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Innovator Intelligence: Product Information Management—Creating a Single Source of Truth in Omnichannel Retail


What’s the Story?

As the options for shopping proliferate, consumers expect brands and retailers to deliver rich, accurate and consistent product information so that they can make informed purchasing decisions. Brands and retailers are therefore pressured to provide connected product experiences across multiple channels and languages to consumers. This is where product information management (PIM) comes into play, acting as a single source of truth for gathering, enriching and managing a company’s product data such as product descriptions and technical details. 

However, it can be challenging for brands and retailers to perform PIM processes alone, given the abundance of information confronting them from different data sources. As such, some are partnering with PIM solution providers that utilize technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to help them better compete in a crowded omnichannel landscape.

In addition to PIM and DAM, brands and retailers can turn to product experience management (PXM) to provide consumers with personalized experiences through rich, relevant and contextualized product content. 

As part of our Innovator Intelligence series, we discuss the benefits of PIM for brands and retailers and explore five key trends in its evolution—covering digital asset management (DAM), automation, PXM, enterprise solutions and headless commerce. This report is sponsored by PXM solution provider Digital Wave Technology, which aims to enable brands and retailers to buy faster and sell quicker through digital transformation. We outline the company’s offerings and competitive advantages in this report. 

Why It Matters

Having the right data in the right format to meet consumer expectations is an ever-growing challenge for retailers as consumers increasingly shop across multiple channels both offline and online—including via mobile apps, online websites, livestreaming events and in the metaverse (see Figure 1). In fact, 70% of organizations struggle to provide completely connected user experiences across all channels, according to a February 2022 global study conducted by MuleSoft.

Figure 1. The Multitude of Channels Consumers Use for Shopping

The Multitude of Channels Consumers Use for Shopping
Source: Coresight Research


Incomplete and/or inaccurate product information can lead to consumer disappointment, poor reviews and higher product returns. Demonstrating this, 34% of consumers cited unclear product information as a major reason for abandoning online purchases, according to a 2021 consumer survey conducted by ChannelAdvisor. 

A further challenge is presented by the rise of cross-border e-commerce: as companies expand their reach, they need to ensure that they offer localized content for different markets. For example, 76% of online shoppers prefer to buy products with information in their native language, according to a 2020 global consumer survey conducted by CSA Research. 

The need to provide connected consumer experiences is driving the global PIM market, which is set to grow to $68.1 billion by 2030 from $12.88 billion in 2021, according to Precedence Research. By adopting PIM, retail companies can realize benefits such as higher e-commerce sales conversion, faster product launches and better collaboration between different teams or departments.  

Product Information Management: Coresight Research x Digital Wave Technology Analysis 

Rising Use of PIM Solutions

Companies are increasingly working with PIM solution providers to gain better control over product data, obtain a central data repository and automate processes to reduce manual and duplicated efforts. By 2021, 50% of companies had used a dedicated PIM system, according to Ventana Research’s estimates. This helps businesses do away with information silos by creating a centralized and universal access point to information for all stakeholders. Different roles can leverage PIM:

  • Product managers can use PIM to collaborate with other teams to maintain accurate product information.
  • Product marketers can use PIM to tell consistent product narratives across channels.
  • Merchandisers can use PIM to collect critical information and product attributes to tailor the consumer experience and drive digital merchandising decisions.
  • Creators/designers can gain on-demand access to accurate product information available through PIM.
  • E-commerce managers can receive and distribute new information when product content changes.
  • Agencies can access and enrich clients’ product information though PIM.

Product data in PIM usually includes product name, description and pricing, as well as technical or material information. PIM helps to ensure the consistency and accuracy of the product information available before it gets published. With PIM, product changes across channels can be reflected in near-real time. 

Figure 2 depicts the usual flow of PIM.

Figure 2. The Process of Product Information Management 

The Process of Product Information Management
Source: Coresight Research


In Figure 3, we outline the challenges facing retail that are driving the need for PIM, key enablers of PIM and the benefits of PIM adoption.

Figure 3. Challenges Facing Retail, PIM Enablers and Benefits of PIM Adoption

Source: Coresight Research

PIM Evolution: Five Key Trends

1.  Growing Volume of Digital Assets Fuels Demand for DAM

In comparison to PIM, which is about product information such as product specifications and descriptions, digital asset management (DAM) is about storing, organizing and distributing digital assets such as images and videos in one place. In an era of proliferating digital channels where the type and volume of digital assets is growing at an exponential pace, DAM enables brands and retailers to present their products with a consistent brand image and reduce the risk of using incorrect visual media files. 

The global DAM market totaled $3.2 billion in 2021 and is set to grow to $8.2 billion by 2030, according to Straits Research. 

