PIM vs MDM: The Difference, And How They Complement Each Other

by | Mar 1, 2021


What is Master Data Management (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 Master Data Management and Product Information Management solutions 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 system over a 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 systems 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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