Category Archives: Real-Time
I’ve spent most of my career working with new technology, most recently helping companies make sense of mountains of incoming data. This means, as I like to tell people, that I have the sexiest job in the 21st century.
Harvard Business Review put the data scientist into the national spotlight in their publication Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century. Job trends data from Indeed.com confirms the rise in popularity for the position, showing that the number of job postings for data scientist positions increased by 15,000%.
In the meantime, the role of data scientist has changed dramatically. Data used to reside on the fringes of the operation. It was usually important but seldom vital – a dreary task reserved for the geekiest of the geeks. It supported every function but never seemed to lead them. Even the executives who respected it never quite absorbed it.
For every Big Data problem, the solution often rests on the shoulders of a data scientist. The role of the data scientist is similar in responsibility to the Wall Street “quants” of the 80s and 90s – now, these data experienced are tasked with the management of databases previously thought too hard to handle, and too unstructured to derive any value.
So, is it the sexiest job of the 21st Century?
Think of a data scientist more like the business analyst-plus, part mathematician, part business strategist, these statistical savants are able to apply their background in mathematics to help companies tame their data dragons. But these individuals aren’t just math geeks, per se.
A data scientist is somebody who is inquisitive, who can stare at data and spot trends. It’s almost like a renaissance individual who really wants to learn and bring change to an organization.
If this sounds like you, the good news is demand for data scientists is far outstripping supply. Nonetheless, with the rising popularity of the data scientist – not to mention the companies that are hiring for these positions – you have to be at the top of your field to get the jobs.
Companies look to build teams around data scientists that ask the most questions about:
- How the business works
- How it collects its data
- How it intends to use this data
- What it hopes to achieve from these analyses
These questions were important because data scientists will often unearth information that can “reshape an entire company.” Obtaining a better understanding of the business’ underpinnings not only directs the data scientist’s research, but helps them present the findings and communicate with the less-analytical executives within the organization.
While it’s important to understand your own business, learning about the successes of other corporations will help a data scientist in their current job–and the next.
How do you know if you have found ‘true love’?
Biologists and psychologists tell us that when we are struck by cupid’s arrow, our body is reacting to a set of chemicals that are released in the brain that evoke emotions and feelings of lust, attraction and attachment. When those chemicals are released, our bodies respond. Our hearts race, blood pumps through our veins, faces flush, body temperatures rise. Some say it feels like electricity is conducting all over the skin. It releases a flood of emotions that may cloud our judgment and may even cause us to make a choice considered unreasonable to others. Sound familiar?
But what causes our brains to react to one person and not another? Are we predisposed to how certain people look or smell? Do our genes play a role in determining an affinity toward a body type or shape?
Pheromone research has shown how sensors in our nose can smell whether or not someone’s immune system compliments our own based on the scent of urine and sweat. Meaning, if someone has a similar immune deficiency, that individual won’t smell good to us. We are more likely to prefer the smell of someone who has an immune system that is different. Is our genetic code programming our instincts to preselect who we should mate with so our offspring has a higher chance of surviving?
It is probably not surprising that most men are attracted to women with symmetrical faces and hourglass figures. Genetic research hints that men’s predispositions are also based on a genetic code. There is a correlation between asymmetric facial characteristics and genetic disorders as well as between waist to hip ratios and fertility. Depending on where you are in your stage in life, these characteristics could have a weighting factor in how your brain responds to the smell of the perfect pheromone and how someone appears. And, some argue it is all influenced by body language, voice tone and actual words used in dialogue.
Psychologists report it takes only two to four minutes to decide if you are falling in love with someone. Even if you dismiss some or accept all of the possibilities I am presenting, experiencing love is impacted by a variety and intensity of senses, interpretations and emotions combined together in a short period of time. If you are a data nerd like myself, variety, volume and velocity of ‘signals’ begins to sound like a Big Data marketing pitch. This really is an application of predictive analytics using different data types, large volumes of data and real-time decision making algorithms. But, I’m actually more interested in how affective computing, wearable devices and analytics could help determine whether or not what you feel is actually ’true love’ or just a bad case of indigestion.
