The difference between PIM and ERP

We often get asked: “Why do I need a PIM when I already have an ERP to store all of my products?” So, let’s have a look at the main differences between an ERP and a PIM system, such as the WisePorter Product Catalog.

The difference between PIM and ERP

ERP systems originated in the early 1990s. Twenty years before that, their predecessors were MRP systems – an abbreviation for Manufacturing Resource Planning and you can find Czech roots here as well 😉. The purpose of MRPs was to help secure the timely delivery of resources for manufacturing. In today’s terminology, we would speak of purchase management, warehouse management and shipping. Over time, as fewer companies were manufacturing goods and more companies were delivering services, the word Manufacturing was replaced with more generic Enterprise to form Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP. The focus has also shifted – from warehouse and shipping to accounting, financial planning, human resources, etc. Anything that was needed for the company to produce its ultimate products.

This brings us back to our original question: why do we need a PIM if we already have an ERP? Both of them describe products, after all. Yes, they do – but in different ways. ERP is a production management tool and thus focuses on the technical parameters of the products. PIM, on the other hand, is a tool for sales and marketing. It describes how the products will be advertised and sold. It focuses on attractive descriptions, marketing texts, product pictures, and videos – things that are critical in selling the product.

ERPs are also capable of storing sales-related information, usually with some minor tweaks. At the basic level, you just need some additional fields for marketing and SEO texts and the ability to store attachments (pictures and videos). Many ERPs either have these features or can be adapted for a cost. The fun begins when you start selling the same products in several different ways. For example:

  • you want to sell in multiple currencies and languages OR
  • you sell in your brick-and-mortar shop and your e-shop for different prices OR
  • you have different texts and pictures for your web-based e-shop and your mobile e-shop OR
  • you start selling through partner companies, but don’t want to give them all the information available to your own shops OR
  • simply said, you need more than one sales channel

Unlike PIMs, ERPs are not primarily designed for selling.

Consequently, they don’t have the concept of a sales channel – they don’t need it. They are designed for describing the creation of products, not their selling. If you sell through one channel, you can simply include the sales information in the product itself. But as soon as you need more descriptions for more sales channels, you’re … in the need of a PIM.

To learn more about Product Information Management, check out our blog or feel free to contact us.

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