7 Key Product Content Areas Retailers are Investing In

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7 Key Product Content Areas Retailers are Investing In

By Mihir Kittur, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Ugam - 06/26/2015
According to a Forrester report last year, over 50% of all U.S. retail sales will either be influenced by the internet or will occur online in 2015. The web is playing a critical role in informing and influencing shopper decisions, whether they take place online or in a physical store.
 
Effective product content is key to not losing ground amidst the changing retail scene, as it helps brands and retailers increase visibility and maintain a competitive edge. Businesses that recognize this need are making gradual investments in enhancing product content. These investments can be broken down into seven key focus areas:
                                               
1) Faster SKU onboarding, getting it right the first time for key SKUs
As consumer product discovery and research increasingly happens online, retailers need to make sure their SKUs are onboarded quickly. Not getting SKUs online in time has direct implications on retailers’ top line. In addition, retailers are also rethinking the SKU onboarding process. They have often added SKUs and then invested in enriching them afterwards per demand. This practice is changing as retailers are able to deploy analytics to decide which SKUs should be enriched while being onboarded, getting it right the first time.  This not only helps them boost revenue, it’s also a more cost-effective way of onboarding SKUs.
 
2) Methods to onboard SKUs consistently at scale
While PIM (Product Information Management) software helps deal with scale, it is no substitute for the patchwork of processes that are still implemented by retailers. Retailers are recognizing it is time to improve SKU onboarding methods in order to really be able to deal with product content at scale and realize returns on their PIM investments.
 
3) Detailed and consistent product information is essential
Another key area of focus for retailers is addressing shoppers’ need for detailed, accurate, and consistent product information. This area has often been ignored in the past, but with rising expectations, this is now recognized as an important area of investment. These efforts have proven payoffs, including lower product return rates, high engagement, and increased repeat visits.
 
4) Doing SKU onboarding differently - looking outside in
The three investment areas above are helping retailers stay in the game. The next area of focus is driving differentiation. One such way is by taking a more outside-in or consumer-oriented approach when defining hierarchies, attributes, ordering, and presentation of information. This is very different from how it has primarily been done in past, which has historically been more about looking at what competitors are doing and adopting it. Some retailers have been investing in understanding their customers’ requirements in terms of information and differentiated product content. This they do by analyzing call center data, reviews, and Q&As on product pages as well as consumer surveys.
 
5) Consistent information across channels – including mobile
The shopper does not think of a retailer by their various sales channels. They expect a relevant and consistent experience with the retailer irrespective of the channel -- which is what omni-channel retailing is all about. As a result, consumers have come to expect relevant product content across devices along their shopping journeys. For example, retailers now make investments to provide content curated specifically for mobile, and don’t just duplicate desktop content as they’ve done in the past.
 
6) Investing in content analytics to uncover opportunities to differentiate and engage
In a world where dynamic pricing has become the norm, we are entering an era of dynamic content. Product content has often been a one-time, static activity with limited inputs from shopper behavioral data or shopper preferences, but that is changing. Retailers are now investing in web analytics to better understand product content drivers for conversion and making ongoing content interventions. They are seeing demonstrable increases in traffic and conversion created by these data-driven interventions.
 
7) Using content as a lever to compete vs. simply price matching
Price matching is a losing game. Retailers have an opportunity to improve category performance by looking holistically at assortment, content and price. There are numerous success stories where content interventions in the form of high resolution images, better copy, and directing the right traffic have helped achieve better margins without having to drop prices.

2015 is merely an inflection point, as over 50% of U.S. retail sales will be influenced by what consumers see online. This number is set to increase and accelerate in the future, and retailers need to direct their product content investments to drive better shopper experiences and support confident purchase decisions across devices throughout the shopping journey.