Tag: product experience

5 Ways PIM Ensures Faster Time-to-Market

woman at the finish line

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.

Meeting Consumer Expectations – How Prepared Are You?

How to Meet Consumer Expectations

Meeting Consumer Expectations – How Prepared Are You?

What consumers want [and don’t want] and how prepared are you to meet their demands?

Contrary to reports of retail’s eventual death, the National Retail Federation’s “The State of Retailing Online 2018” study reveals that:

  • More and more stores open than close
  • Investments in omnichannel optimization remains high
  • Mobile retail success continues to climb

In terms of value chain innovation, Deloitte’s “2018 Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Industry Trends Outlook” gives retailers ideas on which technology trends to invest on:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) to provide consumers with online access to their store inventories and reserve orders for purchase or pickup.
  • Digital supply and demand networks for time frame reduction and cost-efficient deliveries.
  • Augmented, virtual, and mixed realities (AR, VR, and MR) for the creation and provision of highly immersive and engaging experiences.

A lot of doors are opening in the retail industry and it could only mean more new products in the market and a much tougher competition ahead for businesses. But no one is complaining; not even the consumers. In fact, with eCommerce sales projected to reach $4 trillion USD by 2020, it’s as if consumers are telling businesses that they’re willing to spend… on one condition: give them what they want.

But before giving them what they want, it’s best to first identify their pain points.

What Consumers Don’t Want

Branding expert, Helen Edwards, shares that there are seven distinct emotions visible in the human face and five of those are negative: anger, fear, sadness, disgust and contempt. And you definitely don’t want any of those to be associated with your brand when they visit your site.

According to Corra, consumers’ biggest pet peeves on ecommerce sites are:

  • 41.2% Poorly designed menu; lack of subcategories for key merchandise
  • 29.8% Too-basic search; no filters for advanced searches
  • 26.4% Products are buried behind too much branding

So, if you can eliminate these pain points, you’re on track to excellent customer experience provision.

What Consumers Want

According to MineWhat, consumers today perform the following online before making a purchase:

  • 81% research
  • 61% read product reviews
  • Check at least three ecommerce sites

What are they looking for? Information, information, information!

But of what sort? A National Retail Federation (NRF) study reveals that consumers don’t just aimlessly browse online; they actually look for something specific to buy and they want to find it quickly. That means before they type anything on the search bar, they already have an item in mind.

The same study also found out that 79% of consumers also factor in overall experience in determining whether or not they’ll buy from a brand or retailer – and how often. Central to that desired or expected experience are painless return policy, free shipping and credit card security.

So, how to cater to today’s consumers? The Nielsen Norman Group recommends to design for 5 types of e-commerce shoppers:

  • Product-focused.This group know what they want and are ready to buy once they locate the product. Speed is this group’s primary focus.
  • Browsers.They have time to kill and they’re spending it on your site. The key to this group is to be presented with what’s hot and what’s new.
  • Researchers. These guys have been to at least two sites before yours or even if you’re their first visit, they will definitely go elsewhere to gather more information. The key to this group is trust.
  • Bargain hunters. Definitely price conscious, this group are on the lookout for sale, promos and best buys. So, if you have such offerings, display them prominently on your site.
  • One-time shoppers. More often holding gift cards, these guys have no intention of coming back to your site after the purchase. Ensure a good experience by not requiring account creation before purchase.

Quiz: How ready are you to give your consumers what they want?

Giving consumers what they want starts from within. The following are some questions you can ask yourself to determine your readiness in providing your consumers with information they need:

  1. Do you struggle with maintaining your products when your product data requirements increase (e.g. rapid and constant product description updates, price and document version edits, etc.)?
  2. Is it difficult to localize your product information for different markets?
  3. Do people in and out of your organization have a tough time sharing or accessing up-to-date product information?
  4. Are you using multiple spreadsheets to manage your product information?

Do you nod at many questions? Then it’s high time for your to consider using a product information management solution (PIM). A PIM is foundational to building great product experiences.

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Fashion Influencer

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Why the fashion industry should be optimistic about the future and embrace upcoming challenges.

The heyday of fashion is over. This is how a lot of fashion companies in Europe and the US feel, following global issues such as Brexit, current US-China trade disputes and the rise of protectionism on both sides of the Atlantic.

