The speed, scale, and complexity needed to meet shoppers’ demands today has put new pressures on brands.
According to eMarketer, worldwide ecommerce sales rose 25.7% in 2020 to reach $4.213 trillion. And despite shifts back toward in-person shopping experiences, the ecommerce market continued to trend upward in 2021 with growth of just under 17%.
These figures highlight the movement toward an increasingly omnichannel commerce marketplace — one in which data can be the dividing line between a brand’s success and failure. Organisations that can analyse and apply insights from product and customer data sources will be better positioned to capture customer interest across an increasingly competitive market.
Achieving this goal, however, requires more than the recognition that data is a driving force: It requires substantial investment in the ecommerce tech stack to deliver a product data architecture that streamlines information management, improves accuracy, and drives return on investment (ROI).
In this piece, we’ll examine the impact of product data on the customer experience, explore some of the top challenges brands face when it comes to the efficient and effective flow of product information, and offer a four-step approach for making the case for tech stack investment.
How Does Product Data Affect the Buyer Experience?
When it comes to information about your products, more is better — as long as you can guarantee the quality, accuracy, and availability of this data.
Consider product detail pages (PDPs). Customers don’t just want a single picture of your product along with a brief description.
They want the ability to:
- Dig into product specifications;
- Explore multiple photos;
- Read reviews; and
- See relevant shipping information.
If tracking down key data on product pages requires excessive time and effort, prospective buyers may take their business elsewhere. Data from Google and Ipsos found that 85% of customers consider both product information and pictures to be important when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from.
Regional differences are also relevant. In the U.K., for example, delivery experiences are key to consistent purchasing. According to Metapack research, over 60% of U.K. shoppers share details about negative delivery experiences with friends and family, and 70% of consumers who hear about a poor delivery experience are less likely to shop with that company.
According to FashionUnited, meanwhile, German shoppers take a more methodical approach to online shopping. Consider that 71% say they always look for information about products online, and 57% find customer reviews to be “very helpful.”
For brands, the message is clear: More high-quality, consistent product information means a better chance of capturing consumer interest.
Where Do Brands Face Challenges in the Flow of Product Information?
Of course, more data isn’t enough to deliver the engaging omnichannel experiences today’s shoppers seek.
When it comes to providing consistent, high-quality product information, brands face several challenges, including those outlined below.
The Need for Richer, Deeper Data
Today’s consumers want to know more about what they’re buying. This includes information about:
- Product ingredients;
- Where and how components are sourced; and
- The impact production processes have on the environment.
As a result, brands need solutions capable of capturing deep, rich data to create SKUs and product pages that meet customer expectations.
The Growing Impact of Data Governance
Informed by regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CPA), effective data governance is now critical for ecommerce success.
Seventy-seven percent of consumers say they “always” or “regularly” read reviews, according to survey data from BrightLocal. But brands need to ensure that this user data is only posted with permission — and can’t be compromised.
This ties into the larger landscape of trust. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), while business leaders believe that 87% of customers trust their company, just 30% of shoppers actually do.
The Expectation of Broader Reach
As highlighted by data from Bazaarvoice, 66% of shoppers prefer a hybrid approach to shopping. In practice, this means many customers now interact with a brand across multiple touch points before buying a product.
Today’s shoppers expect high-quality, up-to-date, and consistent product information across these channels.
- Product availability information;
- Shipping details;
- Pricing information;
- Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs); and
- Ratings and reviews.
To remain competitive, brands need an optimised omnichannel approach that empowers them to broaden their reach and capture customer interest.
In practice, this requires in-depth data collection and analysis to pinpoint where customers prefer to interact.
What Steps Can Companies Take To Build the Ecommerce Tech Stack Investment Case?
While the data speaks for itself, it can’t speak for you when it comes to building the case for investment. As a result, ecommerce teams must take a methodical approach to convincing C-suites that spending on improved product data management is the pathway to success.
Here are four steps to help streamline the process.
1. Highlight the Gaps
To make the case for a bigger budget, your team needs to start the conversation with a look at where data management efforts could improve.
Here, statistics such as cart abandonment rates and issues with connecting the dots on current consumer trends can help make the case.
2. Accentuate the Benefits
Clearly communicating the benefits is essential. For example, payments processing provider Square notes that companies with a strong omnichannel strategy see a 9.5% annual revenue increase on average.
The caveat? This kind of boost is only possible with accurate and complete product data across every touch point through which a customer interacts with your brand.
3. Identify What’s Needed
After the above is communicated, your team needs to identify what’s needed to close the data management gap.
This could take the form of scalable cloud computing resources, dedicated analytics tools, or customer survey initiatives to gather feedback and determine the ideal course of action.
4. Offer a Plan
Finally, it’s worth coming to the table with a plan. This means laying out how new tech budgets will be spent, the estimated time to see results, and what those results could look like.
Be prepared to answer questions regarding which key performance indicators (KPIs) will be tracked. For example, your team might aim for a 10% increase in sales conversions over six months across a specific product line.
How To Advocate for Your Ecommerce Tech Stack
To succeed in today’s evolving ecommerce market, your brand must deliver high-quality product data across every touch point.
But good data alone isn’t enough: The efficient and effective flow of information requires an optimal product data architecture that empowers your organisation to connect the dots between customer interest and reliable sales conversion.
Want more tips on how to deliver engaging, consistent product content that can help your brand stand out on the digital shelf? Download Salsify’s guide, “Why Bad Product Content is Killing Your Brand.”