PIM and DAM are retail’s hottest power couple. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits and practicalities of PIM-DAM integration. Including what each solution does – individually and as part of an integrated MarTech stack – for retail, wholesale and e-commerce.
Whatever your role in retail or e-commerce marketing may be, you have probably heard of PIM and DAM, even if your organization hasn’t fully leveraged the benefits of both solutions yet.
If you’re reading this guide, you’re likely:
- A marketer who has heard whispers about a better way to manage omnichannel content with PIM and DAM.
- A marketing operations professional looking to streamline processes and increase efficiency through PIM and DAM.
- An IT manager/specialist seeking advice on the applications and benefits of PIM-DAM integration.
This guide will help you level-up your understanding of DAM-PIM integration – so you’ll be able to communicate the benefits and business case confidently in your organization.
The ultimate aim is to help you introduce or integrate DAM / PIM in your software stack – so your retail content supply chain is more effective, productive, and scalable.
Continue reading or download the handbook as a PDF.
INTRODUCING PIM AND DAM
Which sectors require PIM and DAM integration?
PIM-DAM integration is valuable in any sector that needs to manage large volumes of product data – such as product prices, descriptions, SKUs – and product assets – such as product images, third-party logos, and packaging artwork.
This contains – but isn’t limited to:
- Retailers and wholesalers
- CPG manufacturers
- E-commerce / DTC sites
- Online marketplaces
How does PIM-DAM integration support the growth of e-commerce?
In a highly competitive online market, e-tailers need to win attention, engage customers and build brand loyalty. This requires a strong visual identity comprising images, video and brand graphics. This requires a strong visual identity consisting of images, video and brand graphics.
But with ever-changing product lines and more and more distribution channels, these digital assets are becoming increasingly difficult to manage.But with ever-changing product lines and ever-increasing distribution channels, these digital assets get harder to manage.
Integrating PIM with DAM makes it easier to manage huge volumes of product data and digital assets, empowering ambitious brands to work faster and more efficiently. It removes bottlenecks in the content supply chain and automates workflows, delivering content quickly, accurately, and consistently across multiple channels. This delivers faster time-to-market, lower costs and – ultimately – competitive advantage. An agile content supply chain is especially important in businesses that maximize on seasonal and market trends – being the first to bring a particular product to market.
This ensures faster time-to-market, lower costs and – ultimately – competitive advantage. A flexible content supply chain is especially important for organizations that want to maximize responsiveness to seasonal and market trends and be the first to market a particular product.
What is a Product Information Management (PIM) system?
A PIM system is responsible for managing product information. A PIM system is responsible for product information management. It is a single, centralized source of truth for all of your product information – from product descriptions to prices, SKUs to specifications.
It can be used to push information out to a range of platforms – like e-commerce sites, third-party retailers, apps, catalogs, brochures, CRM, CMS, brand portals and more.
It ensures retailers’ product information is consistent across every channel and reduces the risk and manual workload associated with managing multiple data sources.
Read more about PIM: the key to a better customer experience.
What is a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system?
A DAM system is responsible for Digital Asset Management. It provides a single source of truth for digital assets – like images, videos, logos, audio, artwork, PDFs, contracts and more.
A DAM system uses metadata and sophisticated taxonomy to make digital assets easier to store, search and locate – slashing time and complexity from the creative supply chain. Here’s some of the key functionality associated with DAM.
- Organization – storing all digital assets in one place for easy accessibility by anyone who needs them.
- Discoverability – making digital assets easier to find and use through advanced search and (AI-driven) tagging.
- Deployment – downloading or delivering digital assets in the exact file format (display) for various media and platforms.
- Secure sharing – mitigating risks and complexity of co-production by providing secure sharing options with internal and external stakeholders.
- Access control – ensuring that only individuals with the proper permissions have access to digital assets, protecting embargoes or commercially sensitive assets.
- Integrations – making digital assets accessible from other applications and enabling the DAM to share and synchronize data with other programs.
- Digital rights management – managing access to digital assets that may be protected by copyright (or other usage restrictions) to prevent inappropriate use and legal risks.
Discover more about DAM: What is Digital Asset Management?
What is DAM for retail?
In the retail or e-commerce context – at its most basic level – a Digital Asset Management system might hold all of your product images, 360-degree product spinners, animations, video, campaign artwork, PDF product information sheets, CAD drawings… We could go on and on.
These assets are often:
- Delivered by a range of different contributors – from suppliers themselves to graphic designers and potentially customers
- Accessible to various creative teams – from in-house designers to external agencies.
- Used and distributed on a growing number of platforms – such as your e-commerce site, app, customer communications, social media, print materials, and more.
- Cropped and adapted for different applications – for example, hero images, thumbnails, crops, and so on.
