a no-go for you when it comes to managing your e-commerce stores and product information for various other reasons.


I’m here to highlight the various issues that arise with the use of Excel spreadsheets, and why it’s time you move to more efficient solutions; namely: PIM.


1. Spreadsheets are prone to human error


Data is one of a business’s strongest assets that is relied on to make quality decisions and create guidance. But what, then, if the data is not complete or accurate? You guessed it: lousy decisions that will lead the business in the wrong direction. 


It is reported that 88% of spreadsheets have errors in them. With each person within an organisation making changes to a file, the chances of it getting contaminated increase. Small, minor errors along this process result in a spreadsheet that is loaded with inaccurate and inconsistent data. These errors find their way into spreadsheets because Excel has no way of notifying users when they enter a product attribute that may be inaccurate, or if they mistakenly skip a cell, as is possible in Product Information Management solutions. Also, because it’s so hard to keep track of data, employees can become lazy and enter product attributes without double-checking with previous entries to ensure it’s not repeated.


If you’ve been in the e-commerce industry long enough, you will understand the impact inconsistent data can have on customer satisfaction. It simply drives them away from your brand. So what’s the point of spending hours upon hours of hard work on maintaining spreadsheets when they produce undesirable results and drive away sales? 


Therefore, as your business grows, it’s essential to move away from spreadsheets towards data management systems that allow you to keep track of all product-related information that is free of errors. Such systems immediately notify the users of any missing product attributes and duplicate entries and ensure consistency between all channels. 


2. Don’t allow for collaboration between team members 


A major reason why spreadsheets are so susceptible to error is that they don’t allow for collaboration between team members. Since spreadsheets can’t be synced in a way that changes made to them by more than one employee at the same time are all incorporated into the file simultaneously, they become siloed.


Each Excel file is designed to be updated by one instance of Excel at a time. They don’t have the same architecture as enterprise databases or product information management systems that are designed to support multiple users.


Despite the existence of cloud computing solutions, it is still difficult to share spreadsheets among team members and other departments within the organisation. Google Sheets is one of the possible cloud solutions that allow sharing in real-time, but it can breach a company’s security policy, and cause data to be stolen or lost. 


This is different from how Product Information Management solutions such as Apimio operate. Such solutions can be updated by multiple employees in real-time, without worrying about changes not being saved from different sources. PIM software allows for collaborative working, leading to seamless flows of information across all departments and channels. It also saves a lot of time. This is unlike in spreadsheets where you have to wait for one employee to finish making his changes to the sheet to pass on to the next employee. And this inefficient cycle goes on endlessly. 


3. No accountability as changes can’t be tracked 


Now, anyone who has access to a spreadsheet can make changes to it. If you’re giving spreadsheet access to 5 different employees, there is no way of tracking who made what changes to those files. If there is ever an instance where important information is lost or changed, you’ll spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out who was responsible for that. Then you’ll spend additional time recovering that information somehow. 


This is unlike in automated solutions such as PIMs that log all changes made to the system. It can be configured to track changes on items, products, and other entities. With this information, it is possible to reconstruct all the actions that happened to the configured entities. This is extremely important as it helps in simplifying the process of a system/data to restore in the event of loss or some malicious activities occurring in the PIM system.


4. Lack of security 


Typically, spreadsheets are not that secure and therefore are at greater risk for data corruption or mismanagement of information. Files that contain sensitive financial information may not be safe from hackers. You can password protect a spreadsheet file, however, it may still not be sufficient for businesses to use. Once someone has access to the spreadsheet data, it is impossible to restrict what they do with it.


Other types of data collection software therefore may be a more viable option. For instance, Apimio has built-in safeguards that protect data integrity. Only the manufacturer has the autonomy to make changes to product data. Employees can be allocated different tasks on the portal, restricting access. In a spreadsheet, this is impossible as you can’t restrict certain cells from being accessed. 


