Tag Archives: retail
In his recent article: “The catalog is dead – long live the catalog,” Informatica’s Ben Rund spoke about how printed catalogs are positioned as a piece of the omnichannel puzzle and are a valuable touch point on the connected customer’s informed purchase journey. The overall response was far greater than what we could have hoped for; we would like to thank all those that participated. Seeing how much interest this topic generated, we decided to investigate further, in order to find out which factors can help in making print publishing successful.
5 key Factors for Successful Print Publishing Projects
Today’s digital world impacts every facet of our lives. Deloitte recently reported that approximately 50% of purchases are influenced by our digital environment. Often, companies have no idea how much savings can be generated through the production of printed catalogues that leverage pre-existing data sources. The research at www.pim-roi.com talks of several such examples. After looking back at many successful projects, Michael and his team realized the potential to generate substantial savings when the focus is to
optimize “time to market.” (If, of course, business teams operate asynchronously!)
For this new blog entry, we interviewed Michael Giesen, IT Consultancy and Project Management at Laudert to get his thoughts and opinion on the key factors behind the success of print publishing projects. We asked Michael to share his experience and thoughts on the leading factors in running successful print publishing projects. Furthermore, Michael also provides insight on which steps to prioritize and which pitfalls to avoid at all costs, in order to ensure the best results.
1. Publication Analysis
How are objects in print (like products) structured today? What about individual topics and design of creative pages? How is the placement of tables, headings, prices and images organized nowadays? Are there standards? If so, what can be standardized and how? To get an overall picture, you have to thoroughly examine these points. You must do so for all the content elements involved in the layout, ensuring that, in the future, they can be used for Dynamic Publishing. It is conceivable that individual elements, such as titles or pages used in subject areas, could be excluded and reused in separate projects. Gaining the ability to automate catalog creation potentially requires to compromise in certain areas. We shall discuss this later. In the future, product information will probably be presented with very little need to apply changes, 4 instead of 24 table types, for example. Great, now we are on the right path!
2. Data Source Analysis
Where is the data used in today’s printed material being sourced from? If possible or needed, are there several data sources that require to be combined? How is pricing handled? What about product attributes or the structure of product description tables in the case of an individual item? Is all the marketing content and subsequent variations included as well? What about numerous product images or multiple languages? What about seasonally adjusted texts that pull from external sources?
This case requires a very detailed analysis, leading us to the following question:
What is the role and the value of storing product information using a standardized method in print publishing?
The benefits of utilizing such processes should be clear by now: The more standards are in place, the greater the amount of time you will save and the greater your ability to generate positive ROI. Companies that currently operate with complex systems supporting well-structured data are already ahead in the game. Furthermore, yielding positive results doesn’t necessarily require them to start from scratch and rebuild from the ground up. As a matter of fact, companies that have already invested in database systems (E.g. MSSQL) can leverage their existing infrastructures.
3. Process Analysis
In this section of our analysis, we will be getting right down to the details: What does the production process look like, from the initial layout phase to the final release process? Who is responsible for the “how? Who maintains the linear progression? Who has the responsibilities and release rights? Lastly, where are the bottlenecks? Are there safeguards mechanisms in place? Once all these roles and processes have been put in place and have received the right resources we can advance to the next step of our analysis. You are ready to tackle the next key factor: Implementation.
Here you should be adventurous, creative and open minded, seeing that compromise might be needed. If your existing data sources do not meet the requirements, a solution must be found! A certain technical creative pragmatism may facilitate the short and medium planning (see point 2). You must extract and prepare your data sources for printed medium, such as a catalog, for example. The priint:suite of WERK II has proven itself as a robust all-round solution for Database Publishing and Web2Print. All-inclusive PIM solutions, such as Informatica PIM, already has a standard interface to priint:suite available. Depending on the specific requirements, an important decision must then be made: Is there a need for an InDesign Server? Simply put, it enables the fully automatic production of large-volume objects and offers accurate data preview. While slightly less featured, the use of WERK II PDF renderers offers similar functionalities but at a significantly more affordable price.
