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Greater longevity for your legacy ERP with a PIM bolt-on

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Businesses in eCommerce tend to use an ERP platform to manage their core operations. A wise choice because it’s a versatile piece of kit. However, there’s one area where ERP systems don’t function well – complex product information, with its increasingly extensive data alongside digital assets like videos, images, and all manner of multimedia content. As such, many businesses still spend enormous amounts of time wrangling Excel spreadsheets in their quest to manage product information across their websites, catalogues, marketplaces, apps, or however their products reach the market.

Below, we investigate how to integrate a PIM solution with legacy ERP systems, and why it’s a far smarter option than throwing out your legacy ERP because it can’t cope.

Pain points and solutions

Businesses operating in the digital economy of the present and future are forced to do more than simply create SKUs and price their products. They also need to manage and process rich product data, and the most efficient and effective way is to automate these data flows through a variety of channels and software systems.

So, although ERP solutions provide businesses with master data ranging from HR to finance, it’s a PIM (Product Information Management) solution that best manages the voluminous product data flowing into, through and out of the business. A PIM extends an ERP’s capabilities by enriching product information way beyond what an ERP allows (or is capable of). In fact, even if the ERP is a legacy system, it can still work perfectly well in tandem with the most modern PIM solutions to deliver:

  • Streamlined processes and workflows
  • High-quality product information to enhance the CX
  • Highly cost-effective


So, how does this magic happen?

Bolt-ons (or Software as a Service)

Bolt-ons for an ERP are modules which work alongside it to offer added functionalities. Common examples of bolt-on modules include resource planning, supply chain optimisation, CRM, product lifecycle management, and, of course, product information management.

Modern software is increasingly modular and cloud-based, making it far easier for eCommerce businesses to customise their tech stacks to specific needs. That means if you want to extend the life of your legacy ERP system, pair it with bolt-on solutions (SaaS), whose most notable defining characteristics are:

  • Multi-tenant: Serves multiple customers
  • Subscription-based pricing: Use what you need
  • Cloud-based and easily available: Accessible 24/7/365 globally
  • Built-in structural elasticity: Easy to scale up
  • Application security: Protection against external threats with robust identity and access permissions


These flexible applications can integrate with even a legacy ERP system to provide functionalities that a generic ERP system cannot provide, thus enhancing system performance, such as seamless data exchange between systems.

How exactly Is this integration achieved?


This is the ‘bridge’ which connects various applications and systems. Characterised by seamless communication between software systems, it makes data exchange straightforward across the enterprise’s digital ecosystem. That’s why, in the context of connectability between PIM and ERP systems, middleware plays a key part in making data communication between the two easy, with the consequent benefits.

Let’s take a typical example:

Managing Product Relationships is a pivotal factor in eCommerce. It informs the structure used to logically organise everything in your product catalogue (so customers can find what they want in the fewest clicks possible). A legacy ERP deploys a single product hierarchy. This isn’t fit for purpose when managing SKUs with multiple variations.

If you’re selling T-shirts in several colours and sizes, your ERP will find it hard to recognize the relationships between the colours, sizes, and product, meaning you’ll need to spend an age updating copy for each product variation one by one (however minimal the difference).

A PIM, on the other hand, offers far greater flexibility for product relationship management, allowing you to organise multiple products and categories efficiently without needing to edit attributes manually.

Final Words - bolt-ons: A new lease of life for legacy ERPs

There’s no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to a legacy ERP system. With a bolt-on solution, you get:

  • Integration using middleware
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Resource-use-efficiency
  • AI and automation tools
  • Reduction in time to market
  • Stronger competitive edge

Integration isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It takes time and expertise to configure with perfection. Firstly, you need to identify your business requirements and pain points, and the outcomes you want. Focus on implementation cost and end-user needs by developing a fit-for-purpose implementation plan.

That’s where Start with Data comes in. We have extensive experience with businesses of all types and sizes, be they manufacturers, retailers, or distributors. Our expert team is with you as you face what can be a daunting integration project. We’ll support and guide you every step of the way towards a positive outcome: 

  • Seamless data integration: Smooth and efficient, across legacy ERP (and other) systems, eliminating the complexities of compatibility and discrepancies
  • Customised data mapping: Tailored data mapping solutions to guarantee accurate alignment of product data fields for problem-free data exchange and consistency
  • Enhanced system compatibility: Seamless compatibility and communication between the PIM platform and integrated systems
  • Data Governance and integrity: Integrations incorporate robust data governance practices, ensuring data integrity and consistency across all integrated systems


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