Affective computing, according to researcher Rosalind Picard, gives a computer the ability to recognize and express emotions, develop that ability and enable it to regulate and utilize emotions. When applied to wearable devices that can listen to how you talk, measure blood pressure, detect changes in heart and respiration rate and even measure electro-dermal responses, is it possible that technology could sense when your body is responding to the chemicals of love?
What about mood rings, you may ask? Mood rings, the original form of an affective wearable device that grew in popularity in the 1970s changed color based on your mood. Unfortunately, mood rings only change based on body temperature. Through data collection and research, researchers have shown that physiology patterns cannot be determined by body temperature alone. In order to truly differentiate emotion of, let’s say ‘true love,’ you need to be able to collect multiple physiological signals and detect a pattern using multi-variant pattern recognition algorithms. And, if you only have 2-4 minutes, it pretty much needs to calculate chances of ‘true love’ in real-time to prevent making a life-altering mistake.
The evolution of wearables technology has reached medical grade, allowing parents to detect when their children are about to have an epileptic seizure or are experiencing acute levels of stress. When tuned to love-seekers’ queues, is it possible that this same technology could send an audio or visual signal to your smart phone alerting you as to whether or not this person is a ‘true love’ candidate? Or glow red if you are in the proximity of someone who is experiencing similar physiological changes? Maybe this is the next application for match-making companies such as eHarmony or Match.com?
The reality is this. Assuming that the data is clean and accurate, safe from violating any data privacy concerns and truly connected to your physiological signals, wearable device technology that could detect close proximity of ‘true love’ is probably five years out. It is more likely to show up in a popular science fiction film than at an Apple store in the near term. But, when it does, think about how the signal on your smart phone device tells you the proximity of a potential candidate, where a local flower shop is, integrated with facial recognition and Facebook photos and ‘status’ (assuming it is true), with an iTunes recommendation of ‘Love Is In The Air’ by John Paul Young, ‘True Love’ is only 2-4 minutes away.
 R. Picard. Affective Computing. Pages 227-239, MIT Press, 2000
 Cacioppa and Tassinary (1990)
Reinventing the store was one of the key topics at NRF. Over the last three to four years we have been seeing a lot push and invest for ecommerce innovation and replatforming ecommerce strategies. Now the retail, CPG and brand manufacturers are working on a renaissance of the store and show room, driven by digital. And there is still way to go.
Incremental part of the omnichannel strategy of our PIM customer Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply is digital signage for in-store product promotions. This selfie was shot with my dear colleague Thomas Kasemir (VP RnD PIM & Procurement) at the NRF booth of Four Winds Interactive.
Four Winds serves about 5,000 companies worldwide and I would consider them as one of the market leaders. Alison Rank and her team did show case how static product promotions work and how dynamic personalized product promotions can look like, when John Doe enters the store.
John Doe’s Personalized Purchase Journey
John Doe and his wife are out and about in the city; with the advice from his son, John has created a pro-file on Facebook and Foursquare with his new generation smartphone enabling him to receive any special offers in his vicinity. Mr. Doe has voluntarily agreed to share his data for the specific purpose of allowing retailers to call to his attention any special offers in the area. As both of them have interest in visiting the store they respond to the offer.
At the entrance to the store he is advised to start up the special store app and is promised a “personalized shopping” experience. As John Doe enters the store, a friendly greeting appears on his digital signage screen: “Welcome Mr. Doe, the men’s suits are on the 3rd floor and we have the following offers for you.” Upon reaching the 3rd floor, the salesperson is already standing there with the right suit. The suit is one size smaller than usual, but it fits John Doe. After the fitting, the salesperson even points out the new women’s hat collection in the women’s department. Satisfied with their purchases, Mr. and Mrs. Doe leave the store.
For me it is clear assuming that the future of shopping will look something like this, due to the fact that all of these technologies are already available. But what has taken place? The reason why John Doe receives location-based offers has already been explained above; the point that needs to be made is that there is now the ability to link personal and statistical data to customers. By means of the app, the store already knows whom they are dealing with as soon as they enter the store. Or can messaging services be used to send an alert to a shop assistant that a A-Customer with high value shopping carts has just entered the store.
To this point, stores can leverage both personal information as well as location-based information to generate a personal greeting for the customer.
- What did he buy? In which department was he and for how long?
- When did he purchase his last suit(s)?
- What sizes were these?
- Does he have an online profile?
- What does he order online and does he finish the transaction?
All of this analytical data can be stored and retrieved behind the scenes.
Catch Me if I Want
The targeted sales approach at the point of interest (POI) and point of sale (POS) is considered to be increasingly important. This type of communication is becoming dynamic and is taking precedent over traditional forms of advertising.
When entering the store today, customers are for the most part undecided. Based on this assumption, they can be influenced by ads and targeted product placement. Customers are now willing to disclose their location data and personal information provided there is added value for them to do so.
Example from Vapiano Restaurant
A good example is the Vapiano restaurant chain. Vapiano restaurants take an extra step further than the tradi-tional loyalty card by utilizing a special smartphone app where the customer can not only choose the nearest restau-rant along with special offers and menu, but also receive a kind of credit after payment via barcode. After collecting 10 credits, the restaurant guest receives a main course for free on the 11th visit. Sound good? It sure does, and from the company’s perspective this is a win-win situation. These obvious benefits move the customer to disclose his or her eating habits and personal data. The restaurant chain now has access to their birth dates, which is rewarded as well. This data aggregation is definitely recommendable, since it requires the guest’s explicit consent and assumes a certain degree of active participation from the guest to be eligible for the rewards offered by the restaurant.
If John Doe allowed my as brand manufacturer in my showroom or as a retailer to catch him, companies will need to ensure that they are really able to identity John Doe wit this all channel customer profile to come up with a personalized offer on digital signage. But this needs to be covered in an additional blogs…
Marketers, Are You Ready? The Impending Data Explosion from the New Gizmos and Gadgets Unveiled at CES
This is the first year in a very long time that I wasn’t in Las Vegas during CES. Although it’s not quite as exciting as actually being there, I love that the Twitter-verse and industry news sites kept us all up to date about the latest and greatest announcements. Now that CES2015 is all wrapped up, I find myself thinking about the potential of some very interesting announcements – from the wild to the wonderful to the leave-you-wondering! What strikes me isn’t how useful these new gizmos and gadgets will likely be to myself and my consumer counterparts, but instead what incredible new data sources they will offer to my fellow marketers.
One thing is for sure… the connected “Internet of Things” is indeed here. It’s no longer just a vision. Sure, we’re just seeing the early stages, but it’s becoming more and more main stream by the day. And as marketers, we have so much opportunity ahead of us!
I ran across an interesting video interview on the CES show floor with Jack Smith from GroupM on Adweek.com. Jack says that “data from sensors will have a bigger impact, longer term, than the Internet itself.” That is a lofty statement, and I’m not sure I’ll go quite that far yet, but I absolutely agree with his premise… this new world of connectivity is already shifting marketing, and it will almost certainly radically change the way we market in the near future.
Riding the Data Explosion (Literally)
The Connected Cycle is one of the announcements that I find intriguing as a marketer. In short, it’s a bike pedal equipped with GPS and GPRS sensors that “monitor your movements and act as a basic fitness tracker.” It’s being positioned as a way to track stolen bicycles, which is a massive problem in Europe particularly, with the side benefit of being a powerful fitness tracker. It may not be as sexy as some other announcements, but I think there is buried treasure in devices like these.
Imagine how powerful that data would be to a sporting goods retailer? What if the rider of that bicycle had opted into a program that allowed the retailer to track their activity in exchange for highly targeted offers?
Let’s say that the rider is nearing one of your stores and it’s a colder than usual day. Perhaps you could push them an offer to their smart phone for some neoprene booties. Or let’s say that, based on their activity patterns, the rider appears to be stepping up their activity and is riding more frequently suggesting they may be ready for a race you are sponsoring in a few months in the area. Perhaps you could push them an inspirational message saying how great they’re progressing and had they thought about signing up for the big race, with a special incentive of course.
The segmentation possibilities are endless, and the analytics that could be done on the data leaves the data-driven marketer salivating!
Home Automation Meets Business Automation
There were numerous announcements about the connected “house of the future”, and it’s clear that we are just beginning of the home automation wave. Several of the big dogs like Samsung, Google, and Apple are building or buying automation hub platforms, so it’s going to be easier and easier to connect appliances and other home devices to one another, and also to mobile technology and wearables. As marketers, there is incredible potential to really tap into this. Imagine the possibility of interconnecting your customers’ home automation systems with your own marketing automation systems? Marketers will soon be able literally serve up offers based upon things that are occurring in the home in real time.
Oh no, your teenage son finished off all but the last drop of milk (and put the almost-empty jug back in the fridge without a second thought)! Not to worry, you’ve linked your refrigerator’s sensor data with your favorite grocery store. An alert is sent asking if you want more milk, and oh by the way, your shopping patterns indicate you may be running out of your son’s favorite cereal too, so it offers you a special discount if you add a box to your order. Oh yeah, of course he was complaining about being out just yesterday! And whala, a gallon of milk and some Cinnamon Toast Crunch magically arrives at your door by the end of the day. Heck, it will probably arrive within an hour via a drone if Amazon has anything to say about it! No manual business processes whatsoever. It’s your appliance’s sensors talking to your customer data warehouse, which is talking to your marketing automation system, which is talking to a mobile app, which is talking to an ordering system, which is talking to a payment system, which is talking to a logistics/delivery system. That is, of course, if your internal processes are ready!
Some of the More Weird and Wacky, But There May Just Be Something…
Panasonic’s Smart Mirror allows you to analyze your skin and allows you to visualize yourself with different makeup or even a different haircut. Cosmetics and hair care companies should be all over this. Imagine the possibilities of visualizing yourself looking absolutely stunning – if only virtually – with perfect makeup and hair. Who wouldn’t want to rush right out and capture the look for real? What if a store front could virtually put the passer-byer in their products, and once the customer is inside the store, point them to the products that were featured? Take it a step further and send them a special offer the next week to come back buy the hat that just goes perfectly with the rest of the outfit. It all sounds a little bit “Minority Report-esque”, but it’s closer to becoming true every day. The power of the interconnected world is endless for the marketer.
And then there’s Belty… it’s definitely garnered a lot of news (and snarky comments too!). Belty is a smart belt that slims or expands based upon your waist size at that very moment – whether you’re sitting, standing, or just had a too-large meal. I don’t see Belty taking off, but you never know! If it does however, can’t you just see Belty sending a message to your Weight Watchers app about needing to get back on diet? Or better yet, pointing you to the Half Yearly Sale at Nordstrom because you’re getting too skinny for your pants?
The “Internet of Things” is Becoming Reality… Is Your Marketing Team Ready?
The internet of things is already changing the way consumers live, and it’s beginning to change the way marketers market. With the It is critical that marketers are thinking about how they can leverage the new devices and the data they provide. Connecting the dots between devices can become a marketer’s best friend (if they’re ready), or worst enemy (if they’re not).
Are you ready? Ask yourself these 6 questions:
- Are your existing business applications connected to one another? Do your marketing systems “talk” to your finance systems and your sales systems and your customer support systems?
- Do you have fist-class data quality and validation technology and practices in place? Real-time, automated processes will only amplify data quality problems.
- Can you connect easily to any new data source as it becomes available, no matter where it lives and no matter what format it is in? The only constant in this new world is the speed of change, so if you’re not building processes and leveraging technologies that can keep up, you’re already missing the boat!
- Are you building real time capabilities into your processes and technologies? You systems are going to have to handle real-time sensor data, and make real-time decisions based on the data they provide.
- Are your marketing analytics capabilities leading the pack or just getting out of the gate? Are they harnessing all of the rich data available within your organization today? Are you ready to analyze all of the new data sources to determine trends and segment for maximum effect?
- Are you talking to your counterparts in IT, logistics, finance, etc. about the business processes and technologies you are going to need to harness the data that the interconnected world of today, and of the near future? If not, don’t wait! Begin that conversation ASAP!
Informatica is ready to help you embark on this new and exciting data journey. For some additional perspectives from Informatica on the technologies announced at CES2015, I encourage you to read some of my colleagues’ recent blog posts:
In my point of view, heavily influenced by the customers and analyst I am meeting, these 5 trends are impacting omnichannel commerce for better personalization and customer experience in 2015 and beyond.
