Author: Osudio

We started with designing and building websites in the 90’s. Over the years, we grew into a full service digital agency, focusing on ebusiness. Since 2017, we are part of the SQLI group.Our team consists of entrepreneurial, inspirational and driven people who are not afraid of challenges. With more than 200 employees, we operate internationally and implement business-transforming projects from our offices in Belgium (Diepenbeek), Germany (Lünen, Stuttgart and Berlin), the Netherlands (Eindhoven and Amsterdam), Spain (Valencia), Switzerland (Zurich) and the Nordics (Copenhagen, Malmö).

How to Leverage Personalization to Boost Sales

How to Leverage Personalization to Boost Sales

Slowly but surely, digital-savvy companies have been pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. It’s because of these companies that today’s customers have higher expectations.

So, personalization today goes much further than just slapping the customer’s name on the email subject line and calling it quits. If this is still the extent of your personalization efforts, then it’s time to look into new ways to personalize your customer’s experiences, since personalization has been proven to increase your sales.

But where should you start? In this blog, we’ll give you an overview of systems that can contribute to a personalized customer experience.

The Importance of Personalization

As we can see in this infographic by marketingprofs, personalization helps in upselling, cross-selling and overall customer retention.

68% of companies have made it their top marketing priority, yet 53% of them lack the basic tools needed to make it a success across the board.

Furthermore, businesses that participated in the Boston Consulting Group’s survey indicated that they are expecting an annual revenue growth between 6% and 10% due to their personalization efforts.

The Seed of Personalization: Data

Even as companies like Starbucks are presenting their customers with tailored games through their loyalty programs, many are still stuck with email marketing.

And that’s perfectly understandable. Personalization requires an incredible amount of data. Not only do you need a lot of data, that data needs to be error-free.

For starters, have a look at the data you have. What’s in your analytics software, CRM, or marketing automation tools? Bring them all together and try to identify certain trends.

It always helps to have a clear view of your customers. A buyer persona can help you achieve this. If you’re still in the process of drafting your personas, you can find our Osudio Persona Template here.

Once you have defined your personas, you’re ready to start using them to define general rules.

However, more and more companies are going beyond general rules. They are looking at more specific things to personalize, like the websites that someone has recently visited or certain life events.

If you’re a retailer and know that a certain customer has recently had a baby, it might be a good idea to congratulate them with, say, a coupon for baby clothing or diapers.

While these are all great for driving revenue, you might want to hold off on applying them until you’ve become more familiar with personalization.

Starting at the Core: Your Products

Depending on the CMS your business uses, you might also be able to leverage its power in your personalization efforts.

For example, Sitecore allows you to change a page’s content depending on a user’s profile.

If you sell pet food and know a visitor has a dog, you can choose to only show dog food on your homepage.

However, getting your product data all sorted out is the first step in using them to create a fitting product experience for your customer.

You can try to personalize as much as you want, but if your products aren’t labeled properly, then it’ll be hard to show the right products to the viewer.

When your organization has access to a PIM system, that should not be an issue. A product experience management system goes even further.

It goes to great lengths to help its users personalize, allowing you to define personas and assign certain products or even different product pictures to specific personas. When such a system identifies a visitor as someone who is part of one of your personas, they will be shown the correct products at the right time.

Keeping Things Simple

Personalization can also be found in smaller things on e-commerce websites. If you notice that a certain person tends to buy the same product every month, why not give him a coupon to encourage him to keep doing so?

Another scenario: Profile A always buys product X and Y. So, if a customer that fits profile A’s description buys product X, you might want to show him a recommendation for product Y. Cross-selling or even upselling shouldn’t be too much of an issue anymore.

You can also play with the customer’s cart. Often, it’ll be loaded with products that they just won’t buy. They’re effectively window shopping online.

Most websites already save the carts when people leave, but they often forget to capitalize on it. Send them a clear notice of their cart when they return as a reminder.

While we’re on the topic of carts, why not personalize a banner ad based on what’s in it. An easy example would be your free shipping requirements.

Do you notice that the basket isn’t quite full enough to warrant free shipping? Display a banner with the message that they still haven’t met the requirements for free shipping. Add a few targeted product suggestions and you’re good to go.