Based on the software and interfaces selected, an optimized process which supports your system can be developed and be structured to be fully automated if needed.
For individual groups of goods, templates can be defined, placeholders and page layouts developed. Production can start!
5. Selecting an Implementation Partner
In order to facilitate a smooth transition from day one, the support of a partner to carry out the implementation should be considered from the beginning. Since not only technology, but more importantly practical expertise provides maximum process efficiency, it is recommended that you inquire about a potential partner’s references. Getting insight from existing customers will provide you with feedback about their experience and successes. Any potential partner will be pleased to put you in touch with their existing customers.
What are Your Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing?
I would like to know what your thoughts are on this topic. Has anyone tried PDF renderers other than WERK II, such as Codeware’s XActuell? Furthermore, if there are any other factors you think are important in managing successful print publishing, feel free to mention them in the comments here. I’d be happy to discuss here or on twitter at @nicholasgoupil.
Imagine walking through a mall during your weekend shopping binge.
Your arms are full of shopping bags, and you believe you’ve had your fill of purchases for the day. You even have the discipline to walk past the obligatory little bakery stand that haunts every mall with its alluring aroma.
Suddenly you feel a vibration in your pocket and set your bags down to grab it. It’s your mobile phone, and it has a special message for you.
“Julie’s Bakery Special! Buy one cinnamon bun, get one free!”
If the irresistible aroma didn’t lure you toward the baked goods, this amazing deal will.
That is the power of proximity marketing.
Proximity marketing uses Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology to send commercial messages to nearby shoppers who may be carrying mobile devices. It’s a safe bet that most of those shoppers will own a mobile phone. According to Pew Research, 90% of adults in America have cell phones (58% of which are smartphones).
This method of reaching customers is known as beacon technology.
A device is attached within the shop, store, stand, etc., and sends signals to people as they pass. One of the creative ways I’ve heard this used was by display manufacturer Universal Display in their London locations. They placed beacons on their mannequins. When customers went within proximity to them, they were given information on the mannequin’s fashionable attire via their own mobile devices.
Why does proximity marketing work?
- Customers prefer to be informed shoppers. They want to know where the deals are. They’re already out-and-about, so it’s helpful and engaging to be updated to their surroundings.
- The receiver is more likely to engage with the advertisement they receive. It’s simple to see why, if you imagine this scenario:
What if a shopper is bored waiting in a long line when he or she receives the message? There’s a good chance he or she is idly using a mobile phone for entertainment while waiting in line. This is the perfect time to provide a timely, relevant message that will get a lot of attention.
SMS mobile messaging is a powerful customer communication tool for the same reasons companies now believe in proximity marketing.
The quickest and most efficient way to reach customers is through their phones. Proximity advertising spending will reach $6 billion by 2015, reports MarketingProfs. The time for your business to go mobile is now. Read more about SMS mobile marketing from StrikeIron, an Informatica Company, here.
The Western European B2C ecommerce market is developing extremely well. In fact, the Western European ecommerce market is expected to reach € 204.7 billion in 2014.
Online Sales to Reach €204.7 Billion in 2014
Just like the year before, the Western European region, comprising Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, was in first position with regard to e-commerce size in 2013, with a European market share of 49%.
The total B2C e-commerce economy of Western Europe amounted €177.7 billion, a 12% growth compared to 2012. Online sales of goods and services are forecast to reach €204.7 billion in 2014, a growth of more than 15% in comparison with 2013. Ecommerce Europe’s research also reveals that 95 million consumers in Western Europe bought goods and services online in 2013.
Average Western European E-shopper Spent €1,867 Online in 2013
On average, Western European e-shoppers spent €1,867 per person online in 2013. This is far above the European average of €1,376 and EU28 average of €1,500. The United Kingdom leads the way with €2,614, making their e-shoppers the biggest online spenders in Europe. Within Western Europe, Ireland, Luxembourg and France follow with €1,643, €1,533 and €1,503, respectively, per online shopper.
For additional information, you can download the full report here.
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.