PIM and DAM are complementary systems. PIM solution providers are strengthening their DAM efforts to make it easier for clients to better store and manage visual media files in addition to product information. By integrating PIM with DAM capabilities, brands and retailers can reduce content silos, improve product detail pages in their digital storefronts, and streamline workflows. These integrations also make content more secure, extensible, accessible and trackable across the brand’s digital properties.

We outline the differences between PIM and DAM in Figure 4. 

Figure 4. Differences Between PIM and DAM Systems

Source: Coresight Research

In the realm of e-commerce, one way in which DAM can help brands and retailers improve consumers’ mobile browsing experience is through hero images—simplified images of a product that highlight a product’s attributes, such as brand, size and notable features in a more legible way. Brands and retailers are introducing more hero images to their online websites and mobile apps, which are intended to quickly grab browsers’ attention and make it easy for them to browse and choose the right products.

Example of a hero image of a skincare brand
Example of a hero image of a skincare brand
Source: Simple Skincare


2. Automation Drives Improvements in PIM

Consumer demand for more accurate, reliable and relevant product data poses a massive need for companies to implement automation and digitalization.

While some companies are still using manual processes such as Excel spreadsheets for PIM, this method is often prone to human error, such as inaccurate input of product information or wrong formulas, potentially leading to impacted sales for the company. This presents a clear business case for companies to seek automated solutions that can help reduce human manual errors.

Automated workflows can also facilitate team collaboration—saving time, reducing manual tasks and minimizing costs for businesses. In the domain of PIM, automated workflows increase efficiency in the entire process, from the onboarding of new products to publishing, enriching and synchronizing product content across channels, hence eliminating the costly delays of manual processing. For example, automated targeted notifications can be sent to different teams involved in PIM processes so that they can action their part, with the authoring of specific aspects of a product’s information limited to certain departments only: information concerning the product’s technical attributes and performance features could be modified by the engineering team, whereas product descriptions could be modified only by marketing teams, for instance. This can be done by defining the privileges and rights of different user groups when companies work with persona-based workflow automation solutions. Ultimately, this can help companies improve their speed to market by having each department perform their unique functions. 

Figure 5. Process of a Persona-Based Workflow Automation

Process of a Persona-Based Workflow Automation
Source: Coresight Research


3. PXM Elevates PIM to a New Level

PXM, a combination of PIM with DAM and AI/ML, optimizes and elevates PIM and related digital solutions to a new level. PXM enables brands and retailers to better provide personalized experiences through rich, relevant and contextualized product content to consumers that is optimized per shopping channel, language and currency. A Coresight Research survey conducted in November 2021 found that 74.5% of US retailers agree or strongly agree that using AI helps organizations manage challenges related to offering personalized consumer experiences. 

AI/ML brings many benefits to PIM:

  • AI/ML can improve product listing classifications and support a wider variety of product attributes for different shopping channels, languages and payment currencies.
  • AI/ML can help eliminate duplicate and conflicting product information.
  • AI can automatically synchronize changes in product content across sales channels in real time.
  • AI automatically standardizes imported data to a uniform format, ensuring consistency and driving efficiency.
  • Product data optimized by AI/ML helps eliminate human error and enhances the quality and reliability of product data.

The above benefits help to ensure that only relevant product content will be passed along to consumers. With relevant content transmitted to marketplaces and social media platforms, consumers will enjoy better experiences and are more likely to make purchases.

From PIM to PXM
From PIM to PXM
Source: Digital Wave Technology


4. Companies Seek To Integrate Data with Enterprise Solutions

Data integrations between different systems allow organizations to streamline communications and gain better visibility across the entire organization. This enables brands to bring new products to the market with ease and speed, reducing listing delays and improving consumer satisfaction in the process. A lack of system integration yields challenges such as data silos, slow manual processes, and a lack of real-time and accurate data. 

Enterprise solutions offer the capability to integrate PIM with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, which hold stock-level information and product dimensions for companies. This means that PIM can act as the linking bridge to ensure accurate information about inventory reaches multiple platforms, and adds to ERP by better managing consumer-facing content. 

E-commerce solution providers are recognizing the data-silo challenges that businesses are facing and are expanding their offerings accordingly. For example, Shopify has launched an ERP integration service with Acumatica, Infor, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Oracle NetSuite, as well as Brightpearl. 

5. Headless Commerce Meets Demand for Scalability

Coresight Research has identified headless commerce as a key e-commerce trend. Headless commerce decouples the back end of an e-commerce platform from the front end but allows for integration/flexibility through APIs (application programming interfaces). Cloud-native technologies such as headless commerce can lead to greater flexibility, helping companies adapt and scale more easily. 

