Internet Trends 2019 Report: 10 Key Takeaways

Internet Trends 2019: Key Takeaways

1. Established B2B marketing practice won’t suffer from expanding mobile use.

Mobile device usage among U.S. adults has exploded from about 20 minutes per day in 2008 to 3.6 hours per day in 2018. But, it’s critical to note this growth has occurred on top of laptop and desktop usage, not at the expense of either.

Laptop and desktop usage rates have only declined slightly, from a high of 2.6 hours per day in 2011 to 2 hours per day in 2018.

Implication: B2B customers are far less likely to make purchases with a phone than with a laptop or desktop computer. This means established B2B marketing practices are not being negatively effected by the expansion of mobile.

Nor are they likely to be in the near future, as the only other platforms with expanding usage are game consoles and other OTT devices like Apple TVs and Amazon Fire sticks (source).

How many B2B product managers do you know who sell on Xbox?

2. The re-emergence of brick and mortar is no threat to ecommerce whatsoever.

As a percentage of total retail sales in the U.S., ecommerce has gone from less than 2% in 2000 to over 15% in the first quarter of 2019. The only decline over that entire period took place in 2008.

Implication: recent articles like this and this hype the re-emergence of brick and mortar retail as part of retail’s inevitably diversified future. But they fail to acknowledge at least 2 critical points:

  1. Money is money: If you’re already selling on Amazon, do you care whether customers buy your products online or in one of their new stores? If anything, this will be good for your business.
  2. Size matters: The amount of retail stores predicted to open in the next five years is dwarfed by the downfall of a wide variety of major brands from Sears to Radioshack to CVS (source). Toys ‘R’ Us alone was operating over 800 stores less than 1 year ago (source).

3. Product integration and association will drive your sales.

  • 88% of Americans report using a second device while watching TV
  • 71% use that device to look up content related to what they’re watching on TV

Implication: if 88% of Americans are using their phones to look up information about what they’re seeing on TV, your products need to be positioned in combination to maximize reach and sales results.

Think about the enrichment of your product pages and the amount of images you offer for each. Are you showing every angle and every feature? Are you providing close up shots?

Placing products in context and highlighting their practical association with other products is critical for maximizing conversions.

4. Word of mouth is the key to expanding market share.

41% of Americans currently use a device to send messages about television content to friends and family, specifically while they’re watching TV. These individuals generate wider interest in your products by telling their friends and family members about your brand.

This finding is bolstered by the fact that a 2017 poll found that at 23%, the largest portion of individuals signing up for new online services had done so on the recommendation of another.

Implication 1: people search differently on mobile than they do on desktop/laptop computers, so optimizing your product pages to rank high for mobile search is a skill you must master.

2 points to think about:

  1. Mobile users often search by voice, using full questions.
  2. Questions address different kinds of information: do they want to buy right away or do they want to know more first?

Implication 2: in the same 2017 poll, financial incentive accounted for only 22% of new service sign-ups and only 12% even reported liking the product.

Because this poll shows word of mouth has the potential to play a bigger role in driving ecommerce decisions than cost or preference, marketing needs to focus on building customer trust and maintaining authenticity.

People want to buy products packaged as authentic experiences they can share on social media.

5. You need to be selling in India and China today.

India

  • 1.34 billion total population
  • accounts for 12% of global Internet use
  • approx. 900 million did not use the Internet in 2015 (source)

China

  • 1.39 billion total population
  • accounts for 21% of global Internet use
  • approx. 640 million did not use the Internet in 2018 (source)
And a staggering 98% of Chinese on the Internet access it with a phone.

Implication: ecommerce operations already operating in these countries are poised to take advantage of the fact that both hold massive untapped markets. And these are countries that have already made enormous commitments to drive provision of Internet service.

Indians already trust Amazon more than any other Internet brand (source), and the Indian government is working to provide Internet service to everyone in the country by 2022 (source).

Are you selling in the Indian and Chinese markets? Are your product pages optimized for them? If not, what are you waiting for?

6. Content must be tailored and dynamic to maximize conversions.

89% of North Americans regularly use the Internet and in 2019 Americans will spend an average of 266 minutes on their phones, but only 216 watching television.

Implication: if your ads and content aren’t optimized for mobile devices and tailored for your potential customers to find them in the spaces they utilize, you won’t sell to them.

For example, Alexa Skills are like apps for an Amazon Echo that can be triggered by speaking a key phrase. Nearly 100,000 Alexa Skills are currently available for download.

This new vocal channel provides an opportunity to answer specific questions directly with a product offer.

