In a digital and distributed commerce age, the sales process is moving from the physical stores and traditional marketplaces to the Internet. The digital markets - where people go to seek information and shop for products - are available 24/7 in different forms and shapes. Some are small and niched. Others, like Amazon, are simply huge and omni-present.
In this digital reality, the consumer oversees how, when, and where they purchase products. Thus, Product Marketers in the digital commerce era are urged to provide quality product information in a mix of attracting and converting channels. These channels can be eCommerce sites, marketplaces, printed catalogs, social media, or any other touch point where the consumers are seeking to educate themselves about the products they want to buy.
To meet the increasing demand for product information, you need a system for helping you facilitate the process of getting the information published in a variety of sales channels. This process is often referred to as syndication. Syndication ensures that product content gets exported in the right format, at the right time, to the right place, and in an automated fashion.
Jimmy Ekbäck, Executive Vice President Product & Services, inRiver
Suppose you are setting up a home office and are in need of a new desk. You have a relatively small space to work with, so ensuring that your new desk will fit is critical. You would like to make the most of your space with excellent storage and work area options.
After perusing numerous online furniture sites and offline furniture stores, you find a desk that might work. Now your priority is to get the best price and shipping options and confirm the size and specifications of the desk.
However, when you find what appears to be your chosen desk on several prominent web sites, the product information is not consistent. In each instance, the product has a slightly different brand name, color, and contradictory product dimensions. Pricing for one option is nearly double that of another option. It is also uncertain whether the product will be available and in stock.
Kathy Ireland Home by Martin Carlton 4 Piece L-Shaped Desk Set in Bourbon
$1373List price $1510.49
Martin Furniture Carlton 4pc L-Shaped Desk Configuration in Bourbon
Carlton L-Shape Desk Office Suite by kathy ireland Home by Martin Furniture
$3,010.00 23% Off
Product Dimensions:53“H x 73“W x 78“D
Product Dimensions:78 x 73 x 53 inches
Product Dimensions:72" H x 58" W x 27" D
Color: Brown, Espresso, Chocolate
|In a clear bourbon finish||Desktop Finish: Mahogany|
|Some assembly required||Some assembly required||Assembly Required: Yes|
Each instance of the product has enough significant differences that you begin to doubt your choice. What are the accurate dimensions? How much assembly is truly required? Will the color match your other furnishings?
Not surprisingly, more than 8 of 10 shoppers surveyed are unlikely to trust a retailer or the manufacturer’s brand after detecting inaccurate product information. In addition, more than 50% of consumers trust a manufacturer’s web site more than those of other syndicated retailers.
These data suggest that being able to handle the syndication process of product information is an important requirement of online shoppers. Product information needs to be consistent across all of your retail channels. This builds trust, increases brand loyalty, and boosts customer satisfaction.
What does this mean for you?
If you don’t have a robust and state-of-the-art product information management process in place before syndicating, you may lack the ability to publish consistent and helpful product information across channels that really makes a difference. Your product information needs to answer any possible questions that shoppers may have, at any time, in any place. And it needs to be consistent—always. It is about winning the customer’s attention in every channel, by providing the most relevant information to answer any potential question that they might have—in that moment.
Failing to deliver great product information will lead to a poor customer experience. According to Forrester Research, “Customers rely on comprehensive, accurate data to help guide their purchasing decision…customers use this information to decide whether they can trust the seller and if the product will meet their needs.”
Take a look at inRiver’s white paper, “Product Information from a Single Source: Syndication by inRiver” to learn more about how your marketing organization can guarantee great product information across your channels.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver
The other day, my seventh-grade son walked into my home office to complain that the strap on his saxophone broke, so he couldn’t play it. You may be thinking what I was thinking: “My gosh, they really do come up with creative ways to get out of practicing!”
However, in this case, the problem really was the torn saxophone strap.
Unfortunately, we live in a small town, approximately 45 miles from the nearest music store. Thankfully, we live only seconds away from Amazon.com! When I searched on ‘alto saxophone strap’ 18 pages of choices were presented to me; just two days later, the item arrived on my front porch.
Many of you can likely relate to this story. It is often more convenient to order an obscure item online and wait a couple of days, than to plan a trip to a specialty store. It may even be worth it to wait a couple of days for more commodity items, if you can avoid planning, driving, and perusing store shelves.
As a consumer, I love Amazon, and according to the data below—compiled by BloomReach, Inc. from a survey taken this past Labor Day—I am not alone. Not only are many consumers happy to shop on Amazon, but more than half of online shoppers begin their search on Amazon, completely bypassing Google and Yahoo.
Where customers start their product search (Source: State of Amazon 2016, BloomReach)
As a shopper, I love finding what I need right away on the Amazon marketplace. But as a business person, I recognize the challenges that this trend is introducing for retailers.
Because so many shoppers start their online search on Amazon, being found on Amazon is your top priority. Experienced Amazon sellers know that product titles, descriptions, and product features that include optimized key words provide the best chance of your product being displayed at the top of Amazon’s search results. But before you can do this, you need to have your product information complete, organized, and appealing. Your product information needs to clearly communicate the story that each product is trying to tell.
Here are some quick tips for organizing your product information for better results on Amazon:
First, check out Amazon’s guidelines for product titles. When you are writing your product title, make sure that it includes the most relevant key words for your product—not only those that shoppers search on, but also those that most clearly tell your product’s story. Put these first in your title, with more generic attributes following. This is becoming increasingly important as users search with mobile devices that may truncate your product title.
Product descriptions provide your best opportunity to introduce product messaging and key words to improve your SEO. However, don’t let the need for key words trump your ability to tell your product story. You need to maintain consistency across your channels when describing your product. As your customers shop around to find the best price and shipping rates, they need to be presented with consistent messaging about your product. Find the right balance between your product story and SEO requirements.
Consistency is critical when selecting your most important product features. Having a central store of product information can help you ensure that your information is correct on the Amazon marketplace and all other sites where your products are displayed. For Amazon specifically, choose the most pertinent features that shoppers need to know about to display in this section. And keep telling the product story with compelling copy—after all, it is still “above the fold!”
By first determining the story that you want your product to tell and then following Amazon’s guidelines for key words and formatting, you can get your products to the top of those 18 pages of search results on Amazon.com.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver