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Revving Up Your Product Information Management with Akeneo

Posted in Tech on February 17th 2015
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COO and Co-Founder

Choosing a PIM system for one’s business can be daunting. Custom-built solutions can be costly, way above the budget of e-commerce startups. Sometime, even established brands and length of existence aren’t very good basis for choosing PIMs anymore. Thankfully, the new breed of PIM solutions are here. Akeneo is one of them.


A Closer Look at Akeneo

Akeneo is a PIM system that caters to today’s retailers taking the multi-channel approach. The company is a French startup founded in 2012, with members well-backgrounded in e-commerce, particularly the open source systems Smile, Oro, and Magento. As such, Akeneo is proudly built on the same principles of open source as well. As any good PIM does, Akeneo simplifies product inventory management. Akeneo boasts of easy data extraction from any source, either directly from ERPs, flat files like Excel or CSV, and other third-party systems like Magento or Drupal. From there data can be enriched, classified, and translated via a user-friendly management interface. And then data can be issued as needed to available sales channels—whether that’s for the website, the e-commerce app, a printed product catalog, or in-store.


The Good

Open Source

The real beauty of Akeneo lies in its being open source. It’s based on the Symfony2 framework and the very flexible Oro Platform so it can be customized and extended to accommodate every business’s needs, as well as fully integrate with multi-channels. This ready modularity trumps older PIM systems that don’t connect well with today’s open source e-commerce apps. Also, there won’t be lack of connectors, what with the open source community willing to contribute and further develop the platform.

Features

The requisite features are all here: from the data quality control to the localisation, the import/export engine, and configuration management. The whole thing is wrapped in a user-friendly and intuitive interface, which is great for non-techie business people who want to manage product data hands-on. Understandably the Enterprise edition is more feature-packed—there’s validation workflow (for reviewing contributions), versioning and rollback (for restoring previous versions of the data), and advance rights management. On top of these, the company promises more updates to come as clients chime in their suggestions.

Support

Akeneo’s Enterprise edition comes with full support that’s SLA-backed. The website also hosts a forum for various technical questions, so you know you’ve got someone to turn to if you need help. It’s nice, too, that the company has an active Twitter presence for communicating with their clients in real time, discussing changes and releases, and engaging them in what else needs to be done for the software.


The Bad

Growing Pains

Akeneo’s first public beta was launched September 2013, which makes the product information management platform relatively young and new to the scene. Understandably there still are growing pains. The localisation package, for instance, is not yet fully made, although with Akeneo’s open source character, this can always be improved on. Tailor-fitting Akeneo to your specific business needs can also a lengthy consultation process. Then again, that’s always the case for any other PIM projects. Certainly, a lot can still be improved on Akeneo, a few quirks can still be ironed out, and lots of lessons to learn from the shortcomings and successes of old PIM solutions. Thankfully, contributions are always welcome from the friendly folks who make up the open source community.


Why Use Akeneo

IT Consultis believes in the PIM solution that is Akeneo, for its simplicity, versatility, and robust features. We’ll gladly help you set up your PIM project, whether you’re just starting out or switching from your old PIM system. A piece of trivia: Akeneo comes from the root word akene, which is the simple dry fruit of a dandelion used by the plant to disperse its seeds. This “light and elegant way” of propagation, according to Akeneo’s website, is what all PIM solutions should be. Sure enough, with its user-friendly and open-source approach, Akeneo is out to do just that. As more and more retailers embark on O2O strategies, good PIM solutions are all the more relevant and indispensable. Right now, open source platforms like Akeneo are your best shot in conquering multi-channel retailing.