When you think about product information management (PIM) and digital asset management (DAM) systems, you tend to consider their benefits in terms of back-end optimization. They can be massively helpful for eCommerce managers because they keep all the different pieces of information and content in order, cataloged, and easily accessible.
You can compare those systems to filing cabinets in a library. They keep the inventory organized, but their benefits are mostly appreciated by the librarians and not the customers. No one comes to a library to gawk at how well-organized the catalog is. ECommerce managers tend to think that PIM and DAM systems follow the same principle in eCommerce. They support you from behind the curtains, but they’re not the main draw or selling point of your store. On the other hand, your customers will quickly notice if your product information systems are subpar. It’s a sure way to make them frustrated and leave your store.
But that’s not the whole story here. PIM and DAM systems are also involved in “positive” customer-facing features and processes, though not in an obvious way. Here are a few surprising areas where those systems can have a direct positive impact on the optimization and personalization of your customer experience.
PIM and DAM systems in eCommerce
It’s easy to get lost in all the different systems that come together to form modern eCommerce, so let’s make a quick stop before we go further and first define PIM and DAM. And no, these aren’t character names in a kids’ story, although they very much sound like it.
What’s a PIM system?
A PIM system in eCommerce is a solution that helps businesses manage and distribute product information across various channels and touchpoints. It’s a centralized index where you can store, organize, and enrich product data in a more advanced way than in the case of a standard multi-purpose content management system (CMS). When used to its full potential, a PIM system ensures that the data stays consistent and accurate across different sales channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and marketplaces. We tend to use Pimcore as a proven, reliable, and highly capable PIM system.
What’s a DAM system?
A DAM system, on the other hand, is a repository that stores, organizes, and distributes digital assets. Those can be images, videos, audio files, documents, and other kinds of content associated with your products. The main benefit of DAM over a generic solution like Google Drive is more refined version control, metadata, and editing features. They support you in streamlining asset workflows, improve collaboration between teams, and ensure that branding and content distribution stay consistent across all channels.
Similarities and differences between PIM and DAM systems
As you’ve probably noticed, the two systems share a few common characteristics. Boiled down to their essence, they serve the same end goal: to provide a detailed set of information about your products and make them attractive to your customers.
Going back to our library analogy, a PIM system would be the catalog that holds all the meta information about a given book’s author, genre, category, and so on. DAM, on the other hand, would store the book’s covers, audio snippets, and other marketing materials. It’s also worth noting that the borders between the two may get blurry. For example, Pimcore, a PIM solution, offers some DAM functionalities straight out of the box.
Now that we’ve established the key concepts, let’s take the next step and look at how PIM and DAM systems impact your business’s customer experience in real-life scenarios.
Product discovery is where PIM and DAM systems can probably have the biggest impact on customer experience. A specialized PIM solution provides you with more possibilities to offer detailed product descriptions, attributes, and categories than a generic eCommerce CMS does. Then, you’ll be able to create advanced personalized search and filtering features based on those criteria. This leads to better discoverability of your products within your store and third-party search engines.
You can also go a step further and use the DAM system for customer-facing benefits. Searching by image, or visual search, has been around for a long time but hasn’t taken off in a big way. In the most tech-savvy age bracket, 18-34, only 12% of online shoppers used this functionality regularly in 2022. However, things are likely to change. Apple Vision Pro is coming, and as we all know, new Apple products tend to push the whole tech industry. The iPhone started the smartphone craze, the Apple Watch popularized smartwatches, and now Vision Pro might do the same to augmented reality (AR) and visual search. This could be a game changer in how certain industries, such as fashion or furniture, approach eCommerce.
So, what’s the connection between DAM and visual search? First, you can think of the media stored in your DAM system as the SEO of the future. The more materials you make available to the search engines and the better it’s tagged and managed, the higher the chance that visual search results will lead customers to your store.
More excitingly, this also opens up brand new avenues to deliver an engaging, personalized experience. For example, if you’re selling furniture, you can make your customers’ lives much easier by uploading 3D models of your inventory that they can virtually place in their rooms via AR. Coupled with artificial intelligence (AI), PIM and DAM systems can also help you automatically suggest products that best fit your customers’ decor. You can already do it with systems like PIMSTAR for Pimcore.
Another area where DAM systems shine is managing the personalized content that goes into your eCommerce experience and messaging. The sheer amount of varied media that goes into personalized campaigns is a blessing and a curse at the same time. On the one hand, it provides you with the ability to freely adjust and experiment with the content. But on the other, this often comes down to creating many nearly identical pieces with only subtle differences between them. In other words, you’ll be pulling many hairs from your head trying to find the exact one you’re looking for.