- Issue of the informed purchase journey: A Google study (*Google ZMOT Handbook) shows that, on average, across all categories, shoppers use 10.4 sources of information to make a decision. This includes, among other things, watching TV ads, looking up manufacturer websites, talking to family and friends, reading reviews, and checking Amazon. Customers are increasingly visiting websites across multiple devices, and the final location where they make a purchase can be very different from the initial point of interaction. When do they have enough information to buy?
- Three levels of Trust : Customer expect three levels of trust – SOCIAL TRUST, PRODUCT TRUST and BRAND TRUST. Social trust: means what do my friends recommend? Conversions go up by 133%* when trusted people recommend products. Brands and retailers can sell more with relevant information, including social data (aggregating and reusing). Sorry but this is again one more votum for tanking BIG DATA seriously. I believe customer-centric organizations are going to use a combination of data management and big data analytics to improve the quality and accelerate the business value of their big data projects. In particular, companies will apply these capabilities to greatly improve their ability to acquire, retain and grow their customer share of wallet with more personalized marketing. For example, one insurance company we work wants to better understand their customers, household and prospects through real-time customer and prospect profiling on Hadoop. This data management and big data analytics initiative will improve their marketing campaign effectiveness by targeting specific people with relevant offers. They will be able to answer questions such as:
- How many of these people are customers vs. prospects?
- Who else lives in this household?
- Which products do they already have?
- What relationships do they have with other customers, beneficiaries, prospects, agents?
- Which offers have they responded to that we sent them in the past?
- What life events, changes to address, income or employment have they experienced?
- Which customers are likely to churn?
Product trust: which products shall we offer for which price? Or the customer wants to know if he buys the latest version of the digital radio or the cable. Companies need quicker insights for taking decisions on their assortment, prices and compelling contentr and for better customer facing service.
Brand trust: the brand experience is so important. Brands and retailers need to be more efficient when creating market ready products, with videos, content and all what creates emotions.
3. Store fulfillment & in-store experience will become a big investment area, and retailers will look to omni-channel solutions that can provide provide transparency into inventory to help manage customer expectations. Use the store as warehouse and ship from the nearest store. The use if digital devices and information panels will gain much more attention. Gartner predicts that by year-end 2016 more than $2 billion in online shopping will be performed exclusively by mobile digital assistants.
4. The mobile conversion: revenue spend on mobile is growing. Forrester Research projects sales from consumers shopping on mobile phones will increase to $38 billion this year and sales from tablets will hit $76 billion, or about $114 billion in total in the US. Most Online Shopping Still Happens on PCs. 95% of smartphone users say they’ve searched for local information. 90% of those users take action within 24 hours. 61% of smartphone users called a business after searching. 59% visited a local business after searching. But conversions on mobile devices need to be improved. With better and more relevant information – I call it commerce relevancy.
5. Virtual Reality is taking customer experience to the next level. Augmented reality was a first step, but I believe virtual reality (VR) will take it even further. I learned from my colleague Nicholas Goupil, that Samsung Gear by Oculus VR and similar products will change the game of gaming. What are the potentials for brands and retailers to enhance customer experience?
What are your expectations on 2015 omnichannel trends?
Let’s chat @benrund or face-to-face during NRF in NYC.
Ecommerce Europe, the European umbrella organization for 25,000+ companies selling products and/or services online to consumers and collaborating with the regional associations. The total Northern European e-commerce economy of goods and services sold online amounted to €33.2 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to €36.8 billion in 2014.
Online sales expected to reach €36.8 billion in 2014
The Northern European region, including Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway, is now in fourth position with regard to e-commerce size, with a 9.1% European market share. In 2013, the total B2C e-commerce economy of Northern Europe amounted to €33.2 billion, a 13.7% growth compared to the preceding year. Online sales of goods and services are forecast to reach €36.8 billion in 2013, which represents a growth of 10.7% in comparison with last year.
The average consumer spends more than 1700 euro online
If you are intersted in learning more details and figures on growth, marketsize on country level for Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia and Lithuania, you can download the full B2C Ecommerce Report for Northern here.
Are you a manager dedicated to fashion, B2C or retail? This blog provides an overview what companies can learn on omnichannel from SportScheck.
SportScheck is one of Germany’s most successful multichannel businesses. SportScheck (btw Ventana Research Innovation Award Winner) is an equipment and clothing specialist for almost every sport and its website gets over 52 million hits per year, making it one of the most successful online stores in Germany.
