Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Achieve Product Relevancy in Omnichannel Commerce

Strategy / Technology

When selling products, services and goods, commerce companies should expect that the educated consumer is the norm. It’s clear that consumers have incredible access to information, technology and choice and as a result, companies are maximizing the potential of their products by having the right data.

What is the “Right” Data?

For starters, quality data is complete and meaningful to your consumers. It reflects their interests. With the rise of Amazon Prime and other online marketplaces, the number of in-store purchases have decreased dramatically. Consumers expect information that will substitute the in-store experience but provide all the relevant details. For example, let’s look at the shopping experience for a backpack. I might be interested in product details such as fabric, durability, maximum weight capacity and color. Do I care that it has a slot of a headphone cable or an extra mesh pouch? That depends.

This is where data collection and analysis enable you to understand your audience. Be prepared to collect enough data on your products that your company can effectively personalize marketing across different audiences – parents buying for a child, a professional looking for an alternative laptop case, or hiking enthusiast. What about shipping weight? It may not seem important on the surface – but if you are selling B2B or shipping internationally this data matters as well. Having the right data is more than just collecting everything you can about a product. Marketers should be looking to identify what data matters most to each of the types of customers they are marketing to as opposed to fitting as many details as they can on screen about a product. Customers need to be able to find the most valuable information as quickly and easily as possible and not all customers should be treated alike because the definition of what the most valuable information changes based on audience.

Clean and Consistent Data Powers Omnichannel

Omnichannel marketing is a reality. Providing shoppers with a consistent view of the same product across channels is essential to building consumer confidence and trust. If either is broken, consider it a lost opportunity. Its not uncommon to view the same product on two or more marketplaces and to spot inconsistent product detail information. It may seem small but variances in material or weight can make a difference to the buyer.

Clean consistent data across all product channels is a must. In a crowded eco-system of thousands of products and different systems to help manage them it is all too tempting to use something like an ERP and begin using it as a central source of truth. This can lead to many other processes that get bolted on the add data or vex it into a different form depending on the channel – mobile, web, print, etc. With each one of those comes another process or system of responsibility. This is where maintaining a single view of the product gets skewed and managing this data becomes impossible.

Enter PIM – Product Information Management

How do we solve this situation? For starters, a good analysis of your products should be done. Are there gaps in data? Is there duplicative or conflicting information out there about your products? Identify the unique data needs of your consumers and channels. Identify what systems are at play that house and serve this data. Are there any inefficiencies to be found? For example, HTML that is stored for a web presentation of a product with a separate process that strips it out when it is fed to a mobile channel? Where are all your assets for your products located? Are they on file servers? In the cloud? Both? Lastly, who manages this data? Do you need to request a change by your IT department to marketing copy on a product? As the modern marketer can see and has experienced – it gets complicated fast.

A PIM (Product Information Management) is a system designed to centralize your product marketing data, ease maintenance of that data and ensure the right products and respective information makes it in to the proper channel to be consumed. It is essential in system architecture for product focused marketing to help stream line process, consolidate collateral and improve overall data quality and management.

In the end, having a PIM can be a game changer but only when combined with quality data that is complete and meaningful to your consumers.

Connect with Justin Bradley, Solutions Architect, CMS/Commerce on LinkedIn and  on Twitter @jbsitecore.