On top of those, a lot of powerful players in the Asian region have left behind their cheap supplier role to directly and confidently challenge their European and American counterparts. And not only are they winning, they’re dominating their domestic markets.

Meanwhile, according to McKinsey´s State of Fashion 2019, emerging new markets such as India and China are developing at a rapid pace and overtaking the established ones.

While India currently has the highest growth rate, China, on the other hand, is now the world’s largest fashion market – ahead of the US.

Source: McKinsey, State of Fashion 2019, p. 26

In today, out tomorrow

Once upon a time, fashion manufacturers dictated how often collections come out and limited them to two a year. Nowadays, consumers not only expect something new all the time, but they drive current trends primarily via social media.

The power of the consumer influencer

Gone are the days when brands rule fashion from up their ivory tower, as today’s consumers have taken over. Self-confident and knowledgeable, millennials and generation Z tell brands what, where, how and when they want something.

Thanks to Amazon, they’re also used to not having to wait long. They use digital channels as a matter of course and have access to a multitude of product information, offerings and inspirations.

Thus, they have usually already made a purchasing decision long before they appear on the radar of companies.

They often don’t even get their inspiration from fashion labels and retailers, but from prominent social media influencers and opinionated peers, with emotional experience as the trigger.

The importance of brand presentation

If today’s consumers are both online and offline and on different channels, it’s essential for fashion brands to ensure a consistent brand image and product presentation on all touch points.

Although the work can be challenging, technologies such as Product Information Management (PIM) can help to centrally manage product data and deliver it to the right touch point – without spending too much time on manual work.

A PIM also has analytics tools that can provide insight into consumer behavior. With this, fashion companies are empowered to deliver a consistent product and brand experience to potential customers and influencers.

Digital channels as game changers

 

Source: McKinsey & Company analysis based on Instagram data, State of Fashion 2019, p 73

Social Media, whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube or WeChat, is the new showroom. Therefore, “digital first” should be a top priority for all businesses that want to be successful — big fashion brands, start-ups and niche providers, alike.

But unlike established brands, the newcomers are not slowed down by rigid business processes. The small challengers, in particular, are posting through the roof fan base growth rates of up to 300%.

With the help of new technologies, concepts and business models, they react quickly to market conditions and focus on customer interaction.

For them, e-commerce is the way to go, but in addition to their own shops, they also rely on the diverse possibilities of social and mobile commerce to reach consumers on the spot.

Among others, Patagonia uses Pinterest to increase sales opportunities and awareness

Sustainability and trust

In recent years, ethical resource management and humanitarian and social values have increasingly become decision-making criteria for consumers on whether to trust a brand or not.

Whether it’s the collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh or the burning of unsold collections somewhere else – various scandals involving global brands have left their mark on consumers.

Sustainability, fairness and transparency also play an important role in gaining trust, especially for the millennials and Generation Z.

According to McKinsey´s “State of Fashion 2019 Consumer Shifts”, more than a third of consumers include these points in their purchasing decisions: choice of materials, traceability of the value chain, uniform information and the sustainable use of products.

This can be an opportunity to realign the brand, examine new business areas and show a clear attitude with a consistent appearance. In addition, new technologies such as blockchain can help to document the supply chain seamlessly in the future.

Everlane pursues a sustainable approach and relies heavily on social media.

Using digital technologies

The path of the customer from first contact to purchase or the customer journey consists of a number of contact points. It’s almost impossible to maintain each point manually and, at the same time, provide consistent information.

But systems for the central maintenance, administration and output of product information, copy and media data, such as images and videos, can help to simplify this task enormously.

Analytics and product experience management tools also make it possible to get to know consumers better and provide them with relevant information at the right time.

E-commerce systems, mobile shopping apps, sophisticated search functions and recommendation tools make it as easy as possible for customers to find the product they want and make the purchase.

Partner platforms such as Amazon, Zalando and Otto increase the reach, and social media increases awareness, customer loyalty and the desire to buy.

There’s a lot of opportunities and chances, as well as challenges to tackle in the “Year of Awakening”, as McKinsey´s newest “State of Fashion 2019” calls it. So, it’s time to get down to business with agility, speed and new business ideas.

