At Wavin, ETIM is not just a classification, but a way to communicate internally

Imagine offering 50,000 different products in 25 different countries. The products are defined by up to 4,000 features, including color, diameter and material. This is the daily reality of Wavin, a leading supplier of plastic pipe systems and solutions. The complexity of their product portfolio propelled Wavin to become one of the pioneers in using the ETIM classification. The standard classification is not only used to map products in external systems through their Product Information System (PIM); ETIM also became the new language that the Wavin product data team uses to communicate internally.

The challenge

Wavin started working with their PIM (SyncForce) ten years ago. “Originally we were only looking for a system to centrally manage digital product assets like images and videos. Until 2008, they were dispersed across the organization in numerous databases and folders. “To be honest, it was chaos,” said Michan Katerbarg. As Manager Digital and E-business Wavin Group he is responsible for all digital client-facing systems, including the website, CRM and Product Information Management.

The much-needed transition to a central database for managing all digital assets revealed additional challenges. “We realized that there was a strong need to unify the way we store and share digital product data. Keeping photos and videos in one place was just a first step. From there, we wanted to link visual content to the associated product data. When we launched a new website in 2013, SyncForce became our central system to manage all product data in one place and share that information through our website and all other external channels, like the websites of our merchants.”

Katerbarg describes the implementation as a ‘gigantic operation’. “It soon became clear that the quality of our product data wasn’t very good. Tasks such as developing price lists and product catalogues were a real hassle.”

Pioneers in ETIM

The solution to this challenge turned out to be embracing ETIM classification. Katerbarg: “This standard product classification helps us to structure product data across all channels. We can now manage all our product data centrally and share it in all our channels. But ETIM also became our new internal language to talk about products; whether they’re based in Germany, Turkey or Poland, everyone uses the same classification. We only fill the data once in the producing country and we can use the automatically translated information in all countries.”

ETIM also offers a commercial advantage, according to Katerbarg: “The construction industry is increasingly familiar with ETIM – from architects and wholesalers to construction and installation companies. Across the process of designing, building and managing real estate, there is a need to work with standardized product classifications. If we as a manufacturer can offer easy access to standardized information about our portfolio, we can increase the likelihood that installers and construction companies will work with our products. It’s as simple as that.”

Wavin is considered a pioneer in the ETIM classification field. “I recently gave some presentations on ETIM during different seminars about standardization across the value chain. We also get a lot of questions from other manufacturers about how we work with ETIM.” It confirmed we made the best choice in classifying our products.

All information around ETIM can be found here: