Tag: pim

The Top 5 Challenges of Cross-Border E-Commerce

Top 5 Challenges of Global Ecommerce

E-commerce is thriving everywhere. Consumers today are savvier at finding what they are looking for, comparing products online and at making informed purchase decisions. Due to advancements in technology, it is easier now for consumers to look for the best deal, even outside their countries. And this, along with global e-commerce’s predicted growth of $4 trillion1 by 2020, is what makes cross-border e-commerce business appealing for brands. Here are the top 5 challenges of cross-border e-commerce:

Understandably, leaving the comforts offered by familiar local markets to venture cross-border is challenging. It is therefore important for brands to understand the challenges they may face so they can create a holistic strategy when starting to scale globally.

    1. Currencies. Currency is a clear obstacle faced by brands when selling abroad. It is frustrating for a consumer to have to compute exchange rates on their own, and this ultimately results in a poor experiences and lost customers. For instance, one in four consumers2 will abandon their shopping carts if the price is displayed in a foreign currency. Therefore, brands must have the ability to display the right currencies on their website and automate conversions, so the experience feels local for their shoppers.
    2. Payment Methods. Variety is attractive to consumers. Offering them multiple payment options translates to an easier sales process, and thus, more sales. Brands must know what payment methods are accepted in their target countries or regions, and make sure they can support such methods. In addition, they should also ensure that they offer the most well-used and effective payment methods cited by Statista3 as the top five payment methods by transaction volume worldwide:
        • Digital/mobile wallet – 41.8%
        • Credit card – 24.2%
        • Debit card – 10.6%
        • Bank transfer – 9%
        • Charge and deferred credit card – 4%
        • Cash on delivery – 4.5%
    3. Shipping. International shipping is both expensive and unpredictable. It can also be complex. On top of all the consumer-centric worries a brand may have over shipping, they must also be aware of important things to consider when shipping offshore. According to TBOS, an offshoring business service provider4, brands must keep in mind the following when considering cross-border shipping:
        • Custom regulations and fees. Brands must prioritize this when shipping internationally, because they are required to clear customs by filling out documentation and declarations for each receiving country and the country of origin. Corresponding fees also need to be paid, and it varies by product and per country. This means that brands must have a process in place to easily check fees for every country before shipping.
        • Shipping tariff. This includes the shipping fee imposed by the shipping company and other additional taxes. Brands should check the tariff rates of shipping companies before booking.
        • Time of transit. The product delivery date must always be determined beforehand. It is important to note that on top of custom clearing times, other factors such as weather changes, border checks, etc. may cause delays.
        • Medium of transportation. While choosing between air or sea shipments, time, cost, and the products to be sent must be considered. Airfreight is fast but expensive, while sea freight is affordable, but shipping takes longer.
        • Restricted items. Some items are restricted in some countries, so it is imperative to know restricted items per country to avoid fines and other compliance-related issues.
        • Insurance. Brands must also consider getting their products insured. Having this financial safety net can save brands trouble and money.
    4. Returns. 90%5 of shoppers check the return policies of a brand before finalizing a purchase. This is understandable, especially for offshore customers. Fashion products, for instance, as the most purchased items online6, see a lot of returns because consumers don’t want to risk purchasing the wrong size, color, texture, etc. It is therefore important for brands to minimize these types of fears from a shopper’s mind. Having a returns policy in place can, in many cases, ensure that a purchase will happen.  In addition, brands can leverage a return policy to be both a competitive advantage and a way to strengthen customer loyalty and retention. UPS cites5 that allowing the return of an item, specifically a free return, can entice consumers to purchase from a cross-border seller:
        • 52% say free return shipping is key to a positive return experience
        • 68% would complete the purchase if they see a prepaid return label
    5. Übersetzung und Lokalisierung. Didn’t understand that? Neither do non-German-speaking consumers. It is therefore very important for brands to pay attention to their localization and translation strategies if they want to take advantage of opportunities presented by cross-border selling. Brands must also be sensitive to cultural and language differences in their global markets. Translating e-commerce sites and converting currencies is a clear first step. However, for a brand to be effective at cross-border selling, it must go on full localization mode and adapt everything to fit a target consumer’s habits and preferences. This means:
        • Establish a localization team. Brands must assemble a localization team that will manage the translation and localization of product content – from product information, catalogs, images, etc. A project leader needs to oversee content guidelines and select content to be translated. The team must have enough knowledge of the field as well as awareness of the cultural nuances for each region.
        • Obtain the right tools. Brands must acquire a system that makes it easier for the team to manage product information across websites and e-commerce platforms. Expanding cross-border needs efficient management of multilingual versions of data, measurements, currencies, etc.