You can also use the information you have on users to make their life a lot easier. If you’re using forms, let them autofill as much as possible.

This will make it easier for the customer to buy, which in turn will increase the chances of conversion. Or try simply offering different imagery and copy based on the location of the user.

The possibilities are endless. That’s why you should have a clear vision of which experience you want to offer your customers.

Contentserv and Osudio are more than happy to explain our vision on a product-driven customer experience in our joint webinar.

Sign up for our webinar: “Embrace Product Experience to Win in FMCG”

 

This blog was written by Brecht Beertens from our partner Osudio and is part of a four-part series of blogs focusing on the FMCG market in 2019.

 

How Product Data Can Increase Your ROI

How Product Data Can Increase Your ROI

Data is the new gold.  We all know this.  But how can you use data to fully optimize your business? 

You have data on customers, employees, processes and especially your products. We’ve already talked about how you can use your customer data for personalization and to increase sales in an earlier blog post in this series. But what if we told you that your product data could help you just as much, and maybe even more? That you could use it to reduce costs, speed time-to-market and future-proof your business model?

Getting a Grip on Your Product Data

Before you can start harnessing the power of your product data, you have to first organize it. When we talk to a company about their data, we notice that it’s often scattered throughout the whole organization. Person A, for example, has an Excel file, Department B has built something in their ERP, while person C has yet another Excel file… But which system contains the latest versions?

That’s where Product Information Management systems or PIM will save the day. Simply put, these databases are designed to hold, manage and distribute product data across all channels and departments. Most connect to a CMS and publish data in your web shop. Some also connect to a print plugin that makes generating catalogues much easier.  All ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your product specifications.

Shortening Your Time-To-Market with a PIM

Robust PIM systems come with a portal that is built specifically for your suppliers to onboard their data. If you’re a retailer or wholesaler, this will be a familiar scenario: One of the brands that you offer releases a new product and you plan on selling it through your online store. How long does this process currently take you?

With a PIM system, the supplier could already fill in most of their specifications in the system themselves. Once one of your employees verifies the data and, if needed, makes some adjustments, it’s uploaded, then you’re good to go. Of course, you don’t have to worry about suppliers seeing things they shouldn’t see. Their view is restricted to the data of their own products.

This means that you will only have to spend a few minutes to make sure that a product is ready to be published on your store. Additionally, edits can be done so much faster than before. In roughly eight minutes a product can be updated, processed and published online, which is roughly 30% shorter than it is for most companies. In a time where speed is of utmost importance, this could give you a significant advantage against your competitors.

Catching the Wave of the Long Tail

However, an increased speed isn’t the only advantage. You can finally make use of what’s called “the long tail of the Internet”. In essence, companies that adopt a long tail strategy dramatically increase their product assortment through niche products. These products then come with higher margins. Since the cost of adding them to your online  store is much lower than they used to be, it’s a good investment – even if you don’t sell a lot.

Since these niche items often don’t get a lot of traffic, they don’t tend to receive much love and care from the product data teams. Other products that drive more traffic will always be a priority. However, now that the suppliers can do a part of that work for you, it’s far easier to manage the quality of the data and imagery that’s being displayed.

Saving Money on Returns

Returns are an enormous source of cost for many companies. According to Trusted Shops, fashion has to deal with a return rate of up to 30%. The logistical costs and man-hours that have to be invested to handle the entire return process can quickly start to eat into your revenue.

The best solution for your problems with returns would be to offer higher-quality data on your product pages. Through a PIM system, your data would be more consistent, complete and contain less errors. These three factors would immensely decrease your amount of returns.

Are you curious as to what else product data and PIM can do for your business? Then sign up for the joint webinar between Osudio and Contentserv! Contentserv is a worldwide leading software provider for PIM solutions

In our webinar “Embrace product experience to win in Fast Moving Consumer Goods”, we will talk about how you can leverage your product data, not only to drive more revenue, but also to provide tailored experiences for your customers.

 

Sign up for our webinar: “Embrace Product Experience to Win in FMCG”

 

This blog was written by Brecht Beertens from our partner Osudio and is part of a four-part series of blogs focusing on the FMCG market in 2019.

