09.11.2023 | BJÖRN BAYARD

Anyone dealing with technologies related to product data and digital content for product marketing faces a multitude of buzzwords and technical terms that often lead to more confusion than clarity. Software providers, consultants, and analysts are therefore responding to the growing need for technologies that support and optimize communication processes in companies.

The growing importance of digital commerce – whether online stores, marketplaces, or social commerce – is one of the biggest factors behind this demand for technology. At the same time, however, customers, partners, and legislators are increasingly expecting companies to provide transparent product information, and if possible along the entire supply chain.

This means it is high time to take a comprehensive look at the topic of product content management. In this blog post, we clarify the most important terms that come up in the market in this context and explain how the individual software disciplines are related to each other.

Product Information Management (PIM) – the basis for marketing and sales processes

PIM is a fundamental software discipline for the central management and provision of product information. This includes product data as well as marketing text and product images. A PIM system basically maps the entire information requirements of the various output channels – for online stores as well as for Instagram, Facebook, and online marketplaces such as Amazon.

The growing number of channels to be covered means that PIM systems must be flexible, expandable and scalable. This explains the success of modern and cloud-based SaaS solutions, which can provide this flexibility while offering optimum performance. At the same time, these modern systems have the great advantage of quick and uncomplicated implementation compared to on-premises solutions, which has a positive effect on the ROI of the technologies.

For companies with a large or very complex product range, a PIM system quickly becomes essential. But for companies with highly heterogeneous target groups and a large number of target markets, where, for example, multilingualism in product communication plays an important role, there is basically no way around a PIM system.

PIM, MDM, PCLM – clarity at last in the confusion of terms

Master Data Management (MDM) for a data-driven organization

While PIM maps the product data domain, Master Data Management (MDM) takes a more holistic approach. MDM has the task of centrally managing important corporate master data and making it available. Ideally, all relevant data domains are integrated, i.e., customers, locations, competitors, and other domains in addition to products. Such a multi-domain approach offers the possibility of networking data across domains and generating valuable insights that can serve as the basis for strategic decisions.

In times when companies need to be as agile as possible and, if necessary, able to react quickly to changing market conditions, such decision-making aids are enormously important, which is why the topic of MDM is currently playing an increasingly vital role.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) for optimal customer experience

Although PIM systems usually offer the option of also managing the corresponding product images, this is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of today’s manufacturer brands. To offer the best possible customer experience in every output channel, a wide range of high-quality digital content is needed – from images and videos to documents and graphic elements.

The creation of this digital content goes beyond the functional scope of PIM systems – to map the creative processes in this context in the best possible way, there are specialized solutions in the field of Digital Asset Management (DAM). DAM also supports collaboration and the most effective possible utilization of the digital content created or procured.

What is Product Experience Management (PXM)?

Product Experience Management (PXM) is the creation, management, and control of product content – i.e., distribution-ready content consisting of product data, information, and media content. Therefore, PXM comprises both PIM and DAM and includes the control of distribution. In general, this is the task of channel management – a functional module that is often already covered in modern PIM systems.

Here, the rules for the different output channels are stored and publication is planned and implemented. This makes channel management an important component of product communication – especially in the case of very complex distribution structures that encompass multiple channels, campaigns, and target markets.

Syndication: perfect product content in all channels

Finally, product content syndication refers to the actual playout of product content to all data recipients. This includes the various channels such as the company’s own website, app, or online store, as well as third-party platforms such as marketplaces and online retailers. For brand manufacturers in particular, this also includes global data pools such as the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) and bilateral data exchange with individual trading partners – for example, via supplier portals.

For manufacturers, the topic of syndication is increasingly important, as the distribution of their products via third-party suppliers and third-party portals is becoming more and more important. While the diversification of sales channels is positive for overall sales, it also entails risks. After all, those who outsource product marketing must ensure to a certain extent that their products are presented as attractively as possible and in line with the brand.

Online marketplaces such as Amazon offer numerous options for this, enabling product communication that is as close to the brand as possible with the help of enhanced content, thus strengthening the company’s own brand on the one hand and creating differentiation from the competition on the other. Retail media, i.e., the use of advertising opportunities of online retailers on their own platforms, offers another possibility for differentiation. Here, too, it is a question of perfect product content and targeted playout.

Product Content Lifecycle Management – the end-to-end story

PIM, DAM, MDM, PXM, channel management, syndication, e-commerce – in the end, it all comes down to optimally designing the entire digital value chain and perfectly integrating cross-system processes and data flows. This is the only way to ensure controlled product communication.

However, the value chain does not end with the playout of the product content in the respective channels. Techniques such as digital shelf analytics (DSA) and analyses of the company’s own online store provide information about the salability and sales success of the individual products or about the success of individual campaigns. This information can be used to generate insights that can in turn be incorporated into the optimization of product content. This closes the loop of end-to-end product content lifecycle management – the adaptive digital value chain in the context of product marketing.

I hope I have been able to clarify the confusion of terms. If not, don't hesitate to get in touch with our experts at any time. We look forward to helping you.

Best regards
Björn Bayard

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