How can brands adapt to the future? What will define the consumer’s path to purchase in the post-Covid19 world? How to meet consumer demand on the digital shelf? How to accelerate time to market and drive sales? How to accelerate the shift to a new normal as customers surge to digital channels? How to overcome product data management challenges for eCommerce success?
We believe that structured product information and efficient product data management is the answer to all the questions above. It’s literally the backbone of online retail. It has become critical for retailers to ensure that they are delivering high-quality product pages with accurate, up-to-date information that convinces consumers to ‘buy it now’. Without an efficient product information management system in place, you’ll likely end up negatively impacting your customers intent to purchase, be unable to scale your digital channels or increase SKU counts, offer richer, consistent customer experiences, launch products faster; all of which will ultimately compound your inability to capture more revenue compared to your competitors.
Based on our experience supporting many eCommerce projects since 2010, we have closely followed the ever-growing number of product data challenges retailers face to get their products online. To help you overcome these challenges, we identified the top 7 potential pitfalls associated with product data management processes – and how they can be overcome.
In this article, we explore details
of these challenges and learn about StrikeTru’s recommendations to address them
for a smooth and profitable eCommerce project.
Poor customer experience
Customers don’t have good self-service options online to search, select, bundle, and buy products
Customers can’t bundle products for preferred pricing online, but they can do that in stores
Improving online customer experience requires the ability to easily add and manage categories and attributes (e.g. sale category, style, collection, sub-brand) – we can’t do that in our system
Customers are confused by similar titles (e.g. wood chairs) as we can’t add more than 2 modifiers in our system
A customer returned a product multiple times – the eCommerce team fixed a bad image that caused the initial return, but warehouse continued shipping the wrong product as they were still looking at the bad image on their product lookup tool
Data management challenges delayed strategic initiatives like mobile app launch for store reps
Setup a central and trusted repository of high-quality
product data (PIM)
Simplify delivery of cross-channel consistency –
product selection, content, pricing, etc.
Boost online customer search and buying experiences by
leveraging granular data curated in PIM
Bad data costs
Gartner estimates that poor data
quality costs organizations an average of $15 million per year.
Channel specific processes to collect product data, causing cross-channel content inconsistencies.
SKUs appear online with missing content. for e.g., packages go live with no prices.
Product images don’t show up online, and they sometimes disappear too.
We have manually assigned wrong brand logos, which has legal implications.
Instead of a part, we end up shipping the full package as our customer service rep can’t tell which box has what parts.
Centralize data management and governance processes in PIM to create/update/obsolete products consistently
Leverage validation and governance rules, bulk edits, and approval workflows to improve data quality
Make it easy to capture new categories, attributes, and images as needed to address data quality/completeness gaps
Product launch delays
Takes weeks and sometimes months to collect, on-board, and complete one SKU
Would be great to get a daily report of incomplete SKUs, and missing data – will help us prioritize our SKU build efforts
Online, we sell only 40% of the SKUs that we sell in stores
When we discontinue a SKU, we spend a lot of time manually discontinuing all packages that contain that SKU
We routinely spend nights and weekends to try and meet our product launch deadlines
Leverage supplier portal to automate supplier data collection and onboarding
Consider outsourcing supplier data collection to specialized data vendors
Simplify employee tasks – give them a modern & intuitive PIM tool, with time-saving bulk import and edit features
Revise SKU setup process, and maximize product data curated in PIM for efficiency
Integrate ERP with PIM, accelerate collaboration via workflows and notifications
Manual and duplicate work
Don’t know what data exists or how to use it. For e.g., merchants obsoleted many SKUs, the photo team report didn’t identify those, and the photo team wasted a bunch of time shooting unnecessary pictures for those SKUs.
Marketing CMS is unsupported, hard to use. Fixes and enhancements expensive to make.
Most products are variants, but we manage data at SKU level. Even simple changes require multiple SKU updates.
Our ERP doesn’t allow:
bulk edits – e.g. to assign styles and collections to products.
multi-value assignments – e.g. multiple colors or materials to products. This impacts product searchability online.
easy product data reporting for merchant decision making (they’d like to use PIM instead)
It is a manual and time-consuming process to:
setup merchandizing packages (so we don’t do it!)
create rich content by combining granular data – SEO friendly titles, descriptions, URL keys, image names, etc.
setup product relationships (e.g. related, up-sell, cross-sell) copy data from driver SKU (e.g. queen size bed) to variant SKUs (we don’t always shoot pictures for beds of all sizes)
Modernize IT stack, implement PIM to centralize product data and workflows
Integrate PIM with ERP, eCommerce, DAM, and other systems, eliminate re-keying
Implement robust data modeling, governance, and inheritance features in PIM
Train users extensively on search and bulk edit features
Increase user efficiency with powerful search & reporting, bulk edits, & validation & enrichment rules
Manual asset operations
Image tasks are labor intensive – searching, importing , optimizing, linking, publishing, etc.
Assets are managed on local drives and are not searchable (e.g. search assets by vendor, product class, color, etc.)
Image validations (names, sizes, product links, etc.) are manual (e.g. don’t assign individual image to a kit)
Image file sizes are huge, and this affects SEO rankings negatively No systematic way to allow users to report bad asset issues so the photo team can track and fix those assets
Centralize and organize product assets in PIM (or DAM)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Vik Gundoju at email@example.com.
In a world of digital revolution, businesses all over the world are doing more with less. Digital Transformation for your business literally means adopting the use of new digital systems to aid your business processes, and ace your sales! This could be you, only if you knew how. Guess what? You are about to find out.
A system called PIM, which means Product Information Management, is one of the most recent and effective systems used to collect, polish and distribute content (which could be anything related to all kinds of products or services), to various parts of the world using the internet. A unique feature of the Product Information Management system is its compatibility with all kinds of data sources and systems, both online and offline. Deploying it is literally a Digital Transformation for your business.
The Product Information Management system provides centralized data and a general facelift for the buying experience of your customers.
Here’s why you should consider using Product Information Management for your business
The number of sales that happen on the internet every day is on a continuous and swift rise. The best time to take advantage of the rise is now. Most businesses are now operating on a digital platform, but that is not enough to stand you out above competition. Automation is key, so you need to the right systems working for you. With Product Information Management enabled commerce platforms, you will take every prospective buyer that visits your website through a detailed and user-friendly buyer journey, maximizing the chances that the prospects are converted into buyers!
Many of the existing systems used to organize and keep data are not fit for agile business processes. This rigidity and complexity make it very difficult for businesses to use alternatives such as multiple excel spreadsheets and legacy systems, to provide an impeccable customer experience and drive incredible sales. Spreadsheets could be difficult to collate and edit especially when you are preparing your products. However, a Product Information Management system allows you to do mass editing, data validation, and much more through the use of a centralized system that collects and collates all kinds of data from different sources. This digital transformation will definitely lead to Customer Satisfaction, and with ease!
The amount of time it takes to take a prepared product through ERP, sales and marketing systems for approval, before it is considered ready for marketing and selling is always long. Sometimes, it takes weeks! Say hello to PIM, who is going to speed everything up. Product Information Management system reduces your product’s time to market.
PIM can increase your product count, take you global, and even reinforce the credibility of your brand. When the process of preparing your products and giving customers an impeccable, high quality presentation is made easier, you can take on as many products as you want.
The adoption of a modern Product Information Management system in your business will not only make your processes easier, but also put your business in the forefront of companies that are taking advantage of the Digital Transformation wave sweeping the business sector.