Each year, more than million customers sign up for the mail-order business while over 17 million customers visit its brick and mortar stores (Source). These figures undoubtedly describe the success of SportScheck’s multichannel strategy. SportScheck also strives to deliver innovative concepts in all of its sales channels, while always aiming to provide customers with the best shopping experience possible. This philosophy can be carried out only in conjunction with modern systems landscapes and optimized processes.
Complete, reliable, and attractive information – across every channel – is the key to a great customer experience and better sales. It’s hard to keep up with customer demands in a single channel, much less multiple channels. Download The Informed Purchase Journey. The Informed Purchase Journey requires the right product, to right customer at the right place. Enjoy the video!
What is the Business Initiative in SportScheck
- Providing the customer the same deals across all sales channels with a centralized location for all product information
- Improve customer service in all sales channels with perfect product data
- Make sure customers have enough product information to make a purchase without the order being returned
Intelligent and Agile Processes are Key to Success
“Good customer service, whether online, in-store, or in print, needs perfect product data” said Alexander Pischetsrieder in an interview. At the Munich-based sporting goods retailer, there had been no centralized system for product data before now. After extensive research and evaluation, the company decided to implement the product information management (PIM) system from Informatica.
The main reason for the introduction of Informatica Product Information Management (PIM) solutions was its support for a true multichannel strategy. Customers should have access to the same deals across all sales channels. In addition to making a breadth of information available, customer service still remains key.
In times where information is THE killer app, key challenges are, keeping information up to date and ensuring efficient processes. In a retail scenario, product catalog onboarding starts with PIM to get the latest product information. A dataset in the relevant systems that is always up-to-date is a further basis, which allows companies to react immediately to market movements and implement marketing requirements as quickly as possible. Data must be exchanged between the systems practically in real time. If you want to learn more details, how SportScheck solved the technical integration between SAP ERP and Informatica PIM?
Product Data Equals Demonstrated Expertise
“I am convinced that a well-presented product with lots of pictures and details sells better. For us, this signals knowing our product. That sets us apart from the large discount stores,” notes Alexander Pischetsrieder. “In the end, we have to ask: who is the customer going to trust? We gain trust here with our product knowledge and our love of sports in general.” Just like our motto says, “We get our fans excited.” By offering a professional search engine, product comparisons, and many other features, PIM adds value not only in ecommerce – and that gets us excited!”
Benefits for SportScheck
- Centralized location for all product information across all sales channels
- An agile system that is capable of interweaving the different retail processes across sales channels into a smooth, cross-channel function
- Self-Service portal for agencies and suppliers with direct upload to the PIM system
PS: This blog is based on the PIM case study on SportScheck.
Forrester Research, a leading independent analyst firm just released a new Wavetm report about Big Data Streaming Analytics Platforms and in it, Informatica was designated a Leader.
This is exciting news for a number of reasons.
– Personally, as a product leader focused on some of our newer technologies at Informatica, this is a positive sign of wider acceptance in the market. One might argue it’s the start of a mainstreaming process. Analyst firms don’t usually release these reports unless there are clear signs of a critical mass of customer interest (among other criteria). And indeed, in their report, the authors cited Forrester survey data that revealed firms’ use of Streaming Analytics increasing 66% in the past two years.
– To validate product and vendor qualifications, Forrester conducted reference calls with current customers, so thank you to our customers for feedback you’ve provided to the analysts about our Big Data Streaming Analytics platform. It means a lot.
– The authors make an important point in the report when they write “Streaming Analytics is anything but a sleepy, rear-view-mirror analysis of data. No, it is about knowing and acting on what’s happening in your business – now…The high velocity, white water flow of data from innumerable real-time data sources such as market data, Internet of Things, mobile, sensors, click stream and even transactions remain largely unnavigated by most firms. The opportunity to leverage streaming analytics has never been greater” We would agree.
– Finally it’s been an area of importance, investment, and diligent work (aka Blood Sweat and Tears) for Informatica for a while now. This really validates for us that we’ve been carving our surfboard in the right direction and now we are totally stoked that we’ve caught a righteous gnarly wave.
So while we’ll celebrate this accomplishment for today, the work really begins now…
To read the full report, hang loose and surf on over here
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.”)