PIM Supplier Portals: Are They Good or Bad?

A recent discussion on the LinkedIn Multi-Domain MDM group is about vendor / supplier portals as a part of Product Information Management implementations.

A supplier portal (or vendor portal if you like) is usually an extension to a Product Information Management (PIM) solution. The idea is that the suppliers of products, and thus providers of product information, to you as a downstream participant (distributor or retailer) in a supply chain, can upload their product information into your PIM solution and thus relieving you of doing that. This process usually replace the work of receiving spreadsheets from suppliers in the many situations where data pools are not relevant.

In my opinion and experience, this is a flawed concept, because it is hostile to the supplier. The supplier will have hundreds of downstream receivers of products and thus product information. If all of them introduced their own supplier portal, they will have to learn and maintain hundreds of them. Only if you are bigger than your supplier is and is a substantial part of their business, they will go with you.

Broken data supply chainAnother concept, which is the opposite, is also emerging. This is manufacturers and upstream distributors establishing PIM customer portals, where suppliers can fetch product information. This concept is in my eyes flawed exactly the opposite way.

And then let us imagine that every provider of product information had their PIM customer portal and every receiver had their PIM supplier portal. Then no data would flow at all.

What is your opinion and experience?

6 thoughts on “PIM Supplier Portals: Are They Good or Bad?

  1. Michele Arpaia (@mensetopera) 9th February 2017 / 14:31

    Hi Henrik, same here.
    The upstream and downstream channels as you have depicted them represent two distinct use cases which are not first citizens in PIM. They may become legal citizens 😉 based on actual circumstances but as a capability they won’t represent a key differentiators for PIM vendors.

  2. josschreursblog 9th February 2017 / 14:35

    Hi Hendrik,

    The 3rd option is that there is a data hub where suppliers deliver to and wholesalers and retailers can extract from. This is of course where datapools and data lakes have positioned themselves.

    It should however be noted that this is only due to lack of data standards. And yes, I’m full aware that there are data standards like GS1, ETIM, etc in place. Problem is however that parties in the chain, and especially suppliers, are confronted with multiple standards like GS1, ETIM, the Amazon “standard”, Google “standard” and the “standards” of a few datapools. If these standards would converge into one, the issue would be solved. I notify however that standardization bodies have not really taken on this market challenge but expand to categories where a standard is already in place and just enroll their standard for that category. The result is that all parties in the chain are confronted with more instead of less standards.

    Best regards,
    Jos Schreurs, Partner @ Squadra

  3. Henrik Liliendahl 10th February 2017 / 14:27

    Thanks a lot for commenting Michele and Jos

    Michele, I have noticed that approach from PIM vendors as well. I have also been involved in a project where the PIM vendor had very little faith in their supplier portal. Thus, my plan is to offer PIM vendors to be ambassadors for the http://www.productdatalake.com venture. One of the leading ones have already signed up, which is encouraging.

    Jos, I share your analysis on the spread of standards for product information. As you mention, data lakes, and from my side http://www.productdatalake.com , is a solution to embrace a situation of same standard (and version) between trading partners and not the same standard (and version) for all or a range of products between trading partners.

  4. John Francis - 14th February 2017 / 02:49

    Hi Henrik,
    I think that the discussion taking place above omits consideration of the SMB businesses that have no real IT resources to deal with PIMs in either way. The technology and use of the product information is overwhelming to them. They cannot even get their own product information prepared and organized for delivery to their trading partners and marketing agents (PIM ot NO-PIM). I think that we are going to have to develop intermediate agents (advertising , marketing, media producers, printers) that know how to create and deal with the product information as it is stored and accessible in PIMs.I like your approach to a Data Lake, but it still requires someone who knows how to use it and make it useful for sales, marketing and planning/design.
    John

  5. John Francis - Syndicated E-commerce Sage 14th February 2017 / 03:05

    Hi Henrik,
    I think this conversation overlooks the SMB vendors and users that do not have the IT and marketing resources to fully utilize the PIM (no matter who deploys it). I believe that along with the storage and delivery of product information in digital format, we need to develop intermediary service providers that can access and creatively use the product information (advertising, printing, media production). The SMB vendors are certainly needed to fill out a rich industry of B2B e-commerce. But we need to figure out how to serve the small parts manufacturers, suppliers and after market as well as the large industrial firms and their distributors.

  6. Henrik Liliendahl 14th February 2017 / 09:22

    Thanks a lot for commenting John. I totally agree with you about the challenges for SMBs. Our ambassadorship program at Product Data Lake aims at having exactly the kind of ambassadors that can support SMBs – and also those who support large supply chain players. In that way, we have a common hub usable for everyone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s