Is it time to go global?

Not every domestic brand has what it takes to expand globally. A brand can consider expanding across borders when:

        • They have outgrown their domestic market
        •  There is an international market for their products
        • They have mastered the art of competitive pricing
        • They have the bandwidth to expand
        • They are ready to support alternative payments
        • They have a scalable platform that can support the international market

Brands can venture into the untested world of cross-border e-commerce when they have the right business strategy in place and when they can support such strategy with the right technology solutions.

Explore the possibilities of cross-border e-commerce with PIM.

Sources

1 https://www.fierceretail.com/digital/top-5-challenges-cross-border-e-commerce
2 https://risnews.com/correct-change-foreign-exchange-secret-weapon-solve-cart-abandonment
3 https://www.statista.com/statistics/348004/payment-method-usage-worldwide/
4 https://offshoringtbos.com/important-points-to-consider-in-international-shipping/
5 https://www.ups.com/media/en/gb/OnlineComScoreWhitepaper_CN.pdf
6 https://www.doofinder.com/en/blog/best-selling-products-on-the-internet

Product Experience Management Begins with PIM

What is Product Experience Management?

Product information dictates whether a product sells or not. From the smallest detail that can be read, up to how an image is formatted, product content plays a key role for any business — to sell. However, while it is universally accepted that product content is one of the cornerstones of a successful business, it is still challenging to fully and intelligently use it to its greatest potential. In the end, product content fails to live up to expectations because:

/          There’s no solution in place to manage product data

/          There’s a solution but it’s not robust enough

/          There’s a solution but it’s not designed to focus on product experience delivery

So what can organizations do to make the most of their product data? Especially when managing data means working with thousands to hundreds of thousands of data? The answer involves adopting data management software.

What is Product Information Management?

Product Information Management (PIM) software is a data management solution that allows you to easily manage and deliver rich, accurate, complete and channel-ready product content – anytime, anywhere. Implementing a PIM solution to manage product data is key to start gaining the benefits rich product content can produce.

However, just implementing a PIM is still not enough. Consumers want their shopping experience to be easy and seamless. They want to know that a product is exactly what they need, and therefore need to have access to rich, accurate and up-to-date content. And they have options. If their experiences with your product are not great, they can easily go to another seller.

That’s why its critical to provide exceptional experiences to your consumers. It all begins with creating emotional connections that will entice them choose you over the competition. To do so, you must be able to predict what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. And you have achieve this using whatever data you may already have. This is not something a PIM can deliver alone. This is where PXM comes in.

What is Product Experience Management?

Product Experience Management (PXM) is the management and contextualization of your product content for the right channel, location and need. PXM enables the delivery of product information (that has been managed in a PIM) that is contextualized based on the channel, needs and location of your consumers.

PXM in Context

/          Promotions. By streamlining internal work processes and automating workflows, your marketing team can focus on defining a promotional strategy and bringing products to market faster. You can then easily prepare products and promote them for upcoming events or seasons within your target audience. This boosts sales while making consumers feel like you know what they need at just the right moment.

/          Recommendations and bundles. Bundling presents an opportunity for sellers to cross-sell or upsell related products that complement a shopper’s chosen items. These bundles can be offered as recommendations or add-ons that solve a customer need. With PXM, product bundles are easily assembled as required by an event, promotion or campaign.

/          Campaigns. PXM allows the assembly of different batches of products with external communication, be it print or targeted email campaigns, in order to deliver a message adapted to a specific time of the year and always from a product perspective.

/          Omnichannel publishing. With PXM, product presentation can be optimized for different channels. By pairing product information with a merchandising and marketing perspective, you can distribute it consistently across different channels in relation to promotions or enhancements you want to communicate to your customers.

