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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

4 Product Data Resolutions for 2020

We’ve arrived into the 2020 future but it’s unlike what Hollywood promised. While we’ve yet to experience flying cars or time travel, we have up to this point avoided an apocalyptic scenario brought about by a megalomaniacal artificial intelligence bent on the annihilation of humankind.

So, what does 2020 bring us? The biggest undeniable change is the way we shop: B2B or B2C, with a single click or tap of a button, purchasers can order virtually anything they desire. Today’s customers buy on the fly and they expect a personalized experience and fast delivery. Embracing this new wave of customer engagement is crucial to survive and stay relevant with the always-connected consumer.

As we enter this new decade, it’s the perfect time to reexamine your product information management efforts to make sure you’re prepared to deliver a seamless commerce experience in 2020 and beyond.

4 Product Information Management Resolutions for eCommerce Success in 2020:

  • Resolution #1: Resolve to treat your product information as a strategic asset. You need feedback to gauge the product enrichment required to drive performance, such as the ability to leverage data-driven insights for determining which products will benefit the most from further content and production-time investments, and which are ready for instant release to market. Having enriched, complete product content is a key differentiator between you and your competition for driving conversion rates. 
  • Resolution #2: Resolve to automate wherever possible. A major advantage for leveraging PIM software is the ability to automate enrichment based on business rules—this not only speeds the process but can also compensate for small or understaffed teams with limited resources. For instance, we’ve integrated AI technologies from Google and Amazon to give our customers the most advanced AI-powered product information enrichment with automated image tagging and moderation features.
  • Resolution #3: Resolve to be consistent across channels: Providing consistent, complementary, compelling and correctly targeted product content everywhere it’s needed is essential for driving revenues and building customer loyalty. A PIM solution enables a retailer, distributor, or manufacturer to integrate, optimize and syndicate content efficiently to websites, microsites, external marketplaces and even printed catalogs.
  • Resolution #4: Resolve to continuously analyze and improve your content. Establishing an analytical feedback loop and having quality metrics is crucial for identifying opportunities and staying ahead of the game. For instance, by using a proper PIM solution that offers easy integration with your business analytics tool of choice will provide your teams with real-time insights into your content quality and product performance.

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 product information 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.

Why Agility® PIM from Agility Multichannel is the Best PIM Software Solution in 2020, According to FinancesOnline

2020 is already shaping up to a big year for Agility Multichannel and it’s a tremendous honor to have just been ranked Number 1 in Product Information Management (PIM) by FinancesOnline, the fastest growing independent review platform for B2B, SaaS, and financial solutions.

According to FinancesOnline: “The best product information management software for 2020 is for Agility® PIM from Agility Multichannel thanks to its comprehensive features including data onboarding, business process tracking, data enrichment, and inventory management. Most of all, it packs all these powerful features into an intuitive dashboard.”

This ranking is a testament to our customer-centric approach to investing in product innovation and most importantly, our people. Our development team has worked tirelessly to ensure that Agility remains the market leading platform that we’ve been renowned for since our inception. With our most recent release of Agility® PIM v8, we’ve set a new standard in PIM and have exceeded customer expectations in delivering innovative new features and providing unmatched user experience.

As described by review analysts: “Agility® PIM is best-of-breed, built ground-up for easy, air-tight integration with multiple systems from many vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM. It has fully documented APIs and can be easily configured to meet all business-led requirements.”

To learn more about Agility® PIM and how we’re helping retailers, global brands, industrial manufacturers and distributors take control of their product information journey, let’s have a conversation.

Related Resources

Agility Scores 3 B2B Excellence Awards

Choosing a PIM: What to Watch for

Why PIM is Primed for the Print Revival

As we roll into a new decade, you may be assessing your company’s marketing strategies: “Where can we find an edge?” you ask. May we suggest an “old reliable” that’s time-tested, impactful and, despite rumors of its demise, remains still viable. That medium is print.

According to U.S. Postal Service research, print is thriving, but in a different way than in its past. It’s true that while the volume of direct mail materials has declined 29.85% since 2006, direct mail response rates have actually risen by 173% for house lists and 194% for prospect lists. Personalization is a key driver for this growth, as is the trust factor that print holds over digital channels.