As you can see, this starts to paint a complex web of interactions between your people, platforms and digital assets. Without appropriate oversight and governance of these assets – and associated processes – your content supply chain can descend into chaos. And that can cost your business time, money, and competitive edge.
Of course, there are different types of DAM systems and levels of sophistication in how they can be deployed. There are more advanced applications at the intersection of DAM in retail and wholesale, including customer service, legal compliance, and content orchestration.
Whant to know more? Download our whitepaper about the business case for DAM in retail
How do PIM and DAM work together?
PIM and DAM are the retail marketing dream team. They work hand-in-hand to ensure product information and digital assets are always perfectly in sync. f you think this sounds like an insubstantial benefit (a nice-to-have rather than a must-have), let us enlighten you.
Syncing product information and digital assets delivers operational and financial benefits to retailers by:
- Automatically linking product information and images, and updating the information when it changes on either end, ensuring they are always up-to-date and accurate (think of allergen information on packaging design, for example).
- Ensuring consistency across all channels and platforms, eliminating the risk of different prices, photos, or product descriptions undermining customer trust.
- Improving conversion through media-rich omnichannel experiences, without unnecessarily burdening your resources.
- Enabling automation, such as automatically populating catalog templates, automatically distributing images to websites based on status, or automatically approving images uploaded by suppliers to the e-commerce site.
- Reducing duplicate efforts and manual interventions, such as re-entering product information into multiple databases, which incurs unnecessary costs and carries the risk of human errors.
How it works
The Digital Asset Management system receives files from a range of different internal and external sources – such as photographers, videographers, artworks, designers, suppliers.
The PIM receives information from sources like suppliers and internal databases like your ERP.
Through integration, the two systems sync their content for each product or SKU, so that product information and assets are connected and always up-to-date.
Then they distribute that synced content to all of your platforms.
These can include digital platforms – for example, placing content directly onto your website, ecommerce site, third-party marketplaces and app – as well as making them available in design tools for creating traditional media like catalogs, brochures and point-of-sale materials (POS).
Adobe InDesign-automation is even one of the more popular integrations with PIM and DAM. By tagging all product content and images in your PIM and DAM, you can automate the creation of brochures and catalogs by automatically populating publication templates in Adobe InDesign. This is a real time-saver for busy retail marketers, who can greatly reduce the time and complexity involved in creating catalogs.
Similarities and differences between PIM and DAM
Although PIM and DAM are often talked about in the same breath, there aren’t that many similarities between them. Yes, they both serve the retail and e-commerce sector. Yes, they provide a centralized single-source-of-truth for product-related content. But they’re fundamentally different tools.
|Sector||Primarily used in retail, e-commerce, manufacturing||Used in any industry with digital asset / complex content management needs|
|content||Mostly text and data, supporting a range of information platforms and needs||Rich digital media that supports the design process; integration with Adobe CC (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator)|
|Digital media processing||Minimal capabilities||Advanced capabilities|
|core purpose||Single source of truth to improve consistency, break down silos, reduce duplication and risk.|
|Integrations||High level of integration available – with CMS, CRM, design tools and more.|
|Distribution||Disseminates content to multiple platforms|
Contains a PIM DAM?
You will find PIM systems that include modules for managing digital assets. But these are typically much less sophisticated than having dedicated Digital Asset Management system.
For example, a PIM might allow images and videos to be uploaded and associated with specific products. But a DAM does so much more, such as:
- Adding valuable metadata to ensure that assets are easily and quickly discoverable for all teams in the organization.
- Enabling automatic conversion of assets to different file formats upon download (e.g., high-res TIFFs for printed materials versus low-res thumbnails for in-app use).
- Integration with Adobe software and a CMS, allowing you to search, discover, and edit images from your everyday used and trusted applications.
- Facilitating the process of auditing new digital assets, ensuring that you always work with the correct version.
The advanced digital asset processing power offered by a standalone DAM system means it is better to integrate PIM and DAM, rather than relying on asset functionality built into PIMs.
The benefits of PIM-DAM integration
PIM-DAM integration solves a lot of challenges in retail marketing. From the content chaos that ensues from disorganized digital assets, to the cost of inefficient processes and risk of human error. Integrating these two core systems allows retailers to scale their operations without scaling their inefficiencies – so they can seize omnichannel opportunities and pursue growth.
- Automation and workflows – integrating software enables workflow automation and faster end-to-end processes, resulting in cost reductions.
- Increased productivity – by eliminating manual workflows, content and marketing teams can work much more efficiently, resulting in more time for creativity and strategy, which sets them apart from the competition.
- Faster time-to-market – streamlining processes accelerates the time-to-market, leading to significant commercial advantages in the market.
- Resource optimization – automation helps retailers do more with the same number of employees, providing additional opportunities without overburdening resources.