/          Analytics. An intelligent PXM system is equipped with functionality to measure product performances and review the results. That way, it is easier for marketers in your organization to make decisions for products that audiences need to see at the right time. You can also use these insights to continuously improve your customer’s product experiences as it enables you to perform tests for products you deliver to the market.

Adopting a PXM solution is critical for companies that want to make that very sought after emotional connection to their customers. It is more than rich and up-to-date product information—it is how you deliver compelling experiences to your customers. It offers more than products; it makes them choose you because you connect with them through their experiences and needs.

How Can Brand Manufacturers Start to Understand End-Consumers?

Historically, manufacturers have used a tiered distribution system where they have a B2B relationship with distributors, who have a B2B relationship with retailers, who then have a B2C relationship with end-users. Manufacturers provide advertising and branding/messaging for retailers to use, and retailers, in turn, supply manufacturers with customer feedback.1 This is typically as far as their relationship with end-users goes, which is both distant and impersonal, and one they can’t afford in the “Age of the Customer” or “the transition of power from institutions and organizations to customers.”2

Consumer-brand expectations

Today’s consumers have more choices and higher expectations. According to ThinkWithGoogle:3
/ More than 60% of consumers expect brands to give them the information they need when they need it, but less than half feel that brands deliver
/ 59% research online before buying
/ 46% say they check online inventory before heading to the store

However, the information customers seek can only come from manufacturers. That’s why the middleman or big-box retailers, like Walmart, and e-commerce behemoth, Amazon, require manufacturers to supply detailed and rich product information.

Retailers own what manufacturers need

B2C marketing has always been the domain of retailers, and they rely on data to understand their audience. According to a 2019 Deloitte report in collaboration with Google,4 retailers use data to fulfill these objectives:
/ Improve user experience
/ Enhance core sales activities
/ Engage in emerging monetization opportunities

So, how can manufacturers get the data to get acquainted with consumers? They must establish a direct line to consumers by adopting a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model.

D2C and its benefits

Going direct to consumers means marketing and selling to consumers instead of using a middleman to gain benefits such as:

/ Insight from direct customer data. D2C companies gain access to first-party data, such as identity data (e.g. personal and social media information), quantitative data (e.g. transactional and customer service information), qualitative data (e.g. motivation and opinion)5

/ Brand control and ownership of customer relationships. By going direct, brands have control of their creative output and messaging on digital and social channels.6 They can also lead with their values and build and engage audiences while gathering more data.

/ Upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Based on a consumer’s profile, history and shopping behavior, manufacturers can offer high-end, alternative or complementary choices for shoppers to consider, as well as enable mixing and matching of assortments and other modes of personalization.7

Switching to D2C is not easy

Changing business models is not a simple feat. However, manufacturers can jump start their D2C efforts by:

/ Taking a digital-first approach. Going digital goes beyond moving traditional marketing online. It requires creating a strategy fit for the digital environment a.k.a. producing platform-specific content, optimizing processes and choosing the right tools to execute their vision.

/ Creating a content strategy. It can differ per company and industry, but according to Accenture, focusing on personalization can give manufacturers an edge, as consumers appreciate brands that 1) recognize them 2) offer recommendations and 3) remember them.8

/ Establishing product truth. Manufacturers deal with volumes of complex data – from technical specifications and warranty information to digital assets such as images and videos – which are typically scattered across the organization. Centralizing product data and its management helps improve data quality issues such as inaccurate, incomplete, outdated or lost information. Furthermore, establishing the right processes to optimize operations and promote accountability is also key in the maintenance of data quality in any organization.

/ Enriching content. Rich product content is composed of elements that enhance how shoppers experience a brand. These are a mixture of texts (e.g. attention-grabbing titles, detailed descriptions, etc.), different image types (e.g. 2D, 3D, dynamic, etc.), audio, videos, comparison charts, Q&As and ratings/reviews, etc. By leveraging digital assets, brands can easily produce engaging customer-facing content.

/ Delivering channel-optimized content. Brands must cater to the preferences of the new customers, a.k.a. millennials and Gen Z. They must meet these consumers where they are by delivering content and seamless experience throughout their journey. Today, it’s no longer enough for brands to have just a web shop, but they must be omnipresent,9 in other words everywhere (e.g. on e-commerce sites such as Amazon, manufacturer sites like Google Manufacturing Center, social media platforms, mobile and even on physical shops).

