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The challenges of using a legacy PIM system in an age of digital dynamism

Providing the right product information, at the right time, on the right channel has become indispensable to remain competitive. Businesses which were ahead of the pack when they invested in PIM technology years ago, now find themselves struggling to manage the nature and scope of modern-day product data management.

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Onboarding and lack of data consistency

Data quality is the key to high-performing product experiences. During onboarding from external sources, it needs to be normalised and standardised for your PIM to work effectively. However, older models of PIM lack the stringency and rigour of modern, automated data validation functions. That can mean trouble further downstream if that insufficiently validated data makes its way into company systems for widespread use.

Businesses are dealing with more variety of data formats these days, and legacy PIMs can often suffer from not being able to map data from certain sources. Add to that the absence of automated processes in older systems and a whole lot of manual processing is piling up.

Overcoming Legacy PIM Challenges

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Limited customisation, flexibility or versatility

Today’s data sources frequently require custom mapping. Older PIMs have limited customisability, meaning more operational costs and less speed compared with modern PIMs, which can apply automated task completion and greater mapping customisation. Compared to the rich range of capabilities attached to new PIM models, legacy PIMs are feature-poor, so you end up needing to use other tools and scripts for the majority of what you need it to do, which defeats the point of having it in the first place!

Absence of maintenance, updates, and vendor support

Like most software systems, the older it gets, the less likely it is that the vendor is going to invest resources and expertise into support for updates, fixes, and patches. It may not even support the old software at all, in which case, cross your fingers and hope your IT department has the time and people to sort out any problems and patch together a solution!

No integration with other systems

Legacy PIM systems were designed before the widespread use of API connectors. This makes it more difficult to onboard particular types of data like ETIM GS1 or ICECat. What’s more, the standards and regulatory landscape is much more wide-ranging than in previous times and a legacy PIM may well not be capable of applying the degree of validations and rules required. That implies increased risk of non-conforming and inconsistent data.

Modern PIMs are built to integrate easily with other business systems and business partner platforms – ERP, CRM, eCommerce platforms, or marketplaces, for instance. Legacy PIMs simply don’t have that capacity, which makes it extremely hard to synchronise product data across all your platforms or get access to the latest version of your product information. Once again, lack of consistency means higher business risk, while manual checking and cross-referencing means greater operational costs – not to mention a sluggish capacity to respond to dynamic market conditions.

Lack of capacity to scale

One of the major pluses of new PIM systems is their capacity to support scaling strategies as your business grows and thrives. Catalogues and SKUs multiply and diversify, the number of sales channels grows, and your management of product data grows in volume and complexity. Legacy PIMs put a drag on that growth because firstly, they don’t have the capacity to flex for growth, and secondly, they don’t have the capabilities you need to deal with large data sets across multiple platforms.

So, the $64,000,000 question is “What can I do to address these challenges?” That’s where we at Start with Data can help. Our expertise and solutions can streamline the exchange of product information between suppliers and retailers, enabling you to increase sales, expand your business, and enhance profitability.  Get in touch today to discover how you could modernise your product information management. 

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