<img src="https://secure.leadforensics.com/176401.png" style="display:none;">

Control your product lifecycle with PIM

5 minute read
Get our blogs in your inbox

Control your product lifecycle with PIM

What is a product lifecycle?

A product lifecycle encompasses the stages a product goes through from its inception to its discontinuation. It includes the ideation, design, production, marketing, and end-of-life management phases. Each product lifecycle stage has specific challenges and opportunities that can significantly influence the product's overall success.

Understanding the product lifecycle is crucial, but integrating Product Information Management (PIM) alongside Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) takes the management of a product from good to great. To illustrate the importance of this integration, let’s examine two product launch scenarios. One scenario highlights a successful product launch that utilized both PIM and PLM effectively, while the other discusses a launch that relied solely on PLM and faced significant challenges.

A tale of two outcomes: The smartwatch saga

The tale of a particular smartwatch underscores the pivotal role of Product Information Management (PIM) in a product's market success. Let's delve into a narrative of contrast and revelation, illustrating how the fate of the same product can diverge dramatically based on how its information is handled.

Initial fumble: The false start

Imagine a cutting-edge smartwatch equipped with the latest features: heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, waterproof capabilities, and seamless smartphone integration. Despite its potential to redefine market standards, the launch was a disaster. Though superior in design and functionality, the product faced an abysmal fate. Poor data management led to listings with scarce information, incorrect specifications, and a lack of engaging multimedia content. Consumers, unable to find or trust the information presented, steered clear. The smartwatch, lost in the digital shelves of ecommerce, became a symbol of failure, leading to the company's significant financial downturn and damaged reputation.

The successful relaunch

Now, envision the same smartwatch but in an alternate reality where PIM is at the heart of its strategy. This time, the launch is met with acclaim and enthusiasm. Comprehensive, accurate, and richly detailed product information populates every channel, accompanied by high-resolution images and videos highlighting the smartwatch's sleek design and innovative features. The data is meticulously optimized for various platforms, ensuring visibility and engagement. Now empowered with all the information they need, consumers are quick to trust and purchase. The smartwatch becomes a bestseller, catapulting the company to new heights of success and market leadership.

The revelation

This tale of two outcomes illustrates not just the potential of a smartwatch but also the transformative power of effective product information management. The stark contrast between failure and success in these scenarios reveals that PIM is an indispensable pillar at the core of product lifecycle management. When leveraged wisely, it's a strategic asset that can turn potential into prosperity, guiding products to thrive in competitive markets.

But what is PIM all about, and why did the first launch fail without it?

Product Information Management (PIM) vs. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM): What’s the difference?

While both Product Information Management (PIM) and Product Lifecycle Management systems are crucial for successful product management, they focus on different aspects of the product's journey. PIM involves managing all the data related to a product, which is essential for marketing and selling that product through various distribution channels. This includes detailed product descriptions, specifications, pricing, and multimedia content.

On the other hand, PLM deals with the broader spectrum of the product's lifecycle, from conception to disposal. PLM integrates people, data, processes, and business systems to provide a product information backbone for companies. This includes managing the design, production, and deployment processes to ensure the product can be manufactured and maintained effectively.

PIM and PLM systems are used at different product lifecycle stages in the product journey. When implemented well, they can complement each other perfectly, but they are not one and the same.

Here are the 12 differences between PIM and PLM:

  1. Focus area
    • PIM: Focuses on managing all the product information necessary for marketing and selling products across multiple sales channels. This includes details such as descriptions, specifications, pricing, and digital assets like images and videos.
    • PLM: Deals with the entire process of managing a product's lifecycle from inception through engineering design and manufacture to service and disposal. It integrates people, data, processes, and business systems.
  2. Primary users
    • PIM: Primarily used by marketing and product management teams, sales teams, and ecommerce managers who need accurate product information to ensure effective communication with customers and prospects.
    • PLM: Used by engineering teams, product development teams, and manufacturing units that are directly involved in creating and maintaining the product.
  3. Objective
    • PIM: Aims to improve the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of product data across all marketing and sales channels, enhancing marketability, customer experience and conversion rates.
    • PLM: Aims to reduce product development costs, speed up the time to market, improve product quality, and facilitate compliance with regulations.
  4. Integration with other systems
    • PIM: Integrates mainly with marketing tools, ecommerce platforms, ERP systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems to ensure consistent product information across all customer touchpoints.
    • PLM: Often integrates with computer-aided design (CAD) systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and sometimes directly with manufacturing execution systems (MES) to streamline the design-to-production process.
  5. Data management
    • PIM: Manages static and dynamic product data, including rich content, multimedia files, standardization, and specifications needed for product listing and sales.
    • PLM: Manages technical data and processes such as product designs, workflow schematics, operational processes, and project management information.
  6. Outcome
    • PIM: Enhances the customer's shopping experience by providing complete, accurate, and appealing product information, which can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.
    • PLM: Increases operational efficiency by improving the management of product changes over the lifecycle, reducing the time and cost of development, and ensuring product quality and compliance.
  7. Scope of data
    • PIM: Primarily concerned with commercial data relevant to sales and marketing purposes. This includes how a product is described, its pricing, and how it is categorized and displayed on sales channels.
    • PLM: Focuses on comprehensive data from the initial concept to the final details needed for manufacturing and post-market support, including detailed engineering and material specifications.
  8. Lifecycle stage emphasis
    • PIM: More relevant in the later stages of a product's lifecycle, particularly once it is ready to be marketed and sold. It becomes critical when the product hits the market and accurate marketing and sales collateral is needed.
    • PLM: Emphasizes the early stages of a product's lifecycle, such as design and production. It is crucial for the development and operational phases where the groundwork for a product's success is laid.
  9. End goals
    • PIM: The end goal is to optimize all market-facing product data to drive sales, improve customer satisfaction, and ensure compliance with market standards.
    • PLM: The goal is to streamline production processes, enhance product quality, and reduce time-to-market, ultimately increasing profitability and market competitiveness.
  10. Change management
    • PIM: Manages changes in product information that affect how products are perceived and sold in the market. This can include updates to product descriptions, pricing adjustments, and changes in product imagery.
    • PLM: Deals with changes in the product development process, including revisions in design documents, updates to regulatory requirements, and alterations in manufacturing processes.
  11. Impact on customer experience
    • PIM: Directly impacts customer experience by ensuring that product information across all platforms is consistent, accurate, and relevant, which helps build customer trust and confidence in the brand.
    • PLM: Indirectly impacts customer experience by improving the quality and reliability of products, which contributes to long-term customer satisfaction.
  12. Usage of information
    • PIM: The information is used to inform customers and persuade them to purchase, focusing on marketing and sales effectiveness.
    • PLM: Uses information to make internal decisions about the product's design, production, and maintenance, focusing on efficiency and compliance.

These differences highlight how PIM and PLM serve distinct but complementary organizational functions.

Although PIM and PLM systems have their unique features, they share some key functionalities that benefit organizational workflows.

  • Both can serve as a centralized repository for all product-related data, streamlining access and management.
  • They are capable of integrating with other systems within the tech stack, enhancing overall technological capabilities.
  • Both systems foster improved collaboration and efficiency across teams, which can accelerate innovation and add significant value to your organization.


The Forrester Wave: Product Information Management, Q4 2023 Report

Find out how Contentserv, a Strong Performer in PIM solutions, can empower your product strategy.

The product journey: From inception to market success

Ideation and conceptualization

The first stage involves brainstorming and developing a viable product idea that addresses a specific market need or capitalizes on an emerging market trend.

PIM: Enhances this stage by providing market data and consumer insights, which inform the ideation process. By leveraging PIM, organizations can access detailed consumer behavior and preference patterns, ensuring that the product concepts are aligned with real market demands.

Product development and design

In this phase, the initial ideas are developed into a concrete product design. This involves detailed sketches, 3D models, and prototypes. Technologies such as CAD (Computer-Aided Design) play a crucial role in this stage, helping designers and engineers visualize the end product more clearly.

PIM supports this phase by managing detailed product information that can be used to enrich the design process. It ensures that all product specifications, materials data, and design files are centrally managed and easily accessible, facilitating better collaboration among design teams and speeding up design iterations based on accurate product data.

Manufacturing and production

Once the design is finalized, the product goes into manufacturing. This stage needs to balance cost, quality, and time to market. Effective PLM software can accelerate manufacturing by up to 50%, ensuring that products are manufactured efficiently and to standard.