/ Leveraging analytics. Different channels have different KPIs. By optimizing content according to data gathered from each channel’s analytics tools, brands gain insight on the content types and deliveries that resonate with their audience.

In summary, understanding end-consumers starts with data. Brands can only access first-party data by creating a direct line to consumers through D2C. Success in the D2C space requires brands to create exceptional consumer-facing content and efficiently publish it across channels. To do this, they must first get their data in order. Although not simple, many manufacturers have successfully started this journey by using product information management (PIM) solutions. With PIM, organizations can easily manage and deliver rich, accurate, complete and channel-ready product content – anytime, anywhere.

Is Your PIM Digital Age Ready?

Is Your PIM Digital Age Ready?

Having a Product Information Management (PIM) solution as part of your IT system landscape is a strong indicator that you are getting ready for this digital age. Perhaps, then, the better question to ask is whether your PIM system is built to evolve as the digital age advances. It’s fairly cliché to bring up Moore’s Law when it comes to the rate of technology advancement, yet it is the easiest way to acknowledge the reality that technology will continue to progress faster than we anticipate. As such, it is necessary for companies to look at their current processes as well as their digital infrastructure to ensure proper support to their business operations, today and tomorrow.

Here are a few key aspects of a PIM system that are believed to remain relevant as the digital age continues to progress:

  • Establish a single source of product truth across the Enterprise
  • Integrate within an increasingly complex e-commerce ecosystem as marketplaces are shifting and new technologies are becoming mainstream like Internet of Things (IoT) or Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Provide personalized content by considering devices, personas, locations and overall context
  • Evolve at the pace of business

If your PIM software already has these capabilities, there is no reason to start nitpicking at the various other upgrades that it may offer. However, if yours doesn’t, let’s discuss why preparing your PIM software for the future is important.

Three capabilities a modern PIM should have

Customer-Centricity

Customer experience is crucial to any business’ bottom line. Your company’s ability to deliver powerful and emotionally compelling experiences to your customers will ultimately decide whether they will keep on doing business with your brand. Research now suggests that customer experience is the most pressing mandate for marketers, with 89% of companies expecting to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.

By being customer-centric, your PIM software becomes as much of an experience platform as it does an information repository. A digital age PIM platform should improve content quality by providing accurate, up-to-date, and contextualized product information across all channels. This means the consumer receives relevant data, always considering the circumstances be it mood, intent, location or device.

Software that puts the customer first will create a sustainable, competitive advantage that leverages complete, consistent and contextualized product information.

Integrability

Your product information is useless short of being able to share it across your company. Having a DAM (Digital Asset Management) solution to store and manage your digital assets is necessary. If your PIM doesn’t have one, you’ll want to ensure that your PIM and DAM are seamlessly integrated. Just as important as having internal integrations, your PIM will also need APIs to stream content to different online channels such as websites and e-commerce stores, so that your products are visible and able to be sold.

Personalization

Once your products are on the right channels, are you able to put the right products in front of the right audience? Can your PIM software collect data from the channels that your products are sold on and understand the products that should be displayed based on search histories? Today, PIM systems should have built-in personalization capabilities and smart product management should be par for the course.

A PIM software isn’t just another piece of software in your digital suite. It’s foundational to the digital presence of the most important part of your company, your products. As technology continues to move forward, ask yourself if you’re moving along with it.

 

10 Ways a PIM Solution Can Help Your E-Commerce Business Scale to New Heights

10 Ways a PIM Solution Can Help Your E-Commerce Business Scale to New Heights

Brands and retailers must disrupt their existing business models in order to cater to the expectations and demands of today’s consumers – who want everything available in just a couple of clicks. Failure to do so puts their business at risk of going under, fast.

However, self-disruption is a major undertaking involving people, processes and technology, and it’s not cheap. To fast-track processes and mitigate cost, brands must find a solution that ties all these components together.

What is PIM and how it helps?

A PIM (Product Information Management) solution helps brands and retailers collect, clean, enrich and distribute product information across multiple sales channels. It serves as the organization’s central repository for product information as well as a hub where internal collaboration begins.

Why is this important? The more data you have, the more complex its management becomes. A manual and siloed approach usually results in errors, operational inefficiency and a host of other business critical issues, which eventually leads to higher operational costs, revenue loss and worse, customer dissatisfaction.