Similarly, a  user might sort a column of information and may unknowingly cause related information such as first and last name, to become out of sync. In contrast, a database will keep all parts of a record unified, thereby ensuring better data integrity. 


PIM systems are optimised for omni-channel selling. Therefore, in the process of distributing data across multiple sales channels, data integrity is kept intact, with no information lost or corrupted.


5. Don’t support real-time decision making


Spreadsheets are incapable of supporting decision making in real-time due to the data being outdated and inaccurate. It is time-consuming to gather the most up-to-date information from multiple users and summarise the information. 


Spreadsheets provide raw data all at once. Thus, it’s challenging to interpret what data is essential and what is not. Perhaps the only option in a spreadsheet is pressing the “sort” button which doesn’t always help find what you’re looking for. With other existing systems, prioritising data through visualisation tools can be possible. These tools can highlight the critical aspects of a data set or results, unlike spreadsheets.


Spreadsheets are not designed to keep historical data. Often during the action of reducing their size to keep them more manageable, historical data may be deleted. Even if different versions are retained, it is very hard for decision-makers to compare files and spot trends within their data. 


Product Information Management systems are built to accommodate data analysis. With all information stored in one place, organisations can read consumer trends and make quality business decisions. The right dashboard software will provide you with the chart framework to build from while giving you plenty of opportunities to customise. 


Spreadsheets are also typically without context. It’s difficult to correlate different data sets together in Excel to see how they interrelate. Dashboards, on the other hand, can have different layers of information and blend multiple sources seamlessly. You start off with a high-level view of your metrics and add in drill-downs to show the data driving those numbers with a single click.


6. Unsuitable for Digital Asset Management (DAM)


Have you ever tried storing an image in a spreadsheet? It has you clenching your fists out of frustration because it’s near impossible. PDFs, videos, images, and other digital content is essential for e-commerce businesses as they bring your products to life. Basic product attributes won’t engage buyers.


Digital assets are often scattered around, in different departments with different employees. Having a central location that stores all this data with the rest of your product information ensures that it is easily accessible and available to any member of the organisation so they can push it to all sales channels whenever.


PIM has unlimited DAM capabilities to keep all files and multimedia content safe and up-to-date. You can manage images, videos, graphics, and files in one place, linked directly to your products. Having both your product information and digital assets in a central repository allows marketing teams to easily push out content in relation to their products as necessary. It also enables the creation of better content as no files are lost, and teams don’t have to spend extra time trying to locate these.  


With Product Information Management tools like Apimio, publishing your digital assets to the right channel, at the right time, and in the right format, is automatic. You don’t have to stress about getting them optimised for the user-front as the system does it for you.  


7. No auto data-backup


Excel does not have any auto data backup feature. So once you’ve tirelessly worked on putting product data into your excel sheets, you better be prepared to manually prepare a backup for it as well. And if there ever comes an instance that you forgot to make a backup, that’s data gone out the window, nowhere to be found. Loss of data is a huge risk for any business, as it results in incomplete product data on the public-front, and inaccurate data analysis in the future since huge chunks of data are not reflected in the sheets. 


However, every PIM has an auto-data-backup feature that makes database backups frequently, automatically, and stores them in different virtual locations. Users need not worry about the loss of data as everything will be safe and secure, and can be accessed at any given time, at whatever location they deem convenient. Think about the time and effort your team will save when data is backed up automatically. No manual work necessary. We love to hear it!


In conclusion 


With robust PIM systems in place, companies should stop relying on outdated Excel spreadsheets that create inaccurate and inconsistent product data. Tools like Apimio are now in the market to help e-commerce companies streamline their operations, access the highest quality product data with guaranteed data security and integrity. 


Recent Articles

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

PIM vs ERP: What’s The Difference? (Quick Overview)

An ERP contains different parts of data, including product, customer, logistics, and financial.

A PIM system on the other hand is designed solely to manage and store product information in a central location, and optimize it for sales and marketing purposes.

read more