Episerver Commerce and PIM
Getting the product data
Depending on the customer you might work with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of individual products that you want to be available in the final e-commerce solution. Although possible, you don’t want to manually enter and update all these products in the Episerver Commerce administration interface. The products most likely already exists in the company’s ERP system, and building an integration to such a system is often an essential step of a successful Episerver Commerce project.
The challenge is that product data in the ERP system often is cryptic and incomplete compared to what we want to show on the product page of our e-commerce site.
Common problems are:
- Cryptic product name e.g. Jeans 31x31-ZTNY-BL
- Missing product description text
- Product images being in another system or missing
- Missing translations
- Duplicate information
What is a PIM?
PIM stands for Product Information Management and is a piece of software that sits between Episerver Commerce and the ERP system.
The benefits of a PIM system are:
- A much better tool for working with editing product data than an ERP system
- Combine product data from multiple sources into one (product information from the ERP, product images from a DAM-system etc.)
- Combine line items/SKUs into more logical products for editors. E.g. a pair of jeans might come in 40 sizes (length and width combinations) and show up as 40 different products in the ERP, but can be shown in the PIM for the editor as a single product.
- The PIM can be the source of product data for multiple channels: e-commerce, printed product catalogs, instore displays (both printed and digital), advertising etc. This saves time as e.g. a product description written once can be used in all sources.
What should you keep out of the PIM?
It might feel tempting to just stuff everything into the PIM, but there are some product data you should keep out of it. A good rule of thumb is to keep out data that changes frequently like prices and remaining stock quantities. When building an e-commerce solution, you should fetch such data directly from the ERP-system. Prices in particular can vary a lot depending on customer, volume, agreed upon discounts, time of year, market etc. and is often needed to be calculated on the fly.
Where is a product born?
When integrating a PIM product you need to think about the whole life cycle of products, including where they are borned. Should a new product be entered into the ERP, the PIM or Episerver Commerce? How will data about the new product be created and flow through the system?
PIM projects are complex
PIM projects are usually complex projects simply because they become the new “hub” of all product data and requires multiple integrations with other systems. In addition it affects many different departments and employees that need to change the way they work with products and product data. Luckily the process saves everyone time in the end, so it is easy to explain the value in changing old habbits.
Images, videos and files
PIMs handle basic product images, documents (e.g. instruction manuals) and videos, and connecting them to the relevant products. However sometimes a dedicated DAM (Digial Asset Management) system is also needed.
When working with multiple markets you will often see the need to translate product descriptions etc. to new languages. The PIM will let you work with multiple languages side by side for each product and help you get the job done quickly. There are also third party services that offer direct integrations with the PIM where you can send texts to be professionally translated with a single click.
If you see the need for a PIM in your Episerver Commerce project, we recommend InRiver PIM. InRiver is not only a great PIM system, but they have a partnership with Episerver and there is a prebuilt integration module for Episerver Commerce available.