Product content optimization for retailers: Why it should happen sooner than you think

[WP Import] Product content optimization for retailers: Why it should happen sooner than you think

Product content optimization can be defined as modifying or enhancing product attributes to ensure accurate, thorough, and quality content. Traditionally, the task has been associated with the marketing side of the business. This is because it's the marketing department within an online retailer who take the product content from their PIM or shop system and uses it to create high-quality marketing and shopping feeds.
However, today’s online shoppers expect correct, reliable product information across all touchpoints, from an ad on Facebook or a listing on Google Shopping to a retailer's website or offline catalog. So what does this mean for online retailers?
In order to create a consistent customer experience across every touchpoint and to maximize your revenue potential, the product content held within your PIM system or your “golden record” should be the best it can be - clean, complete, correct, and consistent.
Sounds simple, right? Well, while the goal is clear, most online retailers are faced with a few challenges along the way.

The product content optimization challenge

Online retailers typically receive product information from hundreds or thousands of different suppliers. Each merchant has a different way of providing information, which means the data sets that a retailer gets are in varying formats such as XML, Excel, plain CSV, or JSON, and from various sources. Moreover, merchant product feeds can often be messy, unstructured, and missing information - sometimes containing only the bare minimum.
So why don’t retailers just optimize their product content in their PIM system? Well, here are three key reasons why it doesn’t work:

  • __Modern optimization tools__: Although some PIM systems offer basic editing options, they lack the optimization tools necessary to take your golden record to the next level. In this sense, retailers should not depend on a PIM system to maximize their revenue potential.
  • __PIMs don’t allow for bulk edits__, which means even the smallest edits are highly manual tasks and need to take place on a product-by-product basis.
  • __Huge time commitment__: Manually editing millions of individual product attributes would take up a massive amount of time and result in longer turnarounds for getting products to market and missed opportunities.

Some retailers, in order to bypass the above challenges, decide to not optimize at all. However, a poor quality golden record has some major consequences, including:

  • __Missed opportunities__ on your website due to dissatisfied or misinformed shoppers
  • __More work later on__ when preparing marketing feeds, since you’ll need to spend time cleaning the raw product data first before you can tailor and optimize it.

So how can you make sure your golden record shines if you can’t optimize product content in your PIM system?

The solution: Optimize your content before you import it to your PIM

Using a product content integration and optimization software, you can merge together all vendor feeds, analyze the quality, structure and standardize the content, and submit it as a single, high-quality master feed to your PIM system. The graphic below shows how this works with Productsup:

Product content optimization Productsup

This product content is called a golden record. In this article, we’ll examine the benefits of a high-quality golden record, provide a few examples of what types of optimizations can be done, and shed light on how to get started.

What are the benefits of a high-quality golden record?

A high-quality golden record is an online retailer’s golden ticket to success in many ways. Here are just a few of the many advantages.

Consistent omnichannel customer experience

Today’s shoppers expect to see reliable, accurate product data across all channels. While they may do initial research on your website, they may then move to your mobile app to look at products in more detail. A surefire way to lose customers is to confuse them with inaccurate or mismatched product information. For example, if the content in a retargeting ad, later on, is not the same as the content on your website, this will confuse customers - losing you the sale. That said, if your golden record is high-quality - consistent, clean, correct, and complete - you are automatically ensuring that shoppers will find reliable, accurate product data at each touchpoint with your product.
Which leads to: Increased revenue potential
Your revenue potential is directly correlated with the quality of your product content inventory. If your PIM contains high-quality content, it will appear so across all of your channels (website, catalog, POS, and mobile app), which will improve the shopping experience - thus increasing your revenue potential.

Improved efficiency

One of the most obvious advantages of a high-quality golden record is simply the amount of work it will save you later on. When it’s time to create marketing feeds, you won’t have to clean and standardize your data and you can go directly to channel-specific optimizations.
Which leads to: Faster time to market (TTM)
Since a high-quality golden record eliminates the need to clean and standardize data during the marketing feed creation process, you’ll be able to get your products listed and ads running a lot sooner. Naturally, this also means a quicker payday!
Now that we’ve covered how a high-quality golden record works to your advantage, you may be wondering how to ensure that yours shines. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

What can you do to ensure a high-quality golden record?