How to Easily Avoid Bad Product Images

How to Easily Avoid Bad Product Images

Imagine this: You’re in a crowded shopping center. There are numerous clothing stores that line the hallways. But how do you decide which store you’ll enter? There are two options. Either you go to the stores you know, out of habit, or you start checking out the clothes on the mannequins in their shop display. The way those mannequins are dressed and posed will make you decide whether or not you want to have a look. Now what’s so different about an ecommerce platform? There are thousands upon thousands of options, and places to buy but how do you decide which products you’ll click on? The exact same way. You look at pictures, see which ones you like, click and read more. If your product isn’t represented by the correct image, you won’t get any clicks. But it’s more than just matching the right image to the right product. It’s giving people a certain feeling.

How do I make my product images shine?

Like most things in modern marketing, you start from your brand and your persona. First of all, what does your brand stand for? What does it embody? Let’s stick with the example from the intro. If you’d own a clothing store that’s targeting an older, more mature public, you’re not going to use screaming colors and intricate compositions. Often, they’ll go for soft colors, accompanied by a minimalist layout. It creates a sense of relaxation. A hint of what is to come when you shop at one of their stores. A picture that’s used to sell a simple black dress to a 45-year-old won’t have the same look and feel as a picture that you use to sell that same dress to a 25-year-old.

Next to your brand, it’s your personas. What are they looking for? What do they like in an image? All-in-all, these two should not clash too much. Your brand should be built to cater what your personas want in the first place. That doesn’t mean that it’s useless to look at it from both perspectives. If you notice a huge difference right now, it might be a good idea to reevaluate your personas or your brand.

Even more preparation…

Now that you have an idea of which atmosphere you need, it’s time to start setting up a briefing for the creatives. If your company has an in-house Art Director, do pay them a visit. They’ll be more than happy to help you out! If not, then you’re still not on your own. I’ll give you a few pointers that you have to include in a simple creative brief.

What you definitely need to write down:

  • What is your desired atmosphere?
  • What is your goal?
  • What are you trying to communicate?
  • Where will the pictures be used?

Try to fit it all on one page. Be clear and concise. If something you write can be interpreted in a different way, reword it. You do not want to take any risks here. Aside from this document, there are two more things that will help out the person in charge. Wording a desired atmosphere can be incredibly difficult. That’s why you can try to create a moodboard. Pinterest is an amazing tool for this. Just make a separate board for your product images’ desired atmosphere and start pinning photo’s that capture the atmosphere you want.

Another handy document to include in your briefing would be a corporate styleguide. It’ll give the photographer an insight of which fonts and graphic elements will be surrounding their images… That way they can keep those in mind while shooting. If your ecommerce store isn’t online yet, send them a few of the wireframes so they can get a feel for the layout their pictures will be used in.

Finding the right person

The next step is finding the correct photographer. Please, do not go and make the pictures yourself. Even if you own an expensive DSLR camera, I would advise against it. A professional photographer has access to an entire studio and, of course, his or her extensive experience and skill.

It’s not a choice to make lightly. Every photographer has their own niche. In this case, look for someone that’s specialized in product images. Some sectors, like food or automotive, have their very own set of recognized photographers. Maybe your product type has some as well? Wonderful Machine can be a helpful tool in your search.

Whatever you do, don’t just settle for whoever is closest or cheapest within your niche. Have a look at their portfolio. Does it match the style that you want? If it does, it is definitely worth some extra money to get those product images picture-perfect.

The three paths forward

Fast-forward a few weeks or months. Your photographer has delivered all the images to you. There’s an imposing folder with a quite some gigabytes of pictures in it. What do you do now? That’s entirely up to how your organization handles product data and product assets. Right now, there are three options.

Number 1: You have no real master data management solution. This means that you’ll be doing a boring task for a while. You’ll probably have to upload each picture manually… Good luck with that!

Number 2: You have a custom-built master data management solution in place. In this case, I’m afraid I cannot help you. Your system might be linked to your website. It might not be. Your best bet is to contact your IT department and ask them for help.

Number 3: You have a standardized master data management solution in place. A lot of these solutions have an option to batch upload it. If your images have been properly named, and your data feeds are set-up properly, you might be able to do this with the push of a button.

