Quick Path to Selling More: Why Quality Product Content Matters More Than Ever | Hacker Noon

June 24th 2020

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@gosiaGosia

Works at Bluestone PIM, passionate about digital transformation

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The majority of business sectors are suffering a slowdown due to COVID-19, but not eCommerce – in fact, many sellers are experiencing increased demand. Those who haven’t transitioned to online, often face a choice of mobilizing all their resources or shutting down.

Embracing the new reality is hard for traditional sellers. What can they do to make it easier and save their business from a downfall?

Fast track of progress

Bricks and mortar will not stay, my fair lady.

Ever since its beginnings, eCommerce has been growing at an incredibly steady rate.

Just a couple of months ago, the dominance of eCommerce appeared inevitable, but it was still in the relatively distant future. It seemed that bricks and mortar had plenty of time to prepare for the new reality.

Now that’s no longer the case.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s sales estimate for the first quarter of 2020 already shows the difference. Even retail giants weren’t prepared for this transition: take Primark, who shut down their stores globally, without established eCommerce sales or anything to fall back to. Meanwhile, in the face of the current demand, research shows that speed is a sales business’ greatest advantage.

Fast response

If you can’t respond quickly, you might as well give up. See this excerpt from Cluep’s report on social conversation trends in the US from late March / early April — the time when social distancing prompted many Americans to develop new home fitness routines:

“The closing of Gyms, Spin, Pilates, and Yoga Studios has been faced with a dramatic shift in their overall business models. With consumers being forced online, this was matched by an initial 142% flood in health and home fitness related posts and conversations. Further evidenced by the selling out of popular home fitness equipment on Amazon and manufacturers such as Peloton, Nautilus & NordicTrack struggling to keep up with orders (SpectrumNews, 2020).”

“For those brands unable to mobilize quickly enough to take advantage of the early spike in demand, our research shows the party may be over with a dramatic 183% fall-off in related conversations with many consumers quickly adopting their fitness routines to their new normal.”

Cluep social conversation trends – US report, April 6th, 2020
Fitness equipment aside, products that suddenly became interesting include bidets and bread makers. Just like the Nautilus or NordicTrack, these are likely to be one-time purchases. All this shows that now more than ever, new opportunities disappear as fast as they come, and the only way to make a gain is to be among the first ones to respond. In short, get your products ready for sales, and make it snappy.

So what are the prerequisites? What do you actually need to be fast?

If you want to sell your products through a digital channel, you need digital product content. This includes descriptions, pictures, videos, product relations, and other types of content that bricks and mortar typically have little use for. It is now absolutely indispensable, and you need to get it ready quickly.

It’s not just about the speed though. The quality of the content still matters because an average consumer will visit three stores before making a purchase.

This means that your product page needs to stand out, be of impeccable quality, and leave no warning signs for your customer.

If you have a large portfolio of products, this consistency is even more important and harder to achieve. The question is then: how can a business develop great content, and do so at a scale?

Efficient workflows for product content

It is possible to create and manage product content fast, without sacrificing quality. One of the ways is using a Product Information Management (PIM) systemWhile no system will simply create your content for you (although we will get to that in a moment), a PIM can help you make the process far more efficient. Here’s how PIM simplifies creating, enriching, managing, and publishing product information:

It centralizes the information

PIM provides a central hub for all your product information, including text, media, attributes, relations, labels, and more. Instead of juggling content from various systems, such as your ERP software, eCommerce platform, and maybe even loose Excel and image files, you have everything in one place.

It establishes a solid data model

Having a data model is extremely important because it will enable you to keep a consistent format for all your products. You can process product information much faster when you are able to select from pre-set attributes (features) instead of typing them out. You can also use advanced validation rules to keep your data clean.

It integrates with other systems

An API-first PIM is capable of exchanging any of its information with external systems, such as ERP, eCommerce platforms, CRMs, price comparison services, and so on. With that, you can easily syndicate your product content to any channel or marketplace where you want to sell. For an API-enabled system, it’s just a matter of days.

It can employ automation and machine learning

Anything that can be automated, should be automated. Your PIM system may actually be able to pre-fill certain product data for you. Even better if it can learn from previous input and make suggestions on how you can enrich your information. With time the system gets smarter, which paves the way to even more automation in the future.

PIM input and output channels

Getting it right

Product content quality issues are solvable, but they can take a lot of time, which many businesses simply don’t have now. It also pays to lay the foundation right the first time round, as experience shows that building systems upon systems is only a temporary solution.

A sales company really needs to do everything in order to put product information at the center of their business. Instead of supporting workarounds and creating unnecessary dependencies in their tech stacks, they can consider PIM as a technology with the potential to provide a wide-reaching, permanent solution. The extra efficiency, fast data processing, as well as the speed of adopting new channels, provide the competitive advantage that is much needed in the time of today’s crisis and beyond.

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Works at Bluestone PIM, passionate about digital transformation

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