3 Key Steps to Winning Consumer Trust on the Product Page

3 Key Steps to Winning Consumer Trust on the Product Page

Getting consumers to your product page and getting them to purchase your products are two different things. The average ecommerce conversion rate hovers just below the three percent mark. That’s not quite three people out of every 100 visitors to your product pages are purchasing. So, you can’t afford to turn off any would-be buyers and they would be if your pages aren’t relevant enough.

Relevancy is more than a product match with a consumer. Unless you sell a very niche item, your product would also be available from a number of retailers. Anything from a shirt to a car can be bought across hundreds of sites across the web. One of the key pillars to relevancy on the web is trust, which makes a lot of sense since buying something online is somewhat final. (Even the easiest return policies are somewhat tedious, which is a reason why retailers with a strong brick-and-mortar presence tend to have better online performance.)

How do you convince consumers that you are trustworthy when they land on your product page? Below are three time-tested and proven techniques to make trust the key pillar on your product page.

STEP 1: Product Reviews

It should be no surprise that people trust other consumers more than they trust a brand. One survey states that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Reviews prominently displayed on your product pages will give people the peace of mind to make purchases.

What about negative reviews, you might ask? Most consumers are smart enough to realize that not every product is a great fit for everyone. Some people are more vocal than others and sometimes they’ll leave unflattering reviews of your products. Read them and take action, but don’t delete them. A bunch of five-star reviews is just as damaging as having no reviews at all. In fact, 82% of consumers seek out negative feedback only, so if they can’t find it there will be an even greater chance of mistrust.

Your product will speak for itself over time if it’s sold enough, but until then, be thankful for reviews left on your site. Think of them as a little bit of free content marketing from the people that matter most, your customers.

STEP 2: Authentic Photography

The first thing that should come to most product marketers is quality photography. But, quality photography and authentic photography are two different things. How many fast food restaurant commercials have you seen with amazing looking food only to be dismayed when you order the same thing at the restaurant? Those commercials don’t exactly exude trust, do they?

What exudes trust are user-generated content (UGC) like Instagram posts. Because consumers crave authentic photos so much, they take photos themselves to share with their peers via the platform. It became a phenomenon, so a social media agency based in New York gathered and analyzed data, and found out that “Instagram-style”photos increase conversion rate by 25% more than professional product shots.

A professional photographer can make anything look great, and they should, but, consumers expect to get the same thing they see online. If they don’t, and instead got a slightly worse variation, then your product pages will have the same amount of trust as a fast food commercial.

STEP 3: Knowing Your Customer

Perhaps the quickest way to earn trust is to know someone and help them solve a problem. While most products can be found across the web, they’re mostly flashed in front of you as if the product itself is enough reason to buy it. Typically, a person is swayed to spend money on something that solves a problem for them.

How do you know the problem that your customer is trying to solve? That takes persona research and the ability to display variants and suggestions based on who is searching for what. Once you figure out your persona pain points, then you can solve for those and offer your solution on the right touchpoints at the right time. By solving their problem, you’ve gained their trust. Personalization is so effective that according to Accenture, 58% of consumers are more likely to buy from a shop that offers items based on their history.

There are many other ways to prove your trustworthiness, but your product page is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Most people aren’t concerned with your corporate messaging and the educational sales funnel that might be set up. When they land on a product page you have a small window to prove that you are worthy of them going through the sales process. That’s done with relevancy, authenticity, and with proof from the people that came before.

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a PIM

Reasons why you need pim

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a PIM

The vastness of the martech landscape makes the process of software procurement rather unintuitive. It might be obvious that your company needs to refine its digital strategy, but since all the software vendors you speak with have a logical reason to invest in their product or platform, a sound strategy and direction are needed before you listen to your first pitch.

So how do you begin to build your strategy?

The architect of the building you’re sitting in didn’t begin with the top floor and work his or her way down. Buildings begin with infrastructure. Any digital architect will also tell you to begin with infrastructure and work your way up.

That being said, even digital infrastructure comes in different flavors depending on your business or industry.

If your business is reliant on catalog production, for example, a DAM might be a good foundational building block. If your business is centered around selling inventory online or even offline, then a PIM is a likely candidate to build upon.

Whichever direction you choose to go, it’s vital that you invest wisely, because starting from scratch is rarely an option, as platforms are time-consuming to research and not inexpensive to implement.

