Importance of Product Data in E-commerce
E-commerce has been growing at an exponential rate, and while a lot of businesses are entering the market, not all of them make it in the competitive environment and eventually have to exit. We know great Customer Service and Product Quality are essential to survival in the world of e-commerce, but an even more important element that contributes to your success is Data.
Think about it. When you visit an online store, what is the first thing you see? Is it the product’s title or images? Or maybe the product’s attributes? It has to be one of these things that you base your buying decision on. Without these features, online marketplaces would not be able to attract and retain customers. After all, they lack the personal touch that comes with being able to hold a product and see it right in front of you. So obviously when consumers shop online, they need data that helps them create the perfect visualization of the product. This data includes the product’s images, description, title, and anything else associated with it. However, unfortunately, not every online business owner understands the importance of managing product data, and not all can master the art of doing it well.
Traditional methods such as spreadsheets, word documents, and pdf files are confusing and error-prone. They don’t allow for data to be shared easily across other channels, lacking consistency and accuracy in their ability to generate and maintain data. And because most of the time data entries with these traditional methods are done manually, the process becomes very time-consuming for employees.
Modern businesses need faster information sharing, and consumers need complete product information updated in real-time. Consumers greatly value convenience which is why product data management has become more important than ever for businesses that are moving toward digitization.
Why Product Data Management is Vital
Customers are the most critical factor in your business. Where there’s no consumer, there’s no sale; where there’s no sale, there’s no business! Hence, the main aim of every business is to provide customers with the best product experience so they turn into buyers, and ultimately become regular buyers. And a great product experience comes from great Product Data Management.
Having product data that is comprehensive, correct, and consumable allows you to categorize all your products properly and integrate it into online channels. Clearly structured, formatted, and labeled product data makes it easier to combine or split product data to create new attributes, for e.g, by picking out the attributes color or style from the product title, your products appear in various different categories on the online marketplace, increasing your chances of sales and ensuring a prominent online presence.
If information is incomplete, and product attributes are either missing or incorrect, customers will lose interest and trust in your brand leading to higher returns, refunds, and fewer sales. Similarly, if product data is not updated in real-time, products that are out of stock may be shown as ‘in-stock’ and this will become frustrating for customers who won’t come back to your brand and may share their bad experiences with their peers. Hence, the slightest inaccuracy can lead to a loss of customers for the brand.
Ensuring that customers have a good product experience through efficient product data will lead to loyal customers that come back for repeated purchases from your brand, and reduced returns and refunds. They would much rather shop from a brand that delivers accurate product data. No consumer likes to go through the hassle of returning something because it wasn’t how it was shown or described on the website; we know we don’t.
The way a brand presents their product information is a reflection of who they are. While anyone can produce content, not everyone can deliver content that is powerful enough to grasp the attention and interest of the consumer. Product data is an asset for a business, and it can make or break a sale for them. Let’s go over what good product information looks like, and what it shouldn’t look like.
The “Sunny Wester Shirt” is an example of how not to present your product data as it is vague and does not align with the product in question. A customer interested in this product might search for something like a “Blue, denim” shirt, and this product won’t show up. With such inaccurate product listings, you run a high risk of a large number of website audiences never finding your product, resulting in lost potential sales.
However, in the next example, the main attribute of the product is clearly mentioned in the title, making it more likely to appear in searches. Anyone looking for “high waisted” jeans, or “skinny” jeans, or both, will come across this product, increasing the likelihood of your items being sold.
So do you see how the strategic placement of just your product data can drastically increase the chances of your online store making a sale? But if it is that simple, then why aren’t all businesses doing it right?
The answer is a lack of resources. Since a lot of businesses still carry out their processes manually, they overlook the need to list their product data strategically. So what’s the solution to this problem? Well, let’s discuss that in the next section.
Product Information Management (PIM) system: The solution to your Product Data concerns
For customers to have the optimum experience with your product, your data should be properly collected, maintained, and updated. You should be able to govern and control it across all your channels i.e. your retailers’ online stores. This is possible with a PIMs.
PIMs can manage anything from technical data: specifications, measurements, etc., and product descriptions to visual elements: catalogs, images, videos, and PDFs. This tool tracks all changes we make to products in real-time and enables the integration of all information between different platforms by unifying and synchronising it.
- Make Data collection Easier and more Timely
Since all information is streamlined in a PIM system and every employee can have access to it, teams can work collaboratively without any delays or confusion to provide the most relevant information to the end consumer.
As a PIMs reduces the need for constant manual work, you can also save a lot of time on tedious tasks and focus on more important ones. As they say, “Time is Money”. In business, this saying holds true since every minute spent on something redundant could be a potential sale lost if work is not handled efficiently.
- Version, Control, and Depreciate Data
PIMs gives customers consistent access to detailed and relevant product information, reducing instances of product returns or complaints, as well as shopping cart abandonment.
New products can be made available to customers in much less time than usual. Access to all this information also enables manufacturers and retailers to serve their customers better.
Information centralization and the synchronization of data allows the unification of information, preventing typical errors and inconsistencies from occurring. This puts the company in a good light when compared to its competitors.
If your product information is always updated, complete, and free from inconsistencies, this will favor a positive user experience. Comprehensive, accurate, and consumable data will give you the ability to be creative and flexible with it, displaying your products across multiple channels to reach the greatest number of consumers and give them an optimized buying experience on your site.
Using a PIMs properly means doing things right from the very beginning, before actually using it. The right vendor knows they have to help your team implement your new PIM before you can use it. This involves the following 4 stages:
- Cleaning your data.
- Structuring your PIM to fit your needs.
- Adoption by your team.
- Notifications and WorkFlow.
With Apimio, you can go the next mile and ensure data in its most accurate form reaches your retailers, without including any other means of communication. Straight from your PIM invite, your retailer can have access to all your latest product feeds.
These can be in the form of:
- Integrated feeds via API
Our API feeds allow manufacturers to build, maintain, and integrate custom feeds with retailers, and programmatically manage products, orders, and more.
- CSV files
Through CSV files, manufacturers can upload all important and relevant information including product images and attributes, to online marketplaces. Channel partners can then export this or other important product data in the form of CSV files, modeled according to their internal file structures.
You can also:
- Have retailers syndicate to e-commerce platforms and marketplaces with Connectors
Sharing product data with retailers and ensuring it is accurate and complete is essential to a manufacturer’s success. However, with so many retailers having their unique requirements, it can be hard to get information to the right place at the right time.
You can share and update your product data with your retailers and promote trustable relationships between each other. With pre-built connectors, channel partners and retailers can syndicate product data across their selling platforms. Manufacturers can stay up to date with their retailers’ requirements and provide them with information as needed.
Product Data is your Asset
Product Data is your business’s strongest asset in e-commerce; make sure you use it to your power. Tools like Apimio help you achieve multiple results with one action. So let go of all the manual labor that’s slowing down your team; shift to automated solutions now.
An ERP contains different parts of data, including product, customer, logistics, and financial.
A PIM system on the other hand is designed solely to manage and store product information in a central location, and optimize it for sales and marketing purposes.