In our previous installments, we looked at the overall item workflow as it relates to the CSP ecosystem. In this installment, we look at key capabilities that Content Service Providers who offer Product Information Management (PIM) and Syndication capabilities provide to make your ECommerce operations more efficient and scalable:
1. Collaboration. When it comes to creating content, rarely is one person responsible for every aspect of the content creation process. There’s information about the item such as what size is it, how much it weighs, what the model number is, detailed product descriptions and product imagery. This information typically comes from multiple sources with multiple people responsible for maintaining it. ECommerce Managers, Content Managers, Supply Chain Managers, and even external agencies need to be able to collaborate with each other to build out an item completely before it can be submitted to a retailer.
2. Escape from spreadsheets. Editing product content in spreadsheets is a time-consuming and arduous process. Spreadsheets weren’t designed for text editing. Yet they’re the format many retailer systems default to for receiving data. CSPs with comprehensive, cloud-based Product Information Management (PIM) solutions like Content Analytics provide web-based interfaces that make it easy to edit content, images and rich media.
3. Multi-template support. Tired of filling out item setup spreadsheet and content update templates for every retailer you work with? Modern platforms like Content Analytics store all your item data and can quickly and easily output it in multiple templates.
Truth in Syndication™
Content Analytics connects directly to retailer systems using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) whenever possible. But not all retailers support this kind of direct connectivity. For those retailers that don't, our multi-template support easily generates the necessary templates and image/video filenames required to deliver content to retailers. No more filling out form after form. Let us export the necessary templates and media files and submit them for you so you don't have to.
To find out more about our syndication capabilities and Truth in Syndication™, please contact us.
4. Content syndication. Content Analytics uses the most direct route available to syndicate content to retailers. We connect directly to retailer systems via computer-to-computer interfaces (known as APIs) whenever possible. If a retailer prefers delivery of templates to a web portal or media files to an ftp server, we automate that, and if a retailer prefers email delivery, we automate that as well.
5. Content auditing. Retailer systems have been around for a long time, in Internet terms. Even some of Amazon’s systems were first built more than 20 years ago. Sometimes when you submit an image or product description, or try to setup a new item, things don’t always work on the first try. Content Analytics includes built-in auditing tools to compare what’s live on retailer sites with the content you’ve created. That means you no longer have to check page after page to see what's live and what isn't—our built-in auditing and alerting capabilities will do that work for you.
6. History. Retailer systems are designed to ingest lots of items and flow them through the necessary steps (such as compliance and legal sign-off) to get them ready for sale. But most aren't designed to tell you when a piece of content was updated, when an image was added, or who changed a product description. Platforms like Content Analytics maintain a history of all changes and make it easy to see what was changed, when, and by whom.
7. Undo. Have you ever made a change to a product only to wish you could revert to a previous version? Because leading platforms store your content—and the history of your content—you can “go back in time” to the way your content was in a previous version.
8. Data completeness. Retailers require a minimum set of item attributes to be completed before items can go live on their sites. This includes information like what category the item belongs to, dimensions and weights, colors, and other key info that describes the item. Without this information, retailers can’t categorize the items properly on their web sites, and the items won’t appear on the correct shelves or for the relevant search results. CSPs that offer modern PIM solutions make it easy to populate attribute information and see whether required attributes are complete.
9. Content creation. What happens if you don’t already have images and product descriptions available for your items? A CSP can take high resolution photos of your products, write romance copy and feature bullets, and fill in attribute data. It can transfer Nutrition Facts data from images to text. In short, a CSP can create the content you need to make your items really shine online.
10. Rich media. Taking things a step further, rich media is a way to enrich product detail pages with videos, 360s and PDFs. These provide a more immersive experience for shoppers and make it easier to visualize products and their features. This is especially important when shoppers aren't interacting with a product in-store before making a purchase decision online. Solutions like Content Analytics host rich media and display the content on product detail pages when shoppers visit those pages. They support pre-defined templates that make developing marketing content quick and easy.
11. Permissions. While retailer web interfaces tend to have one level of permissions for vendors (e.g. access or no access), PIM solutions support a variety of permissions. For example, some users can have read-only permissions for reviewing content, while others have access to both read and write access. Permissions can also be configured at a more detailed level, with some users having access to upload images, for example, but not edit product copy or product attributes.
12. Workflow. Platforms like Content Analytics support comprehensive product content workflows. For example, you can configure custom notifications to help your team take action, such as: notify the Content Manager to upload images or add videos; Request that the Supply Chain Manager complete attribute data so an item can be submitted, and so on.
13. Data source synchronization. Many companies already have some amount of product content somewhere, whether it's on someone's desktop computer or in a global enterprise-wide supply chain system. Sometimes it’s a combination of both. PIM solutions like Content Analytics can synchronize with these various data sources to move product content from these sources and syndicate it to retailers. As with other parts of the ECommerce workflow, that can significantly reduce the number of manual steps required (copy and paste, image renaming, and so on) to get product content live on ECommerce sites.
14. Reporting and Alerting. Some CSP platforms, known as Digital Merchandising Platforms or DMPs, include integrated reporting and alerting functionality that measures the effectiveness of content changes, indicate whether products are in stock, tell you whether your products are appearing in search results (and alert you if they aren’t) and even provide competitive market insights on assortment and pricing.
DMPs provide an end-to-end solution for fully optimizing and scaling your ECommerce sales. Because even if your items are setup and your product content is great, you have to ensure your items are discoverable (appear in search results), in-stock, and priced right in order to sell.
DMPs make it possible to optimize the entire ECommerce merchandising process, from product content creation to search, sale and reporting. DMP’s are the next step in the ongoing evolution of the CSP and Digital Shelf ecosystem—and that’s why leading brands like PepsiCo and P&G are migrating to these end-to-end platforms.
Conclusion: When It Comes To Product Content, You Can't Improve What You Can't Measure
As a result of implementing the right tools, leading brands are not only improving efficiency but driving significantly increased sales as well. By implementing end-to-end ECommerce management solutions (rather than stand-alone analytics or content management point solutions), they're able to measure their performance—and improve it.
In our next post in the series, we’ll evaluate multiple design approaches for a brand's ECommerce operations and discuss learnings from working with some of the world's leading brands and retailers.