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, you’ll have heard of PIM and DAM. Even if your organization isn’t leveraging the benefits of both solutions yet.
If you’re reading this guide, you’re probably:
- A marketer who’s heard whispers about a better way to manage omnichannel content using PIM and DAM
- A marketing ops pro looking to streamline processes and increase efficiency through PIM and DAM
- An IT specialist seeking guidance on the applications and advantages 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.
Read online or download the guide as pdf
Introducing PIM and DAM
Which sectors need 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 includes – but isn’t limited to:
- Retailers and wholesalers
- CPG manufacturers
- Ecommerce / DTC sites
- Online marketplaces
How does PIM-DAM integration support e-commerce growth?
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, so they can be easily accessed by everyone who needs them
- Discoverability – making digital assets easier to find and use through advanced search and (AI-powered) tagging
- Deployment – downloading or embedding digital assets in the exact file format (rendition) for different media and platforms
- Secure sharing – removing risk and complexity from co-production by providing secure sharing options with internal and external stakeholders
- Access control – ensuring only people with the right permissions can access digital assets – protecting embargoed or commercial-sensitive assets
- ntegrations – making digital assets accessible from within other applications – and enabling the DAM to share and sync data with other programs
- Digital right management – managing access to digital assets that may be protected by copyright (or other usage restrictions) to protect against inappropriate use and legal risk
Discover more about DAM:
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:
- provided by a range of different contributors – from suppliers themselves to graphic artists and even customers
- accessed by various different creatives – from your in-house designers to external agencies
- used and distributed on a growing number of platforms – like your e-commerce site, app, customer communications, social media, printed materials and more
- cropped and versioned for different uses – for example, hero images, thumbnails, cutouts etc
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 and levels of sophistication in how they’re used. There are more advanced uses at the cutting edge of DAM in retail and wholesale – including customer service, legal compliance, and content orchestration.
Do you want to know more?
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. If 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 one when the other changes – so they’re always up-to-date and accurate (think packaging design and allergy information, for example)
- ensuring consistency across all channels and platforms – so there’s no risk of different prices, photos or product descriptions undermining customer confidence
- improving conversion through media-rich omnichannel experiences – without putting unbearable strain on your resources
- powering automation such as auto-populating catalog design templates, automatic distribution of images to websites based on status, or auto-approving images uploaded by suppliers to your e-commerce site
- reducing duplicated effort and manual interventions – such as re-keying product information in multiple databases – which incurs unnecessary cost and risk of human error
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).
In fact, Adobe InDesign automation is one of the more popular integrations involving PIM and DAM Tagging all product content and images in your PIM and DAM allows you to automate creation of brochures and catalogs, by autopopulating publication templates in Adobe InDesign. This is a real timesaver for overstretched retail marketers, who can slash catalog creation time and complexity.
A nice example of a platform for DAM, PIM and Adobe InDesign integration is Publication Organiser platform for content orchestration.
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|
Does PIM contain 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:
- attaching meaningful metadata to ensure those assets are near-instantly discoverable to all teams in your organization
- allowing automatic conversion of assets into different file types on download (for example, high-res tiffs for printed material vs low-res thumbnails for use in-app)
- integrating with Adobe design software and your CMS so you can search, discover and deploy images without leaving the window you’re working in
- maintaining an audit trail for all digital assets, so you’re always working with the correct version of a file
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 allows for workflow automation and faster end-to-end processes, which reduces costs
- Higher productivity – by eradicating manual workflows, content and marketing teams can enjoy higher productivity – freeing up more time for creativity and strategy that sets them apart from competitors
- Faster time-to-market – streamlining processes can deliver faster time to market, which means significant commercial advantage in some sectors
- Resource optimization – automation helps retailers do more with the same number of staff, seizing opportunities without overstretching their resources
- Empowered employees – freeing staff from tedious manual processes gives them more time for creativity that adds value to the content supply chain
PIM-DAM integration – why now?
It’s always challenging to make the case for a new software investment or embarking on a major enterprise-wide project. But there are a number of factors that mean PIM-DAM integration is an increasingly pressing priority. Here’s a quick summary of why Now is the right time to invest in PIM-DAM integration.
Increased Competition – Shopify’s Future of Ecommerce in 2022 report highlights increasing competition in the DTC space due to retailers moving online during the pandemic and reduced technological barriers to entry
The Omnichannel Opportunities – Research shows that retailers using three or more channels to connect with customers enjoy 250% more engagement and sales. Retailers can’t afford to rely on one or two routes to market – the future is omnichannel and PIM-DAM integration is the best way to leverage it Retailers can’t afford to rely on one or two routes to 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.
Integrating PIM and DAM: The practicalities
How do you integrate DAM and PIM?
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 API’s 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 (see examples below) 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. Read more about EasyCatalog.
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 (CDN) – to display higher volumes of digital assets without slowing down page speed. Read the article from our partner Woodwing about Cloud Front Acceleration.
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.
Basic technical 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.
If – like most are – your IT team is overworked, you may find your project isn’t a high priority. Knowing this in advance gives you time to win hearts-and-minds 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 your integration is likely to 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/whether your software supports 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 white paper from our partner WoodWing: Next-gen DAM integrations: Integrating DAM using iPaaS and more
The data you need to map
Data is the basis of PIM-DAM integration. So it’s important that you map what data and digital assets need to be synced and shared. You’ll need to analyse your product data models in both systems – looking at the hierarchy of how data is stored for your different SKUs – to make sure you can align them accurately.
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 on these options in our article Integrating PIM and DAM in retail – the what, how and who of a 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. Read: our approach
Three retailers winning with PIM-DAM integration
Next Retail is a multinational British retailer with approximately 700 stores. Formerly famous for its mail order catalog, the brand was struggling with an unfit-for-purpose content workflow that had evolved from historic print processes. By integrating DAM, PIM and other software in a digital-first software stack, the retailer achieved huge efficiencies in their content supply chain. read more >
Dekamarkt / Dirk van den Broek Supermarkets
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. read more >
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. read more >
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.
Read more about how the Qonqord consultants can help your retail or e-commerce empire thrive through PIM-DAM integration.
PIM-DAM integration unlocks new levels of efficiency and organization in retail content supply chains. It’s the key to seizing omnichannel opportunities and engaging today’s demanding customers. For retailers willing to take on the complexity of the process, the rewards include higher productivity and marketing scalability.
If you would like to discuss your PIM-DAM integration, contact Qonqord to start the ball rolling.