Live from eTail: Standardize This

Palm Desert, CA–For a brand to thrive online, product information must flow unobstructed, according to Dayna Bateman. That’s why Bateman, director of Internet marketing for gifts merchant Hammacher Schlemmer, is calling on Web marketers to join together to standardize product data terminology.

In the session Product Data: The Lifeblood of Your Brand, Bateman pointed out that all Web merchants are using the same data points. “But what I call a product name, another may call an item name,” she noted as just one example of data points that could be confused. In Web marketing in particular, there a need to standardize the format retailers use to send data to the feeds and standardize the format the search engines use to report detailed cost and click data back to retailers.” Bateman noted that e-merchants are working with huge inefficiencies. “We spend way too much time cleaning up broken data.”

But will Web retailers band together to standardize product data? The concept may be met with some resistance at first, Bateman admitted, “but it’s happening with or without us.” She added that she first though it was a problem just for Hammacher Schlemmer, which has a very diverse product line. But articles in the trade press (see “Shopping Search in the Market for Feed Standards”) and interest from trade groups are generating heat. “We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Bateman said. “It’s a sign that [Internet marketing] is still in its adolescence.”