One of the most commonly asked questions we get from our prospects across geographies and industries is “what does a PIM solution cost?” or “can you please provide me some pricing information for a PIM solution?” Surely, that shouldn’t be too hard. So, why is it that most PIM vendors do not provide a public price list for their software?
What is a PIM solution?
First of all, even though PIM is a fairly mature concept and there are quite a few providers now, there is no unified definition of PIM that everyone agrees on. If you look at Wikipedia, the definition is so broad that it is not possible to use it for a real comparison of the various PIM solutions, enterprise-grade or not.
Product information management (PIM) means managing the information required to market and sell products through distribution channels. – Wikipedia
The lack of a good definition that all vendors agree on makes it difficult to compare either vendors or software. There are, however, some commonalities you can use as an indicator in your quest for a good comparison. Below are some of the parameters you need to take into consideration.
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Number of SKUs
The number of SKUs you want the Product Information Management system to handle may be the single most important variable for pricing a PIM solution. Imagine you are running a Magento e-commerce site with only about 100 SKUs. You can manage the product data manually. Updating one hundred product descriptions with associated texts, images and prices takes time away from the more valuable growth-hacking activities you should be doing, but the data storage involved is not be a big issue. But, if you have 500,000 SKUs in your ERP and you want to display them in all sales channel, that is a different matter. Not only you need to consider data storage in PIM – you should also remember about maintaining sufficient data quality and the transfer costs between PIM and ERP.
Number of Attributes
At the same time as you consider how many SKUs you want the PIM solution to handle, you might also take a quick look at approximately how many attributes you are handling per SKU. This, too, has an effect on data storage and transfer cost, but more importantly, it indicates how complex the solution is. Most PIM solutions will not have a problem handling product content consisting of many attributes, but there may be vast differences in how easy it is to actually create and manage attributes for products. The number of attributes is also one of the parameters in calculating the data storage and transfer costs discussed above.
Use of Media
A third driver for cost with regard to storage and transfer is media handling. Not only does the number of images impact the amount of storage required, but the quality of the images, videos and other visual materials also plays in. If you intend to use the PIM for e-commerce only, you will not need print-quality images and graphics, but be aware that the requirements for HD videos and images are on the rise for digital channels.
Number of Users
Some vendors may also ask you to provide the number of users of the PIM solution. Even though this does not directly relate to the production cost of your supplier, it may indicate your willingness and ability to pay for an enterprise-grade solution. More importantly, the number of PIM users will indicate the need for training and support throughout the customer relationship. When considering the price per user, be sure to also find out what kind of support the provider offers for the price given. Do they only allow chat and online support, or do you actually get to talk to a person? Do they require you to have a dedicated account manager or separate support team? As always, the devil lies in the details. Too little support may indicate an immature provider, while too much may mean their product will require detailed follow-up.
Number of Locations
As you know, even though PIM is in many ways a back-office software, the performance of a PIM solution will affect the performance of your e-commerce site. This means that if you run an on-premises PIM and a SaaS e-commerce solution (a fairly common set-up these days) you may experience reduced performance on real-time data lookup. Sure, some of this may be solved by caching data, but that, too, has implications on how you work on product releases and updates. Another reason vendors will ask about your locations is that the requirement for speed in GUI is so high these days that it matters if the server is hosted somewhere in Europe, for example, while the user resides in Asia. Some suppliers are able to provide you with a solution that is mirrored across geographies, but this is also reflected in their price.
Number of Supported Languages
Adding languages means adding complexity to a solution. If you already know you will only need English and German in your output channels, you might as well state that in your initial request. Adding several languages or languages with other types of letters or special characters (such as the Arabic or Chinese alphabets) will add to the price of the solution. Very few PIM solutions will come with these configurations in their standard software set-up, and these requirements will typically have to be catered for in a side-project. This is not to say that you should not ask for it if you need it. Providing local languages is sometimes underestimated from the IT supplier’s side.
Some people use PIM solutions only for data governance, i.e. to manage products before they export them to Excel and upload them to other systems. Those of us who have been working in the PIM space for a while know that the real benefits of a good PIM solution show up after you have integrated your PIM solution into one or more output channels. The more output channels you add, the more automation you can do. This increases the value for you as a customer (and vendors are well aware of this). A second reason that output channels are important is that they, too, require more data transfer between systems – data that you, as a customer, are expected to pay for.
Finally – and I do not really know if this is a cost driver or more of a differentiator from the supplier’s point of view – you will most likely have to let the supplier know what features you are expecting before implementing PIM. Some provide a lot out-of-the-box, while others may provide these features as custom add-ons. Some vendors lack a range of what most would regard as core PIM features. But in the end, that is up to you to decide.
Some vendors probably have other criteria for pricing, but if you are able to give at least some input to the topics above, it should be enough for a vendor to give you a ball-park number.How much is #pim? It depends on the number of SKUs, attributes, locations, output channels and users Click To Tweet
Be aware, though, that what we have given you here are just parameters for pricing a running PIM system. The project cost (also sometimes referred to as onboarding) is an additional one-time cost. Pricing this expense is – if possible – even more complex and largely depends of your organisation’s technical competence and capabilities with regard to the time you have available to run the project. Most vendors will either help you with the entire project, or they will refer you to a partner.
Not sure how to proceed? Take a look at this e-book for a more thorough investigation into the mysteries of PIM systems and creating effective omnichannel.