The power of proper Data Management

Let’s assume our example’s clothing store decided to walk path number 3. There are many options on the market. Let’s keep it simple and stick to one tool. I’ll assume that in this scenario, Contentserv’s PIM and DAM solution fits their needs to a T and has already been implemented.

If we use a simple black dress as an example, it would already be part of their PIM system. Their stock, material, available sizes, other colors, manufacturing details… It’s already there. Now they just need to attach the correct picture to the correct product. They can manually attach the picture to the correct dress, or they can automate it.

If you want to automate, you will have to make sure that your dataflow module is set up correctly. You simply need to make sure that the system has a structured list to follow.

While uploading, the system will look at all the attributes associated to each product  As the data from this system is pushed to your website, everything has already been updated there as well. Right now, your website has the product images that it deserves.

But that’s not where it ends. Since your professionally shot images are already in your PIM system, you can also use them for other means. If our clothing store wanted to print a brochure for their new collection, they could export all the data from their system. That way, their catalogue will be finished in a matter of days instead of weeks. Without a wrongly placed image, price or description.

The key to achieving this lies in a publishing hub. This piece of technology will connect your designer’s software to the PIM and DAM. Inside the PIM and DAM, you can simply check which items and attributes are needed for your catalogue. You can also write a few checks to make sure that your content is up to snuff. Are your images all CMYK? Is their resolution high enough? This all means that your designer doesn’t have to waste time finding the right images and products, while the information in the catalogue will be more consistent and accurate than ever.

Using a PIM system guarantees that you will provide the correct and consistent information across all of your channels. Using your product data and images to create the right experience is key in today’s ecommerce landscape, especially in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). Contentserv is proud to say that they are the front-runner when it comes to Product Experience Management. Do you want to learn more how Osudio and Contentserv see the future of PIM in FMCG? Sign up for our Webinar: “Embrace product experience to win in FMCG” here!

 

Sign up for our webinar: “Embrace Product Experience to Win in FMCG”

 

This blog was written by Brecht Beertens from our partner Osudio and is part of a four-part series of blogs focusing on the FMCG market in 2019.

E-commerce’s Growth Skyrockets. Are You Ready for Change?

E-Commerce’s Growth Skyrockets. Are You Ready for Change?

“By 2037 e-commerce will overtake traditional commerce.” That’s the harsh reality according to Nielsen in their report “Future Opportunities in FMCG Ecommerce”. The year 2037 might seem like it’s still far off, but it’s a reality that will surely come. E-commerce is everyone’s highest priority and this report tells us that it will dominate even further in the years to come. That’s why it’s time to start evaluating and reinvesting in your e-commerce solution now, so that you’ve done your fair share of optimizing by 2037. Where should you start? There are a few tools you’ll need to look at to make yourself ready for the changes to come.

What will change?

Quite a lot, actually. At the moment, there are plenty of new technologies that are worming their way into the consumer’s daily life. An example would be voice technology. As Google, Amazon and Alibaba continue to improve their speech recognition algorithms, which has pushed past an impressive 95% word accuracy rate for the English language, more languages will follow soon enough.

This technology combined with home devices and modern smartphones open so many possibilities when it comes to commerce. And we haven’t even touched upon the other new kids on the block such as VR, AI, and mobile payments…

All of these advancements are predicted to give e-commerce that final push to overthrow brick-and-mortar stores. However, this also means that there’ll be more and more channels to distribute your product through, so keeping your messaging consistent across all channels is incredibly important. How are customers supposed to trust a brand that says one thing on Facebook and another on their website? This makes omnichannel commerce an enormous challenge for many companies today. What more once even more channels are added?

Even today, 80% of the citizens of Western Europe are actively buying online every month according to the Ecommerce Foundation. But before you learn how to run, you have to learn how to walk. By improving your e-commerce now, you can make sure that your omnichannel strategy is up to speed and sustainable for growth going into 2037. That way, you can offer a complete and consistent experience to your customers as soon as possible.

