Excel vs PIM: When is it time to upgrade?

March 11, 2024
Written by:
Excel vs PIM: When is it time to upgrade?

There are many kinds of sellers in the ecommerce market. Some are online only brands, others are established brands who traditionally sold their products in physical stores and there are other brands who acted as distributors of one or more brands  or sold products that they did own. Each of these sellers manage their product information differently.

Online only sellers typically start small with a small number of products that they sold in one or more sales channels. The product information is typically managed using Microsoft Excel in multiple spreadsheets.

In the case of an established brand, a product’s attributes can be scattered across multiple sources and multiple systems where the product is maintained and this is particularly true for traditional brands who have ERP systems and other software to run their operations. As established companies merged or acquired other companies, the number of software in managing the enterprise increased. This made the task of managing the product portfolio that much more difficult. When brands went online, they had to export data from their existing systems and had to transform the data to the sales channel requirements.

Brand distributors and sellers who sell products that they do not own, receive the product information from the brands they represent in the case of brand distributors, and from the vendor catalog in the case of sellers who use dropship method of fulfillment.

To sell online in marketplaces and on their websites, any of the above sellers have to transform the data they have in their systems and transform it into the format these sales channels require. Excel can be an excellent tool to capture the attributes required in one or more spreadsheets and can concatenate attributes, split a cell into one or more cells that have the desired attributes when the number of products that are sold online is small and the number of channels that they are sold on is one or two. Things get challenging in a hurry as the number of products being sold online and the channels that they are sold on increases.  There are several challenges that they face. They include:

  • There is no centralized repository of product information and one source of truth. Information is scattered across multiple spreadsheets.
  • Version control of a product  is not possible. It is not possible to have more than one version of the product as new versions are introduced. This, in particular, is very limiting in certain industries such as electronics, auto parts. 
  • It is not possible to associate images of a product in Excel. Most marketplaces have their own specification of the image that they can accept and this requires multiple images to be associated with a product.
  • Implementing a workflow to capture the attributes by the relevant departments and restricting changes by only the authorized people in these departments is not only difficult in Excel but error prone. This ability is essential particularly when new products are introduced.
  • It is difficult to ensure an error free data entry and accidental deletion of a product’s attributes in Excel.
  • Attributes of a product procured from more than one vendor can have different attributes making it difficult to know that it is the same product since there is no easy way to map it to only one product as maintained by any of the above sellers since it has to be done manually.
  • Completeness of a product’s attributes has to be done manually to make it ready for listing.

A PIM (Product Information System), on the other hand, is ideally suited to address the proliferation of products being sold on multiple channels and procured from multiple vendors. A good PIM software has the essential functions shown in Fig 1 and is an ideal alternative to Microsoft Excel,  particularly when the number of products sold is above 50 and the number of channels it is sold in is more than one or two channels. 

Essential functions of a PIM

Fig 1. Essential functions of a PIM

A software such as Vin PIM can perform all the functions in Fig 1 and integrates with Vin Lister to enable seamless listing of the products across more than multiple ecommerce software such as Shopify, Magento, etc., multiple marketplaces globally such as Amazon, Flipkart, Shopee, Lazada, Souq.  With enriched product data, it is possible to satisfy today’s demanding customer, who seeks accurate and clear information about a product before they commit to make a purchase. A PIM software will give the relevant information across all the systems that need it in a consistent and accurate manner and helps address the many challenges in today’s dynamic world where products go obsolete, new versions are introduced and also manage the requirements of the multiple channels in which the products are sold.


Make an Enquiry


Want to grow your business?

Your staircase to
growth is here!

Quick tricks for growth:

  • Reconciliation of overcharges
  • Single inventory dashboard
  • Reduced order processing time
  • Standard and accurate data

Want to know how to do this? Don’t worry!


Subscribe to our blog and stay updated!


By completing this form, I agree to Vinculum’s privacy policy

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments