In order to increase sales and improve the efficiency of marketing measures, companies are more and more often using innovative software, including PIM systems. Today there are already over 50 solutions on the market that deal with PIM functionality. The choice isn’t easy. In this article, I focus on comparing open source PIM systems, because nowadays they provide a really good alternative to other paid solutions, even for Enterprises.
PIM systems worth mentioning are the following: Pimcore, Akeneo and AtroPIM. These PIM software systems are web-based and can be used with any modern browser. All three systems have REST API and are thus ideally equipped for data exchange with third-party systems such as CRM, ERP, WMS, CMS, shop systems or others. All three systems can be extended with free or paid modules.
In this comparison, I focus particularly on costs, features, usability and support. Although the mentioned open source PIM software solutions when compared have many similarities, there are also many differences, especially in the features. I hope this article will serve as a good basis for many PIM users to choose a "right" PIM system.
Akeneo - as an open source e-commerce PIM system
Akeneo came on the market as a French start-up in 2013. Today Akeneo offers three PIM software editions: Community Edition, Enterprise Edition and Cloud Edition. The Community Edition is open source, free and intended as a solution for PIM beginners. The Enterprise Edition offers more features out of the box and is rather aimed at the larger retail or manufacturing companies looking to increase the work effectiveness of their own marketing and product departments.
Akeneo is very active in the marketing and over the last five years has managed that almost every online retailer heard at least once this name before. The first version of Akeneo was still built on OroPlatform, because of too many performance problems the concepts were changed and in the currently valid second major version nothing is left of it.
The new version shines with new user interfaces (UI) and provides good performance, without the need to carry out any tuning measures (as before). The main focus of the second version was placed on Akeneo usability and simplicity of user interfaces, which unfortunately partially led to the limitation of functional expandability.
The users of Akeneo CE quickly reach the functional limits and are forced to buy the Enterprise version and / or find a PIM agency that can implement the additional technical requirements, which in the end can also be quite expensive.
The most important unique selling points of Akeneo are:
- Focus is on online retailing and e-commerce
- Very simple and intuitive user interfaces
- Higher level of awareness
- Large community and many modules
AtroPIM - as a modern and flexible open source PIM system
AtroPIM was released in 2020 and is the newest open source PIM software on the market. AtroPIM is based on the AtroCore Platform, which was created as a fork of EspoCRM that as well as Akeneo is being developed since 2013. AtroPIM is based on a modular, service-oriented software architecture, which is 100% API-controlled (API-centric software architecture). This allows to connect the system to third-party systems faster and to develop it further, because no separate API as e.g. for Akeneo must be developed. AtroPIM is free and is distributed uniformly under GPLv3 license.
Thanks to the fact that AtroCore Platform was developed as a common platform solution for business software development, AtroPIM is extremely flexible in terms of data model, expandability and development possibilities. Because all CRM entities and functions have been retained in AtroPIM, you can activate them and use the system as PIM and CRM in one instance at the same time. AtroPIM offers users an innovative Module Manager to manage the purchased and / or individually developed modules more efficiently, because here the dependencies between modules and their versions are considered. It allows to reduce the number of conflicts and to update the system faster and more efficiently.
Thanks to the high flexibility, AtroPIM can be used equally well by production companies and brands as well as wholesalers and online retailers. The necessary changes do not always have to be programmed, because entities (including all fields), their relations and layouts can be completely configured by an administrator. The customizations that cannot be configured can still be programmed additionally.
The most important unique selling points of AtroPIM are:
- Responsive design
- High flexibility in the data model, highly configurable
- High flexibility of extension options
- Fully-fledged platform for business software, expandable with CRM and ERP functions
- Service-oriented software architecture
Pimcore as a comprehensive open source PIM, MDM, DAM, CMS and e-commerce solution
Pimcore was created in 2010. Today, this solution is the oldest and most widely used of all Open Source PIM systems. Pimcore is currently (as of 2018) at more than 80,000 companies in use and offers much more than just a PIM system, because with the user gets a lot at the same time: PIM / MDM (Product Information Management and Master Data Management), CMS (Web Content Management), DAM (Digital Asset Management) and eCommerce features directly out of the box.
