Patrick Niersbach is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Syndigo, an Active Content Engine built to power commerce.
Think about last time you went shopping. Did you do it all online or did you go to a physical store? If you went to the store, did you go inside or have things brought to your car?
The way we shop has changed, due to many factors—increasing prices and inflation, a disrupted global supply chain, the pandemic—plus the pure convenience that delivery can offer. My company helps to deliver that e-commerce customer experience across manufacturers, retailers and distributors, and we’ve seen how some companies have thrived by being more flexible, as well as offering customer-centric options to find and buy their products. This has created a new ecosystem that favors speed and availability—what we call the “real-time economy.”
In addition to shopping in-store, customers can search, purchase and receive products at their doorstep. They can also buy online, pick up in store or have it delivered by a ride-hailing company or professional shopper. There are even options like the drone-enabled Amazon Prime Air or “right now” delivery services like Drizly and GoPuff. The latter came in handy recently when my family was under the weather. We were able to order cold medicine, a Covid-19 test, kombucha and some batteries, delivered 17 minutes after I sent the order. We’re truly living in real time!
So how can companies today keep up? Do the tools they have meet the realities of today’s real-time economy? If not, how can companies find the right tools to meet this need? What questions should they be asking their providers?
Based on what we see with our clients, here are a few realities—and three tips—for choosing how to manage your product-related content and data to meet your customer demands.
Reality check: You aren’t in control.
Brands and retailers may think they are in control of their products, but in reality, it’s the shopper. If an item is not in stock, shoppers often won’t wait. They’re already on to the next listing or buying a similar product. And they’re doing their homework. In fact, 62% of shoppers today search for product information before they buy.
Those choices are influenced by the quality of your data. Think about it: Every product has its own descriptions, dimensions, colors and hundreds of other characteristics plus images. Shoppers rely on this content to make their choices, so when it’s missing or wrong, they head to a different page.
And even when the listing is complete and accurate, there is another step involved with the retailer or marketplace. They have their own unique requirements, and if it doesn’t meet their standards, you might not get listed on the first page of results or at all.
You could manage all this information on spreadsheets, invest in building a system or engage a cloud-based solution provider to capture and connect your product content directly to the retailers you need. Here are a few tips to consider when looking for a content solution:
Tip 1: Understand data quality.
We know that bad data at the input stage results in bad results on the final listing. Despite companies’ best efforts, data can be missing, out of date or just plain incorrect. According to Gartner Inc., companies lose more than $14 million a year because of bad, incomplete or siloed data.
If using a third party, it’s important to ask about the steps they take to ensure accurate information for all uses and standards. Consider whether they have in-house content capturing facilities, the different types and formats of content they create and accept, and whether they have appropriate data science and taxonomy processes to align data to the retailer’s needs.
Tip 2: Ensure your content is connected.
The real power of information happens when it connects to other data to reveal insights. For example, a manufacturer may know how many product units they have, but what makes it actionable is connecting it to location and customer data. That’s what master data management is about: creating a “golden record” across domains to give business owners the power to make decisions effectively.
Then there’s syndication, which is equally important for e-commerce. Since retailer requirements can change often, there is a need to connect in real time (or as frequently as retailers need).
Consider asking your solution partner to identify how many retailers they have preferred status with or a direct, live connection. In addition, consider reviewing the capabilities they have for connecting both internal data management sources and external platforms.
Tip 3: Optimize your results.
Today’s pace of commerce makes it challenging to manually analyze outcomes to make them better. Thankfully there are tools for this. With content that is featured on websites, it is possible to track the performance of different pages to understand what content is performing better. My company analyzes more than a billion product pages every year, and we see a lift of as much as 90% for product pages with enhanced content. But the type of content—whether it’s a feature image with hot spots, a 360-spin or stylized usage photos—also has an impact.
Ask your solution partner about their optimization capabilities. Can they monitor the most effective content types for each of your items by site? Can they track digital shelf data such as competitor pricing or out-of-stocks? By integrating these analytics back through the content ecosystem, you are able to continually optimize for the best results through a perpetual feedback loop.
To be successful in today’s real-time economy, accurate, connected information is central to managing risk and driving more sales. While shoppers are ultimately in control of the sale, both brands and retailers can embrace this opportunity to be prepared and leverage a more complete content management solution to offer the things that consumers want—when and where they want them.