A Beginner’s Guide to Pimcore
Ah, the digital transformation: one minute we’re selling products across the globe with the power of modern ecommerce, the next minute we’re cursing under our breath switching through countless, outdated software program interfaces and plodding through endless spreadsheets, trying to make it all work. Even the largest companies and most respected brands are currently experiencing what I like to call “digital disappointment.”
It’s that feeling that your tools and systems should be more sophisticated, compatible, and user-friendly than they are. It sounds like this:
“The manufacturer has discontinued Model A3, but it’s still on the marketing website. The new Model A4 is live on the ecommerce site but is listed with the old product data, and the size and color options in the checkout workflow are both wrong. We need new product copy for Canada and it needs to be approved by legal, and all of the updates need to roll out to the website in all languages and countries, the mobile app, our commerce site, and the feed to Amazon.”
There’s a voice telling you that there must be a better workflow out there. You shouldn’t have to switch between 6 systems to update data for a single product. Can’t there just be a single tool that my entire team can use to bring sanity and a single source of truth to product, marketing, and commerce data? This is the digital era, isn’t it? I want my self-driving car, and my robot maid.
Of course, you’re reading this post because you’ve already begun to research product information management (PIM) systems and digital asset management (DAM) systems. Maybe you’re looking for alternatives to Magento and Oracle. Maybe you heard that Pimcore could be a possible solution to all of the facepalming you’ve seen from your IT, product, marketing, and commerce teams.
What is Pimcore?
Pimcore is a free, open-source PIM/MDM software platform that centralizes and harmonizes all of your product data in one, elegant, consumer-friendly system. It is also the only platform that integrates your PIM data with your systems for digital asset management (DAM), content management (CMS), and omni-channel user experience / customer experience design (UX / CX).
This means that not only can you unite all of your product, marketing, vendor, and customer information in a reliable, central source; you also become empowered to output that data across any B2C or B2B channel to deliver outstanding, personalized customer experiences.
What Does Pimcore Do Better Than Its Competitors?
Aside from being fully customizable to your company’s unique attributes, relationships, and processes, Pimcore also creates brand consistency. It’s very easy to integrate all of your data and assets into an email, a webpage, print catalogs, ecommerce experience or another output channel like an API or syndicated product feed. The platform also allows for dynamic templates, customer personalization, and a more streamlined consumer experience. It’s also just as easy to export your data from Pimcore as it is to enter it, which should give you comfort if you’re worried about getting locked into a new system.
Pimcore is especially adept at improving internal workflows. Everyone enjoys using Pimcore, from marketing to IT to product managers and engineers to business intelligence analysts. System developers in particular like Pimcore because the folks who developed it from the beginning were really good software architects.
Pimcore uses GitHub exclusively to track all bugs and features and leans on it heavily for its software management. Contributions are vetted and carefully curated to maintain the platform’s high-quality performance.
Why Am I Just Hearing About Pimcore Now?
Although Pimcore doesn’t have huge name recognition in the US yet, it's a leading platform in Europe and has produced big success for major brands: Ikea, American Express, Audi, Marriott, , Bloomberg, Burger King, Nissan, Adidas, and LEGO.
It is now on its fifth major release and more than 80,000 organizations in 56 countries are currently using it.
Pimcore Pricing: Yes, It’s Really Free
We have all been tricked by the free, open-source platform carrot before—where the base is free and then you have to pay for all of the plugins. Pimcore doesn’t do that. There is no annual license fee and you can access any feature that you want at any time. Instead of relying on the sale of software licenses, Pimcore offers a wide range of services, such as consulting, implementation, and support.
Is Pimcore Right for My Company?
Pimcore is not an out-of-the-box, turnkey solution and not for everyone. If you are looking for a PIM solution that requires no development effort and allows you to start plugging in your data and your images right away, Pimcore is not for you.
However, Pimcore can work wonders for:
- Businesses that want to configure their own system
- Businesses that are committed to using open-source software
- Businesses that struggle to effectively integrate product and marketing data
- Businesses that are frustrated with their current tools
- Businesses that feel short-changed by their legacy ERP systems’ claims of digital multi-channel support
- Businesses that don’t want to work under the constraints of turnkey systems
- Businesses that want to decrease time-to-market for new products
How Do I Demo Pimcore?
Because Pimcore is totally free, you could go home tonight and say, "I'm gonna just check out Pimcore, because we're wrestling with data management at work, and Pimcore could be the solution." Bitnami offers a one-click installation of Pimcore that gets you up and running on your laptop either on a virtual machine or in the cloud with everything you need for an instance of Pimcore.
When Should I Seek Help with Pimcore Implementation?
Companies usually seek help from implementation partners like Lightning Jar after the proof-of-concept phase at the department level. A partner can help a system architect or CIO gain full confidence in their decision to adopt the platform and then obtain universal sign-off within their company. Partners also consult on Pimcore best practices for customization, data architecture, configuration, and deployment, and can also support companies toward the ultimate goal of running it themselves. Pimcore provides a partner locator by country to help companies access a global network of systems integrators, ecommerce consultancies, and digital agencies.
What to Look for in a Pimcore Partner
When choosing a Pimcore partner, don't opt for gross development man hours at the least expensive price point. Look for experience and expertise in the concepts and systems related to Pimcore, as you would for any software development project.
Other helpful things to look for include:
Business Analysis Skills
Find people who understand your current business tools and goals and know how to translate those to systems, data architecture, and software.
Not only should developers design the platform so that end consumers can use it, but they also should design it for the people who maintain the data: the data managers, product managers, and content managers. If the internal interface isn't user-friendly, team members won't want to use it or won’t use it as frequently or as consistently as is needed to make everything sing.
Data Architecture Expertise
Companies trying to implement this type of platform for the first time might not be able to predict whether the right assets and objects are stored in the right way. You need good advice on how to structure your data and anticipate common problems.
Someone to Teach You to Fish
Understandably, companies sometimes worry that an implementation partner will paint them into a corner with their own proprietary code that would prevent the company from working with a different partner in the future. The risk of that scenario with Pimcore is minimal because it's open-source, it's easy to learn, and it's built with the right principles and concepts for anyone with object-oriented architecture experience. A good implementation partner will subscribe to the same ethic.
Now, about that robot maid… Pimcore does not yet come with a vacuum or drink tray attachment but it certainly can tidy up your operations, saving you money and time. With Pimcore, you can put the flow back in “workflow” to fully embrace the digital transformation—and leave the digital disappointment for your competitors.
- Alan Ruthazer
Alan Ruthazer is the founder of Lightning Jar.