A DAM system will work wonders when it comes to storing and categorizing such pieces of media. You’ll be able to use more sophisticated tagging and attributes than in the case of generic file storage, and you’ll be able to account for those subtleties. The media will be easier to find but also, based on those criteria, the system can suggest pieces that go well together. A DAM system will also make sure that, despite the big number of variations, certain key elements that shouldn’t change, such as your branding, will stay consistent.
For now, you and your customers will mostly experience the benefits of these integrations in marketing collateral, such as ads, banners, and landing pages. But looking a little forward into the future, it’s easy to imagine the next step in DAM-powered content personalization. You can picture fully dynamic stores, platforms, and marketplaces that precisely adjust the content and media to individual users, much like social media platforms do.
Imagine you’re running a pet store that offers collars that fit both dogs and cats. When a customer who’s previously bought dog food browses the collar category, the system chooses dogs modeling the collars for leading photos. Notice a cat lover? Serve them cat photos first. Such solutions aren’t commonplace now, but it’s the next logical step, and you’ll be ready for it with a well-set-up DAM system.
PIM and DAM systems enable businesses to centrally manage and organize their product information, such as attributes, descriptions, specifications, pricing, inventory data, and associated media. They make products within your store neatly organized and their individual product pages full of information that’s relevant to the consumer. This is obvious. After all, it’s their main purpose.
However, the benefits go far beyond that. The advent of API-first eCommerce solutions, like headless and composable architectures, means that you can now easily expand into new channels, such as mobile apps, social media, and marketplaces. Thanks to extra sales channels, you can reach new audiences and do it in a more direct, personalized way than before.
As an example, think of the advanced targeting you can set up on Facebook. To use its full potential, traditionally, you would need to create individual ads that lead to dedicated landing pages that lead to cart and checkout. These are many page loads. But when you set up a store within Facebook, you can cut out the ad and landing page middlemen. Your customer sees a product they find interesting and buys it without leaving Facebook. It’s as simple as that.
The beauty of well-set-up and integrated PIM and DAM systems is that you don’t need much work to add and maintain those extra channels. They provide a single source of truth in terms of product information and media, which serves all of those channels simultaneously. When you need to add new products or update the existing ones, you only need to do it once. Going multichannel also directly translates into extra revenue. According to Sellbrite’s study, stores that use three or more channels on average reported 143.54% higher revenue than those who use one or two channels.
Cross-selling and upselling
PIM and DAM systems can be hugely impactful in personalized product recommendations and bundling. There are two factors that go into smart recommendations. First, you leverage data, such as customer preferences, purchase history, and behavior. This will likely happen in a dedicated analytics tool rather than one of “our” systems. It also isn’t enough to work on its own because this is how you end up in one of the viral screenshots with absurd recommendations.
The second factor is where PIM and DAM very much come into play. On top of customer data, you also need detailed product information. This will ensure that the automated recommendations actually make sense because the items share some common characteristics or complement one another. The more in-depth information you have at your disposal, the more sophisticated recommendations you’ll be able to provide.
The customer experience benefits are obvious here, but there’s also much to gain in terms of revenue. According to research by Coveo, an impressive 70% of customers tend to be more loyal to companies that they feel understand their needs.
Shorter time to market
PIM and DAM systems also streamline the process of managing product information and assets. With efficient data management and automated workflows, you can cut down on the time to market for new products in your inventory and marketing collateral. At the same time, you’ll be able to reduce the manual errors and inconsistencies that are likely to occur in generic, “manual” solutions.
This agility mainly benefits you as an eCommerce manager but also your customers. You can quickly respond to market trends and demands and make your offer more attractive to customers. It also opens up the possibility to quickly test new ideas and approaches, which in the end, will result in a more precisely crafted and personalized eCommerce experience for your audience.
Faster page load times
The last huge advantage of DAM systems over generic shared drives or servers is that you can easily resize, compress, and otherwise edit your files. Most importantly, however, many of those systems go a step further. They can automatically pick the appropriate format or quality of files that they deliver to different devices and screen sizes.
From your customers’ point of view, this means faster page load times. Its impact on customer experience is obvious. No one enjoys waiting longer than necessary. It’s also no secret that page speed has a huge impact on conversions and, by extension, your bottom line: the slower your website loads, the more sales you lose.
Image source: Cloudflare
eCommerce owners tend to see PIM and DAM systems as strictly behind-the-scenes tools, but that’s not exactly the case. When used to their full potential, those systems can have a huge positive impact on your customer-facing features and processes.
They can help you create smoother, more personalized customer experiences by improving product discovery, content delivery, and cross-selling and upselling. They make it possible to respond to market trends quicker and to better communicate this to customers. Finally, they allow you to go multichannel, opening a whole new set of opportunities to reach and engage with different audiences.
These are all benefits you can achieve by leveraging PIM and DAM systems right now. You can also consider them in terms of future-proofing your eCommerce. New ways to improve and personalize customer experience are coming. These systems will make it possible to harness them on day one and leave your competition behind.
Published July 11, 2023