Tag Archives: retail
Over the past few years, we have assisted an increasing shift in customer behavior. Pervasive internet connectivity – along with the exponential adoption of mobile devices – has enabled shoppers to research and purchase products of all kinds, anytime and anywhere, using a combination of touch points they find most convenient. This is not a passing fad.
Consumers expect rich data and images to make purchase choices; business users require access to analytical data in order to make mission-critical decisions. These demands for information are driving a need for improved product data availability and accuracy. And this is changing the way businesses go to market.
A staggering number of stores and manufacturers are reforming their models to response to this challenge. The direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, while not new, is rapidly becoming the center stage to address these challenges. The optimal DTC model will vary depending on specific and contextual business objectives. However, there are many strategic benefits to going direct, but the main objectives include growing sales, gaining control over pricing, strengthening the brand, getting closer to consumers, and testing out new products and markets.
It is my contention that while the DTC model is gaining the deserved attention, much remains to be done. In fact, among many challenges that DTC poses, the processes and activities associated with sourcing product information, enriching product data to drive sales and lower returns, and managing product assortments across all channels loom large. More precisely, the challenges that need to be overcome are better exemplified by these points:
- Products have several variations to support different segments, markets, and campaigns.
- Product components, ingredients, care information, environmental impact data and other facets of importance to the customer.
- People are visual. As a result, easy website navigation is essential. Eye-catching images that highlight your products or services (perhaps as they’re being performed or displayed as intended) is an effective way to visually communicate information to your customers and make it easier for them to evaluate options. If information and pictures are readily accessible, customers are more likely to engage.
- Ratings, reviews and social data, stored within the product’s record rather than in separate systems.
- Purchasing and sales measurements, for example, sales in-store, return rates, sales velocity, product views online, as well as viewing and purchasing correlations are often held across several systems. However, this information is increasingly needed for search and recommendation.
The importance of product data and its use, combined with the increased demands on business as a result of inefficient, non-scaling approaches to data management, provide an imperative to considering a PIM to ‘power’ cross-channel retail. Once established, PIM users repeatedly report higher ROI. It is likely that we’ll see PIM systems rank alongside CRM, ERP, CMS, order management and merchandising systems as the pillars of cross-channel retailing at scale.
For all these reasons, choosing the right PIM strategy (and partner) is now a key decision. Get this decision wrong and it could become an expensive mistake.
How Do You Target Your Customers at All Channel Touch Points to Individualize Their Shopping Experience? 5 Ways to Personalize Your Product Recommendations
Traditional in-store merchandisers frequently engage in new and refreshing ways to improve the shopping experience for their customers. With thousands of square feet of space, accessorized mannequins, and attractive kiosks and showcase displays, they’re afforded numerous luxuries in creating environments conducive to driving sales.
Since online retailers lack these merchandising luxuries, they leverage entirely different tools to enhance the customer experience, using key components of web-based shopping, such as search, navigation, and product recommendations. In the world of e-commerce, we’ve moved from merely selling to customers to empowering them. As a result, e-commerce directors and online merchandisers need to optimize the process by delivering what their customers want.
And what do customers want? Apparently, they want it all: the price and ease of point-and-click purchasing, the experience of in-store visits, the convenience of home delivery, and the service of boutique shopping. They don’t think about product exposure. They don’t focus on the mechanics of the shopping process. And they don’t care about an e-tailer’s internal complexity. They want simply to buy what they need in a way that’s suited to them.
At the same time, because customers’ needs aren’t static, their online shopping experiences shouldn’t be either. They increasingly expect a personal and highly relevant interaction with the retail websites they visit. Failing to get that, they’ll often go elsewhere. For online retailers and brand manufacturers of consumer packed goods (CPG) this creates the challenge of customer retention.
Here are five hints to maximize the power of PIM for tailored product recommendations
To meet the challenge of customer retention demands leveraging product information management (PIM) to target your customers. This means customizing on-line shopping by boosting the relevance of product recommendations. To make the most of PIM, there are five things you should know:
1. To meet the expectations of your online customers, strive to understand them better by using data that’s qualitative and quantitative, historic and current; in addition, use data that provides a context critical to taking relevant actions.
2. To ensure that the experiences of your online customers aren’t static or boilerplate, make all key elements in the merchandising toolset intuitive and dynamic but, above all, tailored to the individual customer.
3. To leverage relevant content for other sales channels, consider the long-tail strategy and enhance the assortment. If customers dial in to the hotline, inside sales can leverage product search and automatic recommendations for intelligent cross- and up-selling within seconds. The hotline connects customer profiles and product information as well as availability on stock in your own warehouse or in the suppliers’ warehouse.
4. To present the best option to each customer, automate personalization of promotions and targeting. This means checking that every promotional banner that is presented has been optimized; banners that convert poorly must be automatically demoted and replaced by others that perform well. It’s all about automatic testing: Which campaign will convert best and which banner within that campaign—the blue, the red, or the one with a big arrow on it? Adopting an integrated approach ensures that a campaign will not be presented more than once on the same page. By using advanced techniques to understand which promotions appeal to each customer—and, more importantly, which don’t—the solution adapts in real time to present the most appealing banners in the context of each customer’s journey.
5. To ensure a cohesive customer experience, unify the many different information elements—filters, banners, promotions, product recommendations, and editorial content. Seen from the user’s perspective, these elements should all be parts of the same picture, presented in a coherent context. The user expects content shown in all of these panels to be orchestrated and related to what is relevant to him or her right now (see Figure 1).
Information Needs to Be Relevant: Targeting Customers with Product Recommendations Is Valuing Customers Is Keeping Customers
Using the behavioral data generated by product information and customer data (see the entire whitepaper), companies can:
- Monitor product exposure for different customer segments
- Gather information on how your visitors name, find, and filter products
- Learn which requests, products, and categories best boost the conversion of your channel
- Follow up customer behavior online after execution of print campaigns
- Learn which changes in product data have the biggest impact on conversion
With cutting-edge product information management, you can guide and inspire your customers with instant, highly relevant content like real product recommendations. Doing so makes all the difference in boosting the quality of their shopping experience and, ultimately, their loyalty to your site.
One last thing: Have you already thought about tailoring other sales and marketing channels beyond e-commerce and e-mail? What is the next logical buy at a call center or at an on-site store?
Do you know how good your multichannel data is? This blog covers four business objectives when accelerating multi channel commerce and which quality of product data is needed to deliver to that and a summary of questions to ask when establishing your strategy. These questions help ecommerce managers, category managers and marketers at retailers, distributors and brand manufacturers ask the right questions on product and customer data when establishing a multi channel strategy.
The Multichannel Challenge: Availability of Relevant Information
At every customer touch point, the ready availability of product information has a profound effect on buying decisions. If your customers can’t find what they’re shopping for, don’t understand how well your product meets their needs, or aren’t confident in their choice, they won’t complete their purchase.
When customers are researching or actively online shopping for products, research says 40 is the magic number:
40 % of buyers intend to return their purchase at the time they order it.
40 % order multiple versions of a product.
40 % of all fashion product returns are the result of poor product information (Consumer electronics are 15,3%; Sources: Trusted Shops, 2012, Internet World Business 7.1.2013)
All the high-quality product data in the world is useless if an organization cannot leverage that data for quicker time to market, improved e-commerce performance, and greater customer satisfaction.
Four Business Objectives When Accelerating Multi Channel Commerce
This white paper comes with four common use cases that illustrate typical business objectives within a multichannel commerce strategy. When looking into your product information, here is a list of questions you might consider.
1. Increasing conversions and lowering return rates by ensuring that customers can access product information in an easy-to-consume form.
- Where is the flawed content coming from?
- What tools and incentives can we provide for suppliers to maintain the high quality content?
- Which data quality processes should be automated first?
- Do we need a bespoke data model to fit your requirements?
- Can we effectively use industry standards for communicating with suppliers (such as GS1 or eClass)?
2. Lowering manual processing costs by merging the best product content from multiple suppliers.
- How many product catalogs do we have and what are the processes that slow us down?
- Who is responsible for the quality of the product information?
- How can we define and enforce the objective and measurable policies?
- Which supplier has best descriptions / certain translation, high-quality images / video / etc.?
- How do we collaborate with our large and small suppliers to achieve best data quality?
3. Growing margins through “long tail” merchandising of a broader assortment of products.
- Can we automate product classification?
- Which taxonomy will work best for us?
- Do all stakeholders have visibility of data quality metrics and trends?
- How can we leverage information across all channels and customer touch points, not only ecommerce?
4. Increasing customer satisfaction through more consistent information and corporate identity across sales channels.
- How should we connect customer and product information to provide personalized marketing?
- How can we leverage supplier and location data for regional marketing?
- How do we enable crowd sourcing of comments, reviews and user images?
- What information do internal and external users need to access in real time?
Find more information with the complete white paper on multichannel commerce and data quality.
Time-to-shop is a new indicator for (r)etailers. It describes how long does it take to make products available for ecommerce sales – or at any touchpoint where customers take purchasing decision or start their product search. Time-to-shop can be seen as a measurable key performance indicator (KPI) and subset of the general time-to-market discussion.
Time-to-market has always been a business critical factor. But today manufacturers and retailers look at it more specific. What are the factors impacting time-to-market? Time-to-shop defines how long it takes to create a product description with all product information which is required to make the product complete for presenting it in a web shop like Demandware, Intershop, IBM WebSphere Commerce, Oracle ATG Webcommerce or Oxid eSales.
