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.
1. 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
2. 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
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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)
- Automate asset tasks – load, optimize (re-size, rename, change resolution, enrich, categorize), link, publish, etc.
- Share searchable assets with sales, customer service, and other teams
- If using DAM, automate transfer of assets to PIM, & product data to DAM. If a SKU is discontinued, auto-expire its assets.
6. Painful eCommerce site updates
- Painful to maintain product data in our eCommerce platform, don’t want to do that anymore
- Can’t control what product content shows online, the web sync process is unsupported
- Web sync is slow and unreliable. If we make a mistake, we need to wait another day to fix it
- Products don’t show up online sometimes for 1 to 2 weeks after launching in stores
- The website routinely shows wrong prices, everyone spends a lot of time chasing those down
- Our updates in the eCommerce platform get overwritten by the nightly sync process – frustrating!
- Optimizing and managing our product feeds to shopping channels & marketplaces is a broken process and not scalable.
- We’d like to list more of our products on digital platforms, and add more platforms to the mix to increase our digital presence.
- Seamlessly synchronize catalog structure, content, and assets from PIM to websites
- Use proven PIM connectors. E.g. for Magento, BigCommerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, InDesign, GlobalLink
- Schedule incremental exports, and multiple syncs per daily
7. Poor product visibility on digital channels
- Current product feeds are generated by the eCommerce platform and are heavily customized
- Too many listing errors, only a small subset of products show up on Amazon!
- Inability to actively manage feeds (e.g. turn off products on Amazon in stockout situations), hurts our ratings
- Inability to setup new product feeds fast enough
- Optimizing and managing our product feeds to shopping channels & marketplaces is broken and not scalable.
- We need to list and sell more of our products on digital platforms and add more platforms to the mix
- Orchestrating orders from multiple channels is a manual and painful process.
- Implement a product syndication tool to simplify product feed management and increase product visibility online
- Integrate syndication tool with PIM and ERP for high-quality and timely product content, prices, and inventory
- Leverage syndication tool to orchestrate multi-channel order management to save costs and drive channel sales
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