Implementing a PIM solution not only puts all product data in a central and accessible area, but it streamlines processes needed to go to market faster and improves product experiences. By eliminating the challenges around product information management such as inaccuracy, incompleteness, inconsistency, duplicates, etc., businesses can put the focus on enriching their product content.

How? A PIM solution enables companies to deliver the right information to the right channels, at the right time – and in the right context.

Why PIM?

Ultimately, a PIM solution is foundational to the delivery of compelling product experiences. It is the starting point in developing campaigns and promotions based on personas, locales and preferences – enhancing the ability of brands and retailers to personalize and contextualize product experiences.

Learn more in the “10 Ways a PIM Solution Can Help Your E-Commerce Business Scale to New Heights

PIM + DAM: A Perfect Combo for Branding Success

PIM + DAM: A Perfect Combo for Branding Success

In the age of disruption where loyalty is a slippery slope, where can your brand turn to for not just survival, but success? According to the 2018 Yotpo study, you can still look to product innovation, as brand loyalty continues to rise and fall on the product:

  • 55% are loyal to brands because they love the product
  • 51% say they lose this loyalty due to poor product quality

However, the reign of a product as a key differentiator for brands ends in 2020 – to be replaced by customer experience. Products will not stop being a top priority for businesses, but they will need to evolve and incorporate “experiences” to its development.

For example, product development should be based on customer development, or learning about its target audience and what they need before designing a solution, rather than creating a product first and then launching it to the market – only for it to fail.

In e-commerce, customer experience translates to product experience. Ensuring that when consumers first encounter your product while researching they a) only see accurate, complete and consistent information, b) are offered added value, such as loyalty rewards, free and quick shipping, upsell and cross-sell and so on, c) see products with descriptions that are relevant to their persona or interests.

For marketing and branding, it means having an emotional connection with your target audience and deliberately eliciting a positive response via rich product content.

When Consumers Equate Brands with Experiences

Wherever consumers encounter your product (e.g., website, social media, marketplaces, etc.), ensure that you at least leave a good impression – if not a remarkable one -, because as Carl W. Buehner says, “They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

There’s so much truth to that quote; it’s even backed by science. According to Peter Noel Murray Ph.D.:

  • “When evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).”
  • “Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have a far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments, which are based on a brand’s attributes.”

So, how does branding and product experience work on your product page?

Here’s an example:

A typical product page has generic information that consumers expect, such as image, title, short description, price, checkout button and possibly a social media share button – just like the competition.

If you want to stand out, you have to offer visitors to your site something different and extra – rich and descriptive storytelling, benefits gained or where the materials/ingredients are sourced. You can even show a short video on how best to use it. You can even market your product with influencers or celebrity endorsements.

Whatever your creative strategy may be, the question is, “Do you have the tools to execute such bold ideas on your product page?”

Why Brands Needs Both PIM and DAM

A product information management (PIM) solution allows brands to automate the process of onboarding, validating, managing and publishing product data to gain a single source of truth. In short, brands can share complete, consistent and accurate product information across all sales channels and to their distribution network or retail partners.

How about digital assets? How important are they for branding? Studies say that:

  • 65% of information will be recalled by people if paired with a relevant image
  • 94% more views are registered by content with great images

But the clincher is, according to data attributed to the National Retail Federation (NRF):

  • 67% of consumers admit that product image quality influences their purchasing decision more than:
  • Product-specific information (63%)
  • Long-descriptions (54%)
  • Ratings and reviews (53%)

So, if you have an increasing need to manage high volumes of digital assets, then just like a PIM, a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution becomes an essential tool for your brand.

A DAM will serve as a central repository for all your image, audio and video files, as well as documents and other materials used by sales and marketing. It’s a simple and straightforward solution that centralizes digital assets for discoverability, consistency and control.

  • Seamless upload and management of all digital assets
  • Track when and where an asset is used
  • Eliminates the storage needed for duplicate assets used across different channels
  • Link products and digital assets for a 360-degree view of your products

A PIM+DAM combo is foundational to a phenomenal product experience. In the age of disruption, it gives brands the agility needed to create groundbreaking product experiences that consumers expect.

Are you ready to take your brand to the next level?