PIM systems can feed consistent product information into production processes, ensuring that manufacturing teams have up-to-date specifications and compliance data. This integration helps minimize production errors and aligns manufacturing closely with product design specifications.

Go-to-market strategy

The marketing strategy is crucial. It involves deciding on the product’s pricing, promotion, and placement. Data-driven PIM systems ensure that accurate product information reaches the right consumer segments via the appropriate marketing channels.

Crucial at this stage, PIM ensures that all marketing and sales channels have accurate, rich, and consistent product information. This leads to coherent brand messaging and helps effectively target the right consumer segments, improving overall market entry and acceptance.

Continuous improvement

After the product is launched, the focus shifts to gathering customer feedback and refining it. Continuous improvement is vital for sustaining the product’s market position and expanding its market share.

PIM plays a vital role by integrating consumer feedback directly into the product information management system. This allows for real-time updates and improvements to product data across all channels based on customer interactions and feedback. PIM systems also help track the performance of product information in terms of sales and customer engagement, informing future product development phases.

By integrating PIM with PLM throughout the product lifecycle, companies can ensure that every stage is informed by accurate and up-to-date product information. This will facilitate better decision-making, enhance market responsiveness, and ultimately lead to more successful products.

Can you navigate the product lifecycle without PIM?

Navigating the product lifecycle without a robust PIM system can lead to discrepancies in product data across channels, potentially causing customer dissatisfaction, decreased sales, and, in the case of our hypothetical smartwatch, product failures.

While PLM optimizes a product’s internal lifecycle — from conception through design and manufacture to service and disposal — PIM enhances how the product is presented and perceived in the market. Together, they form a comprehensive approach to product management.

Here are 3 real-world examples of failed product launches that demonstrated how an effective PIM could have helped prevent these failures:

Amazon Fire Phone (2014)

Launched in 2014, the Fire Phone was developed to enhance Amazon’s ecommerce capabilities, allowing users to scan products and compare prices effortlessly. However, the phone failed to meet broader consumer needs beyond price comparison, such as appealing design and comprehensive user experience.

The failure highlighted the lack of attention to detailed product information and user preferences that a robust PIM system could have provided.

  • Marketing and information dissemination: Effective PIM could have helped better manage and disseminate product information highlighting the Fire Phone’s unique benefits, tailored to meet consumer interests and needs. The marketing failed to effectively communicate why consumers should switch from their current devices, missing the opportunity to highlight potentially compelling use cases of its unique features.
  • Customer feedback and adaptation: Post-launch, the feedback mechanisms and adjustments based on consumer response were inadequate. A robust PIM system would have captured and utilized consumer feedback more effectively to rapidly adjust marketing and product features, potentially salvaging the product’s reputation and improving sales.

The development phase (PLM) needed robust support from PIM to ensure the product’s market readiness by aligning its capabilities with market needs. Proper market research, clear communication of product benefits, and readiness to adapt based on real-time market feedback are crucial.

PIM capabilities that could help:

  • Enhanced product content management
  • Translation and localization
  • Multi-platform integration
  • Competitive analysis (Pricing)

Nike+ FuelBand (2012)  

The FuelBand was highly anticipated and even sold out during its initial release. However, Nike primarily focused on iPhone users and delayed the release of an Android app for the FuelBand, significantly limiting its market reach and appeal. It was only about two and a half years after its initial launch that Nike released the FuelBand app for Android users, which was too late to capture that market segment effectively. In April 2014, after only three years of existence, Nike shut down the FuelBand. According to the case study by the Inovo Group, the failure was partially attributed to competitive pressures, the challenges of venturing into new domains such as software development, and a lack of deep understanding of consumer motivations for adopting wearable technology.

Effective PIM could have helped dynamically adapt marketing strategies and product development to address competitive pressures by highlighting unique selling propositions and ensuring that all marketing communications aligned with the actual product experience.

Product data utilization and syndication: The information regarding FuelBand’s capabilities and compatibility could have been better managed and syndicated across various channels to ensure clarity and reach all potential users. A delayed response to market feedback regarding device compatibility and feature requests hindered potential sales and user adoption.