Stats to think about:

  • 1.244 bil. – number of Android phones sold in 2017 (source)
  • 2.1 mil.number of currently available Android apps (source)
  • 215.8 mil. – number of iPhones sold in 2017 (source)
  • 1.8 mil. – number of apps in Apple’s App Store (source)
  • 100 mil. – number of Alexa devices sold to date (source)

Simple math tells us the room for growth in the total number of Alexa Skills apps is massive. Getting ahead of this trend immediately virtually ensures increasing sales and larger market share.

7. Grab your competition’s market share by cornering the wearable device channel.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of Americans wearing electronic devices embedded in clothes or accessories more than doubled, from 25 to 52 million. And it’s estimated Apple has sold 46 million watches since the 2015 launch (source), including 10.4 million just in Q4 of 2018 (source).

Implication 1: This should be obvious, but pairing your products with wearable devices in product page photographs is an easy way to speak to customers.

Your products don’t even need to relate to wearable devices, as customers will still notice the combination.

Implication 2: Wearable devices offer an incredible opportunity for collecting information that can be used to sharpen buyer personas and content offers.

Only when you know what your customers are doing, do you really know who they are, so you can speak directly to them.

Implication 3: This new channel allows for delivery of information, but not if your content isn’t tailored for the space.

When it comes to the tiny screens wearable devices include, less truly is more.

8. Massive ecommerce offer growth has made it easier to rake in ecommerce sales.

Shopee is a mobile-centric social media focused B2C and C2C ecommerce platform launched in Singapore in 2009, which sells over 180 million products across SE Asia (source).

Between 2016 and 2018, the gross value of all merchandise sold through Shopee increased roughly by a factor of 10, in spite of heavy competition from regional companies like Tokopedia and Lazada, to say nothing of Amazon.

Implication: By focusing on an innovative, winning offer, Shopee was able to dominate SE Asia.

But they’re only 1 player in only 1 regional market.

Shopee’s success can be repeated by finding a balance that takes social media, ecommerce, brick and mortar retail, average cost, buyer personas, preferred method of delivery, and design presentation into account. That balance must be struck according to the preferences and behaviors of the target market.

The main takeaway here is:

New companies are constantly figuring out ways to carve ever more nuanced, niche markets off giant platforms and develop them into tremendously profitable businesses.

Traditional economic thinking argues sales would be more likely to go down as competition goes up. However, as customer preference for niche spaces increases, so does the opportunity to find customers where they already exist online, in spaces where they want to be.

To convert customers in niche markets, you must hyper-tailor your offers to them.

9. Images convert customers, not text.

Instagram has 1 billion monthly users and more than half of them use it every day (source). Also Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, says they intend to focus on driving profitability by turning the platform into an ecommerce powerhouse (source).

Implication: Shopping has always been a sensory experience, so why should ecommerce be any different? By subtracting all other sensory information, ecommerce has to be as visually pleasing an experience as possible.

Everyone selling on Amazon knows product pages should display at least 7 images, because that’s currently the maximum number of images that display on one page. But there are two easy ways to get around this limitation.

  1. Encourage your customers to upload pictures along with their reviews.
  2. If your customers click into the gallery of images, they will see ALL the pictures you upload. This means you can actually display up to 9 pictures.

P.T. Barnum said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” and ecommerce demonstrates it. Every good review posted to your product pages is an endorsement. Every bad review is an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to your customers.

Also, it really doesn’t matter how simple your products are, you should be taking advantage of all 9 picture slots. Cover all of the following:

  • 1 rich, beautiful main image
  • 2 or 3 close ups from different angles
  • 2 or 3 close ups of highlighted features
  • 1 shot of the product in use
  • 1 shot of the product in combination with other products you sell

10. Tie everything together, and do it with authenticity.

You should have noticed by now that certain themes in this post have been repeated. The fact that these takeaways compliment each other, demonstrates their efficacy, their strength in practice. It also makes incorporating them into your overall strategy easier.

Let’s recap:

Mobile won’t hurt B2B marketing, because converting is all about reaching people where they already are, and B2B customers don’t shop on mobile.

Authenticity means knowing as much as you can about your customers, so don’t insult them by barging in on their Facebook and Instagram feeds (at least until Vishal Shah’s plans come to fruition). Find them on LinkedIn and Pinterest, platforms designed for business and optimized for sales, respectively.

Use images to bring products together, because pictures give you more than the opportunity to showcase your products. They let you show your customers how well you know them. Unlike static product photos, action shots promise the authenticity of showcased reality.

Move away from airbrushed, obviously staged photos toward real pictures of real people really living their lives. Include visual cues, like wearable devices, to point people to recommend products to their friends and family. Associate your products with others to give a fuller, more realistic picture.

Sell in India and China, but without authenticity your chances of success are low. Authenticity means investing in research, asking questions, respecting local cultural practices, and absolutely not selling down to people.

Authenticity means taking the time to create tailored, dynamic content with culturally correct imagery that changes with the origin of the viewer. People from different places obviously like different things, so give them what they want to see according to where they are. Speak their language, and give them specifications in units they understand.

Finally, India and China are where shaving niche markets off giants is most readily possible, because both contain massive markets yet to dive into the online space. They also offer recently moneyed youth, the people most likely to develop and maintain lifelong niche preferences and interests which include international products.

Who wrote the Internet Trends 2019 Report?

Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist who focuses on the Internet and new technology investment, spearheaded compilation of the report. Meeker is a former partner with the noted Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner Perkins.

Since September, 2018, she has raised $1.25 billion at Bond Capital, a new firm she started and the publisher of the highly anticipated Internet Trends 2019 report.

Why should I listen to what Mary Meeker has to say?

In 1995, Meeker was working for Morgan Stanley while they were taking Netscape public. During this time she co-authored The Internet Report, known as “the bible” of the dot com boom. At Morgan Stanley, she was also the lead manager on the Google IPO.

In 2010, Fortune magazine called her, “one of the ten smartest people in tech” (source). And Forbes included her at 77 in a list of the most powerful women in the world, in 2014 (source).

So, when it comes to tech trends, it’s safe to say Mary Meeker knows what she’s talking about.

Now that you know where ecommerce is going, click here to see how CATSY can help get you there.

PIM Do’s and Don’ts: 7 Steps to Picking the Right PIM

PIM do’s and don’ts – the biggest DO when it comes to selecting a product information management (PIM) solution is also the biggest DON’T:

You DO need to choose the PIM that solves all the problems you have, so DON’T buy one if you don’t need one.

But how do you know if you need one or not?

To help you with this important decision, we’ve created a simple, step-by-step guide. With it, you can determine whether or not your operations would benefit from PIM integration.

How does it work?

Easy, if you answer any of the following questions with large amounts, or worse, you don’t know what the answers are, it might be time to start thinking about a PIM.

What value does PIM bring?

One key feature of PIM is greatly simplified functionality for inputting, updating, and managing product content across channels, manufacturers, products, and variants. If you’re repeatedly having trouble finding specific pieces of product content, how can you enrich your product pages?

What is product content?

Product content can be divided between the following two categories.

  • Product information
    • Descriptions
    • Specifications
    • Feature benefits
  • Digital assets
    • Images
    • Videos
    • CAD drawings

*These lists are not exhaustive.

As the numbers of these increase, so must the complexity of your organization.

To start, use the simple tool below to:

  • Estimate how much time and money you’re spending now managing product content
  • Compare those numbers with how much you’d like to scale your operations by selling more products across more channels

Instructions

Answer the questions for your current operations in column D. And in column F, input values that reflect how you’d like to scale up your business. The differences will autopopulate below.

*Find an explanation of terminology below and please go ahead and download a free copy by clicking on the download icon (the document with the white arrow on it).

Terminology

  • Channel: any means by which a product or service is brought to market to be sold (source)
  • Variant: an individual product as determined by its attributes – for example, a t-shirt is a product, but a small, blue, cotton t-shirt is a variant of that product
  • Attribute: any quality serving to make one variant different from another, like size, color, or material (source)
Now that you have and idea of what you’d like to be doing, let’s see if implementing a PIM can help.

1. How often do you update your product pages or catalogs?

Complex operations necessarily require ever higher degrees of organization.

In 2010, research into 1,150 senior executives at companies of at least 1,000 employees resulted in 2 major revelations:

“Companies reporting low levels of complexity … had the highest returns on capital employed and the highest returns on invested capital.”

(McKinsey & Company)

Further, 80% of companies that minimized complexity also saved money, with some having slashed nearly 20 percent of personnel costs by prioritizing value of activity over its complexity.

Ecommerce today is overburdened with automatable busy work.

PIM makes keeping product content up to date and accurate far easier than with traditional spreadsheet management. These benefits minimize complexity, but are best understood at scale. So if your products don’t change from month to month or year to year, updating your product pages and catalogs often is probably unnecessary.

