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Delivering content-enriched customer experiences has become the way to differentiate one ecommerce experience from another in a crowded market. Beyond just more content, research by Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if brands offer personalized experiences. That’s why product information management (PIM) vendors have been shifting their focus towards customer and product experiences.

With this in mind, we’ve turned to industry experts to learn what the differences are between PIM and product experience management (PxM), why vendors have been making the shift, and how brands can benefit from this evolution.

What Are the Differences Between PIM and PxM?

In a nutshell, PIM systems are a way for ecommerce brands to organize their product catalogue and related data in a centralized location. "PIM was born in a time when product data needed to be consolidated for marketing, sales, transactions and logistics," said Johan Boström, co-founder of inRiver. By centralizing this data, ecommerce brands can speed up their time-to-market for new products and deliver omnichannel shopping experiences more consistently, but there are limits when it comes to producing contextually relevant content.

In today’s consumer-centric marketplace, however, PxM is the latest approach many PIM vendors are taking to manage customer and product experiences as well. “This means you're using this software to, not only manage your product information (because any good PxM will include a PIM),” explained Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris, “but also how you're going to make it available to consumers.” PxM is an attempt to give ecommerce brands the capabilities necessary to manage the shopping experience.

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Why PIM Vendors Are Shifting Towards PxM Solutions

As ecommerce brands struggle to provide compelling shopping experiences, many PIM vendors see PxM as a natural next step. “PIM is becoming PxM because data is no longer enough to inspire a shopper to buy or to create a frictionless buying journey for a B2B buyer that wants to be able to self-service,” explained Boström. Consumers want more control over their digital experiences, and a traditional PIM solution isn’t up to the task. PIM vendors, “saw the need to produce more and richer content,” continued Boström, “but most importantly, to contextualize it to make it relevant to the end customer.”

But this evolution isn’t purely customer-centric, either. “[PxM] was never directly intended to improve the customer experience,” explained Boström, “although it often did by bringing the pieces together for all channels. Instead, the primary goal of PxM has been to create superior product experiences by focusing on context. This approach, however, also improves the customer experience because it makes products more relevant for the customer.

PxM is crucial because today’s consumers have access to an endless array of products. “It's not about what you offer but how you offer it,” Sherman said. Consumers have so many options on the internet that they can get what they want from multiple retailers. “When that happens online retailers must set themselves apart, not with what they have, but how they have it,” said Sherman. That’s why putting products in context is so critical.

The Benefits of PxM

While the PxM evolution seems to be a natural progression, here are three major benefits the experts are seeing:

Greater Relevance

“PxM makes the product relevant to the customer by adding context,” Boström said, “making it easier for a buyer to purchase.” These systems do so by allowing marketing teams to create content for their products that have a greater impact on their target audience. This approach helps drive conversations during the time of purchase.

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Richer Experiences

“[PxM] also adds support for richer product experiences by supporting the creation and distribution of more advanced content like 3D imagery and video or augmented reality,” explained Boström. Most PIM solutions only provide basic support for content and images, which limits the way marketers can craft compelling shopping experiences.

Better Recommendations

“An often-forgotten benefit about PxM,” said Boström, “is that it adds more advanced and valuable relationships between products than the typical and simplistic recommendations based on what others bought.” With PxM, brands can leverage a vast amount of centralized product and consumer data, for example, to feed machine learning product recommendation engines.

“PxM is not where the journey ends,” Boström concluded, “it will continue to evolve alongside customer expectations.” In the end, the demands of consumers get more sophisticated each year, so PIM, PxM and other ecommerce software vendors will need to adapt.