In today’s post, I will answer the question of where to manage products if you decide to develop e-commerce with Magento (or already have one).

What will you find in this article?

Where to manage products in Magento?
Managing products in ecommerce
What is PIM?
Where can you manage slowly changing data in Magento?
How much does PIM cost?
Where can you manage fast-changing data in Magento?
Summary

Where to manage products in Magento?

All product data should be divided into two groups:

  1. rapidly changing (hot data) – these relate to product availability, stock status, and price.
  2. slowly changing (cold data) includes product images, descriptions, attributes, technical parameters, files, attachments, and technical specifications.

Hot data should be managed in an ERP system, while cold data should be managed through a PIM (Product Information Management) system.

Managing products in ecommerce

If you’re considering Magento, you’re likely already using some form of a platform, possibly a simpler SaaS or an Open Source.

Perhaps your scale of operations is starting to exceed the capabilities of these simpler solutions. For example, you might be processing more than 1.000 transactions per day, and errors are starting to prevent customers from placing orders. Consequently, you begin to consider the need for a new solution.

I assume you have probably not considered where to manage product information because you have been managing all this information through your ecommerce tool so far.

However, when you start considering Magento, you should immediately assume that Magento is not suitable for efficient product management. The Magento admin panel is unsuitable for efficiently carrying out mass actions. If you want to change a technical parameter in several thousand or a hundred products at once, it’s just not feasible.

Of course, there are extreme cases where it is possible to manage product information effectively in Magento. This applies when you have, say, only 100 products, are present in just one geographical market, and have one language version of all data. In such a case, you can use the Magento admin panel.

However, if you are considering Magento, I assume your business scale is such that you have over 100 products and probably want to be in more than one geographical market.
If you have never added products to a store for a week, you may have a different view of this work.

My experience is different. I had the opportunity to add products and create their descriptions in Magento for weeks, and I can confirm that the Magento admin panel is not suitable for such work. It is inefficient.

What is PIM?

Following what I wrote in the previous point, you should have another place where you will manage the slowly changing data (cold data). Here’s where PIM, or Product Information Management, comes into play.

It is an external application we integrate with Magento to manage product data-related tasks. We collect information about the product in one place (this can include product ID, descriptions, metadata, files with technical specifications, photos, and translations into various languages).

The most popular applications in the market are Akeneo and Pimcore.

As for the operating model of these tools, we have both Open Source and SaaS, as well as Open Source in the premium version (which is paid).

In this article, we won’t focus on comparing different PIM systems. We will surely prepare a post in which we compare different PIM systems and assess which, in our opinion, is the best, safest, and most reliable business choice for integration with Magento.

Where can you manage slowly changing data in Magento?

So, we have this PIM system. I understand it doesn’t look good that a scalable and not cheap ecommerce engine like Magento cannot handle product management. Nevertheless, it would be good for your health to separate this function from the e-commerce engine. Why?

Less dependence on the ecommerce engine

The first benefit is that you become less dependent on the ecommerce engine you currently have.

For example, if you currently have an ecommerce engine and are planning a transition to something else, and all business processes are integrated with the current platform, replacing it is just difficult. If the platform handles processes related to listing products on marketplaces, serves as a CMS, and is an e-commerce engine on which promotions are run, and you manage products on it, you are very dependent on this one platform.

Let’s consider, however, a situation where specialized applications handle different business processes. In such a situation, if the ecommerce engine limits you due to its scalability, you can replace just this element (the ecommerce engine) without affecting most business processes.

This is all the more critical, the larger the scale of your business is. Finally, you don’t want to work on all the company processes every time you replace the e-commerce engine.

Automation of data management processes and implementation product variables

Another aspect is that implementing a PIM automates many data management processes.

For example, having Akeneo gives you access to its AppStore, where you can acquire many additional third-party modules (yes… including those that use AI to automate repetitive processes).

There, you will find, for example, an add-on that automatically translates texts, eliminating the need for manual translation, sending to translation agencies, or uploading document files.
As a result, you save time on simple tasks, which ultimately significantly improves efficiency.

Streamlining the work of other departments

Another advantage of PIM is that it enables streamlining work in other departments. Let’s consider companies that conduct B2B and B2C sales using the same product base.

The B2B department periodically prepares newsletters for wholesalers containing “price of the week” information. When sales representatives meet with clients, they have a prepared mini-catalog printed with these 10 products with the “price of the week”.

What exactly does the process of preparing such a mini-catalog look like? Someone manually copies the product descriptions, images of these products, and their prices. Sometimes, an error may occur during copying, causing chaos during commercial meetings. This work is both simple and prone to mistakes. Instead, you can opt for a PIM with a ready template for such a mini-catalog. You only select the products for this booklet. One-click is enough to prepare such a document.

The more different sales channels you have and the more different departments work “on products,” the more this advantage will monetize for you. This is especially true since product data is finally centralized, and you don’t have to edit it in eight different places.

Fast data import and export

Another aspect is that thanks to PIM, you can quickly import and export data to and from other companies.

For example, suppose you know you can get products from a manufacturer within 2 days, and the manufacturer provides you with all product data. In that case, you can quickly introduce those products for sale (with 2-3 days availability for your end customer).

You can quickly import all descriptions from the manufacturer. In one day, your product base can increase significantly (and consequently, so can your revenues). Then, you can gradually work on improving descriptions and technical specifications.

Similarly, if you are a manufacturer, you can very quickly share this offer (as I described earlier). You no longer need to struggle with XMLs, CSVs, sending, etc. Integration, downloading, and sharing offers with PIM is very simple and can be done without the involvement of the IT department. The best thing is that when you need to correct one thing in tech spec, it can be automatically sent to your clients.

Generating more traffic from organic search

PIMs support generating more traffic from organic search results. This is possible because we have an almost unlimited number of attributes that we can assign to a product.

We can create descriptions of any length and add blocks with technical parameters, files, and various images. I write about this because some companies use their ERP as a PIM and encounter significant limitations in the number of attributes.

We also can create fields typical for SEO, such as “meta” or “title”. This greatly facilitates our work and will positively affect our SEO, which increases organic traffic. We can also use automation to fill in such attributes without human labor.

Tidying up data

Another aspect is that thanks to PIM, we tidy up data. Having all product data gathered in one place is very practical, especially if we run a large organization.

When descriptions are on another drive, and some technical parameters are stored elsewhere, our ecommerce system does not allow adding PDF files with technical specifications, so we keep this information on another Google drive. This creates a huge mess, and we need to write down an internal process for where to find product information.

Instead, thanks to PIM, we have one tool for keeping all the slowly changing data about products.

Faster market entering with new products

Now we move on to the last important issue you should know about PIMs, namely, that they speed up product launches.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to a B2B manufacturer who also conducts B2C sales. He told me that it takes about three weeks from the moment a product appears in their offer to the moment it is ready for sale in online channels.

Why? The process includes adding pictures, translations, product descriptions, and parameters and preparing PDF files. Two external companies (photography and translations) are involved in the process. Therefore, This entire process is time-consuming, especially since a lot of time is wasted on transferring documents from one company to another.

Additionally, the transmission of this data itself is problematic. Generally, the process is relatively slow. Thanks to the PIM system, this process can be accelerated. Some PIM systems, such as Akeneo, have functionality that allows you to plan the exact product creation process, enriching content and data. You can assign appropriate roles to specific parts of this process. Such action significantly speeds up product introductions.

In other words, from the moment the product is in stock, we can drastically shorten the time customers can purchase it. In some cases, if you’re ready to sell the product with partially completed product data, you can do it within a few hours.

It is undoubtedly a huge improvement. If you are importing a bestseller, which is known to sell well currently, for example, fans during heat waves, and you have ordered a large batch of these devices that you want to sell as quickly as possible on your B2B platform or in your ecommerce store, it would be advantageous if you could quickly introduce these products so that content with these products is rapidly created.

If you decide to wait 3 weeks, the weather may have unfortunately deteriorated by then. In such a situation, your fans in-stock may not find buyers. Current trade simply means that you must act quickly, and quick product lunch is an important component of this speed.

How much does PIM cost?

You may now wonder whether this is the right solution for you. You may even consider implementing it but fear the cost will be 20.000 USD/EUR or 200.000 USD/EUR. A bit from this description suggests that PIM is a large system.

We most often implement Akeneo, so I will provide an estimated budget for the implementation of this tool. Typical implementations range from 160 to 360 hours.

It is an open-source solution, so the user does not pay for the license. Integration is also carried out during this time. The hourly range includes the work of the programmer, project coordinator, tester, and business analyst.

Typically, hourly rates in this market range from 50 to 75 euros (April 2024). Assuming an average rate of 65 EUR/USD, you can estimate that the cost of implementing Akeneo will be somewhere between 10.400 – 23.400 USD/EUR.

In detail, I described this topic in the articles how long does it take to implement Akeneo and how much does it cost to implement Akeneo’s PIM!

Where can you manage fast-changing data in Magento?

So far in this article, I have only described the topic of managing slowly changing data (“cold data”).

Now, let’s move on to “hot data,” or rapidly changing data. As you have done so far, this type of data should be managed in your ERP. This was a brief description.

Summary

In summary, you should manage hot data in an ERP.

In a PIM, you should manage cold data, such as photos, product descriptions, and technical parameters. Many tools are available on the market, such as Akeneo, Pimcore, or Ergonode.


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