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What, why, and when of product feed management

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What, why, and when of Product Feed Management

The what, why, and when of product feed management

With ecommerce retail sales expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.5% from 2023 to 2027, organizations are confronted with both challenges and opportunities. For sellers, the primary focus lies in maximizing visibility and expanding their presence across diverse sales and marketing channels. Notably, brands that adopt omnichannel strategies retain 89% of their customers. However, each channel has specific appearance and structure requirements for your product feed.

Shopping channels evaluate the success of your advertising campaigns by analyzing product feeds, which also determine the relevance of the products. So, it’s critical to enhance the quality of the feed, refining the data sources, meeting the requirements of each platform, and ensuring regular updates. Navigating the increasing demands of a well-informed and value-driven consumer base while handling vast product catalogs calls for smart solutions. Enter product feed management – a tool for optimizing operations and enhancing customer experiences in the competitive ecommerce space.

Despite over 60% of consumers expecting brands to provide the information they need when they need it, less than half of them feel that brands are delivering. Bridging this information gap is where product feed management emerges as a strategic asset. It acts as a central hub, leveraging automation and machine learning to optimize one of the most tedious and time-consuming parts of digital marketing. If you are searching for a guarantee of retail success, it's essential to grasp the basics of product feed management and apply it strategically in your organization.

What is product feed management?

Product feed management (PFM), also known as data feed management, is the systematic process of optimizing the data within a product feed. It involves filtering, enriching, and organizing product data in structured files, typically formatted as text files, XML, or CSV. These curated feeds are then distributed to various channels, including ecommerce websites, marketplaces, and advertising channels.

According to McKinsey, 52% of all activities in retail can be automated with existing technology. In managing product feeds, automation not only makes operations smoother and reduces errors but also keeps data consistent across all touchpoints. With 70% of online shoppers saying that product content can make or break a sale, investing in good feed management not only makes data integration easier but also significantly improves the customer experience.

A well-optimized product feed improves search engine visibility by providing detailed product information. It also enhances online advertising effectiveness, ensuring that ads display accurate and compelling details, leading to higher engagement and click-through rates. Integration with other systems, such as Product Information Management (PIM) or Master Data Management (MDM), can enhance this overall efficiency by streamlining data management processes, increasing the results of your online advertising efforts.

Why is product feed management important?

In 2023, 30% of online shoppers started their product searches on marketplaces, followed by in-store browsing at 18% and search engines and brand websites at 14% each. How do they find you? Through your product data feed. Yet brands often think about product feeds in terms of completeness, populating every field of their data feeds and making them attribute-rich. This is key to basic data feed hygiene. However, it doesn't fully address the broader and strategic approach of data feed optimization.

Customers are using up to 20 channels and devices before adding an item to their online shopping cart— and they expect experiences to be consistent across them all. With the sheer volume of information online, consumers are now more informed than ever. Organizations need to accept this new reality and be prepared to be present and helpful to customers throughout their journey to purchase.

Here's how accurate and well-structured feeds contribute to ecommerce success:

  1. Improved customer experience (CX)

    73% of consumers believe that CX is a deciding factor when making purchasing decisions. A well-optimized product data feed serves as the backbone for a seamless and consistent shopping experience. It allows customers to access up-to-date information, compare products effortlessly, and make informed purchasing decisions. Product feed management also enables personalized and targeted marketing efforts, tailoring product recommendations based on customer preferences.

  2. Automated synchronization across all ecommerce channels

    Automated synchronization across all ecommerce channels is a key advantage of well-structured feeds. Two-way integration in feed management tools streamlines the synchronization of order data across various marketplaces. This process eliminates inconsistencies, saving time for merchandisers and enhancing the overall buying experience. The automation ensures that product information, inventory levels, and order details remain consistent across different platforms, reducing the risk of errors and improving operational efficiency.

  3. Efficient order synchronization

    With product feed management, orders from various marketplaces can sync seamlessly and in real time to your original order management system. This integration ensures precise inventory levels and order details across all channels. By connecting marketplaces directly to your system, an efficient workflow enhances the overall customer experience with consistent and reliable processes.

  4. Increased visibility and conversions

    To stand out in the crowded online marketplace, product feeds must be optimized with relevant keywords and attributes for platforms such as Amazon, eBay, and Google Shopping. By optimizing search engine visibility and keeping product information relevant, product feed management can help businesses rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Since 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, this heightened visibility can translate into higher click-through rates and conversions as your products align closely with customer intent.

  5. Centralized performance monitoring

    Centralized performance monitoring is facilitated by accurate feeds, allowing ecommerce businesses to analyze and track their performance across various channels from a single point. This unified approach enables quick and informed decision-making, as brands can easily identify top-performing products, channels, or marketing strategies. By monitoring performance metrics in real time, you can adapt your strategies to maximize efficiency and capitalize on opportunities for growth.

  6. Accelerated time to market

    Accurate product feeds decrease time to market by automating and ensuring the precision of product data. This minimizes the need for manual corrections, streamlining the process of preparing and updating information across various channels. The reliability of accurate feeds enables businesses to launch products promptly and stay ahead of the competition by providing consumers with trustworthy and up-to-date information.

  7. Maximized ROI

    Maximizing ROI is the ultimate goal of any ecommerce business. Accurate and well-structured feeds contribute significantly to achieving this objective. By minimizing errors, improving customer experience, and optimizing marketing strategies through centralized monitoring, well-managed feeds ensure that every investment translates into tangible returns. For instance, a seemingly small adjustment like optimizing product titles can yield significant results, such as a 151% increase in clicks, a 47% boost in CTR, and a 28% reduction in CPC.