Figure 6. How Headless Commerce Works

How Headless Commerce Works
Source: Coresight Research


Headless commerce is proving its use in the PIM space due to the scalability it brings to brands and retailers. APIs can help companies extract data from different sources more easily and quickly prepare product content to be distributed to multiple channels. With this flexibility, e-commerce systems can be more easily integrated with ERP systems. 

We outline the key benefits of headless commerce for brands and retailers in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Key Benefits of Headless Commerce

Key Benefits of Headless Commerce
Source: Coresight Research


Retailers are adopting headless commerce to realize these benefits. For example, in early 2022, Ted Baker unveiled a new multi-storefront headless platform in an attempt to manage its global online presence from a single store, streamline its back-end operations and create frictionless consumer experiences tailored to needs of individual markets. According to the company, adopting a headless architecture will bring efficiency and scalability for expansion into new regions.

Company Overview: Digital Wave Technology

Digital Wave Technology’s Product Experience Management Suite, which is one of its core offerings, acts as a single source of truth for companies. External suppliers, retailers and brands can stay synchronized with the same product content that companies provide. The Digital Wave Platform combines PXM and digital merchandising with automation and workflow governance, providing a compelling consumer experience. 

Digital Wave Product Experience Management Suite Platform
Digital Wave Product Experience Management Suite Platform
Source: Digital Wave Technology


Furthermore, Digital Wave Technology also sits as a central, back-office hub within a company, which facilitates connection to enterprise systems such as ERP, marketing and online marketplaces. Adding to this connection, Digital Wave Technology helps companies publish enriched and syndicated product content to channels such as immersive platforms (e.g. livestreaming, AR/VR), social media platforms and online marketplaces.

Digital Wave Technology acts as a central hub in a company
Digital Wave Technology acts as a central hub in a company
Source: Digital Wave Technology


Business Benefits

Through working with Digital Wave Technology, brands and retailers can enjoy the following business benefits, according to the company: 

  • Accelerated speed to market
  • Increased conversion
  • Increased average unit retail
  • Reduced returns
  • Better search engine optimization (SEO)

The realization of these benefits increases as companies’ maturity grows from PIM to PXM.

Competitive Advantages

  • The company’s platform enables retailers to improve the consumer experience through automated product content creation to tailor compelling product stories for all channels.
  • Digital Wave Technology states that it offers enterprise-grade solutions that are both scalable and flexible as they operate on a headless commerce architecture.
  • The company’s management team have AI/ML backgrounds in retail/consumer brand industries, possessing domain expertise in the space.
  • AI/ML/analytics help merchandisers, marketers and digital teams automate and make intelligent decisions, accelerating speed to market to drive ROI (return on investment).
  • Solutions are built on a cloud-native, API-first infrastructure that enables automated persona-based workflows, alerts and exception management.

Case Study

A $7 billion global retailer and wholesaler of iconic brands partnered with Digital Wave Technology to improve its product management practices and enhance the consumer experience. The company wanted to syndicate its product content in real time, ensure complete and consistent product information and digital assets across its sales channels, and deliver the best consumer product experience possible. The company also aspired to reduce product returns and increase average unit retail.

Through Digital Wave Technology’s PXM platform, the global retailer and wholesaler has achieved structure around product management and can seamlessly publish to the web, while enjoying interchangeability between brands. It is also able to operate a separate workflow for each of its brands, by user role, attributes, hierarchies and business rules. The company utilizes a single, unified product platform with each brand residing on the same instance. 

What We Think

To excel in an era where digital channels proliferate and consumers demand connected user experiences, brands and retailers can work with PIM solution providers in order to automate and improve their speed to market. Brands and retailers must strive to provide a superior consumer experience—one that is consistent across different touchpoints; this can be achieved by leveraging PXM, coupling PIM with DAM for better managing digital assets, as well as through adopting AI and ML.

Resorting to manual spreadsheets for PIM should not be a solution to brands and retailers, as they are prone to errors. Automation can help minimize human errors, improve product enrichment processes and better synchronize product content across different sales channels. Through partnering with PIM service providers, brands and retailers should seek to gain access to automation solutions.

Automated workflows coupled with a headless commerce architecture enable higher scalability and flexibility, as well as facilitate the integration of enterprise systems (such as ERP) with PXM to improve brands’ and retailers’ operational efficiency. 

About Coresight Research Innovator Intelligence

Coresight Research Innovator Intelligence reports are produced in partnership with leading firms in the retail, technology and startup ecosystems. These reports present expert analysis and proprietary data on key topics in the retail, technology and related industries, and enable partner companies to communicate their brand and messaging to a wider audience within the context of brand-relevant research.