How to scale and improve product data management processes in industrial distributors

How to scale and improve product data management processes in industrial distributors



How to scale and improve product data management processes in industrial distributors

“Despite its importance for industrial distributors, product information management can be a costly and time-consuming activity. Using PIM, you can streamline product data management processes and achieve scalability to fulfil growth potential.

Scalability is becoming a key component of any industrial distributor’s growth strategy. It opens opportunities for maximising revenue from product range extension and diversification. It also significantly improves competitive advantage by reducing Time to market considerably for new products or variants. If distributors are to compete in an increasingly fragmented and consolidated market, they need to add real value to their customer experience. Running user-friend omni-channel sales channels are of limited use if the company lacks agility in adapting and flexing to increased demand or rapid onboarding, enrichment and launch of new products.

Challenges for product data processes


A PIM successfully addresses the following challenges;


Without a PIM, onboarding and integration of a wide variety of raw product data is a challenging and time-consuming exercise. Internally, these data are siloed in disparate areas, such as the ERP system or order management system. Data sources from manufacturers and suppliers also frequently consist of diverse file formats which need to be integrated consistently and rapidly.


The content of the data itself is going to be diverse as well. Each source frequently has its own attribute naming protocols (for example, product names could be labelled as “Product_Name”, “prod-nm”, “name_prod.”. Taxonomy can easily be standardised to map and consolidate raw data from these different sources, as can attribute values and more product-specific data.


Having standardised the disparate forms of raw data, the aim is to enrich and add value to it, so you have complete control over product information quality. As a generic example, this will mean;

• Gathering together all relevant attributes.

• Checking that attribute fields are all populated.

• Classifying products into categories.

• Adding digital assets such as images or video files.

You should control the enrichment  process so that you can be sure you have high-quality data. Validation steps are a common way to check this, (alongside your product data specialists). The underlying principle with enrichment is to ensure nothing goes live on your channels without having been approved  beforehand.


Product data is targeted at different markets, so localising data for specific markets is key. This includes translation and assignment of images and other data assets to the appropriate product. PIM technology speeds up a variety of processes like adapting product descriptions for e-commerce, print, eProcurement so on.


You can transform data into formats which display appropriately throughout the range of channels, be they web, mobile, app, marketplace, point of sale, digital signage or social media. Data can be enriched to observe different regulatory requirements or norms in overseas markets.

How can we improve these processes?


Using a Product Information Management system which is fit for purpose dramatically speeds up these processes;

Product data onboarding is automated, which removes the concern about whether they are in the right place or right format

• Instantly enrich and enhance product information

• Optimise and customise your data feed to your sales channels, automated rules and data mapping tools

Furthermore, implementation of a PIM will free up resources for the organisation to;  

• Create more efficiency in product data management processes to exploit scalability potential for growth

• Develop commonly accepted product data management processes to support scaling, seamless data acquisition and cost efficiencies

• Implement cloud-based product data management architectures and systems

• Apply economies of scale using cloud-based, flexible functionalities

• Make it much easier for automation, AI and data standards to be scaled

How PIMs make scaling easier


PIMs allow for creation of different product assortments for cross-border commerce.

These can be tailored for diverse markets and channels, relevant and appropriate for the combination of channels.

They facilitate rapid product introduction and thus, a faster turn-round of products

They enable a scalable, high volume product information management system which supports a greater range and can complete any range gaps.

PIM in practice: RS Components


As a sizeable industrial distributor with a clear domestic and international growth strategy RS needed a framework for product data governance which would not only embed product data quality but greatly enhance its efficiency when processing incoming and outgoing product data.

They have rolled out a PIM platform, Riversand, which incorporates new workflows and uses a data model which supports its business aims.

As a result;

Product data technology (a PIM) and technical services are now scalable and deployed in the Cloud

• New product introduction lead time has been cut from weeks to days

• Common processes across the product lifecycle bring efficiencies and cost savings

• Improvements in the supplier experience have produced added value for suppliers who work with RS

• A scalable set of processes is in place, with a data model & technology capable of responding to the company’s growth strategy


Organisations always seek a ‘single version of the truth’. Once that is established, scaling becomes a question of applying the governance protocols to the power and functionalities of a PIM. Whether we’re talking about extending product range, entering new markets or gaining efficiencies, scaling and improving product information is greatly facilitated by having a PIM at the heart of product data processes.

Find out more

If you are an industrial distributor or retailer and would like to talk more about product data management, email or call


Ben Adams, Founder & Managing Consultant, +44(0)7854 947694


Or schedule a free appointment below:

“Start with Data are helping transform product data management, laying scalable technology and data governance foundations”


Simon Brown, CPO, Electrocomponents Group