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
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
To watch the recording of the webinar, click here.
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.
Americans shop online. A majority of these online customers start their product
search on search engines, market places, and retailer websites. Visibility and
discovery are two of the most critical elements when it comes to competing for
mindshare of potential customers online, hence companies must make the
necessary investments in modern technology to ensure great product content is
continuously fed to the right sales and marketing channels, at the right time.
Effective product feed management involves providing complete, accurate, and
timely product data that meets the individual requirements of various channels.
Channel-specific data requirements keep evolving, companies continue to adopt
more channels to sell through, and enterprise product data is constantly in a
state of flux (i.e. new products are introduced, current ones are updated or
obsoleted). Legacy operations typically used to manage product feeds involve
high cost and complexity and often slow down a company’s ability to provide
relevant product feeds to sales channels. Specialized product feed management
tools and service providers play a key role here helping companies overcome
many of those challenges resulting in a shorter path to purchase – leading to
more conversions. It is also a best-practice for digital winners to leverage a
modern Product Information Management (PIM) tool that helps them master and
share product data efficiently with employees across the company and with feed
management tools and other consumers of product data.
In this whitepaper, we discuss in detail the importance of optimized product feeds, outline common product feed management issues and review how a product feed management tool like Feedonomics helps overcome these challenges. We also review key features of a Product Information Management (PIM) tool that helps create consistently high-quality product data at scale so it can be shared with sales and marketing channels. Finally, we propose a reference solution architecture that combines PIM and Feed Management tools to maximize content and feed management related task automations as well as orchestrate multi-channel order management.
The Importance of
Optimized Product Feeds
Product data feeds are an essential part of eCommerce. It is
the method in which your data is sent to shopping channels and marketplaces
where you want your products listed and found easily by consumers when they
need it. The figure below illustrates just how many consumers look up product data on their devices even when
they’re shopping in a store.
There are many crucial elements that make up a successful
shopping feed. If you have 20 total products, you could of course optimize your
products one by one manually, but what if you have thousands or millions of
products? Therefore, a comprehensive feed management platform is the only way
to truly manage and scale up your eCommerce campaigns.
Optimizing your product feeds is a critical part of
succeeding on Amazon, Google Shopping, Walmart or on an auction site like eBay.
Why? At the highest level, search algorithms often match the keywords users
type into their search against your product attributes, giving extra weight to
your title, category and description. Product feed optimization is key to a
higher CTR, raising the average order value, increasing attachment rates, and
ultimately getting the best performance out of your campaign.
The recipe for online product listing success:
optimized feed – You want to ensure your online ads stand out with clear
understandable wording that ticks all the boxes based on what the person
shopping is searching for. Your ad copy must contain attributes that paint a
picture of what they will be purchasing, such as color, size, material, gender,
price, brand, and more.
friendly – Whether it’s Google, Amazon, Facebook, Walmart, or eBay, all
these large online shopping platforms want to give their shoppers the best
possible user experience. An optimized product feed often comes with huge
rewards for the advertiser such as higher impression share, a lower cost per
click, and a higher conversion rate.
account – If you have ever encountered a Google
Merchant Center disapproval or error, you will understand the frustration this
can cause. Every online marketplace adheres to a strict set of rules. Amazon
uses Order Defect Rate (ODR) to measure a seller’s ability to provide a good
customer experience. Of course, Amazon sellers will want to avoid receiving a
high ODR, which could lead to a suspension or even termination. Being able to
flag, diagnose, and resolve errors quickly helps maintain a consistent revenue
flow. Example – Having an account suspended over Black Friday weekend could be
catastrophic for your company.
An ad campaign will suffer if you do not have an optimized
product feed. A product feed is the cornerstone of any successful campaign.
Without proper feed optimization, it’s unlikely your products will show up at all,
and if they do show up, it’s often at the expense of very high bids, because
your products are not seen to be as relevant.
When you structure your product attributes
similarly to the words and phrases that users are looking for on different
platforms, it increases your ad’s relevancy.
Product title, description, and categorization
are critical here. You’ll want to ensure that your product titles contain
attributes like brand, name, size, and color so that your item surfaces in
Provide high-resolution images and make sure to
use the optimal height and width for the platform where you’re advertising. A
white background to make your images pop is best.
For some products, you’ll want to provide
additional images of the item from a different angle to capture special
Ensure the product specs associated with the
item are described accurately and thoroughly.
Categorization is key. For example, Walmart
assigns products to specific categories, and within each category, there are
sub-categories. Also, attributes for products are required. Make sure that
product categories, sub-categories, and required attributes are set up
correctly so there are no errors or unpublishing issues. Customers who browse
or use filters when shopping won’t be able to find your products if you’ve
Better Return on Ad
An optimized feed allows you to enhance the core component
of a Shopping campaign, which is relevancy. A relevant campaign needs to meet or
exceed the associated platform’s algorithm. This will influence the amount of
impressions share one advertiser will receive over another, as well as the cost
per click and more importantly, the number of clicks the ad will receive.