The business processes and parties which contribute or approve product content are complex and often distributed in international acting enterprises. This product information supply chain touches several internal an external people and departments as suppliers, translators, marketing, product management, agencies, purchasing and more.
More and mire companies have defined product data quality as strategic value asset to differentiate themselves in the market. Paul Barron, Halfords Business Consultant at Halfords said: “Product information makes all the difference when it comes to making a purchase decision whether buying online or in-store.” The Halfords Group is the UK’s leading retailer of automotive, leisure and cycling products and through Halfords Autocentres also one of the UK’s leading independent car servicing and repair operator.
Product content is seen as differentiator by Tom Davis, Global Head of Ecommerce at Puma, who I met at a conference recently. Tom told me that quality data is an important homework but three things are fundamental:
- Speed to market
- Getting the product information out to the market
- Be quick before margins drop
All point have one thing in common: Speed. Alexander Pischetsrieder from sports apparel retailer SportScheck (btw Venatana Award Winner for Information Management in 2013) totally agreed to this factors when I interviewed him on the case study.
Therefore our customers build their data governance model to assure their corporate product data quality standards with business processes. A rich product information standard for ecommerce may consist of
- Product name
- SEO description
- Color snippets
- Images: minimum of 4
- A 360 view file
- Product video, minimum 1
- USP value proposition text element
- Attributes like weight, length,
- Cross-sell / minimum of 1 item
- Up-sell / minimum of 1 item
- Rating/ review
Of course price as well and much more – these elements are examples, based on some customers I talked to recently. If you are selling products you know your market and you will be able to define what is relevant and important to my customers.
Time- to-shop is a new emerging indicator for businesses. But which company can measure this key performance indicator today? Happy to discuss with you.
The enormous growth rate of e-commerce also means an increase in the demand for data quality in the web shop. In this context, the length of time from discovering a fault to its remedy is an important key performance indicator for the web shop. Same is for creating new products or integrating new assortments from suppliers.
The survey www.pim-roi.com states that the use of PIM reduces the period of time significantly from an average of four hours to one hour. This represents an increase in the market speed of 75 %. Time for changing products at an e-commerce site is reduced from 4 hours to 1 hour.
Implementing a product information management is not an IT architecture project only. It is an enabler for effective and rapid process chains from supplier adoption through multichannel commerce to achieve return on investment (ROI).
Ravi Shankar, vice president of Product Marketing for Master Data Management at Informatica explains why retailers need to focus on mastering their customer data in this short clip which goes into detail based on an article in Forbes: Why Retailers Need To Focus On Mastering Customer Data.
“When retailers can deepen their knowledge of the customer across all of today’s proliferating retail channels, they can strengthen customer loyalty, increase share of wallet, minimize operational costs and maximize profits. It sounds so simple – so why is it so hard?“
If you haven’t updated your B2B integration capabilities in the past five years, are you at risk of being left behind? This is the age of superior customer experience and rapid time-to-value so speedy customer on-boarding and support of specialized integration services means the difference between winning and losing business. A health check starts with asking some simple questions: (more…)
According to a Forbes article, the average organization will grow their data by 50 percent in the coming year. Overall corporate data is expected to grow by 94 percent. According to Informatica, data is predicted to increase by as much as 75 times the current volume by the year 2020. What is Big Data all about? Big Data is the management and analytics of an immensely growing volume, variety, and velocity of data in a digital world. A precise definition of big data from analysts like Gartner and Forrester is a hot topic right now that is covered in a lot of blogs.
In my point of view, big data is connecting the dots. It is connecting more than ever before. But what is the role of product data in a big data world?
After recently talking to our customer Halfords, the UK retailer for bicycle and auto parts revealed: All challenge Amazon. Halfords is known as the expert and friend for cyclists. Therefore they position their brand as the leading expert with the best information. They use product information as a differentiator in the market to gain customers’ trust.
This article refers to a challenge that a lot of distributors and retailers are facing. In order to better serve their B2B and B2C customers, they grow and position their product range to be the one trusted supplier. The long tail (endless aisle) strategy offers higher margins with niche products as well.
These distributors and retailers are faced with the challenge of handling 100s or 1000s of suppliers providing content for millions of products. What happens when different suppliers provide information for the same product?
A business case of big product data: Innovative distributors attempt to merge different product content to create the best and richest product information. This requires an intelligent analysis of a supplier’s product data, and intelligent automatism in order to merge this data to create superior product content. The role of the data steward in defining these rules and policies becomes more important than ever before.
How can this be solved?
Data doesn’t only come from suppliers but from other data sources as well. Basic product information might come from a data hub like GS1 or could be synchronized from the distributor’s ERP system, which in turn might be leading the creation of new products in the distributor’s master assortment.