For example, companies that sell seasonal products likely have an annual updating schedule, giving them a year to foresee and avoid product page and catalog updating problems. Companies that provide a set of products proven to sell year after year may not need to update their catalogs and product pages at all, except to change their overall aesthetic.

So if you’re consistently certain your product information is accurate and up to date, and your company falls into one of the categories describes above, you might not need a PIM.

Unless you want to increase sales by selling on more channels…

2. How many channels do you sell across?

And how complex are their processes?

Do the sales channels you work with provide standard templates to create new products in their systems? Are those templates ready to accept attribute information for new products immediately? If not and you have to send in a general description, how long do you have to wait for them to get back to you?

Multi-channel campaigns that bring limited or no results might be suffering from a lack of the enrichment capability of PIM.

One channel might be fine with several different file types and sizes, while another might want your images to correspond to highly specific parameters. One channel might require a small number of specific pieces of information, while another might need dozens per product page.

PIM makes this, and many other jobs, easier.

Another key function of PIM is automatic translation and conversion. Do you sell products in other countries? Only 20% of the world speaks English, so if you don’t have a way to convert your product pages into your customers’ preferred languages, you’re not going to sell to them.

Likewise, if your spec sheets discuss your products in Imperial terms, with inches and gallons instead of centimeters and liters, it’s likely you’re just confusing 7.3 billion potential customers who use the Metric system worldwide. Ultimately, PIM ensures product content coherence across channels.

Just how many markets do you want to sell in anyway?

Selling across multiple channels is complicated at best, but it’s relatively easy to maintain high quality product content on one channel if you don’t update your product pages or catalogs often. In that case, you may not need the functionality a PIM provides.

Unless you sell products made by several manufacturers…

3. How many manufacturers do you work with?

If you only work with one manufacturer, you probably don’t need the organization PIM provides.

Again, the more simple your operation, the easier it likely is to manage. But as product information comes to you from ever more manufacturers, several possibilities become more and more likely.

  1. Standardizing information entered with different systems requires more and more work to coordinate
  2. Formatting that information for your sales channels adds a second level to standardization
  3. Some manufacturers will inevitably be worse at supplying you with error-free information

To a certain degree you can mitigate some of these difficulties in Excel. But if you don’t know how to build, maintain, and feed standardized information into macros, managing more and more manufacturers will only require more time and effort.

So, if you only work with a single manufacturer to sell on one platform and your product pages or catalogs don’t need much updating, you probably don’t need a PIM.

Unless you sell a large number of products…

4. How many products do you sell?

Is a hard number really a useful measure?

It can also be helpful to think of this question in terms of people, amount of work, or simply time. Regardless of the number of products you sell, if one person can get all the work done in 40 hours a week, do you need to buy a PIM?

But is the work REALLY getting done?

Ultimately, you know your operation well enough to confidently say all the product content management work is getting done. Think about how well your products appear to be organized, and whether any associated information is ever missing from your product pages. PIM is a way of getting even more done in an equal amount of time, which means organization that leads to robust product pages that convert.

Do you provide a personal experience?

Personalization driven by tailored content is the engine of modern ecommerce, something consumers have come to expect from shopping experiences. PIM functionality makes personalization easier, so you can keep the promises you make to your customers, increasing sales and decreasing returns.

What about new products?

How long does it take your company to bring new products to market? Ecommerce success is typically measured in dollars and cents, not hours and days. But the fact of the matter is PIM can reduce whatever that amount of time is.

If you dread bring new products to market, because meeting deadlines and quality standards is so difficult, PIM can help. With PIM, product pages aren’t just complete, they’re dripping with the most accurate information possible and set off with rich, detailed pictures, descriptions, and feature explanations.

To sum up, if you don’t have trouble bringing new products to market, sell a small number of products from one manufacturer on a single channel, and your product pages or catalogs don’t require regular updating, a PIM likely isn’t for you.

Unless your products have a lot of variants…

5. How complex are your products?

Product complexity increases with the number of attributes.

How did you estimate the number of variants for your products when you completed the tool at the beginning of this post? If you have a large operation it’s likely this was the most difficult question to answer, because some products are simple and some are impossibly complex.

In any case, most products vary to some degree.

Another key organizational feature of PIM is variant organization or what’s known as parent/child relationship. A parent is like a master product template, including a comprehensive list of all possible attributes a given product has. The children are the variant products sharing an identical set of attributes, but with varying values for them.

For example, if a parent product is a t-shirt, one child would be an extra-large, blue t-shirt. This is a very simple example, as complex products can have virtually any number of attributes and those attributes can have a huge variety of possible values.

