ERP & PIM: Why You Need Both and What Exactly Are the Differences?

By integrating the right type of platforms and management tools into a back-office or ERP system like Brightpearl, you’ll get a fully fledged technology stack that seamlessly serves every function your retail business needs. Therefore, a key theme for us this year is to show how technology stacks for ecommerce and retail can be simplified.

This topic was a focus for us during a recent co-hosted webinar, is the core topic of this blog and will continue to be a prominent theme throughout some of our content this year and beyond.

But specifically in today’s article, we’re diving deep into two core parts of the ideal ecommerce technology stack: ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and PIM (Product Information Management), thanks to additional expert insights from one of our partners, Jasper PIM.

Technology Stack Piece #1: Ecommerce

Your ecommerce platform is the foundation of your online sales. Quite simply, without it, there would be no business.

Customer registration, checkout, payment, and order tracking are all key functions of your ecommerce platform. There is also an element of product management via your ecommerce system as they store fundamental information such as product identifiers, categories, subcategories, prices, inventory availability and product names.

However, as businesses grow, additional functionality is often needed to support multiple storefronts, product lines, SKUs, languages, currencies, etc. Managing your products effectively starts to become a challenge once you start selling across channels and in large volumes. This is where efficient ERP and PIM solutions enhance and optimize existing ecommerce functionality.

Technology Stack Piece #2: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System

An ERP is used to manage multiple key functions of your business such as inventory and order management, purchase order and supplier management, warehouse and logistics, accounting, CRM and some marketing functions.

Particularly when considering the product and inventory management aspect, they will contain much more detailed information than your ecommerce system.

Things like inventory availability across channels and within multiple warehouse locations, RRP as well as vendor and discount prices, landed costs for products shipped from overseas, inventory availability for bundles, kits and assemblies, inventory asset values and more, all need to be managed by an ERP in order for you to be able to gain real-time and data-driven insights into every aspect of your business.

But where the third piece of this ecommerce technology stack comes in - that of Product Information Management - is to seamlessly integrate with the ERP to provide even further insights into your product data. Merchandising and marketing information, product images, videos and SEO data all need to be managed by a specialist PIM system.

Technology Stack Piece #3: Product Information Management (PIM) Solution

We asked our partner, Jasper PIM to offer their top insights into how PIM systems pick up from ERP to complete this ideal ecommerce technology stack. Here's what they had to say:

"A strong PIM solution centralizes and syncs product data into a single system to provide a central place with which to manage, merchandise and market your products. Teams can edit and manage all product details (e.g., item numbers, references, catalogs, SKUs, images and videos, translations, localizations, documentation, custom attributes, etc.) from all sources in one place. Staff will find themselves empowered and can confidently manage multiple business applications, third-party integrations, storefronts, sales channels -- everything.

Along with many critical PIM features, a solid solution provider offers a native Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) which seamlessly integrates existing applications like ecommerce platforms, ERPs, Order Management Systems (OMS), and more. An iPaaS provides a user-friendly SaaS control center allowing for the creation, deployment, monitoring and management of all integrations. This is how a PIM can become the “hub” of an ecommerce technology stack so accurate product information can be used whenever and wherever needed."

How Ecommerce, ERP & PIM Integrate and Work Together

As mentioned, each piece of this technology stack touches on product management. But where each system lacks in complete functionality, another part of this technology stack seamlessly plugs the gaps.

The art of integrating ecommerce, ERP and PIM together ensures your website and daily operations are coordinated. You’ll gain consistent and transparent product data, you’ll reduce costs, gain the efficiency needed in order to truly scale your business and large product catalogs can be more easily managed.

Double data entry and endless product database updates will be a thing of the past; instead, you will be able to focus on all the things that made you love ecommerce in the first place.

To learn more about the differences between ERP and PIM and when you would need both in your business, you can watch our on demand webinar now:

Final Thoughts

To conclude, ecommerce platforms combined with ERP and PIM ensure you can streamline and automate more of the processes within your business, while saving you headaches when it comes to managing lots of product information and data.

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About the Author

Justine Cross is the Content Marketing Executive at Brightpearl where she can be found writing away about all things retail and wholesale related. Previously to joining the Marketing team, Justine enjoyed helping customers with the Brightpearl system within both the Customer Support and Customer Success teams. After over 6 years with Brightpearl, she has become incredibly passionate about business success for retailers, and spends a large part of her days thinking of ideas for hot topics she thinks you'll love learning from and reading about.