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Tips for Prioritizing Product Content Enrichment

So much to do. So little time. — Anonymous.

For product content managers, it’s an endless struggle — deciding which products take priority for content enrichment. When hundreds, even thousands, of SKUs pour into your ecommerce queue every day, how do you decide which ones deserve your limited authoring resources?

Any number of factors influence content enrichment prioritization — market conditions, ecommerce strategy, budgets and staffing, etc. No magic formula exists. But every product content department needs a plan. In the post that follows, we offer a list of ideas that our product information management customers have successfully used to prioritize their product data enrichment activities.

Enrichment Defined

By definition, to enrich means to improve or add value. When applied to ecommerce content, enrichment means to improve the quality of the information provided so that the resulting product presentation is more useful to the customer. Enriched product content is comprised of text, specifications, images, videos and any other information you have collected about the product, possibly including customer reviews.

To illustrate varying degrees of enrichment, here are four descriptions for a yellow raincoat:

  1. RAINCOAT WTRPF MENS YEL XL
  2. Raincoat, Waterproof, Waist Length, Snap front, Lined. Yellow, Men’s, Size XL
  3. Waterproof Raincoat. Waist length with hidden snap-button front, vented sides, reinforced seams, adjustable cuffs. Polyethylene/vinyl coating. Poly lining. Bright yellow. Men’s size XL.
  4. Waterproof Raincoat. Protect yourself from the elements in this waist-length poly/vinyl coated jacket. It features vented sides to keep you cool, a comfortable poly lining, four-snap front closure with placket, reinforced seams and adjustable cuffs. Bright yellow color aids visibility. Men’s size XL. Customer rating: 4 stars.

The first product description is taken from a parts file. It gives only the basics and isn’t very useful to a customer. The second product description adds more information yet is still barely adequate for a customer to make a purchasing decision. The third product description is suitable for a printed flyer and maybe a web page. The fourth product description is fully enriched; add an image or two, and you have a customer-ready presentation.

What sells? And what are you selling?

Some of the most logical product information management tactics focus on prioritizing best-selling items and key brands:

  • The 80/20 rule. Identify the 20% of your products that drive 80% of your ecommerce sales, and ensure that these products are fully enriched.
  • Private label brands. In-house labels reflect your brand identity and should always be near the top of your enrichment hierarchy.
  • Featured products, such as high-profile brands that you sell, often subsidized with marketing support from the manufacturer. Rule of thumb: If you create a web page banner for a product, make sure the linked product description is enriched.
  • Core products. The essential products that “define” your brand and the value you provide. These are your best; make sure they reflect it.
  • Critical applications or markets. Similar to core products, but focused on solutions. If you are a sporting goods retailer but your forte is the active outdoors lifestyle, you want the hiking, boating, running and camping content to sparkle.

Other product content enrichment tactics are more refined:

  • Seasonal products. A retailer who sells pools and patio furniture in spring/summer might prioritize authoring those products in time for that selling season, while deferring holiday and game room items until the fall.
  • New product launches. Obvious, but often overlooked. Before you introduce a high-profile product to your ecommerce site, be sure the content is ready in advance.
  • Inventoried/stocked vs. third party. Enrich the items you stock and sell regularly. Items that you source on an as-requested basis are likely just fine with less enriched content.
  • Gated ecommerce. If you restrict access to your ecommerce site to select customers, ensure that the products they can access there are enriched.
  • Online-only products. Let’s say you have both a storefront and ecommerce presence but a large segment of your goods is available online only. Chances are there is stiff competition for these items. Enrich them for the benefit of your online customers and to improve your Google rankings.

Consistency and completeness count

There are “rainy day” content enrichment activities that pay big dividends if you have the time and resources to tackle them. Both require self-scouting—that is, conducting an audit of your product content as it exists.

  • Gap fills. Identify “thin” spots in your product content. Two examples are (1) a product category that has skimpy descriptions throughout, or (2) products without images. A product page with an image is more credible to a customer and much more likely to result in a purchase than a page without an image.
  • Focus on faceted search. This is a must if your website allows customers to refine their searches. The key to good faceted searching is having consistent data presented in a logical and uniform fashion. Over time, multiple-user data entry tends to breed inconsistencies in spelling and data labels (in., in, inch, etc.). In this scenario, product content enrichment entails normalizing your attribute data at the SKU level to eliminate duplicated or inconsistent values. Product attribute cleanup is another often overlooked but very worthwhile activity.

Use your analytics

If your company has the capability to synthesize product data, consider prioritizing authoring based on product performance. For example, use Google Analytics data to identify products with low online conversion rates. Marry that information with product information management (PIM) data to find those products that also have a low enrichment level. From there, enrich the content with more copy, images, etc. Then monitor Google Analytics to see if conversion improves. One Agility Multichannel client has seen impressive conversion rate improvements by acting on analytical data. Hear from Allied Electronics & Automation on why product information is crucial for driving customer engagement and conversion.

The ideas we shared here give you a basis to formulate a product content enrichment prioritization plan. One more tip: Check out what your competition is doing, too.

Ready to take your commerce strategy to the next level? Take our 3-Minute PIM Readiness Assessment—16 simple questions designed to help you establish if your business could benefit from PIM. Or, contact our Agility product information management experts and we’ll help you evaluate your business needs and determine if you are ready for a PIM solution. Let’s start a conversation.

Related Assets

Presenting: The Edge

In this last post of 2013, a few words about symbols, and about beginnings, journeys, and shoes. Our logo was created 12 years ago with the inaugural release of Agility. The diagram below, from the original data sheet, gives an idea of how this:

Agility Multichannel Logo

grew out of this:

Inspiration for the Agility Multichannel LogoHere’s some of the text that accompanied that diagram from 2001:

mens shoesTHE NEED: Today, managing product information and promotional content for your business is complex. Your company could be managing online as well as offline promotions; publishing in multiple languages in many countries; maintaining product data for products in a variety of different sizes and standards. Take this example, for instance: the size of men’s shoes is not the same everywhere. If you think that your shoe size is nine in North America, good luck finding a fit in France, where you should actually be looking for a size 43 or in Japan, where you are a size 27. In today’s marketplace managing one shoe SKU with its multiple size attributes in your database can turn into a headache… multiply this by your 20,000 SKUs with their multiple attributes and product descriptions and you’re heading for chaos.

THE SOLUTION: Greater flexibility and scalability. Agility includes our unique EDGE technology, which gives product managers and IT teams the ability to link objects, the basic building blocks of the data structure, into an infinite variety of taxonomies to describe product assortments, digital media assets and campaign plans.

This is a good time of year to look back. As a company made up largely of people who have worked together for a very long time, it’s good to be reminded of that original intent.  We’re happy to say that because we set off on the right foot and in the right direction, with the right data structure and building blocks, Agility, with the input of innovative and dedicated customers, has developed in sync with the leading edge of technological advancement. Product Information Management is no longer just an IT or product management issue. It’s central and essential to every department and stakeholder in every commercial enterprise. The company with 20,000 SKUS in 2001 now has hundreds of thousands, with more assets and attributes per product feeding into more channels than most of us could have imagined back then.  But the basic idea behind that original mission statement remains true today. Shoe styles have changed, but feet are the same as ever. And it’s people after all who matter most. All of us at Agility Multichannel thank all of you for coming on this journey with us, for pushing us, challenging us, keeping us on track, and making our job a pleasure. And we wish you and your families the very best for 2014 and beyond.  Cheers!