Retailing has transformed over the last decade and is nearly unrecognizable from the days when malls and stores were our sole shopping option. Now shoppers can purchase items via smartphones, laptops, in-app purchases and more.
The blending of a variety of purchasing avenues, commonly called omnichannel shopping, has changed the retail landscape for good. There is even more change on the horizon as omnichannel purchasing is no longer just a convenience but a way of life for most shoppers.
But how can retailers provide the cross-channel experience that today’s shoppers expect? Eighty-four percent of customers believe retailers should better integrate their traditional and online channels, according to Whisbi. Since consumers now search for information in a variety of places throughout the sales cycle — in-store, search engines, retail sites, third-party review sites, etc. — providing consistent, accurate and complete product data is the best way to ensure a great omnichannel shopping experience for your customers.
As we near 2017, several trends are emerging that prove how detailed and comprehensive product data is necessary to experience omnichannel success.
The ecommerce market becomes more saturated by the minute. Today, there are somewhere between 12 to 24 million online retailers according to calculations by Dandyloop. To break through the online noise, consumers are increasingly using more specific search terms to find exactly what they’re looking for, thus avoiding hundreds of related items that hang in the margins).
For example, rarely does a consumer just type in “TV” when researching a new television to buy. Instead, he’s more likely to use specific product attributes to narrow the search, such as “55-inch LED smart TV.”
By having rich product data and attributes, your product is more likely to populate in a search, and thus, more likely to end up in the hands of the customer.
Competing with Online Retail Giants
Whether brick-and-mortar or online, virtually every retailer today is competing with one-stop-shop retail giants like Walmart and Target. Their immense web presence dominates search results, and lightning-fast delivery models often including free shipping satisfy most shoppers’ need for instant gratification. To compete with these models, companies must reinforce their online strategies with great product data.
Enhance your web presence by providing complete and robust product data for search engine optimization (SEO). The more detailed and specific your product content and attributes, the more likely they’ll appear near the top of a potential customer’s web search.
Get your product to the consumer’s front door faster by streamlining your logistical data to ensure it moves effectively and efficiently across the supply chain—such as adopting GS1 data standards used by the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). This centralized data repository provides accurate, robust and up-to-date product data throughout the supply chain, and can help get your product from point A to point B quickly and without issues.
When it comes to ecommerce, words aren’t the only way to shop around. Often referred to as reverse image searching, visual searches allows consumers to search for products by uploading a photo of the product they’re looking for rather than spelling out detailed search terms. This also gives the shopper the opportunity to identify and buy a product if they see it on a blog or website without any additional purchasing information.
The key to becoming a contender in the visual search game is having a large volume of high-quality images for each of your products. For photos to populate in search results, they need to be similar to the photo being used in the search. By uploading multiple photos of each product, you increase the chance that at least one of your product photos will be similar enough to a searched photo to show up in the results.
Shoppers do their homework before making purchases, turning to family, friends and the internet to find product information and reviews. While detailed product specs are the meat of rich product data, social elements are also important. Social shopping encourages retailers to extend product data beyond attributes, since it’s used by consumers seeking information beyond what’s offered at first glance. Consider adding videos, an array of images and customer reviews to your product data to take advantage of this shopping trend.
As the ecommerce landscape evolves, omnichannel success will depend on rich and compelling product data. If you don’t take advantage by giving shoppers the data and experience they expect, you’ll risk missing out on new sales, new customers and valuable exposure for your products.
Polly Gleneck is the Customer Value Manager at Edgenet