PIM vs PLM: What’s the Difference?

PIM vs PLM: What’s the Difference?
PIM vs PLM: What’s the Difference?

Prasenjit Dey

Content Writer

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Products serve as the cornerstone of both brands and retailers, constituting their essence and purpose. Companies thrive on the availability of products for sale, necessitating a meticulous orchestration of various operational aspects to bring these products to market effectively. Without a standardized approach, the absence of streamlined processes can result in hindrances and operational inefficiencies.

When it comes to product management, two indispensable software solutions utilized by retailers are Product Information Management and Product Lifecycle Management. However, despite their significance, these tools are frequently misconstrued. While both are integral to the seamless creation, promotion, and distribution of products, they diverge fundamentally in their functionalities and objectives.

Let’s explore more about PIM vs. PLM.

What is a Product Information Management?

PIM stands for Product Information Management, a software solution designed to assist online enterprises such as retailers, brands, and manufacturers in centralizing and organizing product information. By utilizing PIM, businesses can efficiently store and manage product data, leading to notable reductions in time to market. Furthermore, PIM facilitates seamless integration with marketplaces and channels, enabling swift syndication of product information across various platforms.

Why is PIM Important?

The primary function of PIM is to gather, merge, refine, enhance, and simplify product data flow towards end-users. It serves as a centralized repository for all product-related information, ensuring smooth dissemination across multiple touchpoints to deliver enriched product experiences. PIM is dedicated to empowering marketing and sales efforts, focusing primarily on delivering comprehensive customer-facing product information.

What is a Product Lifecycle Management?

PLM, or Product Lifecycle Management, streamlines the comprehensive management of a product throughout its entire lifecycle. Consider a running shoe as an example: what customers see as the final product on an online store has traversed numerous stages before reaching its consumable form. Beginning as a conceptual sketch on a whiteboard during the ideation phase, the shoe evolves through design iterations and CAD models. Subsequently, it progresses through production, launching, and finally arrives at the market for consumer access.

According to Mordor Intelligence Report, the PLM market is estimated to reach $390 million in 2024 and is predicted to cross $672 by 2029, at a CAGR of 11.48%.

Why is PLM Important?

PLM's distinct responsibility lies in overseeing every facet of information pertinent to a product's lifecycle, excluding data intended for marketing or sales purposes. It encompasses details regarding product design, developmental stages, engineering alterations, project progression, compliance adherence, research and development, among others.

Contrary to managing customer-facing information, PLM concentrates solely on refining and optimizing product lifecycle operations.


PIM vs. PLM: Key Differences

Here are some key differences between PIM and PLM:

Product LifecycleOperates during the later stages of the product lifecycle.Operates throughout the entire product lifecycle.
Collaboration and Workflow ManagementCollaboration among sales, marketing, and content teams to ensure accurate and consistent product information.Collaboration among cross-functional teams involved in product development, including design, engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain management.
Regulatory ComplianceManaging basic compliance information, such as product safety certifications and labeling requirements, particularly for consumer products.Managing regulatory compliance throughout the product lifecycle, including tracking changes in regulations, documenting compliance testing results.
Primary Data TypesDescriptions, images, pricing, and more.CAD files, specifications, BOM, and more.
Target UsersMarketing, sales, and e-commerce team.Engineering, manufacturing, and R&D.
IntegrationIntegrated with e-commerce, CMS, ERPs.Integrated with CAD, ERP, and MES. 
Customer BenefitEnhance product presentation.Streamline design, product, and maintenance.
Business ObjectiveImproved sales and customer satisfaction.Efficient product development and reduce time-to-market. 

What Are Some of the Common Purposes that Both PIM and PLM Solves?

Although PIM and PLM fulfil separate roles, they can synergize effectively in certain contexts. Fundamentally, both systems contribute to streamlining operations and improving productivity.
Here are some of the common purposes that both PIM and PLM solve:

Centralized Data Management: Both PIM and PLM systems aim to centralize product-related data, making it easily accessible to relevant stakeholders across the organization.

Data Standardization: They help standardize product data formats, attributes, and terminology, ensuring consistency and accuracy throughout the product lifecycle.

Improved Collaboration: PIM and PLM facilitate collaboration among cross-functional teams involved in product development, marketing, sales, and supply chain management.

Enhanced Data Visibility: These systems provide greater visibility into product data, allowing users to track changes, revisions, and updates throughout the product lifecycle.

Efficient Workflow Management: PIM and PLM streamline workflow processes, enabling seamless coordination of tasks, approvals, and revisions across different departments.

Regulatory Compliance: Both solutions assist in managing regulatory compliance by tracking and documenting relevant certifications, standards, and compliance requirements for products.

Version Control: They offer version control capabilities to manage different iterations of product data, ensuring that users have access to the most up-to-date information.

Integration with Other Systems: PIM and PLM systems can integrate with other enterprise systems such as ERP, CRM, and e-commerce platforms to facilitate data exchange and streamline business processes.

These common purposes demonstrate how PIM and PLM solutions play complementary roles in managing product-related data and processes across the entire product lifecycle.

Final Verdict

In any organization, the production journey of every manufactured product involves multiple phases, each accompanied by its own set of data considerations. Both PIM and PLM serve as catalysts for change within businesses. Companies engaged in product development can harness the advanced workflows and automation capabilities provided by PLM to facilitate the creation process. 

On the other hand, PIM plays a pivotal role in ensuring the consistency and accuracy of product data disseminated beyond the organization, thereby enhancing customer experiences. Both solutions contribute towards optimizing product data management, reducing redundancy, and bolstering operational efficiency. Regarding user roles, PLM data predominantly caters to developers, technicians, designers, product teams, and suppliers, whereas PIM information primarily serves marketers, sales personnel, and field representatives.

Thus, in short, their functions differ, both are indispensable and offer unique value propositions. They can empower businesses to gain a competitive edge. Whether they are employed together or separately depends on individual business needs. However, it's imperative to recognize that one cannot fully replace the other.


Q. When should I use a PIM or PLM?
A. PIM and PLM both can automate processes, control access to the data and runs reports. However, when users work with the data during product development PLM comes into play and when users work with the data for marketing and selling the final product then PIM comes into play.

Q. Is PIM part of PLM?
A. Talking about PIM and PLM, they both have completely different purposes. But, when you combine product information management with product lifecycle management, you can inform each other about what’s going on. PIM and PLM are designed to streamline how products are presented in the marketplace. 

Q. Is PIM an ERP system?
A. PIM systems concentrate on centralizing and organizing product-specific data, while ERPs are designed to handle comprehensive business information, spanning customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, inventory management, etc. Unlike ERPs, PIMs are not equipped with these extensive functionalities.

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