Pimcore comes in a single edition. The functional areas can be activated or deactivated separately. Pimcore is free and available under the Open Source GPLv3 license and the proprietary PEL (Pimcore Enterprise License) license. The latter allows to use the Professional Services of Pimcore.
Pimcore, like AtroPIM, is based on a modular, service-oriented software architecture - all functionalities are implemented via native PHP API und REST API. As a content, data management and multichannel publishing suite, Pimcore allows to manage any type of content - from documents and images to the most complex product information.
The most important unique selling points of of Pimcore are:
- All-in-one solution
- Broad range of functions - PIM / MDM, DAM, CMS, E-Commerce
- Service-oriented software architecture
- Fully fledged platform for business software, expandable
AtroPIM, Pimcore and Akeneo: PIM systems comparison
In this table you will find an overview of the most important functions and features of AtroPIM, Pimcore and Akeneo.
AtroPIM as an Akeneo alternative
AtroPIM vs. Akeneo – Costs
One of the most important parameters in system selection is the cost. Even if the open source systems are license-free, there will be costs for implementing the system and subsequent support and maintenance. Because that AtroPIM is a generally more flexible solution with many configuration options, the implementation costs will be lower than Akeneo's, also the time to market will be shorter. Running costs are similar in both systems and will depend more on usage intensity, but for Akeneo you should rely on an agency independent of Akeneo (if you want to use Akeneo CE), by AtroPIM you get support directly from the product developer. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by AtroPIM is generally lower than by Akeneo, which is a clear advantage of AtroPIM.
AtroPIM vs. Akeneo – Features
The features of the Akeneo Community Edition are those of AtroPIM in many ways. The additional features of the Akeneo Enterprise Edition are available in AtroPIM either directly from the box or they can be retrofitted with additional AtroPIM modules. For both systems it is possible to extend the functions using additional modules, but today Akeneo offers more modules than AtroPIM.
Compared to Akeneo, AtroPIM offers, among others, the following functional advantages:
- Configurable dashlets and dashboards
- Flexible data model thanks to configurable entities and relations
- Configurable layouts and better filtering options
- Portals: retailer portal, supplier portal and other portals
- Better organized cooperation possible
- More advanced authorization concept
- More features related to product management
- AtroPIM can be quickly expanded with CRM and ERP functions.
AtroPIM vs. Akeneo – Usability
Both systems have set themselves the task of providing the end user with excellent usability - but this task was understood and implemented differently. By Akeneo, the user interfaces have been highly simplified, by AtroPIM it was attempted to create a universal and easily extensible UI with optimal space distribution.
The UIs of AtroPIM are more complicated than of Akeneo, but you can quickly adapt to them and benefit from the many additional options. Unlike Akeneo, AtroPIM offers responsive design and works equally well on tablets and smartphones. With AtroPIM, absolutely all possible additional functions can be implemented on existing interfaces without having to search for space for new functions or buttons for a long time.
AtroPIM vs. Akeneo – Support
Although Akeneo currently scores with a larger Community, Akeneo itself offers support only for Enterprise Edition customers. This one is pretty expensive. The users of the Akeneo Community Edition are referred to external service providers who do not always have enough competence for the system. The users of Akeneo EE should expect monthly costs from 2,000 euros.
Support and maintenance for AtroPIM is generally cheaper, the cheapest support package costs only 190 euros per month, other support packages cost 290 and 490 euros per month.
AtroPIM as Pimcore alternative
AtroPIM vs. Pimcore – Costs
As the most complicated open source PIM system, Pimcore will also claim the highest implementation costs. Also, the implementation of new features can be more expensive with Pimcore than with AtroPIM because of Ext JS Framework.
Pimcore is more geared towards larger users and more suitable for users who want to solve the tasks in the areas of PIM, MDM, CMS, DAM and e-commerce at the same time. If you want to add features in AtroPIM from the areas of CMS and online store, it will cost more than by Pimcore, because Pimcore has already these features.
AtroPIM vs. Pimcore – Features
Pimcore is primarily an all-in-one solution. If you need an all-in-one solution for PIM, MDM, CMS, DAM and e-commerce, Pimcore will be a better alternative than AtroPIM. Whether an all-in-one solution is a really good solution, you should decide for yourself. A distributed system architecture, while using a separate system for each functional area, may have its own advantages, because an all-in-one solution will never be as good in one area as standard software developed specifically for the area. So Magento, Shopware or OXID will be a generally better shop system than an e-commerce module of Pimcore.
