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What is the meaning of ETIM? Let's explain it in simple terms...

5-09-2020 by Wayne Jarvis

The number and size of assortments as well as the need for up-to-date and qualitative product information is growing steadily but at the same time the lifespan of products and their time-to-market is also increasingly getting shorter. As a manufacturer or wholesaler, are you increasingly active online and is ETIM new to you? Then read this blog. I’ll try to explain to you in simple terms what the ETIM classification is, how you can classify your products and how you can then share them in your online channels and with your customers.

What is ETIM?

Manufacturers and wholesalers in the electrical and installation engineering, construction and maritime sector having held ETIM workshops and agreed among themselves which product characteristics they define and how to do so. The ETIM classification is the elaboration of those agreements.

In the ETIM classification, all technical products are described on the basis of product groups, classes, characteristics, values and units. I'll explain this to you in the example below in which you can see how, according to ETIM, a claw hammer is described:

Group: Hand tools


: Hammer

Execution : Claw hammer

Material head : Steel

Weight head : X grams

Material handle : Fiberglass-reinforced plastic (GRP)                  

Length : X inch

With nail puller : Yes

Total weight : X grams

The ETIM classification is applied in more than 20 markets worldwide. In the United Kingdom, manufacturers have been working on the English ETIM descriptions for many types of electrotechnical products since 2017. HVAC & Sanitary and Building Materials will also be launched shortly.

What’s the benefit of ETIM to a Manufacturer or Wholesaler?

By defining technical and performance characteristics in a uniform and consistent manner, it becomes possible for B2B buyers to link products to their specific needs. Because different producers of similar products describe their articles in a uniform way, it becomes easier for customers to search articles based on item characteristics and to compare them. 

Manufactures are the owners of their data, they are the data source for technical product information. By describing articles according to the ETIM classification, it becomes possible for manufacturers to exchange detailed product information with wholesalers in an unambiguous manner, thus ensuring efficiency in the chain. 

Providing ETIM data provides the wholesaler with technical and accurate information for them to be able to build facet search filters or via search engine on their web shop, so that the customers can search for products easily. 

Manufacturers who export abroad only need to classify their products with ETIM once. The international network of countries that are part of ETIM International means that translations for other markets are automatically available.

How can I classify my items according to ETIM?

The easiest way to classify product information according to ETIM is with a Product Information Management system (PIM) that is configured with ETIM. In the PIM system the information (usually basic transactional data) is retrieved from the ERP system. Based on product groups and article classes, selections of similar articles can be made in the PIM system. The PIM system then displays the corresponding ETIM feature characteristics and units, including translations and synonyms. The manufacturer can now easily add the corresponding values to the PIM system.

(Would you like to know more about PIM systems? Read my blog: 

5 reasons why every manufacturer should work with a pim system).

How do you deliver ETIM data to wholesalers or data pools?

The PIM system can translate the classified product information into different formats. Via exports, the product information can be delivered in the correct format to Wholesalers and data pools. Product information can also be published in the webshop or webcatalog. Exporting product information to the various channels and buyers can both manually as automated take place from the PIM system. (Would you like to submit product information via EDATA? Then also read my blog: The 5 biggest advantages of combining PIM with the EDATA data pool).

Is ETIM the only product data standard?

Many industries have their own classifications for the uniform description of articles. The ETIM classification is available in 17 languages and is now applied in 21 countries in the electrical and installation engineering, construction (Plumbing, Building materials and HVAC) and maritime sector. In these sectors within Europe ETIM is by far the most authoritative.

In addition to ETIM there are other also standards that are applied (like GS1 and UNSPSC , GTIN/EAN codes, eClass and BIM datamodel) but these serve a different purpose and complement, rather than compete with ETIM.

Classification is a clear way of structuring product data logically. The ETIM model offers such a structure for technical products and thus ensures both quality and uniformity. In this way, the ETIM classification helps manufacturers and wholesalers to provide their customers with up-to-date, qualitative and transparent product information. 

About the author... 

As Business Developer for the UK, Wayne Jarvis builds relationships with UK Distributors, Suppliers and Manufactures in the Electrical industry and helps them to get their Product Information management in order and thus boost their e-commerce.

Having worked for high profile companies, both within the UK and across Europe and in various business sectors (including Electrical, Building Supplies, Health Care and Pharmaceuticals), Wayne brings a wealth of industry experience as well as commercial and eCommerce experience in the B2B and B2C marketplace.


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