ETIM, ECLASS and Co. - What You Should Know About Classification Standards in eCommerce

Classification systems such as ETIM or ECLASS simplify the exchange of product data between different countries, industries, and languages and have become an indispensable part of today's product management. In this blog article, you will learn what such systems are all about and how they differ. We will also show you how Pimcore and classification systems work together in practice.

What is a classification? And what is it good for?

A classification has the task of providing a uniform grid to structure and organize product data and to create clarity. This enables a consistent and unambiguous description of products. In addition to the clear identification of a product, a classification should also be able to classify it in a group structure so that it can be compared with other products and processed together.

ETIM, ECLASS, UNSPSC & Co. - The most important classification standards at a glance

These abbreviations stand for classifications of various initiatives, associations, and federations with different interests and origins. The common goal: to optimize the technical processing of product information from different suppliers by standardizing data structures and content. In addition, they can be used for omnichannel derivation, e.g., to provide product configurators, eCommerce solutions, digital platforms, etc. with uniform product data. Let's have a first glance at the most common classifications standards (also known as classification systems):

ETIM

The Electrotechnical Information Model is used for the standardized, electronic exchange of product data in electrical engineering (electrical installation products, consumer electronics, and household appliances) and related industries such as HVAC and plumbing. Over time, the scope has expanded to include product information requirements for building information modeling (BIM). The previous proficl@ss classification standard was fully transitioned to ETIM (version 8.0) in 2020. ETIM is structured in such a way that its use for other industry standards, for example, ECLASS, is easily possible and facilitated.

ECLASS

ECLASS is an international, widely used data standard for the classification of products and services. It enables product master data to be exchanged digitally across all borders - across industries, countries, languages, and organizations. The ECLASS standard has grown significantly in recent years and currently contains more than 45,000 classes and nearly 52,000 keywords (version 11.0). Watch the following video to get a detailed insight.

GPC - GS1

Global Product Classification (GPC) is one of many standards published by GS1 (Global Standard 1) since 2003 and is part of the Global Data Synchronisation Network (GDSN). GS1 assigns the GTIN - formerly EAN - and other unique identifiers of products, locations, and assets. The focus of this non-profit organization lies in the retail sector (apparel, food, CPG).  

As a result of the development in the United Nations, the standard is particularly widespread in the English-speaking region. In addition to the classification level, GPC also has lists of characteristics as well as values and can thus be used for the description of products. Currently, about two million companies use GS1 standards. Visit GS1 to learn more about how GPC works.

USNPSC - United Nations Standard Products and Services Code

Developed in 1998, this is a classification standard that is very widespread on the US market and originates in the field of merchandise management. The standard offers the possibility to clearly assign all products and services. The "IDEA Electrical Attribute Schema" can also be used to standardize characteristics to a limited extent. Get more information on the website of USNPSC.

Why are classification standards used?

Now that we have outlined the most common standards, let's take a look at the advantages of classification standards. As described at the beginning, they facilitate the exchange of product data significantly. The use of classification standards also brings other advantages along the entire value chain.

Some benefits at a glance:

  • Electronic catalogs and virtual marketplaces make it easier to find products.
  • Significant cost savings can be achieved by streamlining purchasing, inventory management, and distribution, consolidating large orders, and streamlining the portfolio.
  • Increased communication efficiency with all stakeholders.
  • Up-to-date, complete, and accurate product data across the supply chain. Leading to higher quality, better service, fewer errors, and happier customers!
  • The use of consistent processes, automated interfaces, and standardized product information leads to improved performance, ROI, and time-to-market.
  • Improve the foundation for strategic decision-making through the use of data that is harmonized, processed in a useful way, and shared with customers and partners.

The implementation of a suitable classification standard

In addition to choosing the appropriate classification standard, the focus lies on the actual implementation in the company and in the business processes. 

In general, it is advisable to obtain support from specialists for this purpose and to use suitable tools and systems. The question of how deeply a classification and its features should be anchored in product data management arises early on. Does the entire ERP system have to be converted? What needs to be done when a version of the standard is changed? This brochure gives a good overview of the different approaches (DE only).

Michael Grothe, CEO of twocream and Pimcore Gold Partner has explained in this guest blog article, why the use of ETIM or ECLASS is worthwhile and how the integration of such a classification system in Pimcore can look like.

Product data and classifications

Editing text, media, static attributes, and relationships are key features of Pimcore. The classification store allows you to create advanced classification systems and assign key or value data attributes to your data. Enterprise Product Information Management provides structure mappings to your product data based on industry-specific classification systems such as ECLASS, ETIM, or GPC.

Learn more about Pimcore PIM 

Pimcore & classification systems in practice

W.EG - Würth Electronics

W.EG. is the electrical wholesale business unit of the Würth Group, one of the leading electrical wholesalers in the European market. When looking for a centralized PIM solution for its several million product data in seven languages from nine companies, W.EG chose Pimcore and its strategic partner Divante for the implementation. They also used the classification standard ETIM. 

See case study

Stanley Black & Decker

Stanley Black & Decker France is the French subsidiary of the world's leading tool manufacturer. Due to the high number of stakeholders, Stanley Black & Decker was forced to provide the data of their more than 200,000 products from five different locations in different formats.

For this, our Strategic Partner Datasolution designed a complex product model that could handle data imported from SAP and Hybris as well as the required fields for normalized ETIM and FabDis formats. More than 53,700 technical attributes, including 6,800 attribute groups, were initialized and 15 different object types were created.

See case study

JÄGER DIREKT

JÄGER DIREKT is an owner-managed German manufacturer and wholesaler of electrotechnical products, systems, and services. The core of the assortment is formed by the own brands produced in Germany, to which many other trade goods of well-known manufacturers have been added. Our solution partner Intera has merged more than 10,000 products and variants in Pimcore and classified them using the latest ETIM standard. Learn how to incorporate ETIM into Pimcore's Classification Store.

See step-by-step guide

Want to learn more about Pimcore or how to implement a classification system?

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Antoine Hauger
  • Marketing & Partner Manager
6 articles by this author

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