I love to ski. Maybe it is the feeling of freedom, the speed, or the cold. Or maybe it is the ability to mimic the feeling of flying—even getting some “air” at times. What I don’t love is when the snow is thick and wet—during the spring, typically—when my skis suddenly slow or even stop as they hit a slushy spot.
That is, I don’t like friction.
In general, friction isn’t popular. Think of all the innovations that inventors have developed to reduce friction—lubricants, sanders, pavers, ball bearings—the list goes on. Think about how the shapes of everyday items have changed over time—the ‘boxiness’ of cars in the 1970s has evolved to today’s streamlined, rounded, sporty crossover.
So, it is no surprise that when customers are in the market for an item—whether online or offline—that they also don’t want to encounter friction.
Where can friction occur?
The first place that customers encounter friction is in their initial search. They type some key words into Google or Amazon and get…nothin’, nada, nyet. The receive pages and pages of results that are not of interest.
Suppose they do receive some relevant results. The next place they can encounter friction is in the product information they are viewing. If it is incomplete, inaccurate, or basically not helpful, their quest to purchase has once again been thwarted.
Another area of friction can be in the shopping cart/purchase process itself. If shipping and return information is inaccurate or hard to find, or if it is difficult to modify the shopping cart, customers may become frustrated and abandon the site altogether.
If your objective is to provide a frictionless, streamlined purchase process for your customers, you must first ensure that you and your products can be found. Do your research so that you are correctly categorizing and describing your products the way your customers do. Don’t assume that the way you organize your customers in your warehouse is the way that your customers think about your products. Make sure you are using the key words and taxonomy from the customer’s point of view.
Next, get your product information in order. That means ensuring that every product tells a compelling story with accurate and concise descriptions, imagery, and supporting data. This requires what we call a “content creation factory,” a process—with supporting tools—that ensures that the product content you are serving up is relevant, timely, and complete.
Last, don’t make it so hard for people to buy from you! There are now so many ways to pay and so many channels where your products can appear. Strategically select the methods and channels which are valued by your customers. Then, streamline the process and make sure that shopping cart and other buying processes are clear and well-documented.
Join the innovators who have worked so hard to alleviate friction in our world. In the meantime, let it snow!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Marketing Manager, inRiver
Nearly 45% of holiday shoppers peruse options serendipitously—both online and offline—to decide what to purchase for friends and family. Forty-eight percent of shoppers still frequent physical stores for the ability to easily see and touch products. If you are a brand manufacturer, if your products are not there—where they can be seen, touched, and clicked—you can be almost certain that you are losing sales and possibly customer loyalty.
So, what can you do?
Streamline product management to get to market faster
Having a central product information management system makes it easy to bring products to market quickly. Your central store of product information can be the home base for the product story, along with all the details and imagery, tagged and categorized according to its place in the assortment. Product and marketing managers can have a single source of the truth and don’t have to waste time compiling information—that may be inaccurate or inconsistent—from disparate sources. They simply share information and export what they need—to every channel where it is needed.
When you have a product information management (PIM) solution, taking a product to market can takes days or weeks instead of months. Your new products can be on the shelf in-store or live on a website and ready to order in hours—and you can scale volume based on demand.
Help customers make purchase decisions
Sometimes it feels like a “race to the bottom.” Your retailers are asking you to lower your prices because they are feeling squeezed by Amazon, online competitors, and other retailers in their quest for market share.
However, you can work with your retailers to help your customers make purchasing decisions. When you have high-quality product information categorized and tagged, it’s easy to show customers how to combine complementary products, select replacement products, or compare products across price points.
You gain a competitive advantage and increase revenue because you and your retailers are providing product information that guides the customer toward the ideal, comprehensive solution.
Build a reputation for reliability
It is common knowledge that keeping a customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one. So, while your sales team is busy getting new business, you can use your product marketing process to ensure that you satisfy the customers you already have.
If the product information that you have provided to your retailers is accurate and complete, your end-customers will know that they can trust that information when they are making purchase decisions—time and again. You will build a reputation for authority and knowledge by providing enriched product stories across channels and markets.
When you have a central source of enriched product information, you have a goldmine of unique and flexible content that’s easy to optimize into product stories for each channel and market. You will rise above the industry standard to achieve a competitive advantage that will serve you well and build brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Marketing Manager, inRiver
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