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June 2013

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Q&A: When, Why, and How to Adopt a Product Information Management Solution

In today's hypercompetitive environment, retailers must introduce new products faster than ever. However, many are left struggling as they try to integrate increasingly complex product data into their merchandise operations management and other systems.

We asked Carla Anderson, Oracle Retail senior manager of strategy, to explain when, why, and how retailers should consider a product information management (PIM) solution such as Oracle Product Hub to accelerate and simplify complex, error-prone processes.

Q. Why should retailers use PIM solutions?
A. PIM solutions enable retailers to centralize product information from heterogeneous systems into a single repository. Because of the intricacies of product information, a PIM solution can provide specialized data cleansing to avoid errors, duplicates, and incomplete entries. Once all the data is cleansed and centralized, a PIM solution then shares that content across the enterprise.

Q. How does PIM differ from master data management (MDM)?
A. Essentially, PIM is one piece of the MDM process. PIM is limited to product information, while MDM refers to the broader process of enforcing consistency, simplification, uniformity of process, analysis, and communication of data across multiple systems.

Q. When should a retailer consider adopting a PIM solution?
A. There are various milestones when a PIM solution makes sense. Retailers that have very large data volumes or leverage a data pool such as GS1, are prime candidates for a PIM solution. During a major system upgrade or migration is a great time, since a PIM solution can provide a solid platform for future growth. Retailers also turn to a PIM solution when they have a significant expansion in product offerings, or when they appreciably expand offerings across their Web channels—both scenarios tend to require many new product attributes. Finally, mergers and acquisitions often drive the need for a PIM solution as organizations try to harmonize disparate merchandising systems.

Q. What are the benefits of adopting a PIM solution?
A. First of all, a PIM solution can reduce the error-prone and resource-intensive process of manual product data entry. And once the data has been cleansed and centralized, a PIM solution makes it easy to govern master data and ensure compliance. It also supports workflow to manage the item induction process, which often crosses multiple departments. It supports the induction of new products into multiple channels, ensuring data is managed appropriately for both brick-and-mortar and online stores. And finally, a PIM solution helps manage unstructured information such as videos and multiple images.

Q. How does a PIM solution fit with Oracle Retail Merchandising System?
A. Although Oracle Retail Merchandising System isn’t reliant on a PIM solution for item management, it can be a good addition to a retailer’s solution footprint. Oracle Retail Merchandising System can receive the items from the PIM solution to add merchandising-specific attributes such as locations, retail pricing, import classification and replenishment, while continuing to be the owner of inventory, stock ledger, etc.

Q. Why should retailers consider Oracle Product Hub?
A. Oracle Product Hub is a market leader for a reason. It's a proven solution, with innovative tools to match, merge, and consolidate data from multiple sources. Governance and data quality tools enable retailers to manage data securely and collaboratively within the hub. And advanced integration services speed and simplify content-sharing across the enterprise and with trading partners.

Find out more about Oracle Product Hub.

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