Forrester, Facebook & StrikeTru: Insights

How To Successfully Maneuver eCommerce in 2020

23/07/2020 | by Nandita Mohan

As concerns over COVID-19’s overnight impact on shopping behavior and eCommerce continue, investment in automation and modernized data sharing tools are more crucial than ever. On Jul 16, Productsup, a leader in eCommerce data integration, hosted a webinar with Forrester, Facebook and StrikeTru on “Insights to successfully maneuver eCommerce in 2020”. 

For merchants, particularly small and mid-sized businesses, digital transformation and scalable eCommerce continue to be significant challenges. They struggle with inflexible legacy systems, multiple disconnected sources of data, poor data quality, and manual and duplicated processes that result in time to market delays, serious breakdown in multichannel efforts, poor customer experiences, and lost sales opportunities – and these challenges are proving very costly. Tech savvy companies pivoted fast but for merchants that have been slow in the last 5 years to get onboard with digitization or are still in early stages are facing the brunt of this novel disruption – one where physical channels have practically evaporated and there’s a surge to online shopping like never before.

The pandemic has put a lot of pressure on retailers – small and medium alike – to speed up digitization efforts drastically. They need to find a way to get online fast and start selling before it’s too late. 10 years ago, there weren’t many affordable tools to make this possible – fast forward to today, platforms like PIM,  Feed Management and marketplaces like Facebook Shops are key to modernization and are available at reasonable costs.

The webinar focused on eCommerce trends for B2B and B2C merchants and on finding a solution for merchants to navigate a world of digital channels, the latest addition to social selling trend; Facebook Shops and how it can enable small merchants to sell online and best practice tips for managing data for eCommerce success. Joe Cicman (Forrester), Alon Levin (Facebook), and Vik Gundoju (StrikeTru) shared their respective insights on why it’s all about accelerating efforts to stay relevant and compete on the digital shelf.  The webinar clarified the path forward for retailers and the role of product information management (PIM) and Feed Management tools in creating a strong online presence today.

What are the future eCommerce trends for B2B and B2C merchants?

Joe Cicman from Forrester highlighted the effects of Covid19 on shopping behavior. “40% customers say they are buying more online than they normally would.” He also said there is a reluctance to get back to physical shopping adding that numbers suggest the new buying pattern is likely to prolong even post lockdown. “82% of market growth came from marketplaces.” Data quality is the secret sauce, for B2B and B2C merchants to offer seamless customer experience. He said merchants must have the right approach to product data feeds to turbo charge their ROI. Joe spoke about the benefits of a fully integrated product data feed strategy, steps to achieve this and massive consolidation in multi-tiered distribution. 

Key takeaway: To avoid losing out to digitally savvy competitors, B2B merchants should start thinking like CPG brands and adopt new competencies quickly to achieve success. Inefficiencies in distribution will be eliminated by automation, embedded services and rising pricing power. 

How can merchants leverage social selling?

Alon Levin introduced the latest offering from Facebook – a native, frictionless digital storefront across all Facebook apps that operates with a single data source product feed.  Facebook Shops is a result of analyzing customer behavior and how they engage across these social platforms. It’s a great tool for merchants to offer their customers a memorable and unified shopping experience vs. the chore of buying.  Facebook Shops can help businesses sell more by enabling customers to find and purchase their favorite products and brands easily – right from where they browse. So the path to ‘buy now’ is a seamless journey without ever getting out of Instagram or Messenger.

Key takeaway: Creating a Facebook Shop is free and customizable so sellers of all sizes can start selling online as soon as they want.

What are some best practice tips for managing data for eCommerce success?

How can eCommerce trends and evolving shopping platforms be leveraged by businesses? Vik highlighted the urgency for small businesses to accelerate their digital transformation and execute their digital commerce strategy before it’s too late. He spoke about the critical role of technology and data management as major value creators throughout the product lifecycle. “Merchants can overcome many systemic weaknesses that Covid19 sharply exposed by modernizing legacy systems, adopting new tech tools and implementing agile data management practices.” He explains what PIM and feed management can do for merchants, how they fit into an enterprise systems landscape and how product data flows from source systems to internal & external destinations. 

Key takeaway: Retailers that are struggling with scaling SKUs assortments, scaling digital channels, providing exceptional CX, and lowering operating costs have no option but to digitize and invest in modern PIM systems and feed management tools to excel on eCommerce.

Big or small businesses, if your content management is a pain and its effecting productivity and customer experience, that’s when PIM comes into play.

To watch the recording of the webinar, click here

Q&A

  • Q – (Chris) Could you give some advice on what size considerations for when you would move to a PIM – is it driven by SKUs, market place demands, or supported channels?
  • A – (Vik) Few years ago only the bigger firms were investing in PIM, because of high costs and it involved a lot of process re-engineering. Now product data and digital assets are so important, even smaller companies have started doing it. Whether big or small – when content management is a pain and as a result business productivity is affected and customer experiences – that’s when they should invest in a PIM. Typically, it’s manifested by the fact that there are tons of spreadsheets, the data is bad, inconsistent across channels and they are not able to fix it in a timely fashion.
  • Q – (Chris) How should merchants approach channel rollout, is it big bang, 80 – 20, is it easy as first? How are they looking at expanding their digital/eCommerce channels?
  • A – (Vik) Many of them want to expand their digital channels – internal challenges and resource constraints hold them back. Depending on the industry, there are variations. We’ve worked with a Distributor in Industrial Distribution segment and the first channel they wanted to sell on was Amazon or probably eBay. They don’t have resources to do active channel management – they have a lot of stock sitting in their warehouse that they want to get rid of. They start small with excess products sitting on shelf, they pick products that are already listed on Amazon so they don’t have to do the hard work of entering data and they are selling that and converting sales from there to expand into other products and channels.