Do you keep product data on your store platform? Move it to PIM today

Digital illustration of data migration from a traditional store platform to a modern PIM system.

Keeping product data in the platform on which your e-commerce is based seems like a good tactic. You might think that aggregating everything within one software tool will make it easier to control the data, and keep it from chaos. Well, we have to worry you. It's quite the opposite.

Operation of an online store in a nutshell

In a very simplified way, e-commerce relies on a combination of three elements - a web server that manages the storefront and processes transactions (in conjunction with payment gateways), a database - which keeps you "informed" of your inventory, and a shipping system connected to the warehouse - to quickly locate the goods and ship them. 

In fact, all you need to set up a working online store is a web server. Many small retailers run their businesses successfully without complex databases or sophisticated shipping systems. If the assortment level is low enough, you can have the database “in your mind” and send the packages by traditional mail - this is how many small sellers work in marketplaces like eBay or Allegro. 

However, the situation gets more complicated when our business is bigger - the number of assortment reaches thousands (and more), not hundreds, and the goods are sold in several channels simultaneously. Such a store already requires a professional store platform and a larger technological framework - to process hundreds of transactions in real time and better manage product data. 

E-commerce and PIM systems. Do we need both for product data management?

E-commerce is changing. There is more data, more stores, more customers. Marketplaces are created, as well as new tools to increase sales, reports, studies, forecasts. Keeping such a huge amount of information (imagine a store selling several hundred thousand products) in one place is extremely risky for at least two reasons.

First - let's consider the human factor. While it may offend our human egos, we have to admit that people make mistakes more often than machines. If, as a result of a mistake, changes affecting a large part of the assortment are saved - wrong pictures, descriptions, prices - then these changes can be seen immediately in the store. There is no safety buffer even in the form of another person from the team who has to approve the changes. In a situation when someone buys a product with a wrong description or a different (e.g. much lower price), the consequences can be felt. It generates costs and has a bad influence on the brand image and credibility.

The second aspect is the technical factor - the occurrence of errors on the side of the system. Imagine a situation when during the upgrade of the platform (e.g. migration from Magento 1 to Magento 2) there is an error in the database - e.g. the database doesn't update or a plug-in doesn't respond properly - then the errors have to be fixed manually or the data has to be entered once again if it is deleted. These are pretty extreme cases, but you should be aware that they can happen. 

In fact, the discussion about the advantages of keeping data in PIM rather than in an e-commerce platform must naturally turn to a comparison of monolithic and microservices architecture. In a nutshell: monolithic architecture is based on a single entity, microservices consist of "building blocks", each of which has its own architecture, purpose and business context. In the event of a failure of one "block", the entire application continues to operate, and fixes are only made in the "infected" area. A failure in the monolith can affect the operation of the entire system, and it takes much longer and is more complicated to fix the error.

Now that you know the difference between monolith and microservices, look at your e-commerce in this context. So you have a storefront platform, you have a CRM, you have a marketing automation tool and other marketing tools, you finally have a PIM system that "handles" the product catalog, as well as a number of other tools that you use in your daily work. Your entire ecommerce ecosystem is de facto built as microservices. When one of the elements stops working - it will not affect the global functioning of the whole site. Now imagine that you don't have a PIM, your storefront platform crashes, and with it your entire product catalog. If you are aggregating your product data in an e-commerce system, you may find that when your site is restored, there are errors in your catalog data.

The benefits of keeping product data in PIM

There is no illusion that omnichannel is a trend that has been setting the rhythm of change in the e-commerce market for several years. Multiple sales channels force retailers to select tools that facilitate fast and reliable data distribution to each of them. The PIM system is the answer to these needs.

By keeping product data in PIM, you also avoid the most common data issues:

  • one of the main causes of poor data quality is keeping it in several places that are not connected to each other. Even if you put your data files in the cloud - you have no control over whether someone downloads them in an outdated version. Searching through several excel sheets in search of the most up-to-date one is not the best solution, 
  • keeping the data up-to-date requires constant attention - deleting old versions, updating new ones and making sure that every team member who uses the data has the most up-to-date version, 
  • inconsistencies of data across several sources, 
  • mismatched attributes to the industry you sell into,
  • chaos in data management among team members with different competencies and permissions.

One of the main differences between a PIM and a regular online store database is that in PIM systems, you can automatically assign more information to products for different channels. 

If you introduce a new product and you also sell in the marketplace, you have to enter information about the product into a store platform, Allegro or Amazon, or price comparison services (Ceneo, Nokaut) - so you have to log into the relevant platform and work with the data there. PIM shortens this path - all data is automatically sent to all channels, without worrying about errors or its quality. 

Keeping your data in PIM will help you:

  • control product data chaos - information from Excel files, ERP data, marketing data all go to one place,
  • build a central database of product data - imported from various sources and distributed to various sales channels,
  • ensuring high quality and consistency of data across different channels, 
  • avoiding errors in product data, 
  • real-time data management among team members with different competencies, 
  • improving workflow in product data teams,
  • shortening the product go-to-market path.

How to manage data in Ergonode?

Ergonode with its catalog management features will provide you with top-notch experience in working on product data

Let’s start with a spreadsheet and gallery view on the product listings page. You can select two different modes to search and manage your products - the spreadsheet gives you a familiar experience of popular Excel-like apps. 

In the gallery view you can see your catalog as if you were seeing it in an online shop. Gallery view is designed to optimize navigation among the products described by SKUs and images.

Another great possibility is to personalize your workspace according to your preferences - just drag attributes and set columns - the way you like it.

This is just a tiny part of all the possibilities Ergonode offers within catalog management. More information can be found here:

To find out more about Ergonode’s features - schedule a demo! You're only a few steps away from improving your and your e-commerce team's experience. We're here to help you do just that.

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