A Brief History of Commerce and Why It Matters

A Brief History of Commerce and Why It Matters

There’s no better advice than being present in the here and now.  You shouldn’t dwell on the past and you can’t live in the future.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t learn from the past and that you shouldn’t prepare for the future.  That’s especially true in the digital world where the past and the future collide, partly because the past is relatively recent and the industry prides itself on solving current challenges.  While the digital sphere is big, commerce plays a part in pretty much every person’s life who has any sort of connectivity to the internet.  Even people who have no inclination of making purchases online still share valuable information and are marketed to, one way or another.  The data we collect and how we’re able to use it is possible only because past challenges have led us to solutions that allow for this.  So, let’s take a brief journey down commerce memory lane.

When It All Began

Long before we began carrying portals to our online lives everywhere we went, the internet was in its infancy.  What was built to exchange information soon became the wild west of commerce.  People knew they could monotonize the online experience, but how to do so wasn’t quite clear.

The practical answer, to use the internet as a marketplace was still fraught with perils as security protocols had not been engineered or were still being developed.  Scammers saw the internet as much of an opportunity (as they still do) as legitimate merchants which made any online transaction a gamble.

On top of scammers from half a world away, the internet became a bubble thanks to prospectors which meant that while the technology was advancing rapidly, the company that you were hoping to do business with was likely to be short lived.

All of this was happening in a matter of only about six years.  It was after the dotcom crash of the early 2000s that people took a step back and realized that to have a successful online business you have to take strides to becoming an actual company with infrastructure, a business plan, a safe means of doing business and the ability to scale as more and more people began living life daily online.

It All Started with Amazon and eBay

While many came before him, Jeff Bezos created one of the first successful e-commerce businesses.  Amazon, founded in 1994, is an exception to the above in many ways.  First, its inception wasn’t long after the internet went mainstream when even in 1995 only roughly 40 million people had online access (compared to 2 billion people today), second they survived the dotcom bust when such stellar companies as Pets.com and many of their other brethren that were among the 457 dotcoms to go public in 1999 didn’t.  While Amazon didn’t come out completely unscathed, they invested wisely enough and had the foresight to move past their bookstore beginnings by concentrating on the customer experience (before that was even a thing) and expanding into online services for B2B, such as AWS, they have catapulted to the stratosphere as far as companies are concerned.

eBay is another online marketplace that both started it all and has made it to present day.  eBay began as an online auction place in 1995 and by allowing the public to both sell and buy on the site, making prices affordable and a place for rare items to be found, the site has continued to prove successful for almost 25 years now.

These are just two famous examples of the innovation and the differentiators that it took to be successful in e-commerce during its beginning.  While certainly these giants are not alone, they are the easiest to demonstrate success.

Brick and Mortar Moves Online    

Walmart opened their first online store in 1996.  In 1999 Target opened up target.com for business.  What both of these brick and mortar giants have in common is that their digital strategies have been reactionary to Amazon’s monumental growth.  It didn’t take a true visionary, even in the early days of the internet to see that people would like the convenience of purchasing online.  It did take a visionary to understand the reality to come.  Both Walmart and Target have invested heavily to catch up in the digital space and now with their already robust presence of physical locations might end up with an edge over Amazon who is now investing in a physical presence.

Unfortunately, while there are more stores with similar stories like Target and Walmart, there are also many that can’t claim success as the world has become more digitized.  Beloved stores such as Toys R’ Us, Radio Shack, and on another level, Blockbuster Video were unable to make the turn and are therefore no longer.

The Fine Line Between Digital and Physical

Just as it took visionaries to understand the importance of investing in digital infrastructure, it would have taken the same vision to see the blurred lines between digital and physical that are currently developing.  While certainly augmented and virtual reality are soon to become mainstream, which will only blur the lines more, the current situation is that the consumers see their experience as one and the same, whether they are online or at a store or at a store comparing products online on their phone.

The physical world is a place that can make a digital purchase extraordinarily annoying in that returning a product to a digital location is onerous, to say the least.  Companies are doing the best they can to overcome this challenge and this is why stores with an already large physical presence might have an advantage over a company that started purely digital.  Amazon has invested in Whole Foods and Kohl’s, where you can return any Amazon purchase, but most digitally born companies cannot buy high-end grocery stores or partner with a large big box retailer to compete.