Before we get into the specific optimizations or integrations you can do to improve the quality of your golden record, take a look at this outline of events.

__Step 1__. Find a powerful software capable of data integration, optimization, and analysis

__Step 2__. Merge all of your merchant feeds into a single master data record

__Step 3__. Analyse and determine where optimizations are needed

__Step 4__. Clean and standardize existing content

__Step 5__. Add additional content with third-party integrations

__Step 6__. Submit a single high-quality feed to PIM

Essentially, if you find the right software from the beginning, the rest of the steps will be a breeze. However, there are many tools out there that can be used for data integration, but not optimization - so look carefully for a software that has it all.
Once you’ve merged your merchant feeds into a single master feed, you can move on to analyzing, cleaning, and standardizing it - here are a few examples of how it can be cleaned and standardized:

Clean existing content

  • __Standardize terms__: Not all suppliers are detail oriented when it comes to how they write a product’s brand name (e.g. HP, hp, Hewlett Packard). Inconsistent brand names can confuse customers and make it more difficult for you to keep track of your inventory. Therefore, a simple bulk-edit can ensure your entire master data record shows the correct brand name and format. The same could be said about product colors (blue, sky blue, navy, etc.).
  • __Clean product titles and descriptions__: A lot can be said about the power of good product titles and descriptions. Not only do these help better inform your customers about their purchase, but they also make it easier for them to find the product they are looking for as they move closer to purchasing. Here are a few things you can do to ensure they are high-quality:
    • Add the brand name to the title
    • Remove consecutive white spaces
    • Consistent capitalization
    • Correct spelling
    • Remove duplicate words
    • Enrich titles with key product information like size, color, and detailed product characteristics (e.g. organic, petite, stainless steel, etc.)
  • __Consistent pricing formats__: There are many ways in which one could write five dollars (e.g. $5, $5.00, 5 USD). Standardize your price format in bulk to ensure the attribute is in the same structure for every single product in your master data record.

Once you’ve cleaned your initial master data record, you can then shift your focus towards adding additional product content. Here are some examples:

Add additional content

  • __Integrate product images__: Product images are a crucial element for creating omnichannel consistency. Merge all of your product images (either from DAM or your image supplier) into your master data record. This way, they will all be associated with the relevant product and you won’t have to do it manually later on in your PIM system. This also makes it easy to identify any missing or broken image links.
  • __Integrate competitor pricing__: It’s always useful to know where your pricing stands among your competitors. So why not have this information included in your golden record? Merge this information into your master feed to automatically associate each price with the relevant product. This information can then help you to optimize your pricing strategy and will be extremely useful for marketing efforts later on.
  • __Integrate product ratings__: Many consumers nowadays won’t even consider making a purchase without seeing the product’s rating, especially on a retailer's website or mobile app. Incorporating this information into your golden record will ensure it reflects across all channels.
  • __Integrate analytics__: Third-party analytics can help you identify best sellers and categorize your products more strategically. By including this data in your golden record, you're able to keep better track of your products performance across the board.

Ready to get started? Productsup can help!

With a dedicated product content integration and optimization software, you can standardize, clean, complete, and optimize a single master data record in bulk. Then, it can be submitted to your PIM as a single, high-quality feed. Luckily, this is a Productsup specialty.

Have thousands of sources that you need to integrate?

The Productsup software can integrate with virtually any source - no matter how many or in what format.
Looking for a software capable of handling millions of products? No problem! Our clients export roughly 310 billion products per month from our software, so it’s safe to say our 800+ clients around the globe are managing their massive feeds quite well!

Easily optimize your product content

Productsup is filled with a variety of preconfigured bulk-editing boxes (250+ to be exact) and features to make optimizing an inventory of any size a piece of cake.

Product content syndication

Productsup was also cited for focusing on product information syndication, vendor portal, and data onboarding, and PIM/marketing lifecycle hybrid in Forrester's report, Vendor Landscape: Product Information Management (PIM), Q3 2017.
For SAP Hybris customers, maybe we should also mention Productsup Data Syndication 1.2 was one of the first products to achieve an SAP premium certification for integration with SAP applications.

See the Productsup platform in action!

Want to learn more about how Productsup enables you to ensure your golden record is genuine gold? Request a web demo, it's free!

This updated post was originally published on May 18, 2018.

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