By understanding the functionality and limitations of different platforms you can rest easy knowing that you made the correct decision. Below are five reasons why your business needs a PIM. .

1. You’re Still Using a Web Content Management (WCM) Solution to Manage Your Products

This is perhaps the most common reason that businesses end up with a PIM. Running your online shop with an e-commerce platform or WCM before you have a PIM is a little like building your first floor before you dig your basement.

E-commerce can technically be used without a PIM, but it’s very hard to scale upward without the strict taxonomy and structure that a PIM inherently solves for.

Because of a PIM’s rule-based classification, matching and linking capabilities, for example, you can ensure high-quality data no matter the volume of data you onboard.

2. You Need a Shorter Time to Market

Having your house in order, so to speak, allows you to go to market quicker with any new products and variations of previous products. About now a light might be going off in your head.

The more SKUs you have, the more important it is to have them organized in a way that can quickly be added, maintained, searched and disseminated. Improving time to market speed requires collaboration from at least three entities: manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

With a PIM’s integrated workflow management capability, processes are automated and smooth collaboration and orchestration are enabled, effectively eliminating elements that slow down time to market.

3. You Want Your Business to be Data-Driven

With 47% of customers saying they would immediately take their business to a competitor the moment they experience poor customer service and 68% more vowing to never do a repeat business once they’ve switched, no wonder customer expectation delivery is critical to 81% of decision-makers.

Hence, the importance of customer insights. But if your product information and digital assets are stored across multiple ecommerce platforms or even local drives, your ability to discern any relevant data from your products is next to impossible.

A PIM allows you to have a 360-degree view from where your products are stored, physically, all the way through the sale and shipment of an item.

Of course, the all-important sales process, which channel is most successful, who is purchasing your products, and even help to refine your target messaging based on user habits and history, is front and center when it comes to PIM development.

4. You Take Personalization Seriously

A mere online presence isn’t good enough anymore. Now consumers expect a tailored experience no matter where they visit on the Internet. In fact, 74% of online consumers don’t appreciate content that has nothing to do with them.

If you can’t place relevant products in front of your target audience then they will simply purchase elsewhere, or not at all, as proper product placement can entice even a passive looker to make an impulsive buying decision.

With a PIM’s analytics and digital asset management capability, you can create remarkable content based on personas, campaigns and insights from product information and digital asset association.

5. You Value Happy Customers

It’s common knowledge that it costs much more to attain a customer than to retain a customer.

By having control of your SKUs from the warehouse through the buying cycle and to the front door, you can ensure that your customers aren’t getting the wrong size or color and that they’ll be as satisfied with the buying experience as they are with the end product.

Why the emphasis on experience? Because more than price and product, customer experience will be the key brand differentiator come 2020.

You know your business better than any software vendor ever could. To build your digital presence properly, having an idea of where to begin is the first step to a successful procurement process.

Once your foundation is in place, you can scale with the knowledge that the assets that your business needs to succeed are fully functional and carrying out a strategy designed for your business.

How to Leverage Personalization to Boost Sales

Personalization: Man holding a sneaker

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.

 

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 get the most of your 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!

 

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.

 

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.

Contentserv Receives an Outstanding Customer Satisfaction Rating in Gartner’s 2018 MQ for MDM Solutions Report

celebrating recognition

We are delighted to share with you that Contentserv, the Product Experience Platform leader, is recognized as a Niche Player in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management Solutions report.  Furthermore, they reported that we received an extremely high customer satisfaction rating, with respondents being completely satisfied with the product’s ability to meet the needs of their organization.

In a digital landscape dominated by all things “customer experience,” a recognition by Gartner is equivalent to receiving an Olympic gold medal.

So what sets us apart from the competition? While everyone else offers a standard end-to-end solution for master data and information management, we go above and beyond by zeroing in on what businesses need in order to provide their customers with an unparalleled product experience.

We’re also happy to have received high marks for initial technical implementation and deployment, and that we topped all vendors in the user onboarding and training category. Moreover, we’re elated that our customers repeatedly expressed appreciation for the platform’s user-friendly interface and configuration, and speed of implementation.