Preparing for e-commerce growth

Many organizations have already made great strides in the digital world. On the flip side, there are also companies that haven’t. Let’s assume your organization is part of the latter group. What do you do? How do you make sure that you are ready for 2037? No worries, we’ll break it down into some easy-to-digest steps. That way, you’ll know where you have to start your journey to omnichannel success.

1. Make sure your data is under control

First of all, you’ll want to make sure that your data is fully under control. If you make mistakes here, you’re sure to hit a brick wall in your e-commerce growth. A customer needs to be able to trust your store, which is why you need to make sure you provide a fitting and consistent experience for them. Supplying them with incorrect or outdated information will definitely throw a wrench into your relationship with your customers.

Let’s say your business sells furniture. If the sizes of a cupboard are wrong on your website, you can rest assured that you’ll receive quite a large amount of complaints. How would you feel if you ordered your dream cupboard online, only to find out that it’s one centimeter too high to fit into your room while assembling it? If you invest in a good PIM solution, you can rest assured that this won’t happen to your customers. At least, for the things they buy from your store.

2. Choose your e-commerce solution

Once your data has been whipped into shape, it’s time to take a look at your ecommerce solution. This one’s a hard choice to make. Do you want to settle for one big monolithic solution that takes care of everything out-of-the-box? Or would you prefer the flexibility of an API-based approach? There are differences for you as a company and the way you’ll work with it. If we’re going to continue with the furniture store example, this is just where a customer would buy your furniture online.

Of course, there are more nuances to picking the right platform. Depending on the needs of your business, the chosen system can be completely different. In the end, this is not a decision that should be taken lightly. If you still want to learn more about this, I recommend checking out our whitepaper “The Ecommerce Selection Handbook”, as this is not the main focus of this article.

3. Connect 1 and 2, then start personalizing

You might think you’re finished now, but no. You’ve only got your basics covered, and there’s still much work to be done. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be proud of where you are now! You can sell your products online and you can be sure that all your information is standardized and correct. That’s quite a feat already! But there’s still work to be done. Now that the foundation has been laid, it’s time to start optimizing!

Take a good look at your website and e-commerce store. Is everything clear? To you, it might be. But what about that first-time visitor to your website? Do they know what to do? Try to look at it from their perspective. Try to gather as much data as you can. Check your preferred web analytics tool, look for market research and try to conduct your own interviews and A/B tests.  Once you know what people want and where it goes wrong, it’s time to start incorporating what you’ve learned.

Make sure you don’t lose track of your other channels, though! If you’ve noticed a softer tone-of-voice works better and update your website, update your other media, too! You could compare your brand to a person here. If a person treats you completely differently in certain situations, you probably won’t trust him or her. It’s the exact same for customers and brands. That’s why consistency is key across all of your channels.

Improving your store is a never-ending process. There’s always something to optimize or something to recheck. The sooner you get started, the more things will have been done by 2037.

Personalizing experiences for e-commerce growth

After all of this, we still haven’t touched upon personalizing content. Whether it’s an introductory message for a first-time visitor or even different content based on which website the visitor is coming from. It might sound like science-fiction to some, but a good omnichannel strategy that is focused on product experience makes it all possible. According to research by Sitecore, personalizing customer experience can lead to an increase of 19% in digital conversions.

Check out this video by Sitecore if you want more info:

Your store also has room for personalization if you want to get the most out of your e-commerce solution. The “product recommendations”, the “often bought togethers” or the “users also looked at” sections. They’re nothing to scoff at! Thirty-five percent of e-commerce giant Amazon’s sales comes from their perfectly optimized recommendation engine. That’s a rough 62.2 billion dollars’ worth of revenue, for those wondering.

Your connected PIM and the personas defined in your CMS make it easy to keep all your personalization efforts consistent across the board. Focus on product experiences and do the work that needs to be done to build the entire experience. Then push it to your system and present a potential customer with a total product experience. Doing so will cause him or her to start to trust your information and your company. What is part of that product experience? Is it only the sizes and technical details of the cupboard you provide? Or does it have more aspects? We’ll discuss the essential parts of product experience in our upcoming webinar.

 

Sign up for our webinar: “Embrace Product Experience to Win in FMCG”

 

This blog was written by Brecht Beertens from our partner Osudio and is part of a four-part series of blogs focusing on the FMCG market in 2019.