Product content enrichment, accuracy, and completeness drive sales conversions, so the more variants you have, the more digital assets you’re going to need. A PIM with digital asset management (DAM) capability simplifies this by giving you the option of tying a single image to each child product. One benefit is that your product pages will be tidy, making more sense to your customers and the search engines they use to find your products.

Think about the example above, if you’re selling 10 sizes of blue shirts, do you need 10 different pictures?

If your operation is simple, you have a small number of business partnerships, and you sell a narrow variety of simple products, you probably don’t need to invest in a PIM.

Unless your prices change often…

6. How often do you update your prices?

If you sell a lot of different, highly complex products, you’re probably adjusting your prices often.

Selling in highly competitive markets tends to call for adjusting prices more frequently. Under certain circumstances you may need to display discounted prices next to original prices, to entice potential customers to take advantage of savings.

If you run sales, promotions, or special offers frequently, you’ll probably need to set and reset prices often. If those offers take place at random, or if prices must be precisely calculated manually, adjusting your prices may be taking up a significant amount of your time.

PIM can be set to do all of these automatically.

So, if everything discussed leads to you to believe you don’t need a PIM and your products have stable prices, then a PIM probably isn’t going to help you do business.

Unless your product content comes from multiple internal sources…

7. How many employees do you have?

If you’ve gotten this far through the list, you’re probably running a big company.

PIM collects product content from multiple sources to maintain product information consistency across internal teams and external sales channels. If yours is a small operation, you’re less likely to need that kind of management control.

However, large operations require a significant investment in inter-team organization. PIMs often include workflow capability to increase efficiency and productivity. Workflow allows you to assign tasks in a specific order with messaging and reminders set to trigger automatically. This makes it easier to ensure operations more forward smoothly, and that each of your employees gets what they need to complete their work right when they need it.

To Recap:

If any of the following are true or if you’re planning on expanding to the following capacities, a PIM might need to be in your future.
  1. Your product pages or catalogs require regular updating
  2. Your company sells on two or more channels
  3. Multiple manufacturers provide you with products
  4. You sell a wide variety of products
  5. The products you sell come in a variety of configurations
  6. Your prices are volatile
  7. You have more than a few employees who directly control some amount of your product information

What the Best PIM Will Do for You

Owning the digital shelf means delivering the rich, accurate product pages most likely to convert visitors to your site into paying customers. Remember, accurate product information is one lever you have significant control over on the engine driving ecommerce sales success.

While human fickleness means you can’t keep people from changing their minds and returning products, you can help them make them up in the first place.

Do this with rich, compelling product pages full of accurate information.

Bonus Pointers

We promised a list of PIM do’s and don’ts at the outset, so here it is:

DO choose a PIM that…
  1. Solves all of your concerns, but don’t choose one that’s overly complex or provides functionality you know you won’t use.
  2. Includes DAM integration, but don’t opt for a DAM that’s been built to mimic the functionality of a PIM.
  3. Offers responsive customer service, but don’t simply take their word for it (see final thought below).

Final thought: To verify the PIM you’re considering offers all of these, you should conduct your own research and read reviews on sites like G2Crowd.

Now that you have everything you need to know to decide whether or not you need a PIM, click here to see what CATSY can do for you.

Use PIM Component Expertise to Create Perfect Product Pages

Product Information Management (PIM) is software that provides a central space to create, manage, and syndicate product information across sales channels in a unified manner.

Internally, PIM comprises tools to store and share product information across multiple systems, and to facilitate workflow.

PIM can store all product information:
  • Product Descriptions
  • Configurations
  • Logistics Information
  • Reviews
  • Warranty Details
  • Prices

This makes PIM a reliable, all-in-one source of product information. Content is the king of ecommerce, and quality, tailored content that ensures a delightful customer experience is built on product information accuracy.

PIM delivers this accuracy to your product pages.

PIM Essentials

At its core, PIM offers companies the flexibility of working with every platform for product information retrieval and distribution. Companies must ensure customers receive complete, accurate information to make purchase decisions.

PIM and its standard elements make this possible.

Your PIM must syndicate product information easily.

Product information syndication is crucial, because storage spans individuals, teams, and their devices. For example, bulk editing ensures information consistency.

Editing information on marketing channels and platforms one by one takes forever. This also leads to product information inconsistency and increases the chance of including errors on product pages. Make sure your PIM can edit product information across digital channels simultaneously.

A good PIM is also highly flexible and configurable.