- Empowered employees with powerful tools – freeing teams from mundane manual tasks creates more room for creativity, adding more value to the content supply chain for sales and marketing.
PIM-DAM integration – why now?
Advocating for a new software investment in a large enterprise-wide project is always challenging. However, there are several factors that make a PIM-DAM integration a higher priority. Here is a brief summary of why now is the right moment to invest in a PIM-DAM integration.
Increased competition – Shopify Future of Ecommerce in 2022-rapport eport highlights the intensified competition in the Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) space due to retailers going online during the pandemic, which has lowered the technical barrier.
The omnichannel opportunities – Research shows that retailers who utilize three or more channels to engage with customers 250% meer engagement en verkoop realiseren. Retailers cannot limit themselves to one or two routes to the market – the future is omnichannel, and PIM-DAM integration is the best way to leverage it.
Pressure on margins – Global economic factors are reducing spending power and increasing costs for retailers – meaning mounting pressure for retailers to find cost savings and protect their profit margins
Outsourcing and remote working – Cloud-based software makes it easier than ever to outsource elements of your operations (for example, photo retouching) to more cost-effective locations – thus protecting your profit margins. Integrated cloud tools also support the new global trend for remote and hybrid working.
PIM en DAM integration: The reality
How do you integrate PIM and DAM?
To integrate PIM with DAM you’ll need to establish the data that you want to sync between the systems, and work out the best mechanism for doing this.
It involves analysing the structure of both systems – the product hierarchy and data model – to establish how they can be connected.
You also need to establish which channels product content and images will be published to. Answering questions such as: Which renditions of images are needed? Will the images be pushed or pulled to the Web CMS or e-Commerce platform?
Then you can start thinking about the practicalities of the integration – such as whether you’ll use serverless technology, iPaaS, or APIs to connect the two systems.
Three questions to ask before you integrate DAM and PIM
A software implementation project can be a lengthy process and not-insubstantial investment. So it’s important that you enter into it strategically, knowing exactly what you hope to achieve – so you can perform an appropriate cost/benefit analysis.
What are we trying to achieve – and how will we know if we’re successful?
The use cases for PIM-DAM integration in retail are extremely diverse. It’s important to know exactly why you want to integrate your PIM and DAM systems, to keep everyone focused on the bigger picture.
Following the crowd and thinking ‘Everyone says retailers should integrate PIM and DAM, so let’s do that’ isn’t a strategy. Be clear and specific about the KPIs you want to achieve – for example, increasing conversions on your e-commerce site by integrating more engaging content – or reducing time to completion for catalogs or POS marketing collateral.
Once you know what you need to achieve and how success will be measured, you can begin working out the specifics of your software integration/s.
For example, an omnichannel retailer looking for faster catalog completion may need a relatively simple integration between DAM, PIM, and Adobe CC – to automate InDesign processes.
Whereas an e-commerce brand looking to increase the content on their product pages may need a more complex integration that includes a Content Delivery Network – to display higher volumes of digital assets without slowing down page speed.
Where are our current processes failing – and what does the dream process look like?
Once you know what you want to achieve, talk to employees involved in your creative supply chain. They’re closer to day-to-day workflow than managers or IT colleagues, and best-placed to tell you what’s going wrong. Their list of daily frustrations can inform the must-have outcomes of your integration project.
Don’t limit them to fixing and tweaking existing processes. That might be why you’re currently experiencing difficulties – amending old processes to fit new platforms. Given the rapid pace of change in marketing and content technology in the past decade, most businesses are better designing new fit-for-purpose processes and workflows from scratch.
What software do we need to integrate – and how can we best achieve that?
Once you’ve determined the problems you’re aiming to solve – and brainstormed your ideal content supply chain workflow – talk to IT experts to discover how to make it a reality. DAM-PIM integration is rarely the final destination in projects of this kind. You may end up with a project that combines multiple software solutions into a seamless workflow. For example, PIM, DAM, design tools, CMS and more.
Technical foundational considerations before planning PIM-DAM integration.
Following on from the points above, here’s a quick rundown of some technical things you need to know about if you’re considering a DAM-PIM integration.
How your software is hosted and managed
Your software might be hosted on your own premises on a perpetual license basis. This means the hardware, software, and any software integrations are wholly your responsibility. This means that the hardware, software and any software integrations are entirely your responsibility.
Alternatively, it might be provided on a Software-as-a-Service basis, which means you subscribe on a rolling contract, the software is hosted in the cloud and managed by the SaaS vendor. Or you might have a hybrid scenario that has elements of both on-prem and cloud-based hosting.
It’s important to know this and understand the implications because this will impact how much responsibility your in-house team has for creating and maintaining the integration, as well as the number of different parties involved in the process.