When comparing AtroPIM with Pimcore, each system has its own strengths:
- Configuration of layouts, entities and relations is much easier in AtroPIM.
- Both systems offer the possibility to create portals – by Pimcore the portals can be implemented as fully fledged B2B websites, by AtroPIM the same user interfaces are used for portals as for the main application.
- AtroPIM has a full-fledged CRM module, which offers as CRM much more possibilities as by Pimcore.
- Pimcore offers much more functions in the DAM area.
- Pimcore also offers the modules for e-commerce and CMS, AtroPIM has nothing to offer in these areas yet.
- Both systems shine above all as software ecosystems with corresponding advantages for further development and individualization.
AtroPIM vs. Pimcore – Usability
Unfortunately, Pimcore's user interfaces cannot be described as intuitively understandable at all, this is the clear consequence of system complexity and the use of Ext JS Framework, because no system can be both complex and intuitively understandable.
Pimcore still complies with the UI standards from the early 2010s, and at that time the solution was really modern and innovative.
Unlike AtroPIM, Pimcore also does not offer responsive design, structure of the interface will never allow it, currently Pimcore is understood and developed further as a clear desktop app. It’s necessary to attend some training before using Pimcore. The use of the system may be very stressful for the users, who should use it only from time to time.
The user interfaces of AtroPIM are more modern and understandable. The space distribution and the information overview are really good.
AtroPIM vs. Pimcore – Support
Both systems offer paid support. Paid support by Pimcore includes the use of a commercial license. The code of the Pimcore system remains 100% free, just like by AtroPIM. Both providers offer SLA Agreements. Pimcore users should expect monthly maintenance and support costs starting at $ 2,000 (if the fixed price model is applied), AtroPIM offers support packages for 90,190 and 490 euros. Other maintenance contracts can also be negotiated.
Pimcore vs. Akeneo
The comparison of Pimcore with Akeneo is basically similar in many ways to the comparison between Pimcore and AtroPIM.
The implementation costs for both systems can be highly dependent on the needs of the user. In this relation, the functional comparison may make more sense, because both systems solve different tasks and in different ways. The running costs for the Akeneo Enterprise Edition, which also offers more features than the Community Edition, will be higher overall than by Pimcore.
Because Pimcore is a unified solution for PIM, MDM, CMS, DAM and e-commerce in one instance, Akeneo cannot compete here. For a larger user, the Akeneo Enterprise Edition may be better, because only in this edition, there are e such enterprise features as workflows, approvals, and versioning that are directly available by Pimcore.
The users of Akeneo are definitely not overloaded with too many features and buttons like in Pimcore. For some application cases the user interfaces of Akeneo will seem too simple - that's what every potential PIM user should decide for themselves.
Akeneo offers support only for the Enterprise Edition, Pimcore, in contrast, offers professional service for all users. Support costs for Pimcore will be overall higher than for Akeneo CE due to the complexity of the system, but can be lower than for Akeneo EE.
As cost- and license-free solutions AtroPIM, Pimcore and Akeneo offer a lot to the user. Of course, every system has its own advantages and disadvantages, and every potential user should decide which solution suits him better. A professional advice is here highly recommended.
First and foremost, Pimcore scores as an all-in-one solution, and is the best suited for those users who want to organize PIM, MDM, DAM, CMS and e-commerce processes through a single system. But if to focus only on the classic tasks of PIM system, AtroPIM or Akeneo may be better alternative. In contrast to Akeneo, AtroPIM, like Pimcore, was created as a platform to develop various business software and is better suited for functional development. AtroPIM is much more flexible than Akeneo and definitely offers more features and capabilities than the Akeneo Community Edition, also in comparison to the Akeneo Enterprise Edition AtroPIM has more to offer more in some places, but it requires purchased modules. In a TCO-comparison (Total Cost of Ownership) AtroPIM will be a clear winner. If your employees find the AtroPIM or Pimcore UIs too complicated, then Akeneo is the right solution for you.
As the newest solution, AtroPIM offers features that none of the PIM systems offer in either paid or free versions and can even keep up well with many paid solutions. As a new free alternative to Akeneo or Pimcore, AtroPIM provides production and trading companies with innovative PIM software on a high level.