The ability to reduce the number of returns is going to separate the coming generations of online retailers as convenience is weighed along with cost.  With an industry wide return rate of between 15 and 40 percent that amounts to over $400 Billion of returned inventory it’s apparent that digital and physical will remain eternally blurred and that there’s no such thing as a digital presence without a physical one.

Why It’s Important

While we never really know what’s going to happen, learning from the past and present is critical to future success.  Anyone who lives in an urban area today can look at every street corner and see what Segway did wrong.  The electric scooter industry learned that people will rent cheaply if they’re convenient and don’t want to look silly.  The ownership criteria and the stigma kept people away from virtually the same product as the scooters that we now see lining our streets and sifting through traffic every day.

So, what will commerce professionals learn for the future?  What’s already apparent and trending is the need to harness data for the sake of personalization.  But, doing that is easier said than done.  Much like a physical store, people who work in commerce are finding that online stores need as much of an infrastructure as a store at a strip mall.  Instead of steel and concrete, the infrastructure has fancy names like Product Information Management (PIM), Master Data Management (MDM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM).

Companies who have the vision and ability to invest in data management, personalization, a physical presence, and be agile (since tomorrow buyers might become robots and everything we learned in the past will become obsolete) will be the ones who join the likes of Amazon on the other side of the next bubble and continue to push commerce into the next frontier.

5 Practical Tips to Improve Your Data Quality

People looking at mountains

5 Practical Tips to Improve Your Data Quality

Data quality describes how well your data is able to serve its defined purpose, generally measured in terms of validity, accuracy, consistency, completeness and relevance. In other words, businesses know they have high-quality data when they are able to use it effectively to determine key business decisions. Data is considered “bad” or of “poor quality” when it’s inaccurate, which, unfortunately, is the norm rather than the exception in various industries.

The state of data quality report reveals:

  • 33% of organizations believe they have a lot of bad data
  • 49% point to human error as the main cause of data inaccuracies
  • 89% of the C-suite admit bad data hurt their ability to provide excellent CX

In the United States, bad data cost the economy a whopping $3.1 trillion a year, while organizations’ annual loss on average is at $15 million.

If you’re also experiencing losses due to bad data, here are five tried-and-true tips to help you improve it:

Streamline your approach

Look at how data is collected, processed, stored, consumed and distributed to come up with a streamlined approach. You can choose to work with your existing setups, get completely new ones or create a hybrid solution. The idea is to come up with one that provides visibility into your data, the level of quality, its processes and ownership of said data.

Break down data silos

Having different and separate data silos discourages collaboration between internal and external stakeholders. This can be solved by having a central data repository where users and workflows are defined, and processes and progress are visible. This ensures you’re working with a single source of truth and not multiple sets of the same data.

Automate data onboarding

Building on the previous point, having vast amounts of data in different silos can lead to inaccuracy of published content, which leads to a poor customer experience. To bridge the gap among these silos, companies need to automatically onboard product information from legacy systems, data pools, suppliers, third-party content aggregators and other sources quickly and efficiently. This eliminates errors caused by manual entry and maintenance.

Enforce product data quality checks

Manual quality checks and maintenance is not efficient for large volumes of data. You need to set up data cleansing, standardization, normalization, classification and categorization rules to transform your data so that it is accurate, complete, consistent and up-to-date.

Utilize a version control system

Track and manage all versions of a dataset to create a seamless audit trail for full traceability. With this, you can get rid of redundancies and duplicates to ensure up-to-date, audit-compliant information at all times.

3 Practical Tips to Reduce Your Translation Costs

3 Practical Tips to Reduce Your Translation Costs

A quarter of the worldwide web population uses the English language. Nevertheless, according to statistics, China and India have the highest number of online users. It is projected that by 2021, nine out of 10 new internet users from India would prefer to use their local language when surfing the web.

(Source: Statista, “Most common languages used on the internet as of December 2017, by share of internet users”)

So what about the Spanish and Arabic-speaking population or the 22.8% of online users using other languages? It has become crucial for global companies to be able to communicate in a variety of languages.

Why is translation important for your business?

