PIM and iPaaS Go Together like Peanut Butter and Jelly

By Tom Williams on Sep 28, 2020

Partner Perspective by Tom Williams and Jonathan Currie of C2

According to a recent Adobe report, COVID-19 has massively accelerated eCommerce’s growth by 4 to 6 years. Total online spending in May 2020 hit $82.5 billion, up 77% year-over-year.

As eCommerce has continued to increase, it has brought to light the most critical component of any eCommerce system or operation, a component that relies on the eCommerce system but functions independently. That component is Product Information.

Before we dig into how Integration Platform as a Service or “iPaaS” fits into this picture, let’s take a step back and follow the life of a product from birth to sale.

Most products are “born” in an ERP. This is where the base level detail such as dims, specs, part and SKU numbers, and internal identification systems are created. It’s enough data that you can track the product, inventory it, and calculate shipping and pricing. However, you can’t truly merchandise it.

Traditionally this base level product detail was loaded to the eCommerce catalog via flat file or API after some ETL processes. If you had multiple ERPs, disparate data needed to be integrated into the eCommerce system, usually with additional ETL processes. Images (if they existed) had to be brought in from a separate file server or a DAM (if you were ahead of the game) via file drop or API. Eventually, the product was available for sale on the eCommerce site. If you wanted this product data to go to the print team, you had to go through similar integration and ETL processes. Same with any product syndication to distribution or retail outlets — more API’s, more file drops, more ETL. This leads to point integrations that are expensive to create, maintain, and edit.

Enter Integration Platform as a Service with PIM

Suppose you are considering an enterprise-class PIM/MDM platform like EnterWorks. In this case, you will inevitably need to break apart existing point-to-point integrations between your ERP and other data-receiving systems. This is the perfect opportunity to look to the future and utilize a modern iPaaS platform to help streamline data flows in and out of the PIM.

iPaaS solutions, like Dell Boomi and MuleSoft, facilitate these integrations of cloud and on-prem applications and coordinate data movement into your PIM Platform for enrichment and then from your PIM platform out to endpoints such as eCommerce, web, marketing, print, and syndication channels.

Some key considerations in connecting your ERP, PIM, and eCommerce systems include data mapping and transformation, centralized logging and access control, DevOps migration practices, and testing. The ability to configure integration frequency, map attributes across different systems, and handle processing and data transformation in the integration layer is a considerable benefit of using an iPaaS solution with your PIM. This strategy allows businesses to achieve more frequent product launches, enrich product content used for syndicating to consumers, and increase revenue through improved, enhanced, and accurate product content.

When deployed at an enterprise level, iPaaS will provide IT with access to one location that centralizes all data without jumping from system to system, allowing them to work more efficiently and productively.

These workflows are further streamlined because most iPaaS solutions come with pre-built connectors that make integrations easier, without the need for the otherwise lengthy planning and project phases of a custom in-house integration. This alleviates hesitation that may come with the need to scale your business through new applications to meet customer or distributor demands, as the process is simplified. An additional benefit is the ability to reuse existing iPaaS integrations for new integration needs. The cost savings of this benefit alone can quickly reach into the millions of dollars in just a year or two.

The ability to make informed decisions in an uncertain world is crucial. If there is one takeaway, iPaaS + PIM allows organizations to navigate real-time data through an easily accessible UI to make those critical calls necessary for any business to thrive in the digital sphere.

About C2
C2, an EnterWorks implementation partner, is a full-service technology consulting firm specializing in PIM/MDM, Integration, eCommerce, Managed Services, and Cloud Solutions. C2 has successfully integrated PIM solutions with both MuleSoft and Dell Boomi.

About the author

Tom Williams

Tom is the Vice President of Digital Services and eBusiness at C2. He oversees strategy, business development and delivery, as well as general management responsibility for the practice. Tom’s background includes leadership roles at Razorfish Consulting, Crown Partners Consulting, RR Donnelley, and KPMG LLP. Tom holds a BSBA from The Ohio State University, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

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