Feedback: Working without PIM is hell

Feedback: Working without PIM is hell

Now an entrepreneur, Mathilde Petit has worked for two of the world's largest cosmetics and luxury groups as a Trade Marketing Project Manager. This daily life, punctuated by the life of the products, is the subject of her testimony.

When you work in operational marketing, you have to constantly juggle product data, sales, market analysis and consumer insights to ensure that the products you sell are in line with your customers' expectations. So much data that is scattered in various EXCELs and PowerPoints and rarely analysed in depth. It has to be said that it is rare to find a volunteer to manage this mountain of information.

In this article, I take you into my daily life as a trade marketing project manager and I am sure that some of you will find yourselves in my adventures.

Managing a product catalogue

The first difficulty as a brand is to build a product range that perfectly meets the expectations of a market. You have to find the right balance between standardisation of the assortment for the different physical or online points of sale and flexibility to adapt quickly to changing customer needs.

When you reach a catalog of 800 product lines, you have to be organized and pragmatic, especially if you still work "the old-fashioned way" with our two inseparable Access and EXCEL. Two tools that have the merit of existing and working well together, even if they will never replace the efficiency and fluidity of use of a PIM (Product Information Management).

In a year and a half, I managed to become a pro with queries, pivot tables and macros because in my case managing 15 counters and 3 e-retailers meant 18 different assortments! A real gas factory that required a lot of time and attention to detail if you wanted to avoid making mistakes.

If I wanted to delete a reference or add new ones I had to :

  • check that everything fits into the merchandising plans of each counter,
  • request, via Excel order form, the available stocks from the supply company, reserve them and plan their delivery or stop the shipments,
  • check with our e-retailers' teams to see if their assortment allowed it,
  • modify the 18 ranges accordingly.

I'll let you imagine the number of times errors have crept in in product sheets or in prices because of a bug or bad communication.

Launching new ranges and forecasts

My favourite part was the launch of new products and the thought that went into choosing the right references from all the possibilities. To develop is a big challenge that requires a lot of attention and hindsight on the data of our market, but if it is well done it is a sure success!

Unfortunately for me, benchmarking and product testing times ended with a lot of typing and emailing to update the various information and images. the product catalogue and update the various information and images that make it up. Not to mention the "forecasts" or orders to reserve quantities for the first three months of the launch. These forecasts were also entered by hand, in a software program common to all the divisions, but totally disconnected from our product catalogues or our sales reports.

Analyze sales

A significant part of my time was spent analysing the performance of the counters and sites in order to track our sales accurately and quickly. This was a key task in the analysis of a business, and was a real pain to do.

I received the weekly cash register extractions from each of our 15 counters and our 3 e-retailers by e-mail on Thursdays. For our counters, I had to translate our distributor's references into our brand's SKUs, which was already causing many errors! Between the inconsistencies and the old references still distributed, I had a first big job of moderation to do.

The icing on the cake? The extractions were not on the same periods, from Saturday to Saturday for the counters and from Sunday to Sunday for the e-commerce... A second stage of consolidation came into play in order to bring everything back to the same temporality. From there, I simplified and modified each of the Excel files so that the columns analysed corresponded to the format I had programmed in Access.

After 18 copy and pastes, I ran my query to display a pivot table in Excel. I could finally analyse the overall and counter sales of each segment, range, category and product! This table had to be carefully cross-checked with the current assortment of each counter to make sure that old products were not still being sold.

Once these 3 hours of work were over, I could finally fill in my KPI tables and make a global performance report and at each counter with adapted marketing action plans.

Now that I think about it, this titanic work was a real business risk for the brand. None of our data was interconnected and a simple change in one of the documents had a cascade of consequences... For example, this lack of global visibility caused problems of relevance for our product reorders, as there was little connection with the operational performance of the counter. A problem that directly impacted the work of the supply-chain teams on a daily basis.


All these processes that I have told you about were very disabling and did not allow us to be reactive and above all to develop the business of our brand. When you manage a brand in retail or online, you are dependent on the relevance of your assortment and the products you put on sale.

It is now necessary to have connected and agile tools such as a PIM or a DAM ! These tools will make it easier to share data between different departments and above all to be able to modify and communicate information easily without forgetting any bricks. So many worries and risks will be removed from the shoulders of your teams who will be able to focus on value-added tasks!

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Quable team

Decades of combined expertise in PIM, DAM, PXM, e-commerce, omnichannel and more...