Scaling a product catalog to handle a large number of SKUs requires the right e-commerce system. Traditional e-commerce platforms fall short in helping merchandisers, data clerks, and other retail professionals manage SKUs at scale.
The problem is not simply how many products a platform can support, but the limitations when creating multiple variations of an item. Consider Shopify. The platform allows for unlimited products but only 3 options and 100 variants for an item. To put this in perspective, if you had a clothing product, the restriction on product options would prevent you from adding a size, color, pattern, and material attributes.
The best example of an e-commerce company that can handle a large number of SKUs is Amazon. The company manages 12 million of its own SKUs, plus over 300 million products listed by third-party sellers.
To effectively manage such a massive product catalog, Amazon doesn’t use traditional e-commerce platforms. Instead, they rely on their own suite of custom solutions. These systems follow a microservices-based architecture, allowing for maximum flexibility and scalability.
Amazon deploys thousands of APIs along with dedicated teams of developers to implement their custom solutions. Fortunately, you don’t need to build custom systems to scale your SKUs effectively. With a modern Product Information Management (PIM) system, you can seamlessly scale an unlimited number of SKUs.
How a PIM Enables Scalability
PIM software provides a centralized solution to collect, manage, and enhance product information. Data is uploaded from any number of external sources. Different users then enrich the product information and distribute it to a variety of sales channels.
When multiple solutions are used to manage product data, information is scattered and siloed. This makes scaling your product catalog a cumbersome task. PIM removes the need of maintaining product information in separate places. All data is stored in a single source of truth. It offers an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to edit product information, individually or in bulk.
PIM software runs in the cloud and only connects to your e-commerce system through APIs. This means that you can scale your product catalog in the PIM without overloading and degrading the performance of your e-commerce platform.
Modern PIM software like Fabric’s Product Information Manager also allow for advanced use cases. This enables unlimited product options and better management of hierarchies and relationships between products.
With configurable products, you can create products with customization options. An example of a configurable product is a car. There are different attributes buyers can customize including:
- exterior color
- interior color
- interior material
- wheel type
Each attribute has its own cost. This means there are near endless possible prices for the car depending on the particular combination the customer chooses. With a modern PIM, you can set up configuration rules to automatically calculate the price for the customer’s selection.
SKU sets allow you to group products together which you can sell as a bundle. Here are a few examples:
- Kitchen table set: includes a table and four chairs
- Bedroom Set: includes a mattress, sheets, two pillows, and a bed frame
While SKU sets are designed to be sold together, customers have the ability to select and purchase one item from the bundle.
More PIM Benefits
Increased scalability is just one of the benefits of using a PIM. It can also improve data quality, boost operational efficiency, and enable true omnichannel selling. For more information on how you can use PIM to grow your business, check out our ultimate guide to PIM.