As examined in the post Self-service Ready Product Data, there are three main different kinds of information, which we deal with within Product Information Management (PIM). These are
- Product attributes, also sometimes called product properties or product features. These are up to thousands of different data elements that describes a product. Some are very common for most products like height, length, weight and colour. Some are very specific to the product category. This challenge is actually the reason of being for dedicated PIM solutions.
- Digital assets are documents like product images, installation guides, line drawings, data sheets and more advanced formats as videos. You may handle these digital assets in a dedicated Digital Asset Management (DAM) system or use facilities within a PIM solution or other kind of solutions for that.
- Related products are the links between a product and other products like a product that have several different accessories that goes with the product or a product being a successor of another now decommissioned product. Spare parts for a given product is another kind of product relation. And then we have cross-sell and up-sell relations.
While PIM solutions usually have good capabilities for handling related products, it is my experience that many organizations does not utilize this very well.
One challenge is that related products can be sourced in various ways as told in the post Related Parties, Products and Locations. These ways are:
- From the manufacturer of the product. This source is often good when it comes to product relationship types as accessory and replacement (succession) as well as spare part relations.
- From the customer. We know this approach from the online sales trick prompting us with the message “People who bought A also bought B”.
- From internal considerations. Facilitating up-sell can be done by enhancing product data with that kind of product relation.
Sourcing product relations from the manufacturer through the supply chain is a must for solutions that facilitates exchange of product data in business ecosystems. In the Product Data Lake we consequently handle the sharing of product attributes, digital assets and related products.