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

by | Feb 17, 2021


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 software 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!

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