This basic data will be enriched by data coming directly from the manufactures or the suppliers of the distributor. These different data sources provide content for the same products in different levels of quality, richness, and completeness.
Which parts of product information are used from which data sources is determined by objective data quality rules combined with a definition of trust specific to each data source. One supplier is known for accurate descriptions in English while another provides the better German information. And yet a third data source usually provides the best images.
Governance of Product Information Creates Competitive Advantages
This is when Product Information Management comes into the field: to control big product data. According to Heiler’s PIM Product Manager, Markus Schuster, these business processes can only be successful when used with intelligent, highly automated data quality proofpoints and workflows that adhere to the data governance policy.
In a recent Aberdeen research, they found that 95% of respondents (of 122 responses) replied on some level of manual processing in order to integration external data sources. Manual processing to integrate external data is time consuming, expensive and error prone so why do so many do it? Well, they often have little choice. If you look deeper, most of the time these data exchanges are with small partners and small partner enablement is a significant challenge for most organizations. For the most part, (more…)
Dennis Moore, senior vice president and general manager, Master Data Management, Informatica, discusses how MDM can help companies improve customer service.
During this video, Dennis answers the following questions:
- What did you discuss at the 2012 European MDM product advisory council?
- With the holiday season upon us, how can companies use MDM to best serve their customers?
- What have other industries learned from Retail? How can they apply what you have shared with us today?
Customer experience is the interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organization’s rational performance, the senses stimulated and the emotions evoked and intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact.
In layman’s terms, customer experience is simply how easily (or uneasily) a customer interacts with your company, or in this case, your ecommerce website.
Why is this such a big deal to retailers? Simple – if your customers absolutely hate browsing and shopping on your website, do you think they’ll continue to buy from you? Not a chance. And in today’s competitive market, you can’t afford to not give shoppers the best customer experience possible – because they’ll just go buy from a company that does.
So, how can you offer your customers an exceptional shopping experience? The answer is product information management (PIM)! Read on to find out just how a PIM system can improve customer experience…
Show me the product information.
Provide your customers with as much information as you can about your products.
Today’s shoppers research everything and are able to shop elsewhere almost immediately if they have any problems or doubts. They won’t go out of their way to find the answer to a question they may have, so you’d better make sure you have enough information for them to educate themselves and feel comfortable with the purchase they make. Don’t risk losing them by withholding important information!
How PIM helps: As you can imagine, managing and maintaining this much information for each productcreates quite a bit of work. A PIM system allows you to easily and efficiently manage all of this product data in one central location, then distribute it to all of your sales channels. Not only does this save you a lot of time and money, but it enables you to provide shoppers with even more information.
It’s all about the images.
Provide lots of high quality product images and videos.
The major drawback to shopping online is that consumers don’t have the ability to really see a product. They can’t try on a blouse, feel how soft a blanket is, or gauge the size of a sofa. Online retailers should help combat this by offering multiple images, or videos where appropriate, to give shoppers a solid idea of what the product really looks like.
How PIM helps: Media assets are managed within the PIM system and can easily be assigned to the corresponding product.
Everyone loves choices.
Recommend similar products or associated add-ons and accessories to make shopping easier for your web visitors.
Having a “You May Also Like…” section is a great way to help shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for, as well as cross-sell to them.
How PIM helps: Products can be easily categorized in a PIM system. Products that are in the same category may show up in a “Similar Items” section of your site, or items can be grouped to form complete “looks”. Instead of having to manually group these products together, they will automatically be displayed together, in every channel.
Enable quick comparisons.
Make is easy for people to compare similar products.
Everyone wants to make sure they’re purchasing the right product, especially when it’s a big ticket item where even the smallest different in specification matters. Make it easy for shoppers to compare similar items – they’ll appreciate it!
How PIM helps: As mentioned in the previous tip, a PIM system enables similar products to be categorized and displayed together. In this instance, the PIM would automatically display grouped items in a comparison chart (or however you choose to display the comparison).
Allow customers to review your products on your ecommerce site.
Including customer reviews on your product pages is a great way to establish a sense of loyalty and trustworthiness in your brand, as well as encourage customer engagement. When it comes down to it, shoppers are going to be more willing to trust another shopper over your sales-y product description. According to ratings company Reevoo, a shopper who reads reviews is 200-300% more likely to make a purchase than a customer who doesn’t read reviews, and 67% of customers trust reviews even more when they see both positive and negative ones.
How PIM helps: A PIM system stores all of your product data, including reviews, which can then be distributed to all of your channels.
Taking into account how crucial enjoyable shopping is to the overall online customer experience, I’d say these features are definitely something you may want to look into.
By improving customer experience, retailers will see their websites become much more engaging, interactive, and ultimately effective. This kind of environment encourages shoppers to spend more time (and money!) on your ecommerce site.