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How Can Retailers Modernise Product Data Management?

By Nicole D’Angelo (originally published on Salsify)

OCTOBER 25, 2022 | 7 mins read

Ecommerce saw a boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that boom appears to be here to stay. But the opportunities of a growing market also come with challenges, such as a landscape that’s evolving too quickly for some retailers to remain competitive.

Consumers now have higher expectations of online retailers than ever before. And organisations that don’t meet these expectations are more likely to experience abandoned shopping carts and decreased customer loyalty.

Those retailers who do meet the latest consumer expectations, however, tend to have something in common: They prioritise product data management — empowering them to seize new opportunities in today’s dynamic ecommerce landscape.

Meeting the Needs of Modern Ecommerce

Due to the recent growth in the ecommerce space, customers now have more experience with different online retailers. And as a result, they have new and evolving demands and expectations.

Research shows that today’s digital consumers care more about a good customer experience than ever before. According to Salesforce’s 2022 “State of the Connected Customer” report, 88% of shoppers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services — up from 80% in 2020.

How can a retailer create a great online shopping experience? A lot of it comes down to the richness, quality, and accuracy of your product content and data.


Providing Consistent Omnichannel Content

Delivering consistent content across all your touch points puts your customers at ease, helping them understand exactly what they’re ordering and how they’ll use the products in their everyday lives. High-quality, engaging content also makes their shopping experiences more enjoyable.

Today, it’s increasingly critical for retailers to provide an optimal omnichannel experience. Shoppers often look at a product in-store before purchasing it on a retailer’s website, order products online for in-store pickup, and otherwise move (or expect to move) seamlessly between physical and digital storefronts.

The Salesforce report notes that 78% of customers have used multiple channels to start and complete a transaction. Any inconsistencies between these different touch points can lead to a negative or confusing shopping experience for your customers.


New Approaches to Online Retail

As the ecommerce landscape is growing more innovative and flexible, new retail technologies are taking centre stage.

For example, the Salesforce report notes that 61% of customers who shop via social media expect to do it more in three years. And, Coresight Research suggests that retail could help the livestreaming industry draw $25 billion in the U.S. by 2023.

New avenues for selling introduce new challenges for retailers, who have to syndicate content and product data across social channels as well as digital storefronts.

There are a number of initiatives you can undertake to modernise your approach to ecommerce. Before beginning any of these initiatives, however, you need to set your organisation up for success with high-quality content and the necessary product data management architecture.

The Need for Streamlined Product Data Management

Successful product data management serves as one of the foundations of innovative ecommerce initiatives today. If your product data is not clear, accurate, and easy to update, it can be increasingly difficult to deliver consistent content and engaging customer experiences.

Unfortunately, many retailers have outdated approaches to product data management, often involving Excel sheets or decades-old software. To make matters more complex, different teams within the same organisation often use different solutions.

As a result, retailers often struggle to get the data they need from brands and suppliers, while brands and suppliers often struggle to provide that same data.

Modernising product data management involves updating these processes so that your team can transfer data quickly — and at scale.

One of the best ways to do this is to consolidate all of your product data into one streamlined solution, according to Jim Sullivan, director of presales at Salsify.

“It makes it a lot simpler for all of the teams at the retailers to have the same solution, and it makes it a lot easier for the suppliers to have that solution to provide the information back to the retailer,” Sullivan shared in a recent Q&A hosted by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG). “It really gets rid of a lot of that manual work and the bottlenecks, and it reduces the frustration on both sides.”

How Streamlined Data Management Increases Revenue

In both direct and indirect ways, a central platform for product data management can increase revenue and pave the way for new opportunities.

One of the reasons for this is that modernised data management cuts costs by saving time.

According to industry research, Sullivan shares that, on average, there are 10 to 15 interactions between a retailer and a supplier per product, and that just checking the necessary data requires two to five hours per product. This massive time drain can be eliminated with a centralised solution for product data.

Saving time also results in a reduced time to shelf — empowering you to start selling new or updated products faster. This streamlined process also allows you to increase your assortment of products or suppliers.

And all of this translates into increased revenue.

Not only that, but improved data management has knock-on benefits in the form of reduced complexity.

“Industry statistics say that retailers are looking for an additional 30% of attributes every year,” says Sullivan. “That means those Excel spreadsheets are getting more and more complex, and it’s getting more and more difficult for the supplier to send back that information.”

However, a purpose-built product data management platform can handle those additional attributes without much additional effort.

Finally, a modernised approach to product data management results in better compliance, more effective relationships with suppliers, and the ability to easily upload data on new attributes of interest, like sustainability scores.

Once all of these presale factors are addressed, you’ll have the flexibility you need to better meet the demands of a modern, omnichannel, and global ecommerce landscape.

Positioning Yourself To Win on the Digital Shelf

Accurate product data, increased flexibility, and modern processes are needed to meet today’s shoppers’ demands for innovative retail technology and high-quality, engaging customer experiences.

If your product data is delivered via a variety of outdated solutions and is difficult to validate, data management will take up a large portion of your team’s valuable time — leaving no room for the innovation organisations so desperately need to compete in today’s market.

However, with a streamlined solution and a modernised approach to managing product content and data, you can position yourself to meet the ever-changing needs of modern ecommerce.

Ready to deliver optimal omnichannel shopping experiences? Learn more about Salsify solutions for retailers.

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