The Case for Print

Here are seven considerations for rethinking print in your marketing mix:

  1. Print offers something different. Today the average person receives 107 emails but just 2 pieces of mail per day. As consumers continue to connect more and more facets of their lives via digital — banking, shopping, making appointments, interacting, etc. — a printed piece in the mailbox becomes a novelty. Think about when you receive a greeting card in the mail or, rarer still, a personal letter. You might smile when you find it. You can open it at your leisure. Since so much of “junk mail” has vanished in favor of email marketing — and so much of that is unwanted spam — an eye-catching printed piece stands out.
  2. Print has a tangible presence. A shopper’s memory of a web page lasts until the next click. Emails are opened immediately and forgotten. A printed flyer or catalog is likely to be retained for 17 days. You can hold it, browse it, mark it up, bring it with you while shopping. The merchant can include a promotional card or small item to make a printed piece more engaging. Many companies take exceptional pride in their printed catalogs as a significant brand statement — a weighty presence on the shelf.
  3. Print allows greater freedom of expression. Web pages and apps are restricted by their wireframes and templates, creating a certain level of monotony for the user. The print is less confined. Using a proper Product Information Management (PIM) system, a designer can flow content and images to a page template, then work “outside the lines” to create dazzling, attention-grabbing visuals. Print allows trendy colors and fonts and special effects like gradients to shine at their best.
  4. Print can be personalized. Personalization goes beyond merely addressing a piece to a specific customer. Today, a business can harness its powerful PIM system combined with advanced analytics to create personalized versions of direct mail pieces in smaller lots. For instance, a national tool retailer can mail tailored editions of its monthly mini-catalog with different offers based on the individual customer’s buying patterns. These pieces build a “just for me” wow factor with customers.
  5. Print gets a response. According to the 2018 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail achieves a 9% response from house lists and 5% from prospect lists versus 1% or lower for email and social media. DMA data indicates that 79% of consumers act on direct mail immediately versus 45% for email. 
  6. Print and Digital work well together. Digital remains the most common and cost-effective way to interact with customers, but print reaches where digital cannot. A customer can filter email but not the conventional mailbox. Direct mail plus email boosts conversion rates by up to 28%. And direct mail can raise the effectiveness of other channels by up to 450%. Many marketers use their print catalogs to drive customer traffic to their websites and apps.
  7. Consumer Data Security Laws are on the rise. And compliance is a headache for digital marketers. Since Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in May 2018, consumers’ digital privacy has garnered attention worldwide. A similar California law went live on January 1, 2020. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, legislatures in 25 US states and Puerto Rico have more than 100 active consumer data privacy bills or drafts on their collective dockets. Some of these state laws are highly restrictive. Together they make up a byzantine puzzle of regulations. As a possible alternative, the US Senate is considering uniform federal legislation; the Federal Trade Commission is watching as it is the national enforcement arm. While governments debate how much protection is appropriate, “think tanks” like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have offered their opinions. Many consumer advocacy groups fear that a federal law will be weaker than state laws, while many trade organizations support the idea of a national standard.

The implications for digital marketers are clear: More laws mean more complex regulations, more documentation of opt-in/out processes, more proof of compliance and tighter restrictions on what/how much/how long customer information can be retained by retailers, distributors and other organizations who reach consumers via the digital space. The laws also cover data brokers, who collect and re-sell consumer information. While direct marketing is subject to certain provisions of these laws, compliance is much easier as consumer consent is not required. Laws such as GDPR figure to take a big bite out of email marketing as companies scramble to comply. In turn, data security laws present an opportunity for these companies to reconsider print as a viable option. Customers trust print because it is virus-proof and bears no inherent risk of identity theft.

A robust and versatile PIM software should serve both digital and print needs. From a single source of content, messages can be personalized and disseminated across multiple channels and at different touchpoints along the customer journey.  So it’s time to rethink print as a valuable option for the personalization era.

Considering if a product information management (PIM) system is right for you? Take our 3-Minute PIM Readiness Assessment to help you determine if your business could benefit from a proper PIM solution. Or simply contact our PIM experts and we’ll help you evaluate your business needs.

Related Resources

The Marketer’s Guide to PIM for the Omnichannel Era

Choosing a PIM: What to Watch for

Five Key Takeaways from London B2B Commerce Meetup

Last month, we partnered with Lingo24 to host the first London B2B Commerce Meetup on the theme of successful digital transformation. We had a tremendous turnout of eCommerce professionals from companies that span from startups to mid-sized companies to global brands.

Hot topics for discussion included: how to best compete and beat Amazon in the B2B space; moving into new countries; the importance of localization (or localization for my US friends) and, the realization of the importance of delivering consistent and engaging product experiences not just to retail customers but to industrial buyers as well.

I came up with 5 key, slightly tongue-in-cheek takeaways for ensuring successful digital transformation:

  1. Know your starting point: Let’s face it, achieving a complete and total digital transformation is a bit like reaching the top of Mount Everest. Most of us – even the boldest and most daring of us — will never get there. One surefooted step at time, however, will get you a lot farther than you think. Digital transformation isn’t merely about having a great-looking website. It’s about core vision, conviction and leadership, and it starts with a clear and honest assessment of where you’re starting from and where you want to go, in terms of organization and structure (for instance, how managers are rewarded for hitting goals) and your product content (its granularity and richness, as well as your processes for on-boarding and digital delivery). It’s a risk worth taking.