Users should be able to view product information by channel to make adjustments according to specific channel requirements. Your PIM should also integrate easily with other systems to turn out quality product content.

Content analytics is another element your PIM must have.

Analytics allow you to monitor product sales performance and fix problems as they arise.

Your PIM has to include a Digital Asset Management (DAM) feature.

DAM in PIM allows you to optimize digital assets, such as images and videos, for specific channels. Your DAM should be able to transform assets for seamless syndication across all the channels you use regardless of what their specific requirements are.

Define Your Objectives

What do you want your PIM to do?

Answering this question will allow you to structure your PIM to support your marketing strategy and organizational goals. PIM capabilities are numerous, and performance tends to vary from one organization to another.

Start by defining your central business objectives.

You may want to simply deliver quality product information or improve internal team coordination. Maybe you want to expand across channels, reduce time to market (TTM), or improve your entire customer experience.

It’s essential to set goals and define how success will be measured.

It’s no use investing in a PIM if you can’t understand its impact. Ultimately, you have to define how your PIM will support brand growth, because if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

Determine Your Implementation Parameters

Ask yourself how you’re going to implement processes with your PIM.

To define implementation scope, you need to consider your preferred channels, your operation region, and current TTM.

Either of two models can determine how to handle product information.

1. Model all product information from the outset.

or…

2. Start with subsets of product information and increase in subsequent phases.

Large companies tend to opt for the second method, because they prefer beginning with a particular product line or region. The second method allows for process testing to ensure proper functioning well before full implementation.

Other companies may prefer the benefits of full information centralization by rolling everything out at once. While both methods include pros and cons, your decision should rest on your company’s current and future needs.

Implementation Strike Team

Successful PIM implementation requires a strike team.

Even for a small ecommerce operation, it’s unlikely one person will be able to handle all the requirements of implementation. The tasks of implementation are as different from each other as the knowledge and skills required to complete them successfully.

You will need:
  • An executive sponsor to see everything through
  • A project manager overseeing daily tasks
  • A product manager to gather all your product information
  • A group of individuals to input all the information
  • A marketer to write your product page text
  • A designer to supply images
  • A tech who knows how your ERP system will integrate with your PIM

Determine Your Product Catalog Structure

The only way to build a strong catalog is by using accurate product information regarding all of your offerings.

This means your product categories, attributes, how they vary, and their use regarding different customer touch-points.

PIM offers a broad range of options.

You can structure your catalog virtually any way your company requires. But craft that structure carefully, as the success of your PIM implementation depends upon it.

Your catalog structure should reflect the attributes of the specific sales channels you intend to use.

The structure should also support different product categories, attributes, and how these may vary.

Finally, incorporate the catalog must include the relationship of a given product to another as well as metrics for different online sales areas.

Workflows and Mechanisms of Integration

Getting the most out of your PIM depends largely on the strength of the workflows you set up.

You need to think about which teams interact with what product information, as well as what each team’s core function is. Consider how each team will use your PIM and how processes need to be ordered to maximize efficiency. Also, define permissions carefully so the right people have access to the right information, nothing more or less.

Proper understanding of the entire workflow will guide business operations and increase efficiency.

Previous work processes may need updating for the way processes will work after PIM implementation. You may want your PIM to support processes you think you can’t change, but those processes might be the most in need of overhaul.

Remember that one of the greatest strengths of PIM lies in eliminating the placement of product information in silos.

PIM workflow support provides for information sync, driving accuracy in real-time. This kind of integration helps streamline your entire ecommerce operation.

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

It’s important to ensure that your PIM includes DAM capability.

While some companies have modified DAM to mimic PIM, the result is often clunky, incomplete, or both. Moreover, PIM and DAM may seem similar in function, but they are actually fundamentally different.

PIM centralizes and facilitates syndication of product information, while DAM specifically handles digital assets.

Some assets, like company logos, may not even relate to products. DAM ensures proper management of images, videos, and documents attached to specific products. PIM allows you to store and manage these digital assets alongside product information.

Long story short, PIM is not DAM and DAM is not PIM.

Why Is DAM Important?

Digital consumers absorb media of all kinds every second they spend online.

The rise of digital technology and acceleration of innovation have only increased this digital consumption of media, driven by market and popular trends.

Media files include:
  • Animation
  • Videos
  • Interactive ads
  • Games
  • Audio files

Navigating these media has become a challenge companies and their customers share. Today’s digitally empowered consumer doesn’t want a rich digital customer experience, they expect one.