PIM capabilities that could help:

  • Enhanced data integration and syndication
  • Feedback management
  • Dynamic content customization
  • Multi-lingual and multi-regional support

Google Glass (2010)

Introduced with much fanfare, Google Glass featured advanced technology like head-mounted display and voice commands. However, it faced significant backlash and market rejection for several reasons, including privacy concerns due to its ability to record videos without others noticing, its unfashionable design, and its high price point.

These issues were compounded by inadequate marketing that failed to properly address these consumer concerns and expectations, which could have been mitigated with better use of PIM to manage and communicate product information more effectively and align it with user needs and market realities.

  • Data consistency and quality: Google Plus may have suffered from inconsistent or unclear information about its benefits over other platforms. Effective PIM could have ensured that clear, compelling product information was consistently presented across all channels to attract and retain users.
  • Market and customer data utilization: Google Plus could have benefitted from better use of customer data to understand user needs and refine the platform accordingly. A robust PIM strategy would include analyzing user behavior data to improve product offerings and continuously adapt marketing strategies.

PIM capabilities that could help:

  • Detailed product information
  • Multimedia content management
  • Segmented marketing efforts

Together, PLM and PIM ensure that a product is well-developed and well-represented in the market. This dual approach minimizes the risk of market failures by:

  • Aligning product data across various departments ensures everyone from engineering to sales is on the same page.
  • Enhancing product adaptation by quickly responding to market feedback and adjusting product information.
  • Improving customer satisfaction by providing accurate, timely, relevant product information that meets customer expectations.

Organizations implementing both systems are better positioned to achieve a competitive advantage, leading to higher success rates for new products in the marketplace.

Contentserv: The complete PIM solution for your product’s lifecycle

Contentserv provides a comprehensive PIM solution that complements PLM systems seamlessly, offering a holistic view of the product information management lifecycle.

Centralized product data management

A fundamental capability of PIM systems is centralizing product data from various sources and formats into one unified repository. Contentserv’s PIM system integrates high-quality data seamlessly, ensuring consistent and accurate product information throughout development, marketing, and sales. Its master data component also enforces uniformity across all data – by ingesting product data from a PLM system from the beginning of the process, companies can easily save time and effort managing important information.

Data enrichment and standardization

Product data can be enriched by adding more comprehensive and detailed descriptions, specifications, and multimedia content. Standardizing data across platforms is also crucial for maintaining quality and uniformity when presenting product information to stakeholders and customers.

Multi-channel distribution

Effectively distributing product information to various sales and marketing channels is necessary for successful product management. Ensuring consistent product details are available wherever the product is sold or promoted aligns with PLM efforts to maximize market reach and impact. This also delivers a seamless product experience to customers, further impacting their overall product experience.

Market and consumer insights

Advanced PIM systems can directly integrate consumer feedback and market analytics into the product database. This function provides valuable insights into PLM systems, helping to refine product design, address market needs, and make informed decisions about product iterations and enhancements. Contentserv’s PIM incorporates insights from syndicated channels, facilitating well-informed decision-making that keeps product content relevant and impactful for the target audience. This strategic approach ensures the product information remains current and compelling, perfectly aligned with consumer expectations and evolving market dynamics.

Regulatory compliance and documentation

PIM can manage regulatory compliance information and documentation, which is essential for products that must meet industry or government standards. This function supports PLM by ensuring all product-related documentation is up to date and readily available, reducing the risk of compliance and recall issues.

Collaboration and workflow management

Many PIM systems include tools for workflow management and collaboration. These tools can streamline communication between different teams (such as design, marketing, and manufacturing), ensuring that all departments are aligned in their efforts, which is critical for effective product lifecycle management.

Product categorization and taxonomy

Contentserv’s PIM helps create and manage complex product categorizations and taxonomies, which enable businesses to organize products according to different attributes and categories. This structure is crucial for PLM as it enables effective management of product portfolios and simplifies the tracking of products throughout their lifecycle.

Investing in a robust PIM system streamlines product information management. It ensures that this information is leveraged to achieve maximum market impact, aligning with modern digital marketing strategies and ecommerce trends. It’s a crucial tool for any business looking to compete in today’s fast-paced market environment without fear of failure.

Ready to boost your product conversion?

Fuel your product journey with our AI-powered PIM solution — and take control of the total product lifecycle.