  2. Don’t boil the ocean: Technology vendors will throw everything and the kitchen sink at you to justify a project. While there may be more than 25 valid reasons for building a product information management (PIM) system, attempting everything on the list will be unattainable. Instead, set realistic expectations of what can be accomplished. Prioritizing the big wins is just as important as deciding which to leave out.

  3. “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content”. A great quote from Leo Tolstoy, which can be readily applied to today’s B2B company’s dilemma. When your directive is to take on 5-10 times more SKUs while radically reducing product introduction times, you have to pick your battles. Some SKUS will have to go straight to market; others will need to be held back so that you can develop richer product content. Distributors need to get suppliers to do the work and to employ machine learning and AI to help automate as much of the enrichment process as possible. While you’re taking the time to make every bit of product content perfect, someone else Is selling those products to your customers.

  4. It’s the boss’s idea: In order to transform digitally, the right stakeholders have to believe that a digital strategy is critical. It takes getting buy-in early from the top and the right leadership to set a clear vision for the roadmap ahead. Digital transformation for product-centric B2B companies is critical for survival and future prosperity. Therefore, the boss has to be centrally involved, and preferably it’s their idea

  5. Watch out for the fake news:  When companies invest in new technologies, they usually undergo a thoughtful evaluation process. Once purchased, the buyer’s reputation is on the line, and they’re the ones who are usually the most committed to its long-term success. They’re also the most knowledgeable. There are plenty of opinions and reviews of technology solutions, just a click or two away, but it’s the end-users who are the most reliable sources for honest evaluations. Customer conferences and meet ups are a great ways to avoid the fake news and accurately benchmark your approach to digital transformation.

7 Reasons Why PIM Should be the Next Step in Your Digital Commerce Journey

Aggregating and managing all product data is cornerstone for any digital commerce strategy. In the many years since we saw a need to better manage product information and developed the first version of the Agility software, PIM has become a critical technology investment for both IT and business executives. A solid PIM solution helps you to dramatically improve data quality and govern data access and usage. It enables portfolio expansion as your business grows. And, effective product information management provides the flexibility to respond to changing market conditions. Read more

5 Common Myths about Product Information Management PIM

The science of managing information about products has existed for decades, although, Product Information Management (PIM) is a relatively new branch of Data Management. Historically, the solutions required to manage product content have been complex, since that data has multiple touch-points and affects the 3 pillars – People, Process and Technology. With a shift in the industry to promote business-focused, data-driven organizations, PIM was invented with a purpose to ease the collection, management and syndication of data, in a simple, easy and concise manner. However, there are still some myths from its past. Read more

Magento Technology Partnership

We’re delighted to announce that Agility Multichannel is now a Magento technology partner, the ecommerce leader’s first (and only) partner for PIM.

At the beginning of November, Magento Commerce broke away from eBay Inc and launched as an independent company. Two weeks later, the company released Magento 2.0 (“…a foundational milestone that extends Magento’s market share and innovation leadership into the next decade,” said Mark Lavelle, Magento Commerce CEO.) We’re delighted to announce that Agility Multichannel is now a Magento technology partner, the ecommerce leader’s first (and only) partner for PIM. In our commitment to the “3 C’s” (connecting Content with Creative for Commerce), strong partnerships are critical, and clearly the people at Magento Commerce feel the same way, with a new partnership program that is full of energy and dedicated to delivering best-in-class commerce experiences.

To read more about the Magento story and why it may be the “biggest commerce company you haven’t heard of yet,” the New York Business Journal does a good job of laying things out.

 

2015 PIM Value Index

Agility Multichannel improved more since the last report than any other vendor, demonstrating “commitment to its products, customers and partners.”

Ventana Research has just published its 2015 PIM Value Index, and we’re delighted to see that Agility Multichannel improved more since the last report than any other vendor, demonstrating (says author, CEO and chief research officer Mark Smith) “commitment to [our] products, customers and partners.” It’s an essential and important report.

Global Retail Expansion

Here’s an article titled Twelve Barriers to 2015 Retail Global Expansion, and Hacks for Breaking them Down that’s full of valuable insights, including 2 cents from our CEO Richard Hunt:

The key is to design a single, flexible, scalable global process that makes it easy not just to add channels and touch points but to move into new markets and countries when opportunities arise.  An enterprise Product Information Management (PIM) system can provide tools for product on-boarding, governance, workflows, enrichment and translation, approval and syndication that let end-users in any country and any department seamlessly localize and market their specific products – all within a single, endlessly scalable, global solution.

Richard Hunt in Apparel magazine