Companies that don’t meet and surpass customer expectations are doomed to suffer dwindling sales.

Customer expectations include access to the high-quality media content necessary to convince them their buying choices are correct. This is the key to conversions, because disappointed potential customers won’t give you their money.

Digital assets are more than just files, as they also include metadata about the asset.

You can use digital assets to product strong, searchable content only if the right metadata is associated with it. Searchability saves your teams time and makes it easier for customers to find you in the crowded digital marketplace.

Enrichment Tools

PIM integrates with multiple resource planning systems to extract product information for storage as product attributes. This allows marketing teams to enrich product descriptions and assets for syndication across sales channels.

PIM systems are specifically designed to support information syndication regardless of the particular formats various channels require.

With PIM, information can be enriched from internal and external sources. Internal sources include your marketing department, while external sources are your suppliers, external information bases, and agencies.

Information from both sources increases product information accuracy, driving sales.

Product Attributes

The description of product attributes directly affects purchase decisions.

It’s important to properly manage both the tangible and intangible attributes described on your product pages.

Tangible attributes include:
  • Size
  • Feel
  • Packaging
  • Weight
  • Quantity
  • Material composition
Intangible attributes include:
  • Quality
  • Aesthetics
  • Reputation
  • Price
Customers expect products and services to have certain specific attributes.

Points of parity refers to the way in which a given company’s products are similar to those of another.

Some companies go a step further and incorporate “points of difference.”

In a bid to differentiate their products and services from the competition, they discuss the ways in which their products are superior to those of their competitors.

Optimizing your product information means including both types of information.

Ultimately, product attributes discuss product quality, features, and style/design. All three should add value in the eyes of your customers.

PIM Analytics

PIM implementation allows access to powerful analytics tools which detail product content performance.

Product information quality, as well as team performance, can be analyzed. Management can see all activities taking place across the system and how much time they require.

With analytics, you can quickly search, find, and fill in product information gaps, along with finding errors. These gaps are not limited to text, as your images, descriptions, and translations may be missing crucial information, too.

You can also conduct analysis by product groups.

Management can control the accuracy and overall quality of product information with analysis by section, language, or geographic region.

Analytics also covers your syndication channels by ensuring the right product information is pushed out. You can also streamline searches by field and create multi-variant tests using different versions of standard documents.

This will go a long way to improve content quality, even that of custom content.

Audit Trails

This core PIM function provides a time-stamped record of every change or operation your team undertakes.

By automatically tracking actions, from sales made to customer service complaints, optimization becomes far easier. Audit trails also support product information maintenance, helping to quickly identify errors for correction.

There are two approaches to audit trails:

Progressive

Tracks and monitors all actions from beginning to end

Retrograde

Tracks results back to the starting point

The purpose of using audit trails is to maintain a log of all information modifications.

Monitoring all modifications acts as a check against unauthorized or mistaken changes. You can monitor specific entities in the PIM for modification.

These include:
  • Items
  • Media assets
  • User groups
  • Products
  • Structure
  • Supplier catalogs
  • Structure features
  • Structure groups
There are two ways to retrieve audit trails.

1. Call up a given audit trail from the context menu to display specific changes.

or…

2. Display an overview of a given audit trail.

Regardless, every PIM has a default audit trail configuration.

Users can create specific queries to search for specific entities or users and a search window will display the results.

Bells and Whistles

PIM options and tools include more benefits than spreadsheets or manual solutions could ever offer.

By unifying product information in a single repository, companies can derive maximum value by delivering quality product information. This reduces the risks and delays that come with displaying outdated or incomplete information.

The flexibility the PIM system affords allows for significant customization.

With an expert team, you can configure your PIM to include the specific functionality you need to manage all of your product information. However, it’s always best to make sure you add only what you need, meaning only what you’ll use.

Opting for a standard PIM that satisfies all your ecommerce marketing and distribution needs is ideal.

Now that you know all about what a PIM is, click here to see what CATSY can do for you.

Product Pages Drive Ecommerce Success: Everything You Need to Know

“Can I use PIM to grow market share and improve sales?

Let’s answer this question by talking about product pages.

Ecommerce success is mastering product information to build high-converting product pages and thus maximize visibility.

Why?

Fact #1: As of January 10, 2018, Amazon was selling 562,382,292 products.

Do you think that number is going to go up or down?

Fact #2: Ecommerce expanded by 15% in 2018 to $517.36 billion.

By 2040, as much as 95% of all retail sales could be done online.

