PCM vs. PIM: Which One Does Your Ecommerce Business Need?

One question we hear a lot is: “What’s the difference between Product Content Management and Product Information Management?” The confusion is understandable. In addition to the names being nearly identical, they share some features, and are both utilized by ecommerce vendors. But that’s about where the similarities end.

Luckily enough for all of us, sorting out the differences is actually pretty straightforward.

What is PCM?

Product Content Management (PCM) is offered as either a standalone tool, or as an included data enrichment feature in most ecommerce solutions. PCM evolved out of old-fashioned catalogs, spreadsheets, ERP systems or other internal-facing tools — but really haven’t evolved that far. To give you an idea of just how far they haven’t come, the ‘C’ in PCM originally stood for ‘catalog.’ PCM allows you to add or remove product descriptions, update your product features such as images, attributes, classifications, and prices. PCM’s primary benefit is serving as a single source of truth for product information, but it remains a limited source as it normally can’t interact with multiple ecommerce platforms.

How is PIM different?

Product Information Management (PIM) is a step above PCM. A PIM system is a standalone platform that works across ecommerce solutions, and like PCM gives vendors a single source of truth for their product information. However, PIM tools offer a lot more features than PCM, going beyond simple data enrichment to allow vendors to import, consolidate, organize, enhance, transform, and manage massive amounts of data effectively. And by giving vendors a single hub for all their data, PIM systems create time and effort efficiencies, while increasing options for scaling the vendor’s business.

Perhaps the biggest benefit for vendors and their ecommerce partners is the ability to syndicate data across multiple channels, allowing vendors to push data out to their different customers, channels, and partners.

PIM systems are great for vendors and partners, but they also make a huge difference to the online shopper. Clean and consistent product information created by PIM platforms is easier for customers to find, more trustworthy, and ultimately makes it easier to purchase online and in-store. Customers are never misled by seeing mislabeled products, bad descriptions, missing photos, or blank fields. Therefore using a PIM system gives vendors the opportunity to make more sales and provides them with an advantage over their competition that is still using PCM.

How to choose between PCM and PIM

You will occasionally see PCM solutions presented as if they were actually PIM platforms. Don’t get fooled. Yes, there are similarities and terminology overlaps, but PCM is not PIM. Think of PCM as PIM’s little cousin — it’s a place to house and enrich your data, but that’s about it. Ecommerce vendors that really want to manage, optimize and distribute their data need a good PIM platform.

Improving the way your business handles product information will set your business apart and help you scale.

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