With regards to Google Shopping, if your campaign “pleases”
the Google algorithm, it can lead to:
Similar to Google Shopping, pleasing the algorithm on
marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay require the following
considerations to get the most out of your marketplace SEO:
Better product data for relevancy
Competitive price point
Quick turnaround on order fulfillment
Low or free shipping
Combining your traditional PPC optimizations with
marketplace best practices, should give you the edge against your competitors.
Faster order management and fulfillment can help with the
above best practices situations. How so? Product prices are updated constantly,
new products will be added in, and old or seasonal products are discontinued.
If you don’t revise your product feed, then you are at risk of receiving feed
errors or disapprovals.
Common Product Feed Issues
Some common product feed issues include:
Titles with missing
Not listing full catalog (e.g. only top sellers listed)
Missing alternate image angles/views
Poor image quality (resolution, size, etc.)
No associated products
When your product data is clean and optimized, there are no
rogue HTML or missing values, and it is correctly mapped to the specifications
of each channel.
The following is a list of common Google Merchant Center
Automatic item disapprovals due to policy violation (e.g.
“Dangerous Products” policy violation where a site sells guns, gun
parts, and explosives)
Product pages cannot be accessed
Invalid price data
Incorrect product identifiers
Missing shipping information
Temporary item disapprovals due to incorrect
Missing required attribute: color
Missing required attribute: size
Multiple sizes for one item
Incorrect shipping costs
and so on…
Unresolved Google Merchant Center (GMC) errors and disapprovals can result in thousands
of dollars of lost revenue per day. For a company that lists and sells hundreds
or thousands of items, it is a daunting amount of work to monitor product
listing errors and warnings on those channels on a daily basis. Furthermore,
those errors due to bad data on Amazon could result in a delisting of products,
fine or even suspension. Updating price, inventory, and other content for those
items routinely also requires a significant amount of work. Another big
challenge is the task of orchestrating orders coming in from multiple sales
channels. Companies often struggle with timely entry of channel specific orders
into internal systems (online store or ERP or OMS) and timely update of order
status on various sales channels – these operations are typically manual and
Even if product feeds are optimized, there are other data
challenges that companies routinely deal with:
Incorrect data: For example, wrong price, availability,
or dimensional data. These will contribute to wrong product shipments,
excessive returns, customer dissatisfaction, and lower profits. Other issues
include poor image quality, insufficient number of product images, etc.
Delayed product introductions: It’s not uncommon for
companies to list only a subset of their catalog online due to data
availability and setup issues. For example, inability to launch new products or
promotions in time for a Black Friday leads to lost sales.
Inconsistent data across channels: Customer expect
omni-channel consistency and will avoid or punish companies that don’t deliver
Inconsistent data across brands or categories: In the
same company, titles and descriptions across brands and/or categories are often
constructed differently. The availability of commonly searched product
specifications and digital assets also varies widely across product categories.
This makes it harder for customers to find and purchase products online.
A lack of visibility into these data issues and control over
what data gets distributed to specific channels is a common issue. These
challenges result in a variety of problems including lost sales, stockouts due
to poor inventory and availability management, and costly operations.
Feed Management Tool to
Tame Cost and Complexity
A product feed management tool like Feedonomics can address many of these problems. The tool streamlines the creation and management of optimized product feeds to help save time and money. It will also sync the latest price and availability data with all channels on a timely basis. With Feedonomics’ proprietary tool (FeedAlerts™), you can receive notifications for Google Merchant Center errors and warnings daily. Feedonomics can also help with automated order management. The platform will automatically pull orders from each marketplace channel and deliver them to your system in one dashboard. Everything is synced to your online store (or another system like ERP or OMS) so that you can efficiently manage Marketplace inventory. This will prevent oversold situations and ensure that product availability is accurate.
Many companies don’t have a centralized repository of
product data. So, preparing product feeds, including via getting the data from
your website, can be tricky. Feedonomics can pull product data from any feed
file, shopping platform, product content platform, or custom site with any kind of schedule. It is a low-cost way to
ensure your products are at the “eye-level” on the digital shelf.
Data Ingestion: We can
pull data into our system in nearly any format – SFTP, FTP, URL, JSON, Google
Sheet, or custom API if needed.
Data Joins and
Mapping: We can join any dataset together with a common key (i.e., ‘product_id’). This allows us to merge data from
disparate systems, like inventory, margin, or performance data, into the main
catalog. We can then map these datasets to any field required by a channel. For
example, we can create rules in the feed to map product categories that map to
channel specific product categories.
FeedTelligence™ is a powerful
keyword recommendation tool. It will automatically compare your Google Shopping
feed to actual converted search terms and allows you to see missing words for
title and description optimization on a per-SKU basis.
FeedAlerts™ is an easy way to receive notifications for both
Amazon and Google Merchant Center (GMC) errors and warnings. Unresolved Amazon
or GMC errors and disapprovals can result in thousands of dollars of lost
revenue per day.
