PIM meets... Home builder

Good product data and its management are existential for success in online retail. Product information management systems are used for management. Product data are information about products, for example master data, numbers, sizes or assets. But what about non-physical products or use cases that go beyond the standard example of an online store for fashion? We think that the possible uses of a PIM system are so versatile that we will give space to different use cases and present them in this series of articles.  

A PIM is a good basis for builders who want to offer their customers the possibility to assemble their dream house from the comfort of their own home. Two birds can be killed with one stone: Not only are the customer's ideas documented, but it is also possible to create matching material lists at the same time. The feature product relationships makes this possible.

To be more concrete: Octavia wants to expand her home and plans to work with a larger construction company. After visiting model houses, she is given access to a configurator that she can use to put together her dream house. She can choose from 25 different building types. To get to this product, customers have to work their way through a list of different choices. These choices are maintained by the builder in the PIM as attributes of a family and sorted into attribute groups. The choices that customers ultimately see in the configurator are mapped via variants.  

This screenshot shows the attribute groups "construction" and "Facade". The individual attributes for facades are provided with variants. Thanks to this feature, customers can choose from various options in the configurator.

This screenshot shows the variants of the attributes clinker, windows, doors, flooring, wall finishing and switch material. The individual variants are maintained manually and separated with a comma. .

Octavia chooses the detached single-family house with flat roof and double garage. In the PIM, the house types can be sorted into catalogs for a quick overview. E.g. detached houses, semi-detached houses and bungalows. This tool allows the building company to quickly access their own "products".


This screenshot shows the catalogs detached houses, bungalows, apartments and semi-detached houses with their respective category and product number.


Octavia's second step involves clarifying basic construction issues: Should there be a basement? Does she want a developed attic? For Octavia, there is a toggle ("yes" or "no") and a list selection. In the PIM, these selections are maintained via variants.

All further steps are also solved accordingly: the choice of door frames, tiles, switch material, etc. Octavia and the contractor are both faced with the challenge of numerous decisions. The contractor must create and maintain these decision options so that Octavia is spoilt for choice. Attribute groups provide the greatest possible overview for the contractor.

The work in the PIM in detail would look as follows:  

The "product maintainers" of the construction company create a family in the PIM. In this family, all attributes or selection options of the customers are maintained. These attributes can be sorted into attribute groups, e.g:

1. Attribute house type (list selection: duplex house, family house, Bungalow...)

2. Attribute group finishing  

  • Cellar (list selection: yes/ no/ self-built)  
  • Attic (list selection: completely developed/ unfinished)  
  • Garage (list selection: single garage/ double garage/ no)  
  • Roof (list selection: Flat roof/ Pitched roof/
  • ...

3. Attribute group facade  

  • Clinker (variants: e.g. shape and colors)  
  • Windows (variants: e.g. type and colors)
  • Doors (variants: e.g. type and colors)  
  •  …

4. Attribute group interior fittings

  • Floor covering (variants: e.g. tiles, parquet, laminate...)  
  • Walls (variants: e.g. exposed concrete, fine plaster, wallpaper...)  
  • Switch material (variants: e.g. colors)

5. Attribute group descriptions  

  • Description short (for the overview in the configurator)  
  • Description long (for the detailed view in the configurator)  
  • Assets (images, plans, videos...)
  • Prize

From this family, the construction company can now create products, in our case the finished house.  

  1. For this, the product maintainers assign a name for e.g. "Semi-detached house turnkey with double garage".  
  2. Choose from the list of house types.  
  3. Set the details of the house, in our case: basement, converted attic and double garage.

The screenshot shows the previously created choices for the garage.

  1. The attribute groups with variants can be transferred 1 to 1, since the variants represent the selection for the customers in the configurator.  
  2. If descriptions are entered according to the specifications, assets are uploaded.  
  3. Does the builder set the price for the product "Semi-detached house turnkey with double garage" with basement, converted attic and double garage.

At the end there is our finished product with its choices.  Octavia, as a customer, starts in the configurator at exactly this point and can now gradually work through all the attributes created and make her decisions in such a way that the construction company can turn her dream house into reality.

A product information management system provides a good foundation for contractors and can help manage data for a customer configurator.