“As evidenced by Gartner’s MDM MQ report, we are laser-focused on serving our customers. They are our number one priority. Our goal is to help them be successful and we do this by developing a Product Experience Platform that it is quick to implement, easy to use, and offers the capabilities that exceed our customers’ demands.”
Christophe Marcant, Chief Product Officer

 

Read the Press Release Here

7 Keys to Crafting High-Quality Product Content

7 Keys to Crafting High-Quality Product Content

Content gets the bulk of attention these days when it comes to digital marketing. A quick Google search on content creation will pull up countless articles on blogging best practices, effective strategies, campaign ideas, social media trends, and so on, which can get people to your site.  Driving awareness is one thing, but it’s quite another to convert them into paying customers.

When it comes to product content, accurate, complete, consistent and relevant product information is king.

The following are seven ways to produce product content that will excite, engage and convert your audience:

1) Focus on your target buyer and personalize your offering

The competition to sell inventory across the web is fierce. You might only get one shot at selling your product to the right person. If you’re displaying the wrong product you’re out of luck.  People aren’t going to click into your site to find the right product if the one in front of them has no bearing on themselves. You have only one chance.

As an example, I have spent the last few weeks exploring new SUVs. Car dealerships in general have figured out that I’m looking for a new car, but some have honed in to the type I’m looking for. This ad happened to catch my eye, while I was casually scrolling through…

 

According to the 2018 Trends in Personalization report, 98% of marketers agree that personalization boosts customer relationships, while 87% share that they’re experiencing measurable success.

2) Create a compelling story

Writing product descriptions are no different than any content marketing efforts. They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but when it comes to a product, you might need  a short description (under 160 words) or long description (under 600 words) next to to the photo to bring it it to life. A coat in a product catalog, for example, is just a coat, until you pair it with an interesting backstory…

Why is storytelling important? According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchasing decisions happens in the subconscious. And the best way to reach that part of the human brain is through engaging stories.

3) Use an attention-grabbing headline

As with any piece of content, if people don’t read it it’s a waste of time to write it. The headline should draw your audience in for more.

How to write headlines that people will read? Well, first define which “people”, a.k.a. your target audience. There has to be something in the content for them to continue reading. According to copyblogger, 8 of 10 people will read the headline, but only 2 of 10 will go on to finish the piece. So, for your headline to have the power to grab and hold, it must contain the 4Us: useful, urgent, unique and ultra-specific.

4) Write original copy

Every product is different and when you have an inventory that has hundreds or even thousands of products, writing original copy for each one can be daunting, but it is necessary. Even beyond that, as mentioned in bullet one, writing original product copy for each persona can truly help the content be not only relevant, but persuasive.

 

www.blackdiamondequipment.com

Why is original copy important? Because it builds trust. Writing your own product description shows your belief in your product, respect for your customers and trustworthiness.

5) Product rich imagery

If you’re the type of person who spends time in the mountains and need a utilitarian vehicle, not many words need to be written for someone to click…

How important are images for product experience? 75% of ecommerce shoppers say product images strongly influence their buying decision. With images, consumers are instantly connected to the product, so they have the power to make or break the sale. If that’s the case, ensure that you put up high-quality original images as much as possible. It’s even better if you avoid using stock photography, as it will turn consumers off. You could also provide alternate views/angles and zoom. Finally, shoot a contextual shot. Show people how the product would look like on them or let them experience it with their imagination.

6) Have clear and concise descriptions

Original and descriptive copy doesn’t mean you have to write a novel. In fact, as with most text, less is more. As Dr. Seuss famously quoted “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” Or in the case of product content, making a chore of him or her moving on from your product.

Remember that most people today are on the go and using their mobile to read. Not only that, according to a Microsoft study, their attention span has become worse than the proverbial goldfish. From 12 seconds in 2000, it’s down to eight seconds in 2013. Plus, they’re naturally distracted, what with all the choices given them, so it makes so much sense to write a short purposeful copy.

7) Offer additional relevant products

So, you’ve got their attention, so what’s next?  Don’t stop there, show them what else they can’t live without.  You know who they are now, you know what they want, you have the ability to strike while they’re still on your site.

It doesn’t hurt to offer or suggest items that complement or supplement their purchase. In fact, it’s a known sales technique called cross-selling. Another technique you can use is upselling or when you encourage consumers to upgrade to a more valuable purchase.