Feedonomics can set up FeedAlerts™ to:
Monitor import/export errors
Automatically check your Google, Amazon, and other accounts
twice a day
Set thresholds on an overall and individual error basis
Send a notification when you exceed an error threshold
FeedAlerts™ is a game-changing tool that will save your
company time and money – fewer errors will result in more active products and
You’ll receive an email with a detailed report listing the
errors with links. If the errors are feed-based, Feedonomics’ 24/7 support team
will fix them.
“Feed Optimization and Order Management helped a retail client achieve a 260% increase in revenue on Amazon and a 290% increase in revenue on eBay.” – Feedonomics
PIM, For High Quality
& Consistent Product Feeds
As discussed earlier, poor quality product data is a huge
problem in the digital world. Data inconsistencies across channels makes the
bad data problem worse. Disparate legacy systems and spreadsheets typically
used to manage product data leads to a variety of product data management challenges.
Centralizing product data in a PIM system can help feed clean and complete data
to sales channels. A modern PIM provides the necessary data visibility,
control, and scalability to create great product feeds that can be leveraged by
multi-channel shopping campaigns to deliver a better ROAS.
A PIM (Product Information Management) is an enterprise data
management solution that:
Centralizes product data
required to support commerce operations
Simplifies generation of
compelling, consistent, and high-quality product data
Synchronizes product data
with internal systems, marketing and sales platforms, customers, and partners
Scales up data acquisition,
enrichment, and publishing efforts
Noted below are some key benefits of a PIM solution:
Single source of trusted data: PIM creates a single source of trusted product data by
aggregating it from multiple sources, and by cleansing, enriching, governing,
and maintaining it consistently.
High-quality and consistent data: Product and variants management, data inheritance, data
validations, quality checks, completeness checks, bulk edit features,
rules-based auto-enrichment, approval workflows, and role-based permissions
ensure you create and deliver consistently high-quality data.
Integrated digital assets: PIM helps you onboard, link, control, and share product
assets with digital channels. PIM simplifies the task of associating imagery,
videos, PDFs, and other digital assets with product data.
Support for product feed management: Great product feeds to search, social media, and retailer
websites will ensure customers find and purchase your products. PIM holds
high-quality and SEO friendly data that can then be fed easily to product feed
management tools to help drive traffic and sales from multiple digital
Manage rich product data systematically to enables navigation and exploration
features critical for conversion on eCommerce sites. These features include
intuitive categories and sub-categories, helpful product names, facet
navigation, cross-sell compatible products, comparison, etc.
Business agility: By
integrating PIM with other enterprise systems, trusted product data can also be
shared efficiently with internal analytical and operational systems, thus
reducing manual and redundant efforts. This will also make the enterprise more
agile and responsive when it comes to implementing new digital initiatives (for
e.g., launching a mobile app).
for Agile Feed Management and Order Orchestration
Product feed management combines the creation of product
feeds, optimizing feeds to meet channel specific requirements, syndicating
feeds to multiple channels, and reporting and recovering from feed listing
errors with the key goals of maximizing online leads and sales. Additional
scenarios include automatically managing inventory levels across channels,
aggregating orders and inputting them into an internal order management system
for processing, and sending out order statuses to various digital sales
A best-practice reference solution architecture combines the
power of a PIM and a feed management tool for optimal product feed management
and multi-channel order orchestration tasks. Although an eCommerce platform is
a convenient option to provide product feeds to a feed management tool, it is
not the best option. Often times, data in an eCommerce site is wrong,
incomplete, or dated. Add to that the fact that not all products may be listed
on the eCommerce site for technical or data quality related issues. An
eCommerce tool (and an ERP system too) is not suitable for proper data
management and this means that product data issues are not fixed in a timely
manner. A PIM is the right tool for product data management, and hence an
integration between the PIM and a product feed management tool like Feedonomics
is a better solution architecture for digital success.
Listed below is a proposed reference solution architecture
for efficient product feed management and order orchestration.
This integrated solution provides many benefits:
delivers high-quality product
feeds consistently to multiple sales channels
feeds latest price and
inventory data sourced from ERP or other system
speeds up creation of product
feeds that contain correct, complete, and SEO friendly data (via completeness,
content automation, bulk edit, workflow, and other features)
provides product data
intelligence (e.g. keyword suggestions, listing errors, catalog level
analytics) and alerts to maximize active product listings, findability, sales,
automates various manual
tasks typically associated with multi-channel order management
provides greater visibility,
control, and agility over product feeds, orders, and channel analytics
“Retailers need to be more aware and responsive than ever
to when and where their potential customers are making decisions throughout
their ‘always on’ shopping journey.”- KPMG
Every industry is getting disrupted, and eCommerce is here
to stay. Digital winners are using technology and integration to improve their
core business and break into new markets and new customers. They’re
streamlining user journeys, telling better product stories, optimizing for
mobile ecommerce, personalizing customer relationships, getting products to
market faster, and driving operating efficiencies across business support
functions. Are you going to be a digital winner?
The Feedonomics and StrikeTru teams have a track record of successfully
implementing Product Feed Management and
PIM solutions across industry verticals. For more
information or to discuss how we can help, please contact Brian Roizen at email@example.com or Vik Gundoju at firstname.lastname@example.org.