Blog » PIM vs MDM What is the Difference

PIM vs MDM What is the Difference

Author name: Maksym Bilokon

Since the amount of information in the digital world has expanded, there is always a need to search for effective methods of managing information. At the same time, the quality of the customer experience should remain high. Balancing these two points, companies and brands are in search of an effective information management method.

All discussions and comparisons bring us to two basic methods: product information management (PIM) and master data management. They are fundamental in data management as more and more companies select one of them to control product data. Dozens of companies hesitate and don’t know exactly what to choose. Everyone has a different experience, cases, and pitfalls, so it’s difficult to make a choice. Still, we can help you by providing a detailed explanation of both managing methods. You will see how they work, how effective they are for data management, and decide how they can be used for data management.

What is Product Information Management (PIM)?

Let’s start with product information management (PIM). PIM is a complex software system created to manage data about products. This practice is popular among marketing companies and businesses that sell products. The idea of using PIM is to organize data among distribution channels so the delivery will be accurate and complete. You share the specifications of the product, its lifecycle, sales statement, metadata, and technical requirements, and then accurately deliver it to the customer touchpoint. By doing that, the organization becomes more effective, compliant, and consistent because of simple product information delivery. The following groups are those who need product information management the most:

  • Marketing and sales teams to manage, produce, and actually sell products.
  • Procurement departments to store collected information about the products.
  • Customer care departments to gather complaints and frequently ask questions, product-related requests, and important documents.
  • Research & development divisions as they store technical drawings, essential specifications, and documentation.
  • Suppliers provide additional information about the products, including price, inventory volume, etc.

In companies, product information management can be organized via stock-keeping units, technical specifications, product names, and other attributes. When the product information is categorized within the system, a business receives a unified source of truth. Once they have it, it can be automatically distributed through the system via multiple channels. Product information management allows you to share information without delays, maintaining data quality and ensuring there are no issues to ruin the process.

How does PIM software work?

The purpose of PIM software is to centralize all information about the product and distribute it via multiple channels later. With product information management, you can pull information from various sources and add it directly to the platform. This is extremely important for marketers because they often switch to omnichannel marketing instead of multichannel to stay on top of their niche.

Still, even if your company still works with the multichannel marketing strategy, using PIM may be very effective for you. You don’t need to create a marketing package for every channel, implement product information management, and gather all the information. When you need a data update, just change the main records. Later, when you establish new information campaigns and create content, the updated information will be accurately included there. PIM vs MDM  

What Are the Primary Functions of PIMS?

When we uncovered the main working principles of product information management, it was time to highlight its core capabilities.

  • Data collection. With PIM, you can collect and store information from multiple sources, including databases, EPRs, supplier portals, media systems, and flat files. Prioritize sources and clean the information to integrate it into catalogs properly.
  • Data enrichment. When all information is gathered, marketers and eCommerce team members can enrich it by adding specifications, product descriptions, classification tags, usage data, media files, etc. Specialists also double-check the information, ensuring it’s ready for publication.
  • Publishing data. After the enrichment, you are free to share your data using all the available channels. It means users will see the product information in mobile apps, AI-powered tools (chatbots), social networks, marketplaces, and eCommerce platforms (you may need a PIM e-commerce solution here).

If your company successfully implements PIM, you will easily create brand-new catalogs within a few moments. With product information management, it’s also much easier to expand new markets and locales. Since you know where you want to expand and who will be the recipients of your information, you can collect data and then enrich it by adding the needed details.

How Do Brands Use Pim?

Product information management was successfully integrated by several brands. With this approach, they are able to

  • Update e-commerce listings when the product receives updates.
  • Localize product information for different regions, languages, and communities.
  • Assign projects to content creators (copywriters).
  • Create content plans based on product information.

Moreover, we must admit that different organizations and specialists use product information management for different purposes.

Role in the company Purpose of using PIM
E-commerce managers to send product listings from a PIM system to publishers and syndication platforms.
Brand managers Helps them check the accuracy and consistency of the data across multiple channels.
Localization and regionalization PIM is needed for effective localization to help prepare data for the market of specific
Marketing managers Reduces time to search, find, and collect product information.
Sales managers Helps increase cross- and up-selling to make the overall income bigger.
Product marketers Requesting and assigning tasks for copywriters, photographers, videographers, etc. Sometimes, they combine PIM and DAM solutions.
Category managers Effectively spread data across categories
Data governance managers Implementing data governance initiatives inside the organization.
Product managers Delivering accurate product data to the marketing team and updating the information if necessary

What Types of Product Information Management Are Available Today?

Today, we outline six core types of PIM. Each of them can be used to improve the data management in your company, but you have to understand the difference between them.

  • Cloud-based PIM. This approach establishes connections with teams regardless of their location. With that, you can respond to changes and updates faster than usual. Moreover, you will get started extremely fast. When you implement cloud-based product information management into your business, you get better access to the needed data and better control of all processes.
  • On-premise PIM becomes a part of the office infrastructure and is operated through the company’s servers. With this option, you have better control over the stored data, and security is also high. If you have issues with your Internet connection, you can switch to local PIM. Still, this approach has two drawbacks: higher cost and higher engagement of the IT department.
  • Open Source PIM. It’s considered the most cost-effective option, which also has several customization options. This type of software requires better expertise than other solutions. Since it’s the on-premise software, you are the one to control the security, while the cloud-based software focuses on maintaining the security of your data.
  • Industry-specific product information management is created for the specific needs of a company that relates to a specific industry. It’s not a typical case with PIM used for a broad e-commerce business where the main goal is to sell more.
  • A standalone version of PIM can basically function by itself instead of others that remain integrated with comprehensive systems.
  • Integrated PIM software literally works paired with other software solutions like Pimcore, Perfion, and SAP Integration combined with SAP ERP and/or SAP S/4HANA. With this approach, you can combine existing solutions with new ones to achieve better performance and be more effective.

