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The Centra PIM: Purpose-built for fashion brands

Centra's built-in, lightweight Product Information Management system is specifically designed for fashion brands, and stands out with a range of functionalities that directly translate into significant value for fashion brands using the platform.

Michal Wlosik

17 minutes

Centra addresses the complexity of selling complex fashion products, and gives original brands a streamlined and efficient way to manage product information across all digital sales channels. Centra’s PIM is all about driving conversion and order value – presenting the product data that is needed to convert in the digital sales channels. 

There are two ways a fashion brand can use the Centra PIM. Brands that work with a PLM or PDM system can integrate that system, so that product data is pushed into Centra’s PIM as soon as a new collection is ready. Alternatively, brands that already have a PIM system in place, with or without DAM functionality, can push products from there into Centra, and further enrich them with channel specific attributes used for merchandising or filtering, and with all desired channel-specific promotions such as campaigns, vouchers and various types of bundles. 

In this article, we’ll explore specific functionalities of the Centra PIM and their importance for fashion brands.

Why you need a PIM

Variants and sizes, and the relations between them, product descriptions in different languages, for different markets and for different audiences, size charts for different markets, categories, collections and drops are all examples of product data that a PIM can organize in a systematic way. However, in many leading ecommerce platforms, this data can’t be mapped over to the pricing and campaigning data in a meaningful way. Consequently, this data can’t be used for analytics, business insights, and makes various revenue-driving efforts impossible. 

There are many good reasons for brands to invest in product information management software. However, doing it as a workaround to mitigate the lack of product information management tools in your ecommerce platform should not be one of them. For example, certain revenue-driving features might not be possible on Shopify Plus even when coupled with a third-party PIM. These include:

Real-time inventory management across multiple channels. While a PIM can help manage product information, syncing inventory levels in real-time across all sales channels might be challenging.

Advanced analytics and reporting. Shopify Plus provides analytics and reporting, but it may not be sufficient for more advanced or customized reporting needs. This limitation can affect data-driven decision-making.

Ultra-personalized customer experiences. Creating ultra-personalized shopping experiences, such as highly personalized product recommendations or customer journeys, might require additional tools or custom development.

Deep internationalization. Although Shopify Plus supports multiple currencies and international ecommerce, there could be limitations in handling complex tax laws, compliance requirements, and localized content management at a granular level. For more on the topic, read our detailed Centra vs Shopify Plus comparison.

Seamless omnichannel experiences. While Shopify Plus allows for omnichannel selling, creating a seamless omnichannel experience (including offline channels) might require additional integrations or custom solutions.

Why Centra is a great choice for fashion brands

Most leading ecommerce systems use generic “options” to solve the fashion-specific data model. Centra’s data model is different for a couple of reasons:

Fashion product logic out of the box

Centra PIM is specifically designed to support the logic of complex fashion products. Centra’s PIM understands all the different dimensions such as styles, colors, and sizes of clothes and accessories – and the relationships between them – and maps this information in a meaningful way to pricing, campaigns and stock data. Deep integration of these dimensions across the different areas of the platform offers a level of customization and detail that surpasses what most generic ecommerce systems offer today. 

Integrations

Thanks to the rich predefined taxonomy, integrations are made simple and can work out of the box. Centra’s integration partners have full access to Centra’s deep product model, and can leverage it to build integrations that fully support the fashion brand product logic, with no information lost in translation between the systems. 

Marketing and merchandising opportunities

Centra allows you to house all product data you need to drive sales, and also link this data in a meaningful way to pricing, campaigns and stock. In Centra, you can create both static and dynamic product bundles to drive increased AOV. You can also define how products should be merchandised towards different audiences. For example, the same unisex product can be merchandised in different ways in the men’s and women’s sections – while still being the very same product in your warehouse. 

