A few weeks ago, we published a blog about how to improve your product rankings on Amazon.com. As we mentioned, a large percentage of shoppers—online and offline—start their product search on Amazon. However, we all know that not all shoppers have the same shopping habits. Not only do you need to pay attention to how your product stories are rendering on Amazon, but also you need to monitor your product information on other sites and search engines—and one of these, of course, is Google. A survey by PowerReviews earlier this year concluded that while Amazon, at 38% of respondents, is the preferred online search vehicle for product search, Google is a close second, at 35%.
Many shoppers, especially those that are Amazon Prime Members who enjoy free shipping on many items on the Amazon site, find shopping on Amazon to be convenient. Many products have multiple reviews and there are frequently multiple sellers for a given product, enabling price and shipping comparisons.
However, Amazon may not actually boast the best product or price options, especially for those shoppers without Prime membership. Likewise, product information found on Amazon.com may be inconsistent and limited by keyword search terms. In contrast, Google’s keyword and algorithmic power can provide shoppers with product options from a variety of retailers—a selection that rivals what is found on Amazon. When shoppers limit themselves to just one shopping site, they may be limiting their product knowledge and options.
When shoppers search on Google, they can find the best products and prices more quickly. For example, when shopping for an “ugly Christmas sweater” for my husband, I searched on Amazon and found this one for $29.99:
However, when I searched for this same sweater on Google, I found the same item for $24.50 on another site. Normally, I wouldn’t be so price-sensitive, but in this case, since I was purchasing a “gag” item, I wanted to spend as little as possible!
Not only may Google provide you with lower price options for your product search, but also Google provides local inventory listings from retailers that are physically located near you. Considering that most retail transactions still take place in a physical store, this information is very useful to shoppers. For last minute gift-buying, this information could be a deciding factor.
Another benefit for shoppers is the better product information they will likely find on Google. Since Google Shopping is a “pay to play” service, requiring retailers to purchase Product Listing Ads (PLAs), retailers may be more inclined to ensure that up-to-date and accurate product information—in terms of imagery, pricing, and product descriptions—is being presented. For manufacturers that participate in Google Manufacturer Center, better product information is pretty much guaranteed due to the tools and analysis that Google provides.
The take-away here is that shoppers can be unpredictable with respect to how and when they conduct a product search. We can provide you with behavioral data and statistics all day long, but to reach the individual shopper, you need to monitor all the channels where your products can be found so that you can meet those personalized needs as they arise. Each individual shopper has unique habits and preferences—where they begin their product search (Google versus Amazon versus retailer), what their criteria are (price versus convenience, for example), and what their timeline and delivery preferences are. Therefore, you need to have accurate, complete, and compelling product information available on every channel to ensure that you can be found and considered, each and every time a shopper searches for your product.
As we embark on 2017, check back with inRiver for more on this topic. We will have additional blogs and webinars to help you create great product stories, raise the visibility of your products and your brand, and stay abreast of your competition and the latest tools and trends. In addition, we will share information about our relationship with Google Manufacturer Center and our connector to that helpful portal.
Register now for our first webinar of the year where we will explore some key eCommerce trends for 2017!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver
Online shopping is increasing as a percentage of overall retail transactions every year. Even higher-priced and bulky items, such as furniture, appliances, and other home goods, are taking place online. In fact, according to an eMarketer report published in October 2016, U.S. retail ecommerce sales of home furnishings grew more than 15% in 2015 to nearly $27 billion. Because shoppers are becoming more comfortable making these large purchases using smartphones and tablets, furniture manufacturers and retailers are realizing that they, too, must address the needs of the online and mobile shopper.
According to a newly published report from Forrester research, home furnishings is one of the retail categories that has a high level of web-influenced offline sales. The report states that, “The day when almost all products are 100% web-influenced is rapidly approaching.” What this means for furniture retailers is that they must focus more on the accuracy, completeness, and searchability of their online product information. When shopping for long-term décor for their homes, consumers need compelling product stories to assist them in their search.