What support you have in-house
It’s important to know what level of support you can rely on from your in-house IT team BEFORE you start planning your PIM-DAM integration. You may need to call heavily on their support and they will have to schedule you into their work plan.
When – as is often the case – your IT team doesn’t have room in their schedule, your project may not receive high priority. If you know this in advance, you have the time to win over management by building a compelling business case for PIM-DAM integration.
If you’re unable to secure the in-house support you need for a timely integration, you may prefer to call on an implementation partner. They will typically be experts in particular software systems and may be recommended by your DAM or PIM provider. Their expertise can help your project run more smoothly and avoid the pitfalls that some businesses encounter by going it alone.
How complex will your integration be?
Some integrations may be quite straightforward. For example, a simple integration between two SaaS solutions using APIs. Others are far more complex. For example, a bespoke integration between two customised on-prem solutions.
The complexity of your integration will determine who you need to do it – eg yourself, your vendor, a DevOps engineer – and the integration tools they need to use – eg APIs, webhooks, iPaaS, serverless technology…
How/Who supports your software integration.
If your integration seems straightforward, you’ll need to find out what integration tools your software supports. Many SaaS products include built-in tools that allow developers to access the backend of the application to build integrations.
For an in-depth exploration of DAM integration options, Download this whitepaper from our partners at WoodWing: Next-gen DAM-integrations: Integrating DAM using iPaaS and more.
The data you need to map out processes.
Data is the foundation of PIM-DAM integration. It is essential to identify and map the data and digital assets that need to be synchronized and shared. Analyzing the product data models in both systems, including the hierarchy of data storage for various SKUs, is necessary to ensure accurate alignment.
Do you need a DevOps Engineer to integrate DAM and PIM?
Software and workflow integrations can be a complicated process, based on your organization’s unique stack and system set-up. In the past, you would always have needed a DevOps engineer to integrate DAM and PIM. Plus a business analyst to assess and define requirements.
However, there are tools and services entering the market that make simple software integrations easier – especially for people with a moderate level of technical understanding – for example, APIs, webhooks and iPaaS.
You can find more in-depth information about these options in our article “Integrating PIM and DAM in Retail – The What, How, and Who of Successful Software Integration.”
However, there is a difference between knowing how to create a software integration and knowing how to create an effective integrated workflow.
Integrating DAM and PIM is about more than simply using an API to connect two software systems. It is about auditing, understanding and redesigning processes from the ground-up. So whilst you might not need a DevOps engineer, but you might consider using a software partner to help get this process right.
Three retailers winning with PIM-DAM integration
Next Retail is a multinational British retailer with approximately 700 stores. The brand, once famous for its mail-order catalog, struggled with an unsuitable content workflow stemming from historical print processes. By integrating DAM, PIM, and other software into a digital-first software stack, the retailer achieved significant efficiency in its content supply chain.
Dekamarkt / Dirk van den Broek Supermarkten
These giants of Dutch retail have supermarkets across the country. By integrating their PIM and DAM systems, they can easily and efficiently create all weekly campaign materials – with effortless collaboration between the in-house design department and various marketing and assortment managers. The weekly brochures, POS materials and the website are automatically populated by the PIM and DAM platform.
Yamaha Motor Europa
Yamaha Motor Europe (YME) is headquartered in Amsterdam, coordinating all sales and marketing activities for the European market. By integrating DAM and PIM, YME is able to coordinate and collaborate with external creatives on visual content, protect and share embargoed digital assets, and auto-translate marketing information into 26 languages for localized brochures and web content.
The Qonqord approach to DAM-PIM integration
If you do choose to work with a software consultant to integrate your PIM and DAM systems, we’d love you to consider Qonqord. Qonqord’s creative workflow consultants can help your quest to integrate PIM with DAM, thanks to 40years of experience optimizing content and publishing processes.
Assessment – Our workflow consultants help you identify the objectives of your PIM-DAM integration and analyse the data structure of both systems. We organize workshops to consult with you and combine your operational expertise with our implementation and integration knowledge. This will ensure we know exactly what the integration needs to functionally deliver.
Implementation – Our technical experts will implement the desired software design, based on your unique system configuration and capabilities. We’ll develop the integration to the point where it can be tested, amended and approved – together with our consultants.
Support and management – After implementation, our support department will support you to use the software. We’re also very responsive to any development requests that arise during your use of the products.
SLA and partnership – Long-term, we provide everything you need to use your integrated software long-term. That includes hosting, management and support by our application specialists. This way you can just focus on creating and publishing rich content.
PIM-DAM integration unlocks new levels of efficiency and organization in retail content supply chains. It is the key to harnessing omnichannel opportunities and catering to today’s demanding customers and consumers. For retailers willing to take on the complexity of the process, the benefits include increased productivity and scalability of marketing.
If you need assistance with your PIM-DAM integration, contact Qonqord to get the ball rolling.