Improved reporting and analytics for better business decisions

Also, Centra’s deep well-structured data model enhances reporting capabilities, offering brands valuable insights to inform business decisions, e.g. which sizes and colors of a particular product sell the most, or which colors sell the most across multiple styles. With such granular data, brands can make informed decisions about restocking and production. Centra uses multiple fully separated category trees for organizing products. Each channel has its own category tree, in which a product can exist in multiple categories. On top of that, Centra features a reporting category tree, called Folders. Each SKU exists in one and only one folder, enabling aggregate sales reporting and full reconciliation with the reporting structures in ERP and BI applications. 

Localization

In the context of global expansion, Centra's PIM stands out by enabling fashion brands to manage and distribute localized product information across various markets, languages, and regions. It supports the localization of product data, workflows, and user interfaces, thus ensuring a seamless customer experience irrespective of geographical location​​. 

Proper localization support in PIM is particularly important for fashion brands aiming to establish a global presence while maintaining local relevance. Let’s look at a couple of examples and use cases:

Size chart localization

Size chart localization enables brands to adapt their size charts to the standards of different regions or countries where they sell. For instance, if the primary size chart features general European sizes, such as shoe sizes 37-44, then for the UK market, it can be adjusted to offer UK-specific sizes. In this case, the equivalent UK sizes would range from 4.5 to 10.

Centra excels in managing multi-dimensional product size charts and measurement charts, which can be localized for each market. This eliminates the need for third-party applications for managing complex sizing information, such as 2-dimensional denim size charts. 

Centra PIM: Size chart localizationCentra PIM: Size chart localization

By providing customers with detailed sizing details, fashion brands running on Centra can expect a decrease in returns due to sizing issues, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty – a significant challenge in online fashion retail. 

As one Centra PIM’s standout features is the streamlined product listing management. Fashion brands can effortlessly syndicate their product listings across various localized storefronts, marketplaces, and retail touchpoints. Additionally, it offers the convenience of setting promotional pricing in advance, making the management of product listings virtually hands-free​​. This feature is particularly valuable in the fast-paced fashion sector, where time-to-market and promotional agility are crucial.

Size chart localization: Specific use cases

Size chart localization is not just about converting sizes; it's about enhancing customer trust, reducing logistical challenges like returns, and providing a seamless shopping experience across different markets. It shows respect for cultural differences and addresses the practicalities of international ecommerce, making it a critical component for any fashion brand with a global customer base.

Here are some use cases:

  • International expansion. A brand based in Europe, using EU size standards (e.g., 36-42 for women's clothing), enters the US market. To cater to the US customers, the brand must localize the size chart to US sizes (e.g., converting EU 38 to US 6). This adaptation is essential for customer clarity and satisfaction, reducing the likelihood of returns due to size mismatches.

  • Catering to diverse customer bases. A global online retailer ships globally and lists products from various designers. They implement size chart localization to automatically convert sizes based on the customer's location. For instance, a customer in Japan viewing a UK-designed dress would see sizes in the Japanese sizing system, ensuring the customer can easily find the right fit without manual conversion.

  • Niche markets and specialty sizing. A plus-size fashion brand specializes in sizes that are often underrepresented in standard charts. When expanding to a new market, like moving from the UK to Europe, they localize their unique size chart (e.g., UK sizes 18-30) to the equivalent European sizes (e.g., EU 46-58), ensuring inclusivity and accessibility in the new market.

  • Marketing and customer education. During regional marketing campaigns, a brand highlights the fit and sizing of their products as per the local sizing standards. For example, a campaign in Australia might focus on how their UK-sized clothing fits Australian customers, with a localized size chart featured prominently in the marketing materials.

  • Bridging cultural and geographical differences. In a collaboration between a Japanese and Italian fashion brand, the resultant clothing line has to accommodate both Japanese and Italian sizing standards. Size chart localization enables customers in both countries to understand and select sizes that correspond to their familiar sizing systems.

For more information about measurement charts in Centra, see this page. For more information about size chart localization in Centra, see this page.

Custom product attributes

Fashion brands running on Centra gain the ability to easily set up custom attributes at the Style, Color, and Size levels, which allows them to showcase their products effectively. This feature enables the use of fashion-specific attributes for products, e.g. material and composition. 