Jordan’s Furniture Put Customer Experience First
For nearly 100 years, residents in New England have come to rely upon Jordan’s Furniture for the largest selection of brand-name furniture and mattresses. Peter Clark, Vice President of Information Systems, shared how Jordan’s Furniture has stayed on top, with the support of great product information software and efficient processes. “We were searching for a product information management (PIM) solution that would integrate with our current web solution. Perficient brought inRiver PIM to our attention.”
inRiver PIM allows the Jordan’s team to pull the basic product information from the host ERP system, enrich it, and prepare it to be channel-ready—significantly reducing the time it takes to load new product information onto the website. Jordan’s CIO lauded, “Perficient implemented significant changes to our website strategy and…I'm pleased with the value we realized.”
Additional results include improved site search, product indexing, and page load times, and a newly-designed robust online shopping experience. “When we compare the way we made changes in the past to how we do it today, we are more than 30% faster. An unexpected benefit has been providing our customers with really great information, telling them everything we know about our products. To this day, inRiver PIM provides great value and ROI.”
Wehkamp Improves Time-to-Market
Wehkamp, the biggest online department store in the Netherlands, is also seeing growth in its eCommerce sales of home furnishings and large appliances. When the Dutch retailer was looking for a system to meet their needs for next-generation product information management, they also selected inRiver. inRiver has allowed the company to become more agile and speed time to market. “We can do more with the same people in less time,” Wehkamp's Manager Marketing Technology Development, Gerhard van der Bijl told us. “inRiver is ahead of the market for PIM technology. In the future, we will combine insights from PIM with other insights for better customer experience.”
Let inRiver Bring Comfort to your eCommerce Platform
Together with our partners, inRiver has helped guide furniture companies, and other retailers around the world, as they strive to provide their buyers with an exceptional online customer experience. Deploying inRiver PIM helps these companies provide compelling product information and tell exciting product stories about how shoppers can find products to enhance the homes they love. Our partners work with us to connect inRiver to internal systems and external channels to get product information into consumers’ hands—at the moments when they need it—and to provide a seamless and enjoyable purchasing experience.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver
As a part of a very fast-moving and trend-sensitive business, sports retailers face increasing demands from highly engaged and truly social customers that want to connect with them across many channels. For you as the sports retailer ― at times managing tens of thousands of products per season ― you must not only bring products to the market quickly with all the right marketing assets, but also understand your customers and provide them with a unique and exciting shopping experience that builds trust and keeps them coming back.
So how can you keep a swift pace and stay ahead while still informing your customers with compelling stories about the products they are looking to buy?
Let’s first take a look at how sports & recreational shoppers behave. According to AgilOne’s research, 43% of sports shoppers prefer to conduct research online, compared to only 30% that research in-store and 20% who do not do any research before purchasing. 46% are still drawn into the store to make the purchases, while about 32% make their purchases online. This, however, varies according to market: in the UK, 55% of shoppers purchase their sports goods online (http://www2.agilone.com/blog/sports-retail-trends-snapshot). This suggests that your sports & recreational shopper is likely to conduct their research in more than one channel; one in five will not research at all, and between a third and half (at least in the UK) will make the actual purchase online.
If you connect and engage with your sporting goods customers and coordinate your marketing to be consistent across all your channels, you can create an inspiring customer journey that gives your customers the information they are craving. When your store reflects your eCommerce experience, which in turn reflects your email marketing and also reflects your printed matter, you can create a 360-degree view of your products that is consistent and inspiring everywhere your customer wants to connect with you.
To create this exciting customer journey ― while still maintaining full control over your entire product range― you can manage all your product information and digital assets efficiently with the help of a PIM (Product Information Management) system. By perfecting all your product marketing in one single system that enables you to create, plan and publish it, you can reach all your channels with the same consistent message and experience. You can also adapt your marketing efforts to fit the needs of specific channels, yet still trust that the product information is up-to-date.
Our customer, the sports goods retailer Stadium, decided to rise to the challenge and implement PIM. With PIM, Stadium staff can create and manage product information and digital resources while maintaining a consistent style, look, and feel across all channels. Not only did this dramatically reduce production costs, it also improved the quality of their marketing material, enhanced the customer experience, and increased sales. The PIM system made it easy for Stadium to guide customers with images, text, and videos, providing the best possible service regardless of where customers wanted to interact with them.
When you can swiftly handle product texts, images, videos, comparisons, similar products, related products etc. within one system, you can update the information in all your channels with just one click. Since all channels receive information from the same system, you can trust that your customer experience is consistent, regardless where and how your active customers connect with you.
Annette Ståhlberg, Content Manager, inRiver