With this great amount of options, anyone can choose an appropriate product information management solution and use it to maximize the outcome.

Benefits of PIM

Now, about the core advantages of PIM for your business. The first plus is that PIM is optimized for centralized product management and catalog generation. With PIM, you access mechanisms of data quality improvement. One of the main advantages is the ability to reduce time-to-market, meaning you have to do less to make your product information appear on the global market. It also means making fewer mistakes when gathering, enhancing, and delivering data via channels.

With PIM, you achieve better product information management, which leads to a better customer experience. Customers will trust the information you provide and engage with your products more often. This chain is not over because better customer experience leads to increased productivity. Your business becomes more efficient, fasting up all communication and collaboration processes. When you automatize multiple processes, you can reorganize the working processes, making your team more effective. Everyone will do what they need to do, and the machines will focus on performing regular information management operations.

Finally, product information management is good for companies with limited budgets. If you can’t invest a lot in data management, get PIM. You will get your information delivered to the endpoint, but it won’t cost you all the money in the world.

What Else Can You Do with PIM?

In addition to the advantages of product information management we already described, there are some additional steps you can take to improve your data control. With PIM, data distribution becomes standardized and simplified. You also can integrate data from multiple sources and/or departments to have a wider view of the problem.

Another advantage of PIM is the ability to establish workflow management. Control the processes to increase productivity and do more at the same time. Last but not least quality control. Analyze the information you work with and make the best decisions.

To ensure the PIM method is effectively integrated into the company’s workflow, consider having training. When users will get used to product information management and understand team goals and tasks, everything will work much better.

What is Master Data Management (MDM)?

MDM, or master data management, is basically a bridge between systems inside the organizations and the information they need. With MDM, any data-driven digital transformation becomes simpler and more accurate because it now has a single source of data. Master data management is a set of tools and processes that have one purpose: to deliver organized data to keep business operations active.

How does MDM software work?

Like PIM, MDM’s main purpose is to centralize data. With this approach, people who are responsible for data dissemination will spread it across the organization very fast. However, if PIM’s focus is on product information, master data management operates more information, including data about employees, vendors, and customers, and product information as well. Also, MDM has a higher price tag, and this is where clients may think whether to choose this approach or not. If companies are thinking of investing in this initiative, they should think of organizing their back-end data. If you are not confident about what exactly you should choose, analyze your needs. PIM may cover your needs but cost less.

Key Features of an MDM Solution

When master data management is implemented, you can easily support end-to-end requirements, ensuring that data quality, data integration, and other requirements are OK. Another feature of the MDM is that it gives your product data visibility and patterns. This is important because later, you can implement necessary corrections relying on the received data. With MDM, you will have a wider perspective on product data, which means you can overview and prepare data for analytical and operational usage.

Benefits of MDM

The main advantages of MDM are:

  • Providing more clear data for users to analyze.
  • An ability to implement changes in a single area to ensure these changes will remain for other areas.
  • Reducing issues that may later impact business.
  • Identify mistakes in source systems.
  • Checking all data to ensure it is up-to-date and meets the specific requirements.
  • Helps you eliminate data that negatively impacts the operations or slows them down.

With MDM, you can control all aspects of business operations. Even if you deal with large amounts of data and need to find solutions quickly, master data management is what you need.

PIM or MDM: Choosing the Best Fit for Your Business

The decision to use PIM or MDM is usually made by the IT department because they receive tasks to collect, process, and send data according to the company’s needs. People related to business usually select master data management because their work depends on the quality of the received data. Whether the information they get has mistakes (for example, wrong terms used), becomes a big problem. So, to manage a single product view and avoid repeatable misunderstandings, and other issues, the choice is on the MDM. Sill, if you understand that you want to have a complete data overview, you should select PIM.

If you need only product data to cover, you should select PIM. MDM has a multi-vector and multi-domain system. In some cases, we can meet single-domain MDM platforms that emphasize product or customer data, and they are programmed to gather information from only one domain. Still, most MDM solutions require a multi-domain system.

The PIM solution is needed when it comes to data accuracy. If you need short time-to-market enablement, multiple customer touchpoints, and quick introduction of new products, you should select product information management.

PIM Solution for Your Business

PIM solutions will suit you if you work with products that have hundreds of product attributes and if your purpose is to deliver data using sales channels and external systems. Also, if your primary goal is to increase sales, product information management is your #1 choice.

MDM Solution for Your Business

MDM will be a better choice once you have to manage secondary data domains like finances, client data, location data, etc. Master data management allows users to manage data in all forms, from products to customers, enabling you to centralize data across the whole company. Sometimes, people even combine MDM and PIM to achieve better data control since they cover each other gaps and provide better performance. For example, if you need to master data strategy to support user cases, you may need to combine product information management and master data management. It may be quite expensive but at the same time, you won’t care about possible issues in how data is delivered.


It’s complicated to say exactly what’s best for you: MDM or PIM. To make the right choice, you have to analyze your needs and problems and only then decide what approach is best for you. Also, when implementing the selected approach, ensure you are assisted by experienced specialists who understand your needs and know how to help you realize your ideas. The approach of managing the information inside the business is getting complicated, especially when the market is rapidly growing. Everyone wants to find the most effective tool, but not everyone understands where to search for it. Analyze your case, review each data management solution's pros and cons, and decide. Who knows, maybe you’ll need them both.

Modified on: 04/02/2024