Custom attributes in CentraCustom attributes in Centra

The flexibility to configure complex attributes improves the online experience for shoppers, as brands can showcase products more dynamically. For example, the same product can be shown using models with different body types – depending on the chosen size attribute.

Custom attributes in Centra’s PIM: Specific use cases

Custom product attributes enable fashion brands to provide more detailed, personalized, and relevant product information, improving customer experience, enhancing marketing strategies, and aiding in efficient inventory and data management. 

Here are some example use cases of custom attributes in Centra:

  • A brand focusing on sustainability can use custom attributes to highlight eco-friendly materials, ethical manufacturing processes, or carbon footprint information, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers.

  • For a luxury brand offering personalized products, custom attributes can include options for monogramming, custom sizing, or color choices, providing an exclusive, tailored shopping experience.

  • A sportswear brand can use custom attributes to detail technical specifications like moisture-wicking, breathability, or thermal insulation, catering to customers seeking performance-specific apparel.

For more information about attributes in Centra, see this article.

Collections

With native collection handling, Centra’s PIM allows brands a way to easily set up, activate, and deactivate collections in line with their lifecycle. This functionality ensures that product offerings are always timely and relevant, saving time and resources for brands and allowing them to concentrate more on design and marketing strategies.

Centra PIM: CollectionsCentra PIM: Collections

Collections can be dynamically managed and seamlessly integrated across various customer touchpoints due to the flexibility and scalability of API integrations and headless design. This approach allows fashion brands to effectively adapt their online presence according to changing market trends, customer preferences, and strategic business goals.

The table below presents some use cases:

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Examples
Merchandising and product organization• Seasonal collections • Themed collections • New arrivals and bestsellers
Marketing and promotions• Limited editions and collaborations • Sales and discounts • Gift guides
Customer experience enhancement• Personalized collections • Influencer or stylist-curated collections
Inventory management• Clearance collections • Back in stock collections
International growth• Regional collections • Language and currency-specific collections
Integrations• Products or whole collections based on AI Recommendations (e.g. Depict) • Social media Integrations (social selling tools)
Sustainable and ethical fashion• Eco-friendly and sustainable collections • Charity and cause-related collections

Depict.ai personalization engine in the works: A personalized recommendation section appears when customers add an item to their basket, showing similar items (see our webinar).

Bundles

Centra PIM has native support for product bundles, which enables fashion brands to offer sets of products (such as swimwear tops + bottoms) – or any other customized bundles. This not only allows fashion brands to diversify their product offerings, but also provides opportunities for competitive pricing and promotions, potentially increasing sales and attracting a broader customer base.

Centra supports fixed and flexible bundles. Fixed bundles can be used for products with the same size chart or with ‘One size’ size charts. 

Example of fixed product bundles include:

  • A one-size scarf together with a T-shirt that comes in multiple sizes

  • A two-piece bikini (top and bottom) uses a size chart with multiple size options. Here, they use the same size charts and the same sizes within the size chart. However, the customer can select only one size, so they receive both the top and bottom in the size they select. 

  • A bundle of three T-shirts, each with different prints, uses the same size chart with multiple size options - Small, Medium, Large. The customer selects the size once and receives all three T-shirts in the same size. 

  • A 2-seater sofa with four legs – it uses the same, one-size chart, but the legs are sold in a 2-pack.

Flexible bundles, on the other hand, are meant for multiple products with different size charts, where you can select the quantity from many different variants, allowing your customers to mix and match. Here, examples include:

  • Bikinis. Sold in sets (referred to in Centra as bundles), each including one top and one bottom. Both the tops and bottoms have multiple size options and may use different or multidimensional size charts. For example, the top comes in B, C, or D-cups, and the bottom trousers come in sizes Small, Medium, and Large. Both tops and bottoms also come in different colors and patterns like dotted, striped, plain colors, or printed flowers. In this case, you set up the bundle so that the customer needs to pick one of each – a top and a bottom – to buy a bundled product at a specific price. This makes it possible to select a dotted top in size C with striped trousers in size Small.

