The Difference Between MDM and PIM

By Kerry Young on Feb 17, 2017

If you’re a bit perplexed about the difference between MDM and PIM, you’re not alone. In fact many are unclear about what Product Information Management (PIM) entails, and how it differs from Master Data Management (MDM). You may be wondering, “What do I really need? PIM, MDM, or both?” So, let’s clear up the confusion with a quick look at the difference between the two areas of product data management.

Master Data Management…think back-end operational excellence

High-value, business critical information is at the heart of every business transaction, application, and decision. This information is called master data. However, the quality of master data degrades over time. Key business processes are then impacted when master data is inaccurate, missing, duplicated, or incomplete.

A Master Data Management solution eliminates the guesswork and uncertainty that results from too many versions of the same data. MDM provides a framework of technologies and processes with a central repository of reliable, up-to-date data consolidated across all enterprise applications.

Ultimately, with Master Data Management the main focus is providing a single, trusted version of back-end data in pursuit of operational excellence.

Product Information Management…think compelling product content for omnichannel marketing

Product Information Management refers to centrally managing information about products. Furthermore, the driving force in PIM is to enable a multi-channel marketing strategy with consistent, compelling product content. As Forrester Analyst Michele Goetz puts it, PIM is “MDM on Business Terms.”

A PIM solution helps retailers achieve cross-channel integration, as well as collect and manage the data necessary to better understand customers and how they prefer to shop. Retailers are able to reach consumers with trusted, compelling content including images, reviews, product descriptions, videos, and more.

Immediate benefits and efficiencies arise from having a single repository available to all users including marketers, store personnel, logistics, trading partners, and suppliers. A shared view reduces errors and inconsistencies, as well as the labor involved in creating quality content. This also leads to faster product launches and promotions. Ultimately, improved customer satisfaction reduces return rates and builds brand loyalty.

Goetz’s Forrester blog gives another look into how PIM provides a layer to Master Data Management:

“PIM makes managing the product master efficient in two ways: 1) It puts ownership and control of product information into the hands of subject matter experts in the business and 2) It consolidates product data with content (copy, video, audio, images) and the mechanisms to integrate with marketing delivery channels – a business solution for merchandising.  Organizations using PIM solutions report cutting the time to market for new products and product updates from weeks to hours…In data management terms, PIM is a data governance application for the business.  In business terms, PIM is a merchandising business solution.”


To conclude, PIM is a part of MDM. However, many companies choose to implement standalone PIM without a larger MDM undertaking. This can be an easier, quicker option for those looking to synchronize product information across channels.

Visit our Master Data Management site and Product Information Management site to learn even more about the solution areas.

Contact EnterWorks to speak with an MDM and PIM expert about your business challenges and which solution is right for you.

About the author

Kerry Young

Kerry Young joined EnterWorks in 2006 when Ennovative, Inc., the multi-channel publishing software company he co-founded, was acquired by EnterWorks. He directs EnterWorks’ operations and leads EnterWorks’ professional services and consulting organization, ensuring effective customer implementations and ongoing success. Mr. Young brings more than 25 years of technology and business management experience to EnterWorks, having served as CTO for a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, and earlier as VP, Information Technology for Marshall Industries, a $1.7 billion industrial electronics distributor. He previously managed information systems for a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Mr. Young holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an M.B.A. from California State University Fullerton.

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