Takeaway: The differences between product information management (PIM), master data management (MDM), and product content management (PCM) are nuanced, yet significant. If you’re looking to invest in one of these tools, here’s some helpful context, what to consider during your search, and why PCM is likely the more well rounded tool to adopt.
For all those sitting within your company’s IT, marketing automation, merchandising, or supply chain/logistics departments, you’re likely receiving pitches from various vendors on why their [insert product information management (PIM), master data management (MDM), or product content management (PCM) here] software is the best at conquering your product data chain challenges. And from a distance, those tools appear to be exactly what your department needs to get product information organized and out into the market.
Note the emphasis on “your department.” In today’s omnichannel world, the product information tool must connect the entire product chain, not just organize a single company discipline. In The Forrester Wave: Product Information Management Solutions, Q4 2016 report, the Forrester research experts take an in-depth look at this very topic.
And while PIM and MDM serve very specific, very important tasks for the product management and technology teams respectively, a true PCM solution acts as a connector that collects into one place all of the data and information using either a standalone technology or is layered on top of a company’s existing technology.
To further clarify the qualities of PCM, we’ve highlighted some of the key Product Content Management vs. PIM software similarities and differences below.
- Both PCM and PIM are central repositories for product data and allow for a single trusted source of product truth. Aggregation of details, syndication to multiple selling channels, de-duping, and error flagging are some of the main purposes of product management tools. Providing consumers with the most accurate, up-to-date information at all times helps companies decrease returns and customer service queries.
- PCM is a cloud-based tool. Why is this important? Mainly because it means the data and information can be accessed and updated anywhere, by anyone with the proper editing rights. There is no waiting for the vendor to make edits during their business hours. For these reasons, PCM is highly proficient in managing and syndicating content in real time.
- Both PCM and PIM make workflow easier with specified roles and responsibilities. Because various teams including product development, merchandising, marketing, and creative, contribute to building product data, workflow must be clearly outlined based on knowledge and expertise. During our March webinar ‘Product Content Management: What Brands Need to Thrive in the Age of the Customer,’ Nasry Angel of Forrester Research put this point into an everyday scenario, “PIM/PCM puts the business user in the driver’s seat and allows them, and not IT, to be the ones who define whether the Prada shoes should be connected to the Gucci bag. You don’t want the IT person doing that.”
- PCM offers predefined channel-specific business and formatting rules to ensure each data point entered, regardless of who inputs it, is uniform, complete, and up to standards as outlined by the retailers and clients. As point three infers, there will be many hands stirring the pot and wherever the product information lives in the digital landscape, it must be a consistent experience. The Forrester Wave paper reports, PCM enriches “product data with high-quality digital content and then has formatting capabilities to deliver a channel-specific product experience. These tools maintain product and category-specific schemas, and they’re aligned with retailer requirements to facilitate the exchange of product content between the brands and the retailer.” Having a data formatter to verify product information compliance before the data goes consumer-live, reduces mistakes and consumer confusion.
- PCM can be implemented quickly and, because it’s often layered on top of an existing data management tool, can result in a low cost of ownership. The Forrester Wave paper also cites the following PCM perks: flexible scaling, quick time to value, and syndicating refreshed data across the market faster.