Managing an organisation’s product information and flow from product creation to launching on selling channels is the lifeblood of any organisation. Obstacles along this pathway can be likened to arterial blockages. Any negative effect on the quality of information sent to suppliers directly correlates to the success of a potential sale. A free-flowing system that can be audited and monitored, providing real-time updates about the health of product data quality in an organisation’s vital organs (channels) is mission critical for success in e-commerce.
As businesses of all sizes double down on their digital efforts, syndicating content and implementing a streamlined process across an entire organisation is paramount. A solid base from which to operate is especially crucial for brands and retailers attempting to further their reach across new channels and territories and increase their presence online. A shaky technical foundation can lead to cracks in the operation, such as:
- Inconsistent data held for the same SKU(s) by various stakeholders or teams within the same organisation
- Valuable time lost as channel-specific templates are manually updated/enriched
- Inability to keep pace with the rate of e-commerce due to antiquated processes
- Reduced SKU uploads which impact product availability
Furthermore, destinations like Google and Amazon have algorithms constantly rating your product content to determine your listing place within the search. Poorly optimised product content can have a detrimental effect on your listing place which negatively impacts sales. Remember, the loneliest place in the world is the second page of results in a Google search!
Such poor efficiency can drain productivity from a business.
Why do so many organisations continue to operate with capacity restraint and a poor system to manage product information? What’s the solution to help eradicate these issues and get the fundamental requirements in place to ensure you’re not swimming upstream in a rapidly evolving landscape?
To identify a solution we first must understand the daily practices that can lead to long-term challenges in information management.
Generally, the product data catalogue and information of a business is stored within an ERP system that is central to all activities. The product information stored there is then used by multiple business units, such as e-commerce, designers, marketing, retail sales channel managers and business development, for their individual specific needs.
As the cross-functional teams pull this information from the ERP system they will tend to store it in their own personal spreadsheets or within a team’s separate folder. As an individual or specific team handles this information, it tends to morph into a whole new being as it is manually enriched with content specific to that team’s need (everyone has their own unique flavour of working).
For example, marketing may need to ‘spice up’ the description of a particular SKU and highlight item specifics of a product to ensure it resonates for a promotional campaign on a particular selling destination like Zalando.
Meanwhile, a separate team within the same organization manages relationships with other retailers that also list and actively sell the same SKU. These retailers will request product information to be sent to them in a specific template that matches their own internal requirements. This team will effectively have an Excel file fit to match the requirements of the individual retailers and will manually input data that is cross-referenced from the file they pulled from the ERP.
When internal operations like this are multiplied across several teams, divisions and business units in an organization, the end result is a fragmented patchwork of data living in various spreadsheets.
Without clear processes and tools in place, the siloed operations of a business can work to its own detriment, particularly in the area of information management.
ChannelAdvisor offers organisations the ability to import or integrate their ERP system directly into its platform to house all product information (including images). By holding your product data catalogue in ChannelAdvisor’s platform you gain the ability to have one source of truth that enables multiple teams to work on the same information in one centralised location.
Within this data hub, templates exist for selling on specific destinations (Amazon, Zalando, Wayfair, Walmart, etc.) or social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). The templates can be easily populated through the use of intelligent business rules that seamlessly map your product data across the different channels.
ChannelAdvisor has direct integrations into a large array of channels and can manage the product feeds sent to external parties. Gone are the days of manually uploading product catalogues into portals and the never-ending back-and-forth of rectifying missing product information. With built-in data analytics and an intuitive dashboard, notifications and product health indicators are displayed within the same ChannelAdvisor platform. Logins and access can be differentiated across an organisation to ensure the appropriate individuals see the data most relevant to them.
In essence, ChannelAdvisor’s platform allows your business to maintain, enrich, manipulate and translate product information so it’s shown in the best light in its intended destination. Want to learn more about ChannelAdvisor’s capabilities? Request a call and one of our e-commerce experts can get in touch to talk you through our long-standing experience in e-commerce.