The World Cup: Everyday PIM Malpractice
If you’re an electronics-loving football fan, you may have used the World Cup as an opportunity to finally buy that coveted new large-screen TV. If you did, you weren’t the only one: In fact, UK retailer John Lewis reported a 47% sales increase on televisions the week of May 31. And, almost without exception, electronics retailers designed special World Cup offers to attract customers.
The World Cup drives a profound number of purchases. These purchases expose a stunning amount of what I call “PIM malpractice.” When there is a sudden surge in online product comparisons, the companies with effective Product Information Management benefit the most. The companies that lack effective PIM lose revenue.
It should be a no-brainer for electronics retailers to make sure their TV category product information is complete and up-to-date. After all, attributes sell. Unfortunately, many retailers still don’t understand the importance of consistent, accurate product information. Product information does sell – especially online, where shoppers go for product research. This is especially true for a spec-heavy tech purchase like a big-screen TV.
Product information has enormous power. When it is accurate and consistent, it has the power to excite and guide shoppers. When it is incomplete or incorrect, product information can create deal-breaking insecurity.
A case in point:
Let’s for a minute replicate the customer journey to that new TV set. Say you want a new HD TV with a 50-inch screen. Your budget is around $1,200, and your spouse said “yes” under the condition that it’s wall-mountable. You visit an online shop and filter your search by price and screen size. The result: no fewer than 25 models to compare. This is what a detailed view of one of them looks like:
Apart from the prioritization of essential information (shouldn’t the screen size be displayed above the model number?), it seems pretty impressive. There are lot of information and explanations (hidden behind the information icons) that make the product take shape in your mind and help you learn what to look for. The only thing that seems to be missing is information about the wall mount…
What we can learn from the comparison function
Once you look at a few products in comparison, however, the situation changes quite a bit. Say you choose four TVs from your filtered search results and hit “compare products.” This is what your screen looks like now:
The comparison view reveals the kind of product information deficiencies that inhibit purchase. Here’s what we can learn from it:
- Data on all four products was incomplete. One of the first things the customer sees is a whole lot of grey: product information that’s missing. The single product view only gave the available attributes but the comparison function highlights the gaps. And gaps are bad, because…
- The product with the most attributes sets the standard. Customers look to product information to tell them what they should know. Missing information or an attribute that isn’t defined always look careless – and what’s worse, it makes the product look inferior: If they haven’t bothered, they can’t think too much of the product, right?
- Product information doesn’t simply exist, waiting to be written down. You have to create it. When it’s designed well, it sets standards and helps your products rise above the competition.
- The unanswered question is always the most prominent. You still don’t know about the wall mount… And as a matter of fact, whatever far-fetched detail customers may want to know – it will always be the first thing on their mind. It may be their dream TV, but unless they know that one thing, they just can’t buy it.
So when I said in the beginning that brands and retailers don’t understand that product information sells, this is what I meant:
Modern shoppers always research product information, especially when making a major purchase such as TV set. That product information isn’t neutral, or nice-to-have. It is the product. And it needs to be treated with the same care as the product itself.
Retailers need to create their own standards: It’s not enough to just display supplier information. Rigorous quality control and information completion processes need to be in place if retailers want their product information to be better than the competition’s.
Great PIM comes from the customer’s point of view. When designing product information, the customer is the ultimate guide. Immersing oneself in their situation, and investing time and the combined brain power of category experts to think about anything they may want to know – it may the make or break of a sale.
That’s one recent example in one product category. But the PIM problem can be seen across every retail category and on virtually every retail website or mobile app.
To brands and retailers that get it right, multichannel product information management is a secret advantage. It’s also the best way to leap out of the product comparison tables and into the shopping carts.
Imagine the wall mount is there and helps to convince the mainly male target group. Which information is needed to tailor digital marketing to different personas and target groups, depending on teams, nations, locations or what information can help to personalize marketing to people which are maybe not keen on football. What would attract them?
What do you think? Did you find the right large-screen TV for World Cup watching? The World Cup shows everyday PIM malpractice. We’d love to hear about your most sought-after but least-found television attribute! (And for more on the importance of product information, check out our ebook “The Informed Purchase Journey.”)