Consumers are interacting with brands and products across a myriad of devices and on a plethora of different channels and platforms, and their search behaviour is forever changing. A far-reaching online presence is now essential for retailers – but can they provide a seamless customer experience across channels?
The benefits of multichannel commerce marketing – enhanced visibility, more opportunities for product discovery, lead generation and increased sales – are clear. However, the challenge facing many retailers lies in optimising this exposure: using appropriate technologies to ensure that all content produced, in any given channel, is accurate, consistent and displayed in the optimum way.
There are various tools and data sources that can facilitate digital marketing but few are more important than a high quality product data feed. With this in place, you can distribute products into multiple channels efficiently, quickly and reactively, and provide consumers with a consistent, clear and pleasant journey through to a sale.
The value of product data
Product data feeds containing rich product information – and a merchant’s entire inventory – can be created by extracting product attributes directly from an e-commerce website, or via a feed import or application program interface (API). Armed with this, retailers can manage and optimise the data and integrate it into online applications and websites.
It is easier said than done, of course. If you are a large merchant with a huge inventory, and you want to market your products via a wide range of channel partners, building and maintaining a product feed is especially hard work. But to drive conversion rates and boost customer acquisition, you need dynamic consumer-facing content. And for that, you need high quality product data.
But what does ‘high quality product data’ really mean?
Comprehensive, accurate, consumable
First, product data must be comprehensive. To allow consumers to compare your products to those of your competitors, you need to give them as many relevant details as possible: product title and description, size and colour, availability and price, images and video, and so on.
Third parties will all have differing requirements, and rules can be applied to trim the feed at a more granular level. But being able to access and distribute a full and comprehensive product data feed, containing every stock item and all its attributes, empowers you to control precisely how any given product is marketed.
From here, you can improve and optimise product performance within channels, easily take advantage of new marketing channels and quickly respond to changes from channel partners.
Accuracy means consistency
As well as being comprehensive, product data needs to be accurate. Consumer trust is still being earned in online marketplaces. Showing people adverts for items that are out of stock, named wrongly or priced incorrectly will easily shake their confidence, leading to lost sales, annoyed customers and a drained pay-per-click budget. Similarly, you can kiss goodbye to search traffic if you have not labelled items properly.
A high level of accuracy will lead to consistency across every customer touchpoint, improving the user experience immeasurably. Presenting the same imagery, pricing and product description at every stage in the process – from the email a customer receives and the listing they see on a comparison search engine, to the retargeting banner they are served later and the on-site content they eventually engage with – boosts conversion and removes unnecessary friction from the sales funnel.
Data accuracy is an important component of reactive marketing. If you are using a pricing intelligence platform, you may want to adjust prices according to market data – and for this to be reflected across all channels immediately. This demands a high quality product data feed that is refreshed regularly (and perhaps uses sales logic to remove items that are out of stock, low in quantity or not available in all configurations).
Maximise your visibility
Once your product data feed is up to date, with every attribute listed, you need to make sure that content is properly displayed in the likes of Google shopping, Facebook ads, on-site widgets, comparison shopping engines and paid search. In other words, retailers must ensure that their product data is consumable.
Product data from a retailer must be mapped and categorised precisely, to ensure successful integration into other marketing channels or advertising applications. As well as providing a consistent consumer experience, careful mapping means people are able to search for – and find – your goods. Did you know Amazon categorises a nightdress in ‘Nightgowns and Sleepshirts’ but Asos defines it under ‘Lingerie and Nightwear’?
Moreover, certain channels will simply reject items if attributes are missing or incorrectly defined. Within a master data feed, you ought to be able to create new product attributes or add to existing attributes as required for different channels.
The ‘consumability’ of your product data is the element that really ensures maximum visibility of your products, and therefore the maximum chance of customer acquisition.
Go forth and optimise
Once you have all that product data at your fingertips, use it to your advantage. Unlock the potential of your other data sources, such as customer information to deliver a truly personalised experience across multiple channels.
Become more agile in your marketing approach, able to optimise within and across channels. And start removing the items that are under-performing and wasting marketing budget.
The key to selling in the digital age is multichannel marketing, and the key to multichannel marketing is clever use of product data – a feed that is comprehensive, accurate and consumable.
Adverts and listings relying on this type of data feed will be more engaging, consistent, relevant and clickable – and most likely to land you new customers who have been delighted by the whole experience.