Mapping complex products in a PIM system 


The selection of a PIM system often raise many questions. In addition to the classic retail and distribution business, where a great deal of master data and product data already has to be maintained and managed, the entire eCommerce business demands further and in some cases completely different product data. At the latest by changing their own business model or creating new sales channels, companies have to go the way with a PIM system in order to be able to act scalably and react quickly to market changes. A decisive factor here is the flexibility of the PIM system in data modeling and adaptation.

When introducing a new product information management system (also known as a product information system; PIM for short), the following questions in particular arise in addition to the question of the solution’s features:

“Can I also map my complex products in the PIM system?”

“How flexible is the data model?”

“Are customizations to the data model possible?”

“Our products have many variants. Can variants be mapped and inheritances be made?”

These questions are absolutely understandable and justified. After all, a company wants to position itself for the future, invest sustainably, not obstruct anything and be able to react flexibly to market changes. The challenges in modeling a data structure arise from different perspectives.

A PIM system for every product type, every industry and every data model

As a PIM, DAM and MDM provider, Pimcore meets the demand to have a solution for all data, for every industry and for every data structure. The open source solution does not impose any requirements on the structure of a data model and therefore does not provide a structure by default to which a company must adhere. The user himself decides how the data model should be structured. It can be adapted to any requirements. Therefore: “Any data, any structure, any industry”.

Product hierarchies and inheritance of product data

With a high number of variants, manufacturing companies from industry and corresponding trading companies face the challenge of having to map a multi-level product hierarchy in the data model. In addition, there is further complexity due to variants of a product. In Pimcore, multiple hierarchy trees can be set up for this purpose on the one hand and different product group levels can be taken into account on the other. In this way, very deep relationships and structures can be modeled. For a successful mapping, a distinction is made between products and articles. Products are superordinate to articles and can inherit common attributes and characteristics from the articles. This avoids duplicate and then mostly incorrect data maintenance for the articles, which can thus be given a unique SKU. Redundancies are thus eliminated. The complexity in the product hierarchies is reduced in Pimcore via the parent-child relationship (parent-child taxonomy) and the hierarchy trees.

One product – different languages

With an advancing internationalization of companies, in addition to market entry barriers and economic factors, challenges also arise in the design of product data in different languages. The product data previously managed in one or two languages must henceforth be translated into additional languages and simultaneously managed in the corresponding PIM system. For this purpose, it is necessary on the one hand that the data model can also be adapted and extended quickly, easily and flexibly to the multilingualism. The adjustments are made in Pimcore via the web-based configuration, which can be done without programming knowledge.

On the other hand, there is the question of how and by whom the translations should be done. Here, Pimcore offers the possibility to work with exports for translation agencies or to integrate appropriate translation tools. In the case where native speakers are to edit translations in Pimcore, it may also be necessary for the entire Pimcore interface to be translated for easy editing by a user. Again, Pimcore provides the support for this.

Classifications and standards in multiple versions

Similar to the multilingualism of product data and article texts, classifications and standards in some industries provide special requirements for the data. After the initial classification of the company’s own products and articles into the respective classification classes, the required features and values are described and specified. As a rule, these are not necessarily to be taken over 1:1 from the data already maintained. The classes, features and values often provide their own specifications in the respective classification in order to achieve standardization across industries. The ECLASS standard, for example, covers around 39 subject areas, which drives a clear description of products in various industries via the ECLASS classification of the same name.

The ETIM classification also deals with several industries: Electrical, SHK, WEBA. Here, the classification is based on the respective ETIM class (example: EC000046 for cable ties). Each ETIM class then specifies certain characteristics or attributes (example: EF002169 for material), which in turn may also be described mostly with specified values or values (example: EV000139 for plastic). With each new version, however, changes in classification may occur, so that the last class used has changed to a new class or a characteristic has been given new values. This brings with it the challenges of having to maintain multiple versions as well as having to maintain data for each class in different versions.

In both cases, Pimcore provides very helpful support for maintaining and managing classification data. The Classification Store offers the possibility that when the corresponding class is selected on an article, a template with the attributes required by the class is directly specified. Afterwards, the relevant attributes can be filled with the possible values of the ETIM classification. In addition, new versions can be added via a simple configuration in case of a further version.

Relationships between items, assets and other objects

During product and article data maintenance, additional relationships to further objects are often necessary. These can be images, assembly instructions, hazardous material logos, videos, article-supplier relationships, cross- and upselling products, accessories, etc.

For the relationships of articles and media data, Pimcore also offers a DAM system (Digital Asset Management) in addition to the classic PIM functionalities. Therefore, differentiations between the products/articles and the media data can basically be made in the data model for the first time. Each area can thus use its own data model. The linking of the digital assets with the data objects (products/articles) is done via simple drag & drop of the asset to the data. The same way is used for any other relationship. This way, a separate data model can be set up for each object for the first time. Each data object (assets, suppliers, customers, articles, etc.) can thus be assigned to any other object across the board.

Pimcore as an open source PIM system provides by default a solution for all cases to map complex data structures and product hierarchies.

Are you interested in how the solution can contribute to your data management success? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

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Julia Neuhäuser

Julia has been part of our marketing team since March 2022. As a Bachelor of Arts in Service Marketing, Julia provides you with content on marketing topics, success stories and the NEXIpedia, among other things.