When do you need a feed management solution?

Managing product feeds across diverse online platforms poses challenges for businesses. A dedicated product feed management solution streamlines operations and addresses coordination issues, manual overhead, customization hurdles, and errors. Consider adopting a feed management solution for effective management of your product feeds if:

  • You struggle to coordinate product feeds across multiple platforms

    Simplify the daunting task of managing product feeds on various online platforms by centralizing control. A dedicated product feed management solution takes the complexity out of handling product data, inventory, and updates across different channels.

  • You face manual overhead in scheduled feed updates

    Overcome the manual burden of keeping product information up-to-date across platforms. Product feed management automates scheduled updates, ensuring a consistent and accurate flow of information without the need for constant manual intervention, saving your team valuable time.

  • You find it challenging to tailor and optimize feeds for specific platforms

    Tackle the challenge of tailoring product feeds for diverse platform requirements. A feed management solution allows you to easily customize and optimize product feeds to meet the unique specifications of each platform and marketplace, improving the visibility and performance of your products.

  • You struggle to publish optimized feeds on various platforms efficiently

    Streamline the process of showcasing your products on different platforms, such as Google Shopping or Amazon. Product feed management streamlines the management and syndication of optimized feeds, making the advertising process more effective for your team.

  • You face challenges in proactively handling feed errors

    Address the challenges of identifying and resolving errors in your product feeds. A product feed management solution comes equipped with automated error detection, allowing you to proactively address issues before they impact your online presence, ensuring a seamless customer experience.

  • You find it overwhelming to manage the growth of product feed inventories

    Simplify the task of handling the growth of your product feed catalogs. Product feed management automates processes, ensuring efficient management as your product feed inventory expands, reducing the risk of errors, and enhancing scalability.

  • You struggle with bulk operations on product feeds

    A feed management solution facilitates efficient bulk operations, saving time and ensuring consistency in your product listings, making large-scale updates more manageable for your team.

How does product feed management work?

Let's delve into how product feed management works with the example of RunElite, a new line of athletic shoes. The product feed for RunElite includes essential details such as specifications, materials, sizes, colors, pricing, and availability. As the company prepares to introduce RunElite to the market, the challenge arises in presenting this wealth of information across diverse online channels, including the brand's ecommerce website, marketplaces, and social media platforms. Here's a breakdown of how it works:

  • Channel-ready content: Product feed management steps in to seamlessly format product information according to the specific requirements of each channel. This adaptability optimizes visibility and engagement and allows targeted outreach to different consumer segments, ultimately maximizing RunElite's presence.
  • Real-time updates: As RunElite gains traction in the athletic footwear market, the integration of real-time updates through product feed management becomes crucial. The ability to instantaneously adjust to changes in inventory, special promotions, or the introduction of new color variants ensures that potential customers receive accurate and up-to-date information.
  • PIM integration: The integration of an effective Product Information Management (PIM) solution is critical. It aids in onboarding, enriching, and syndicating accurate, consistent, and tailored content. This plays a key role in creating an optimized and cohesive online presence for RunElite.
  • AI-driven loop: Picture a continuous loop powered by AI. Customer feedback and current market trends act as fuel, feeding vital information back into the system. This ongoing cycle allows quick, real-time tweaks and improvements to RunElite's details. Thanks to AI, RunElite stays in sync with what customers want, adapting swiftly to changes and keeping up with the fast-paced world of athletic footwear.

With the entire process driven by AI, insights gleaned from consumer interactions and market trends can be fed back into the product information engine for real-time improvement, updates, and optimization. For example, consider a model of RunElite listed on Amazon as the color 'red.' Customer reviews reveal that people perceive the color as a bright orange, leading to returns. These insights can be promptly used to adjust the product information and update the color description.

Similarly, another model of RunElite is listed on the company's webshop, as they also engage in D2C sales. The company can leverage insights from its own webshop to create personas, e.g., fashion sneaker wearer or real pro runner, and contextualize product information. They can also conduct A/B tests and adjust content immediately based on conversion rates and website visitor data.

In both scenarios, AI plays a crucial role in analyzing data and recommending actions, as the sheer volume of data and the need for speed make AI indispensable in handling these dynamic processes effectively.

Feed your webshop nutritious data with Contentserv and Shoppingfeed

Elevate your ecommerce strategy with Contentserv and Shoppingfeed — the ultimate product stack for seamless product feed management. Contentserv's AI-driven end-to-end solution brings a host of features, from automatic feed updates to turnkey marketplace integration, empowering businesses to accelerate time-to-market and create personalized customer experiences at scale.

The integration of Shoppingfeed — an ecommerce feed management platform — takes this further, connecting the products managed by Contentserv with the world's most powerful marketplaces. Combined with technical integration into Contentserv's Product Experience Cloud, it also ensures synchronized inventory and automated order processing across various channels, including marketplaces, comparison shopping sites, social media ads, and affiliate marketing sites.

To create a closed-loop optimization process, you can leverage AI at each stage, from collecting and organizing product data to accessing key insights. This allows you to ensure real-time adjustments, deliver accurate information, and adapt seamlessly to market changes, maximizing the effectiveness of your online presence. With Contentserv and Shoppingfeed, your webshop becomes a reliable source of up-to-date information, offering a compelling journey for your customers.

Ready to elevate your product information strategy?

Grab your copy of The Forrester Wave™: PIM Solutions, Q4 2023 for deeper insights into the PIM market and discover why Contentserv is recognized as a Strong Performer.