It’s all about winning over consumers in new markets. New business organizations in India are taking on the challenge of providing a convenient way to translate the manufacturers’ default language to the users’ first language with just a swipe. Tech giant, WhatsApp (India’s most used app with 200 million users) has also taken notice and is now supporting 11 Indian dialects.

In the Arabic-speaking world, 88% of consumers prefer to shop or buy products in their parent language, but less than 1% of online content is in Arabic. Why is this significant? Because this market is young, has economic power and competition is low. Tech behemoth Google enjoys an almost perfect 97% market share and doesn’t have competition in the Middle East.

There’s a growing demand for content translation, but a common mistake businesses make is assuming that it’s as simple as running marketing materials through software. There are nuances to language; some words may have different meanings in different parts of the same country. English-speaking countries like the U.S., Australia and the U.K. – for example, have very different ways of using the English language. These subtle differences necessitate translation experts to ensure that your message is read and understood clearly, regardless of where (and how).

Translation can be quite expensive, but it’s possible to reduce the cost. Here are three tips to help your business along:

Curate easy-to-translate content

Translation agencies have different pricing standards, but the easier the material to translate, the cheaper it will cost. Furthermore, a lot of modern translation companies are using translation management tools, which remember words, terminologies and style guides which speed up the process by efficiently translating and localizing product content for multiple markets, only once, which reduces unnecessary repeat translations and associated costs.

Produce local content

Creating product advertisements in local languages, for example, rather than translating everything from the main piece, would save you on translation costs and ensure that you don’t make any cultural faux pas, such as KFC’s “Finger-Lickin’ Good” tag line translating to “Eat Your Fingers Off” in Chinese.

Centralize the translation process

Investing in translation management software is not enough to cater to a global market – you need an elevated approach. A PIM (Product Information Management) solution can support your translation initiative. A PIM is a central repository, where your global team can access a single source of product truth, in all languages, ensuring the accuracy, consistency and completeness of your product data.

Considering variations in languages, there is no way to eliminate translation costs. However, by allocating resources and streamlining processes, you can reduce your translation costs and use the savings to invest in other areas.

5 Ways PIM Ensures Faster Time-to-Market

5 Ways PIM Ensures Faster Time-to-Market

It’s common knowledge that the later you launch your new product, the more opportunities, revenue and profits you squander to your competitors. If you’re struggling to get your product to market, you’re not alone. Approximately 79% of new products fail to make it to market on time.

Time-to-market (TTM), typically in commerce, refers to the length of time it takes a product — from inception to sale — to be available for market consumption.

With more than 25% of total revenue and profits across industries coming from successful new product launches, it is not enough that you launch on time. To remain competitive, you must do so faster and more frequently.

So, where does the problem lie? Why does it take so long to launch a new product?

A major stumbling block to launching products on time is inefficiency, due to:

  • Decentralized processes and systems
  • Siloed product information and digital assets
  • Incapacity to curate or receive consumer-facing information
  • Inability to collaborate between business teams and partners

When your business operates in silos and takes a manual approach to onboarding, validating, managing and publishing product information; lengthy, redundant and error-prone processes, as well as file duplication, are bound to happen. Not only that, collaboration between business units is stunted, causing frustration on all fronts.

Satisfying the Need for Speed

“The early bird catches the worm,” so the adage says. To avoid being late to market and handing competitors the opportunity to command premium prices and capture the lion’s share of the market, you can utilize a product information management (PIM) solution.

Ensure faster time-to-market with PIM

  1. Quickly onboard products from multiple suppliers and systems
  2. Remove process and system inefficiency with automated workflows and tasks
  3. Gain insight on completeness and quality level of data
  4. View which stages your products are in your go-to-market process (i.e., incomplete, in review, ready for publishing)
  5. Publish/Syndicate to all online and offline sales channels with a click of a button

The results are real

Numerous businesses have touted one of the main benefits received after implementing a PIM solution is a faster time-to-market, going from months to weeks or weeks to days.  One of our clients – a very well-known fashion brand from France that has a strong global presence reduced their TTM from 4 weeks to 1 week.  Also, another client – a leading importer and distributor of fine spirits reduced time spent by 1,100 hrs./month.

Nevertheless, buyers should beware that not all PIM solutions are the same. With the right one, you can launch products faster, increase assortments, improve the quality of your data and even personalize consumer experiences.