PIM vs. PMD: Solving the Product Data Challenge

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Accurate product data is crucial to successful digital transformation. You need a central source of truth for your product data — PMD and PIM can get you there. 

Your products are core to your business — they’re how and why you exist. And your product data fuels your entire business: it enables your teams, educates your customers, and powers your systems, from financial to operational. All of this means businesses need to structure, organize, store and maintain clean and accurate product data. 

In our industry, however, this is no small feat. Ingredient, polymer and chemical product data is incredibly complex, and suppliers and distributors using Knowde manage tens of thousands of products and SKUs. Each one of those products has hundreds of associated attributes ranging from technical in nature such as physical form, boiling point, and density, to marketing-oriented features like benefits, and claims. Additionally, each product is supported by technical data sheets, safety data sheets, marketing brochures and other documentation. 

In this post, we will break down the differences between the current solutions that aim to solve this challenging product data problem: Product Master Data management and Product Information Management (PIM) systems. These two terms are used in many different ways in our industry, but we’ll explain how we define them at Knowde and why it’s important to draw from both solutions to maximize your digital success. 

Product Master Data 

Let’s start with Product Master Data, as it’s critical to understand before thinking about a PIM solution. In the spirit of making things complicated, there are many acronyms associated with this concept. You may have active projects happening right now under one of these acronyms for Product Master Data management: Product MDM, PMDM, PMD. 

Product Master Data management is all about making sure your business has clean, organized, and comprehensive data for every single product. Product Master Data management is a specific subset or branch of Master Data Management (MDM), which has a broader scope beyond product data, such as customer data, employee data, etc. Product Master Data focuses specifically on managing and governing product-related data. 

At Knowde, Product Master Data includes three main components: 

  1. Product Hierarchy, which includes Producer Name, Brand Name, Product Name and SKU Name. 
  2. Commercial attributes that are related to Brands, Product and SKUs, such as product description, chemical name, technical properties, product family, markets, applications, functions, and dozens of other attributes. This data is typically found in technical data sheets, safety data sheets, brochures, white papers, spreadsheets, and in folders on countless employee computers or shared drives. 
  3. Commercial SKU attributes such as package sizes, lead times, or MOQs, which are typically found in your ERP system. 

Product Master Data management is imperative for businesses because it emphasizes collecting and organizing product data. It’s the critical first step in any successful digital transformation. 

Product Information Management

Once you’ve collected and organized your product data, it needs a place to live — a central source of truth. This is what a Product Information Management (PIM) system is for — it’s the single system of record for your product data. It’s the technology that stores all of the product master data including every attribute and associated data sheet or document. Your PIM system serves as the reference point for all other systems including your ERP, website, and more. 

Infographic showing customer's product information being organized through Knowde's Proprietary Knowledge Engine and then becoming Product Master Data in a PIM

PIM software might sound like the answer to all of your product data and digitalization problems, the same way membership to a fancy gym is sold as the solution to getting in shape. And just like gym memberships, buying a PIM is easy. You can purchase an “off-the-shelf” PIM software tomorrow, but that won’t actually solve your problems. That PIM, just like a treadmill or weight rack, needs to be used properly if you want to see any results. The root of the issue isn’t having a PIM, per se; it’s having the time, human capital, and knowledge of how to organize  product information that goes into a PIM that most people get hung up on.

Your Product Master Data is what fuels your PIM system. It’s the foundation. If you put garbage data into your PIM, you’ll get garbage data out. A PIM system manages all the product information across your existing business systems including your ERP, eCommerce system, CRM, CMS and others. It’s responsible for feeding consistent product information across systems, channels and touchpoints. This is why it’s critical to fill your PIM with clean, organized and structured product data — not garbage. Getting this right is a lot of work. 

Infographic of Product Master Data in a PIM feeding other sources, including customer website, marketplace, eCommerce, catalog, sales team, and more

PMD and a PIM together unlock business growth

Product Master Data is all about collecting and organizing your product data, while a PIM system helps you store and maintain that data. Ultimately you need both Product Master Data management and a Product Information Management system to transform your business and start your digital journey. 

At Knowde, we’re the masters of Product Master Data and offer a PIM built specifically for our industry. We organize your unstructured data in a matter of weeks and deliver a structured, cleansed and comprehensive global PIM for all of your products, across all markets and all regions. 

If you’re ready to accelerate digital, Knowde can help.