Retailers Need Agile Content Creation

Mobile phone showing different types of content it can access

Creating digital experiences that cut through the noise is tough for retailers. Many more businesses, prompted by the pandemic, are creating additional e-commerce channels to generate sales. At the same time, shopper expectations have escalated. This has created a much greater need for digital content that helps shoppers make better choices about the products they want — at the time they want them.

Retailers are struggling to keep up with the demand for content to support the complex requirements of smartphone-enabled, omnichannel shoppers. If consumers don’t get the right content at the right time to support their shopping mission, they’ll go elsewhere. 

Also, shoppers expect retailers to deliver increasingly personalized experiences. However, while the technology is available to deliver unique experiences at scale, the reality is that content, the fuel to power personalization, is facing some limitations.

Content Challenges

Presently, many retailers require significant amounts of resources to keep catalog pages, social feeds, and product details updated on multiple channels. And taking weeks to months to launch a content campaign — which is the traditional timeline — no longer works in today’s fast-moving consumer landscape. 

What are the obstacles? Content production is often an inefficient process, based on a “waterfall” methodology. In this case, content jobs cascade from one stage to the next, sequentially. Each stage requires specialist tools and skills, which results in large amounts of “works in progress.” Also, because the content production process typically takes weeks or longer, it requires multiple reviews and governance cycles, creating further complexity and adding more overhead.

Things must change — and quickly — to capitalize on rapidly evolving consumer trends. Retailers must find better, more efficient ways to operate.

Steps to Achieve This

Retailers should consider a lean approach to content production, which involves limiting the number of jobs in progress, where each is completed before the team moves to another. With this tactic, retailers can get this done much faster, in hours not weeks. This frees up the team to capitalize on where and when the shopper is now, not where they think they’ll be in three months’ time. A lean methodology to content production enables retailers to act — and react — in real-time.

Also, forward-looking brands are now building “content experience operations” teams, or CXOps. These are cross-functional and consist of subject matter experts. They use agile principles — people over processes — with a lean structure and agile tools to manage workflows. These teams focus on completing production briefs from start to finish. This approach can reduce content generation processes from months to days, and, in some cases, a few hours.

Agile content creation enables retailers to produce consistent, quality content at scale. It also makes the most of new, best-of-breed technology platforms that retail brands are now using, particularly microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless (MACH) architecture. By bringing together cross-functional content teams with lean processes and flexible tools, retailers can create, publish, learn, and iterate at speed, while at the same time reducing waste and improving content reuse. 

Lean processes simplify governance and process overheads, allowing the talent to spend more time on high-quality, creative output that drives customer engagement. The retailers that have already started on this journey are the ones that will compete and thrive in the months and years to come.

James Brooke, Founder and CEO, Amplience

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