  • Men's suits. Packaged with jackets and trousers together at a fixed price, where the jacket uses one size chart (44-54), and the trousers use a two-dimensional size chart where you pick the length (Short, Normal, or Long, or 28-36) and the waist size (24-38). With the different sizes, you can also have variations like colors and fabric. Here, the customer has a wide range of options to select in order to create the bundle at a static, fixed price, as they buy the whole suit and not the two pieces separately, which would result in a different price.

Centra PIM: Bundles menu

For more information about creating bundles in Centra, see this page.

Displays

Centra’s PIM also includes a unique 'Displays' feature, which allows products to be presented differently across various channels or categories. For instance, a product can be presented in different ways in two markets, or differently in the men’s and women’s departments of an online store​​. This flexibility is crucial in fashion ecommerce, where presentation and visual appeal significantly influence consumer decisions and conversions.

Centra PIM’s “Displays” feature allows different presentation of products depending on the selected variant

The Displays feature is particularly useful for marketing a unisex product differently to men and women, or for conducting A/B testing on the storefront with different product display information. This can help brands optimize their online presence based on customer response and preferences.

Here are some use cases of the displays feature:

  • Unisex products targeted by gender. A fashion brand could use the Displays feature to market a unisex jacket differently to men and women. While the product remains the same, the imagery, descriptions, and even the featured reviews could be tailored to resonate with each gender. For men, the focus might be on durability and style, while for women, the emphasis might be on versatility and fashion-forward design.

  • A/B testing for optimal customer engagement. Brands can utilize the Displays feature to conduct A/B testing on their storefront. For example, a brand could experiment with different images, product descriptions, or call-to-action buttons for the same product to see which variation yields better engagement or higher conversion rates. This data-driven approach helps in fine-tuning the marketing strategy.

  • Seasonal marketing strategies. For seasonal products, such as swimwear or winter coats, the Displays feature can be used to modify how these items are presented based on the season. During summer, swimwear could be highlighted with vibrant, sunny imagery and descriptions focusing on beach activities. In contrast, during winter, the same products might be displayed with subdued colors and descriptions emphasizing indoor pool use or resort vacations.

  • Regional customization in global markets. For a brand operating in multiple international markets, the Displays feature allows for the customization of product presentations based on regional preferences. A fashion item might be displayed with different cultural contexts or fashion trends in mind, catering to the tastes and expectations of customers in each specific region.

  • Promotional campaigns and limited editions. When launching promotional campaigns or limited edition products, the Displays feature can be used to create a unique and distinctive presentation for these items. This can include exclusive imagery, special product descriptions, and unique branding elements that differentiate these products from regular stock.

  • Highlighting sustainable practices. For brands focusing on sustainability, the Displays feature can be used to highlight eco-friendly attributes of products, such as organic materials or ethical manufacturing processes. The presentation can be tailored to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, emphasizing the brand's commitment to sustainability.

  • Lifestyle-oriented product showcasing. The feature can be used to create lifestyle-oriented displays, where products are presented in the context of a particular lifestyle or activity. For example, athletic wear could be showcased in an active, sporty context, appealing to fitness enthusiasts.

For more information about Centra’s “Displays”, see this page.

Relations 

Product relations are critical for driving conversion and average order value in both DTC and wholesale settings. Centra uses a rich product relation model, in which all displays that are logically related (e.g., different variants of the same style, or different sizes of the same variant) are automatically related and can be used to drive recommendations. There are standard relations available, for driving both conversion and AOV. Similar products can be related, to recommend alternative styles or variants when a style has been viewed but not added to cart. 

Once a product has been added to cart, x-sell relations can be used to recommend complementary add-on purchases. If you bought a nice tie, maybe you’d like a matching scarf? On top of this, Centra administrators can define any number of additional relationship types, to drive recommendations in all channels. The relations defined in the Centra PIM can either be delivered as-is to the site visitor as recommended products, or fed into an AI personalization engine to further personalize the recommendations based on rich user profiling. 

Display attributes in the Centra PIM

Displays can be related to each other in 3 different ways. All Display relationships are one-way, a two-way mutual relationship between 2 displays are created by 2 one-way relationships in opposite directions.

