2014 witnessed a staggering increase in the number of SKUs listed online and 2015 is not going to be any different. E-commerce and Content Managers will continue to be tasked with rapid SKU on-boarding along with knowing the right assortment and having the right price. Merely adding SKUs won’t help.
Retailers will need to focus on better product content to drive shopper experience and conversion. And this is critical for multi-channel retailers too. According to a recent report by PwC, “Total Retail 2015: Retailers and the Age of Disruption”, 73% of the shoppers say that they have browsed products online but decided to purchase them in-store.
This brings us to the 5 things retailers must consider as they set-up online assortment in 2015:
1. Understand data standards for product catalogs:
Review, update and, as applicable, develop style guides to clearly define product information requirements and standards. This is a critical step as it serves as a neccessary guide to a whole host of subsequent activities like product information sourcing, transformation and quality assurance.
2. Create traffic friendly SKUs earlier:
Very often retailers first focus on SKU on-boarding online and then make them SEO friendly over time as they rely on data to see which products are doing well or not. In other cases, the focus is primarily making the products for a few popular brands traffic friendly at the onset. While that is reasonable, content analytics now allow retailers to be more responsive and compress the time to trigger decisions in terms of which SKUs need earlier investment from an SEO stand-point.
3. Invest in scalable Quality Assurance for content:
Gaps in product content can impede the conversion process and also create a poor shopping experience. For key value items and specific categories, retailers need to invest in robust and scalable Quality Assurance solutions to help audit quality lapses and take quick corrective action.
4. Plan for mobile product content:
Mobile devices drove over 40% of web traffic in the most recent Cyber Monday. This trend is likely to continue, but retailers are lagging behind as their product content for mobile devices are merely replicas of what they are showing on the desktop. The uses and the ways shoppers like to access content on the web and mobile devices are quite different, and retailers need to tailor content according to the device. Responsive design can help improve the experience to some extent but a serious re-look at the actual content is necessary.
5. Choose the right partner to support item set-up or product content enrichment:
Item set-up online is getting more complex with pressing deadlines and new skills needed. And there are many moving parts. Choosing the right partner can be a vital decision between playing and playing to win.
And now, over to you. Make a difference with differentiated and engaging content before scaling assortment.
Mihir Kittur is a Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Ugam. He oversees sales, marketing and innovation and works with leading retailers and brands with insights and analytics solutions around their category decisions to improve business performance.