Why a PIM?
A Product Information Management system is software that allows companies to collect, organize, enrich, and distribute information related to their products.
For chemical producers, this means having product catalogs, technical documentation (technical data sheets, specs, tech papers), marketing information (brochures, case studies, product videos), and regulatory and compliance documents (MSDS, certificates, approvals, tox studies, etc.,) organized and stored in a central repository, accessible to all team members to share with customers and business partners as needed. A PIM is not a product inventory system or a price catalog – it is a digital system designed primarily to handle the mounting demand for accurate and up-to-date product information.
Ever increasing complexity make the traditional methods obsolete
Chemical products are inherently complex, and each item in the supplier’s catalog typically comes with a long list of required data and documents – from sales and marketing materials, to updated regulatory compliance certificates and technical specs. Chemical producers have historically stored these documents on shared drives or in ERP systems, relying on company representatives to manually share them with customers.
With information originating from different sources (laboratories, product management, marketing, regulatory compliance groups, corporate communications, etc.,) it’s always been a daunting and expensive task to organize, coordinate, and maintain all this data. And still the right documents are often hard to find, and there’s no guarantee that you are working with the latest version or a correct iteration of an important document.
The growing adoption of multi-channel sales, such as commerce portals and product selection platforms or marketplaces, have added complexity to product information handling. With data scattered across platforms and buried in PDF files, it has become increasingly difficult for both producers and distributors to provide accurate, organized, and most up-to-date information to their customers. Especially when dealing with a multitude of diverse products, each with a number of unique formulations, applications, and regional variations.
The need for a single source of truth is even more dire for distributors
Product complexity is even greater for distributors for 3 main reasons:
1. Bigger product catalogs: For a given amount of revenues, distributors sell much more products than producers. For example, IMCD, one of the largest distributors of specialties in the world, sells 43,000 products while a producer like Croda sells only 7, 000 products of them, for a similar range of revenues.
2. Heterogeneous sources: Each producer supplies their own product information – in different file formats, layouts, and media types. Depending on which markets they operate in, distributors may have the need for the same product documentation presented in different languages, and if they can’t easily locate this information, they request it from the producer – manually, by email or phone, spending hours each day trying to find one document or another, taking time away from their core tasks and placing unnecessary strain on producers’ resources.
3. Geographical distribution rights: It is quite common that producers give distributors exclusivity rights to sell their products only in some specific regions. This means that distributors must localize their sales and marketing efforts to some specific territories. In the digital space, sales teams are not able to make sure that the right product information is seen only by customers operating in the geography they have the right to sell to.
The single source of truth
The goal of a Product Information Management system is to centralize and unify data and document handling, giving companies easy access to all their product data and documentation in one central, secure, access-controlled repository. With templates for information storage, unified nomenclature and naming conventions, product information is easy to find, easy to share, and is always up to date.
With a well-structured PIM in place, sales teams can find the TDS they need in the right language, customers can view product information videos, and distribution partners can access the most updated compliance paperwork they need to close their deals.
Marketing teams can optimize their product descriptions within the PIM for the search engines, helping customers find the right products faster. And with dashboards and KPIs on completion percentages, everyone in the organization has visibility into the current state of product documentation. As well as any missing data.
Distributors can easily store data relative to the geographical distribution rights they have for each product. So that they can automatically and securely channel the right product information to the customers located in a specific geography.
The information contained in the PIM can be used on company websites, commerce portals, CRMs, customer self-service support systems, product selection platforms, marketplaces, or in marketing campaigns. It’s a great way to store data in one place, and distribute it everywhere without worrying about version control, permissions, override, or accidentally sending out incomplete or outdated information.
Higher productivity, better business outcomes
For chemical producers and distributors, having a reliable, well-structured, and enriched PIM brings a number of significant benefits:
● Increase in productivity: less time wasted requesting and exchanging information internally and with business partners
● Better product safety: reduced risks of missing legal obligations related to product data updates or documentation
● Better customer experience: with the right information at their fingertips, customers have better, more streamlined searching, self-learning, and purchasing experiences
● Greater visibility: better referencing in search engines and on product platforms, such as SpecialChem and UL Prospector. And that means improved visibility of your product portfolio
● Support for more channels: effortlessly share information with new digital or traditional offline channels
● Enhanced digitalization: product information management is no longer a bottleneck to the adoption of new digital practices