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Description
VariantThe related Display represents a different Variant of the Same Product (e.g. a different color of the same style. The linked Variant could also come from a different Product, e.g., if the Variant is made out of a different material. The expected frontend behavior is to provide a link to the related Variant, typically using a color or pattern swatch.
SizeThe related Display represents a different Product in a different Size, following a different business logic than the fashion business logic built into Centra. E.g., a bag in a different size or a cosmetic product in a different size. The expected frontend behavior is to provide a link to the related Size, typically under a “different sizes” heading.
StandardThe related Display represents a related Product. The expected frontend behavior is to provide a link to the related Display, typically under a heading such as “Related products.”

It is also possible to configure custom types of relationships between Displays.

Enhanced management of luxury items

The Centra PIM supports product serial numbers, which is particularly beneficial for brands specializing in the sale of high-end, luxury fashion items, accessories and jewelry. This functionality streamlines the management of seriallizable products that have unique identifiers, reinforcing the authenticity and exclusivity of products.

Centra PIM: ‘Serializable product’ box under the ‘Product type’ section

Integration with existing tech setup

Centra's PIM system seamlessly integrates with a brand's existing technology setup. It eliminates the need for manual data entry and scattered product information, syncing product data in real-time across the entire tech stack. This includes ecommerce storefronts, ERP systems, in-store retail applications, and other key integrations​​. Such integration capability is vital for brands seeking to maintain a cohesive and efficient operational structure.

Centralized product management

Centralized product management is key for fashion brands. Centra's PIM system ensures consistent product details, pricing, and availability across various channels, including ecommerce sites and retail stores. This is especially beneficial for brands with large product catalogs, simplifying the management process and maintaining uniformity in product presentation.

Customer experience

The PIM system plays a crucial role in enhancing customer experience. By providing real-time inventory updates, it minimizes the chances of stock discrepancies, ensuring customers always have accurate stock information. This capability also enables quicker product launches and updates, essential in the fast-paced fashion industry.

Improved operational efficiency

Operational efficiency is significantly improved with Centra's PIM system. It streamlines workflow by reducing manual data entry and the potential for errors. The integration with ERP systems and other operational tools automates various processes, including order management, supply chain logistics, and financial reporting, contributing to overall operational excellence.

Data-driven decision making

With comprehensive product data, fashion brands can make data-driven decisions. This rich data supports the analysis of sales trends, customer preferences, and market dynamics. It also empowers brands to create personalized marketing and sales strategies, targeting customers more effectively based on detailed product insights.

International expansion

For brands looking to expand internationally, the PIM system is invaluable. It supports multi-language and multi-currency functionalities, simplifying the adaptation of product information for different markets. Additionally, it ensures compliance with the regulatory and cultural standards of various international markets, facilitating smoother global expansion.

Omnichannel retailing

Centra's PIM system fosters seamless online-offline integration, crucial for omnichannel retailing. It aligns the online shopping experience with in-store retail, offering connected store functionalities like buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS). This integration also enhances cross-channel marketing efforts, leveraging consistent product information across platforms.

Sustainability and transparency

In today’s market, sustainability and transparency are increasingly important. The PIM system aids in providing detailed product traceability, including information about sustainability and ethical sourcing. This transparency in product information builds consumer trust and loyalty, which are vital for brand reputation and customer retention in the fashion industry. Thanks to Centra’s deep product model, and the individual tracking of each stock item in Centra, brands running on Centra are ready to support the anticipated European Union regulation on product traceability and transparency as a digital product passport. 

Overall, the integration capabilities of Centra's PIM system are essential for fashion ecommerce brands, offering benefits ranging from operational efficiency to enhanced customer experience and global market expansion.

Conclusion

Centra’s PIM offers a comprehensive and tailored solution for managing fashion products online, enhancing both operational efficiency and customer engagement. Its specialized features are designed to meet the specific needs of the fashion industry, making it an invaluable tool for fashion brands seeking to thrive in the competitive ecommerce landscape.

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