There’s no doubt 2017 was a pivotal year in retail.
The number of distressed U.S. retailers is nearing Great Recession levels, tripling in the past six years. As a result, in the last year alone, we’ve bid farewell to more than 20 major brands and retailers that were once thriving staples for consumers. And as Wal-Mart and Amazon.com continue to make aggressive acquisitions, they’re reshaping consumer expectations and the overall future of retail.
With the retail landscape evolving and becoming more competitive than ever before, brands must focus on having an e-commerce strategy that not only enables them to survive, but to remain a dominant player for years to come.
The most critical, yet easiest, area for brands to start optimizing for success is with their digital product content.
Brands are well aware of the importance of immaculate product content, yet many still struggle with low image counts, poor product descriptions and a lack of customer reviews — and the results are dire. Consumers are easily frustrated by receiving inadequate information, and often leave a retailer’s site without making a purchase.
In order to capture the $460 billion in projected online retail sales this year, as well as build loyalty for coming years, brands and retailers must rethink how they’re approaching product content and selling online.
Why Monitor Product Content if You Can’t Fix It?
When thinking about why brands are struggling with product content today, the LifeLock™ "Bank" TV commercial comes to mind. During a bank robbery, a customer looks to a security guard to take action, but he responds, “Oh, I’m not a security guard, I’m a security monitor. I only notify people if there’s a robbery.”
The tagline for LifeLock reads, “Why monitor a problem if you don’t fix it?”
Seems like a silly question, but today the same could be asked of brands and their approach to online product content.
This is because several brands and retailers are using single-point solutions. They may have legacy analytics technology to provide insight into problems with product listings, but these solutions don’t provide the tools to fix the content issues accordingly. On the other hand, some brands and retailers may have a content syndicator that does have the tools to manage and edit product content issues, but doesn’t show specifically which information needs updating and how to update it.
Brands have information about what they need to fix, but aren’t given direction for addressing their problems on the retailer’s site. How can they be effective with one tool but not the other?
They can’t. Brands need both analytics and product content management to meet today’s consumer expectations for informative product content.
The Key to Surviving and Winning
Combining analytics and product content management into one solution streamlines and simplifies the product content process, allowing brands to identify their pain points and iterate in real time, and retailers to monitor content health and optimize to improve customer experience. With this dovetailed strategy, brands can ensure their pages align with both retailer and customer demands, helping boost customer loyalty and conversion rates.
The first step in the process is to identify where the problems and opportunities are. Intelligent analytics tools can crawl websites daily to monitor critical metrics, including content health, SEO performance, in-stock position, buy box ownership, price and more. With this insight, these tools can show brands which products need content updates and what other information, such as pricing, needs attention.
The next step is to update the content accordingly. A robust product information management (PIM) solution can allow brands to store and edit product content, but also see how they can best optimize each product for search. From there, brands can quickly syndicate their product content to all their retail channels in the appropriate format, ensuring consistency and accuracy across platforms.
Forward-looking companies must understand that the rules for navigating e-commerce aren’t really new, they’re just different, and they have to adapt accordingly. The web has been a great leveler for brands, especially because advanced data and technology that was previously only affordable for top brands is now more accessible than ever before.
The key, though, is investing in the right digital tools that empower brand survival.
Brands: don’t get robbed because you only can monitor your product content. Ensure your content meets customer expectations by investing in solutions that allow you to identify the problem as well as fix it. This is your first step in not only surviving today, but winning tomorrow.
Kenji Gjovig is vice president of partnerships and business development at Content Analytics, an e-commerce solution combining analytics, content management and reporting all in one platform.
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