Tips for Managing Your Product Catalog—Your Customers Will Thank You!
Providing a stellar online customer experience is what sets successful e-commerce efforts apart from more mediocre efforts. Gartner has predicted that, within a few short years, 89% of businesses will compete based on their ability to provide an exceptional customer experience. We have all heard that Millennial business buyers often buy online and prefer that medium to dealing with sales reps. But have you also heard that more B2B buyers begin their product search on sites where they find a broad product selection, but often end their search and make their purchases where they find the best product information?
Here at inRiver, we feel that product information that is findable, correct, relevant, consistent, contextual and desirable contributes significantly to delivering an exceptional customer experience—for both B2C and B2B enterprises. In our latest white paper, Managing Your Product Catalog, we talk more about what each of these terms means.
In this white paper, we discuss some of the most difficult challenges that organizations face when managing product data and content and distributing it out to multiple channels. We take you through five key steps of managing your product information to get it ready for your online store, your distributors and retailers, or your print catalog.
Step 1: Get organized
Step 2: Get the basics in place
Step 3: Enrich product data with additional information
Step 4: Optimize for SEO and search
Step 5: Establish an effective workflow and process
In addition, we provide several real-world case studies that illustrate this approach and the benefits that can be achieved. You will learn from companies like ITW, Primeau Velo, and the Varner Group about their challenges and strategies with respect to digital commerce.
Last, we highlight how inRiver and our Product Marketing Cloud PIM solution can support you in your product information and digital commerce initiatives. Download our white paper to benefit from inRiver’s experience in product information management.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver
It is not surprising that an increasing number of customers—nearly 80%, according to a recent study by Pew Research—begin their product search and selection online. More than half of those surveyed have purchased something using their mobile phones. The main reasons for this surge are convenience and the ability to easily compare product features and cost. However, without these benefits, nearly two-thirds of respondents would prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store.
So, how can you give your customers the best of both worlds? Here at inRiver, we have a few ideas.
Create Endless Aisles
To allow brick-and-mortar shoppers some of the benefits of online shopping, take a page from the digital playbook. Some successful retailers are using information from online channels in their offline marketing and in-store displays, such as presenting Amazon reviews or product ratings on the shelf under the product. Other stores are providing tablets and laptops to allow customers to compare products, view online-only product selections, and check prices.
If a product is out of stock in the store, “endless aisle” technology enables customers to complete an online order quickly while standing next to the shelf. Integrated IT systems mean that customers can return online orders in-store instead of having to mail them back and wait for a replacement or refund.
However, the key to ensuring consistency across these channels in uniformity, accuracy, and completeness in your product information.
Enrich the In-store Experience
There are various ways to use online interactions across the customer journey to drive foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. Store locators, product reservation tools, and click-and-collect options all boost revenue because they help online customers leverage the benefits of the in-store experience.
For a customer who wants to try on a pair of shoes or test an electronic device before purchasing, it is likely that they will visit a local store. And if the product information that they reviewed online becomes a reality in the in-person interaction, you may have won a new customer!
Recognize Your Customers
Many merchants have the goal of not only recognizing customers throughout the buyer journey, but also personalizing, and thereby enhancing, the customer experience. However, it is necessary to first recognize buyers as they visit your store or site.
There are a number of traditional and “low-tech” methods of identifying customers, as well as many innovative and automated methods. For example, cookies embedded in the browser of website visitors “remember” selections made by the user and can attribute these movements back to returning visitors and to specific devices being used to surf the site.
Requesting that buyers opt-in to receive emails is a simple way of identifying existing customers and building a list of shoppers and customers. Recommending products based on previous purchases shows customers that you are paying attention to their preferences. In addition, developing a mobile app or online survey can provide a great deal of data about customers.
Providing in-store WiFi and requiring shoppers to sign in with identifying information is one way to collect information for identifying in-store customers and prospects. With the increasing use of social media and digital payment methods, more data can continue to be collected—adding context and enrichment to both personas and to individual customer profiles.
Once you are able to recognize your customers, you can offer more relevant and contextual content that suits their needs. And if your product information is enriched and accurate, you can upsell and cross-sell more effectively, enhancing each individual’s customized experience.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver
“THAT WAS SUPERCOOOOOL!”
This was just one reaction to the keynote presentations that were featured at PIMpoint Summit 2017.
We had more than 600 partners, customers, and employees attend PIMpoint Summit 2017, which took place April 6 & 7 in Copenhagen. Despite that large crowd, I had a unique opportunity to talk with inRiver’s Executive Vice President, Products & Services, Jimmy Ekbäck to gain his perspective on the event, which was the largest in inRiver history.
“I always believed that this is where we would end up, because that belief is what brought us here,” Jimmy told me. “But, when you take this journey, there are so many moments that could have taken us down different routes and different roads. So, from that perspective, we are fortunate to be here. But I still believe that we are going to go much further. That belief is part of the whole inRiver DNA.”
Addressing the challenges of digital commerce is part of the inRiver DNA and that of our community of partners. “Micro-moments,” the newest buzz phrase in the world of digital marketing, was the theme of this year’s PIMpoint Summit. If you are frequent reader of these pages, you likely know that the term “micro-moments” was coined by Google to describe the intent-driven moments of decision-making that occur throughout the customer journey.
The notion of micro-moments was touched on in a number of the sessions and keynote presentations throughout PIMpoint. Several customers, including CDON.com, Bygma, and TOPS Products discussed their real-world strategies to address complex issues associated with micro-moments and digital commerce.
One popular keynote speaker, House of Harvey Co-founder Pixie Sartang, provided a step-by-step methodology for how to maintain brand visibility and messaging appropriateness as you communicate to your customers across channels. Daniel Levine, Executive Director of the Avant-Guide Institute, took us on a journey into the future, where we explored what trends are going to transform both the business world and our home lives.
We were also honored to present 17 partner and customer awards to 15 recipients—two customers and 13 partners—who have demonstrated innovation and success in their product information management deployments with inRiver PIM. The fun-filled awards dinner not only featured the presentation of these coveted awards, but also a contemporary choir who performed numbers ranging from Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” to inRiver Product Marketing Cloud-inspired covers.
Last, but certainly not least, was the much-anticipated announcement of inRiver Product Marketing Cloud, the latest iteration in our product roadmap. We are proud to introduce the first true multi-tenant Product Information Management (PIM) Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution on the market today. During PIMpoint, inRiver unveiled how B2B and B2C companies can deploy inRiver Product Marketing Cloud to take advantage of the latest in PIM innovation to provide a superior customer experience across all touchpoints through engaging and consistent product stories.
Check back with me soon! I will have more from my conversation with Jimmy and the numerous partners and customers we interviewed at PIMpoint Summit 2017 on these pages in coming weeks.
In the meantime, save your online “seat” at North America Virtual PIMpoint 2017 that will be held on May 25, 2017 in our virtual conference venue. At this virtual event, you will get the best of PIMpoint Summit 2017, as well as new content from North American partners and customers, who will share insights to help you take full advantage of micro-moments.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver Inc