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    PIM vs. ERP Systems: What's the Difference?

    January 11, 2021
    6 minute read
    PIM vs. ERP Systems: What's the Difference?

    Digital transformations are becoming necessary recommendations for businesses: doing so is the only way to keep up with the competition and customer expectations.

    The most challenging aspect of a digital transformation, though, is understanding which technology will serve the company best.

    One example is deciding between product information management (PIM) systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, as the two often get jumbled together.

    They are, however, unique to one another. It’s important to understand the differences between PIM vs. ERP systems to maximize their potential.

    What Is an ERP?

    Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software for business that introduces automation to many practices and processes throughout the back-office operations, including human resources and IT.

    The beauty of this software is not simply that it automates tasks, but it also removes silos from a business by integrating everything from sales and marketing to product planning and development. All information is stored in a single database and available on a single platform.

    Most ERP platforms are designed as enterprise applications and are meant to be used by larger businesses. However, there are small business ERP platforms that are customized for various industries.

    What Is a PIM?

    Product information management (PIM) software is a platform that helps businesses oversee all product information that they use for marketing and sales.

    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.

    For a PIM to win on today’s digital shelf, it should help your brand marry old and new processes, grow sales, and ensure brand consistency across a collection of diverse and rapidly evolving digital touch points.

    For example, PIM platforms help support businesses that sell products in varied geographic locations. This means that product information needs to be available in different scientific measurements or different languages.

    Rich product information is the center of PIM systems. They hold everything from product descriptions and tools to convert measurements and languages to product videos and images.

    As part of the best practices for PIMs, the information they house should not only useful to marketing professionals but also be ready to transfer to channels that customers view.

    PIM vs. ERP

    Though both of these systems can streamline processes and provide integration across your teams, they differ in specific features and benefits.

    Features of PIM vs. ERP Systems

    Both PIM and ERP systems allow your business to:

    • Centralize data into a single place;
    • Increase collaboration across departments and break up silos;
    • Automate tasks and streamline workflows; and
    • Enable a consistent user interface.

    Therefore, PIM vs. ERP systems differ most significantly in that:

    • PIM systems typically feed into ERP systems, but PIMs also need to gather information from ERPs.
    • PIM systems focus on centralizing and managing product information, ERPs focus on broader information related to the entire business, including customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, inventory management, and HR. PIMs do not have these functions.
    • ERPs cannot actually activate, enhance, or syndicate product data.

    Benefits of PIM vs. ERP Systems

    A proper PIM will benefit your business in the following ways:

    • Speed up the launch of new products into the market;
    • Deliver quality product information between channels;
    • Automate workflows to increase your teams’ productivity; and
    • Drive more revenue.

    An ERP can positively impact your business by allowing you to:

    • Speed up processes within your business and increase collaboration;
    • Integrate information across your business and improve insights;
    • Boost data security and competitive advantage; and
    • Improve customer service capabilities.

    What System Is Best for Your Business?

    Whether you’re using master data management (MDM), product information management, or product content management platform, none of these systems were designed to properly seize all the opportunities to win in ecommerce.

    Salsify co-founder Rob Gonzalez explains how product experience management (PXM) evolved from other systems and can allow product marketers and ecommerce leaders to create optimized experiences online at the speed of commerce today.

    Watch his video on the future of PIM.



    Interested in learning more about how to activate your product content to create engaging customer experiences with content that's always optimized? Request a guided demo.



    Written by: Salsify

    Salsify drives results for customers worldwide, empowering them to win on the digital shelf.

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