Blog header image: PIM vs. MDM article.
Digital Asset Management

PIM vs. MDM: What's the Difference?

February 6, 2023 5 minute read
Explore everything there is to know about PIM versus MDM to help you determine which is right for your organization.
Blog header image: PIM vs. MDM article.

Want to know how PIM and MDM differ? Master data management, or MDM, centralizes all of an organization’s information, while product information management (PIM) centralizes product data. A PIM solution is actually a subset of MDM and is most often used for marketing and merchandising purposes. At their core, both are information management systems that make it easy to create, manage, and distribute product data. 

But if both manage information, which one makes the most sense for your business? Let’s dive deeper to learn. We’ll explore everything there is to know about PIM versus MDM and help you determine which is right for your organization.

What is PIM?

Product information management (PIM) is a unified software system designed to handle product information that’s generally used to support marketing or merchandising. Placing copy, specifications, photos, video, and other marketing information in a PIM solution allows you to easily add and update product data across your organization.

What does PIM do?

PIM software is a marketing tool that centralizes all of a product’s information, so you can easily leverage it across multiple channels. A PIM solution pulls information from other sources (like an enterprise resource planning, or ERP, system); you can also add new information directly in the platform. All this data can then be shared across other channels, both digital and print. 

That ability is crucial for marketers, because companies must practice omnichannel marketing to survive in today’s business climate. Doing so, however, can be overwhelming, with new channels emerging all the time and budgets and teams regularly downsized. So you need an efficient way to execute your marketing plans. 

For example, instead of creating marketing packages for each separate channel, teams use a PIM solution to gather all product information, confident that it’s complete and robust since everything feeds into one place. From there, any component or asset can be seamlessly and quickly pushed to sales channels, whether they’re direct sales, wholesale, retail, or online marketplaces.

When it’s time to update or add data, only the main record needs to be changed. So, when new campaigns and content are created, the information included is accurate and consistent.

Benefits of PIM

Unlike MDM, PIM is laser-focused on product marketing. Partnering with Acquia to make the switch to a PIM system has several benefits, including:

  • Centralized product management and catalog generation
  • Fewer instances of copying data across multiple systems
  • Easier collaboration
  • Improved brand consistency
  • Less time and effort putting marketing materials together to bring products to market
  • Fewer errors, which helps customers receive the right product the first time, resulting in fewer returns

What is MDM?

Master data management (MDM) is a way to manage an organization’s important information and data in one place. Because it’s time intensive, MDM is typically used for critical elements, particularly those with multiple sources. Products, customers, suppliers, assets, and locations can each have a “golden record” that represents that item in its entirety.

What does MDM do?

Like PIM software, an MDM platform also centralizes information. It enables data stewards to manage critical information across an organization. The MDM solution harmonizes multiple systems by collecting, cleaning, transforming, consolidating, and sharing data. The difference is that MDM tools often include company wide information, including data about employees, customers, and vendors, as well as product information. A PIM solution only focuses on product information. 

Because an MDM solution can have a hefty price tag, companies that invest in them tend to be larger businesses looking to organize all of their back-end data. While an MDM platform does mean you can better control information, it also requires more administration along with that eye-popping price tag. So, it’s important to determine what MDM functionality you really need before taking the leap. A PIM solution could be more cost-efficient, though, and might already cover everything you need.

Benefits of MDM

MDM covers all aspects of a business, making it easier to manage large, complicated, disparate solutions. MDM systems can enhance business operations by:

  • Letting you edit one area, with the change reflected globally
  • Helping meet compliance regulations
  • Ensuring data is consistent and up-to-date across any tool or platform
  • Reducing the typical complexities seen in expansion and globalization
  • Eliminating or drastically reducing inconsistent data that could have major, negative impacts on operations
  • Override values from source systems (e.g., the country of origin is spelled incorrectly)
  • Offering data-quality processes to review items that don’t meet certain criteria
  • Providing clean, accurate, useful data for analysis

Which is right for your business?

Comparing PIM and MDM systems requires weighing scope, focus, and investment. A PIM solution is a great choice if you want a 360º view of all of your product information, allowing you to more seamlessly expand your reach through new sales channels and markets. It also takes a lot of the repetitive work out of managing marketing information, so you can make small adjustments to fit new channels. PIM systems tend to have better tools than MDM software for pushing data to POS systems, e-commerce, and print, greatly simplifying IT management by eliminating many stand-alone services.

MDM systems manage all forms of data from products to customers. That functionality makes it a good choice for streamlining and centralizing data management across your entire business. However, implementing a system with such a wide span can take significant time, money, and dedicated resources.

If a PIM system seems like a good fit for your business, Acquia offers a unique solution that combines the power of PIM and digital asset management (DAM). I know, — another three-letter acronym for a system that manages data! Don’t worry. We’re here to help you find the best solution based on your needs. Request, watch, or click through a demo of our combined DAM and PIM platform, Acquia DAM (Widen), today to learn more. 


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