Product MDM

Top 10 Reasons to Use Product MDM, by Tom Marine

More great insights on Product Master Data Management from our new contributor, Tom Marine.


Have you had trouble figuring out where to start when making decisions on your company’s business applications—whether for growth, efficiencies or managing integration?

Hopefully, a Product Master Data Management (MDM) solution (also referred to as Product Information Management or PIM) can help.

Product MDM solutions come in a lot of shapes and sizes, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Like many software offerings, a solution may be good for one company and not good for another. The key is doing the right up front work to make an informed decision on which Product MDM solution is best for your company. However, here are 10 key reasons why most companies need a Product MDM solution.

1. Collaboration

With all your key groups working in the same database, both workflows and statuses can get prioritized in the right sequence. Being able to quickly see what other departments are providing increases appreciation and allows for quicker and more accurate data entry.

2. Accountability

If your title (or even your name) is assigned to a particular status, and you only have that one chance to make it right, the resulting activity is usually pretty clear: there will be focus and personal responsibility – and, as we’ve seen, the extra effort to get things done “right up front”.

3. Productivity

Productivity isn’t something that you put emphasis on during the implementation phase. It’s an outcome of the Product MDM implementation—for the business. There have been page production increases of more than 650 percent without adding a single FTE. That’s a productivity increase! But, don’t forget to look at the productivity improvements from eliminating “E” or “M” Commerce silos.

4. Vendor Contribution

Let’s put the onus on those that have the earliest access, usually your suppliers. Most Product MDM solutions allow for the information your suppliers have already entered in data sheets or their business systems to be swiftly imported. You’ll also be able to give them access to the Product MDM solution and they can enter it directly (of course, with the right security privileges). This will cut down on data entry, proofing and, again, increase accountability—this time, outside your walls. And, think of the opportunities resulting from being able to sell ALL of the products that ALL of your suppliers may have ALL of the time (on the web, 24/7/365).

5. Reduced Errors / Increase Accuracy

No more fixing the same data over and over again, or having to worry about how a price change makes it to the product. Those links, along with the images, marketing copy, SEO copy, specifications, and target profile information are all a part of the product data relationship. You’ll only have to enter the information once (or integrate it from another system), in the right place, by the right person.

6. Reduced Cycle Time

With increased productivity comes an optimized workflow, which, in turn, creates a reduced timeline. What is typically seen is the ability to wait longer to develop and procure more products, so that the time frame between product development and catalog delivery is dramatically reduced. We’ve seen companies who were only been able to produce their “Big Book” once a year go to three cycles per year. And, of course, with the catalog also available for web commerce, the cycle time becomes… well, immediate.

7. Reduced Time to Market

Hand in hand with Reduced Cycle Time is the ability to get your products out to your customers more quickly. You may already be the leader and brand-recognized provider of new products, but now you’ll be in turbo mode. By handling data entry once and pushing entry to its earliest point (like your suppliers), proofing becomes condensed, data becomes available earlier, and products skip several self-made obstacles to their final syndication.

8. Page Profitability Analytics (with implications for all channels)

A Product MDM solution typically has an embedded function that captures how many square inches each of your product groups (and suppliers) take up in your catalog. By easily merging your sales data for analytics, you’ll quickly be able to do 4 things:

  1. Show profitability by product/page/catalog
  2. Show your vendors what their contributions are, while providing your company with key negotiating data
  3. Speed up results analysis – no more building spreadsheet reports and marking up a catalog – you’ll have automated access to what you need immediately
  4. Provide valuable data for your “E” and “M” commerce around products and profiling. Why wait for the next print catalog!

9. Synchronized & Multipurpose Multichannel Data

No matter how hard some companies try, it’s still a challenge not to have to re-enter data for different channels. Or, to have different data readily available based on that channel. The print catalog and the web are classic examples – as some companies still keep these separate, they’re not able to make a quality link between the two. With a Product MDM solution, separate databases become redundant and superfluous. Copy is created in one location, and then pulled to the right channel, in the right format. For example, SEO copy is not written the same way as catalog copy.

10. Systems Integration

An underlying theme for a Product MDM solution is its flexibility and ease of integration with other systems. Typically, data in a Product MDM solution can be pulled for ERP systems, delivered to the Web or the CRM system, interact with the page layout package and compile nearly any asset. Basing systems integration on the Product MDM solution can eliminate the need to change your legacy systems – which can prevent a business interruption of high magnitude.


From my perspective, the Product MDM solution “fit” is based on the competitive value of agile product content management. Some times, Digital Asset Management (DAM) or a Content Management System (CMS) can be enough. But, if there’s a large amount of SKUs, or lots of attributes associated with SKUs, or lots of images and assets associated to SKUs, then the best solution is a Product MDM solution.

The beauty of Product MDM is that those solutions are typically easily integrated (pulling data from the legacy system, then exporting, or leveraging an API connected to a web site, for instance), giving the company a best-in-class solution while minimizing interruptions to the business.

With a central source of the truth for product data, collaboration, accuracy and productivity will all go up at nearly every stop in the product lifecycle—from the vendor, image capture, specification entry, and channel syndication.

About the Author

Tom Marine has been in the multichannel database publishing space since 1995 as a user, provider and consultant. Tom’s accomplishments include optimizing Product MDM implementations at large cataloguers and global instances using the Agility Multichannel product. B2X Partners is a venture Tom shares with Bob Lewis, the former Founder and CEO of Enterworks, another Product MDM provider. Together, they consult, design and implement best-in-class information architect solutions.

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2 Comments on “Top 10 Reasons to Use Product MDM, by Tom Marine”

  1. Michele Arpaia (@mensetopera) 02/26/2014 at 5:45 am #

    Do you make a difference between Product MDM and PIM?

    • Dan Power 02/26/2014 at 7:14 am #

      No, those are synonyms.

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