So, how are you going to sell products in a market that continues to grow? In short, how are you going to make your site and products stand out?

Answer: with beautiful product pages full of compelling product content

PIM is the foundation of product pages that convert, because it ensures centralization and optimization of product information, driving completeness, accuracy, and consistency across sales channels.

In this post…

We’ll take a look at 6 ways PIM simplifies ecommerce, so you can create the high-converting product pages you need to maximize revenue.

pim-powerful-product-pages

#1. Powerful Product Pages

High-converting product pages are built out of compelling product content. Product content is any information a visitor needs to become a customer, including…

  • Specifications
  • Descriptions
  • Reviews
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Guides

Pro tip: only product pages full of content that draws in and holds visitor attention are optimized and convert.

Pro tip: optimized product page content targets specific buyer personas directly.

How do I build buyer personas?

By gathering as much information about your potential customers as you can, so you can better serve them. You need to know their…

  • Interests
  • Demographic specific
  • Preferred media
And you have to speak to them in a language they understand.

Social media gathers a massive amount of data you can use to gain insight into the lives of your buyer personas, so you can customize and personalize your product pages with the content your customers find…

  • Important
  • Compelling

Localize Content

Content needs to speak directly to your target audiences regardless of where they exist online and physically live.

Take care with…

  • Language
  • Spelling
  • Area specific context
  • Units of measure
  • Currency-specific prices

PIM tailors product pages by persona, and includes location information.

Use PIM to configure product pages to display varying content automatically, so the language, units, and spelling used in a given target market convert automatically.

Because

When tailored to the wrong market, even the best content is virtually as useless as no content at all.

Remember:

Quality product pages simultaneously increase sales conversions and minimize returns.

They do this by making a compelling promise and delivering.

#2. Complete, Accurate Product Information

Online shoppers do more research than ever these days. Product pages full of poor quality content will tell your customers you can’t fulfill their needs.

2018 Online Shopper Research Statistics:

  • 62% of customers who don’t know what they’re looking for start with a search engine
  • 50% of customers who DO know what they’re looking for start with a search engine
  • 25% of customers visited at least 5 popular search or retail websites before buying: Amazon, Best Buy, Google, Target, and Walmart

Your product pages have to be full of the complete and accurate product information customers want across all these channels.

Optimizing your product pages with quality information requires ongoing effort. Your business has to be responsive enough to update product information in real time.

Enrich Supplier Information

Collecting information from suppliers manually involves near constant communication.

Instead…

PIM provides an improved flow of product information between suppliers and ecommerce management, increasing…

  • Efficiency
  • Collaboration

Information gotten from suppliers exists in fragmented subsets, but PIM makes those confusing spreadsheets unnecessary.

PIM manages information flow, allowing for…
  1. Data enrichment
  2. Detailed descriptions
  3. Rich images
  4. Compelling videos
Ultimately: Optimized Content

PIM makes editing, modifying, and exporting product information far easier than before.

PIM simplifies supplier on-boarding, easing integration and increasing productivity.

PIM improves product information quality and removes the need for constant information transfer from one spreadsheet to another.

It all adds up to optimized product pages.

Reduce Errors

Problem: Product information from multiple decentralized systems compromises consistency.

Solution: Spreadsheets have traditionally been used to store product information manually.

However…

Using Excel increases the risk of human error and time spent.

A Better Solution: PIM eliminates manual data entry errors by providing a central product information database.

This means staff input and update all product information centrally. This unification produces beautiful product pages, so you can:

  1. Increase brand confidence
  2. Ensure a seamless customer shopping experience
  3. Convert more visitors into buyers
  4. Maximize revenue
  5. Grow your market share

Simply, PIM is the solution for managing product pages and keeping product information accurate and fresh.

Accurate and fresh product information leads to conversions.

pim-unify-syndication

#3. Unify Syndication

Customers want product information to be available on your site as well as the platforms they prefer. Even when product page design varies across platforms, customers who see information that isn’t identical will become confused.

Confused customers don’t convert.

The current average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.57%.

With more customers doing research online, it’s no big surprise that sites suffer abandoned shopping carts when their product pages don’t display matching information across channels.

Manually updating product pages across platforms after you’ve updated your website is a total waste of time.

With PIM, product information goes out across all of your distribution channels automatically.

When information is accurate and syndication is coordinated, only then can you deliver a truly excellent digital shopping experience.

Basically, PIM is a central hub of quality product information, which…

  • enables product page updates
  • ensures product content consistency

Because ecommerce businesses tend not to operate on a single channel, PIM ensures customers see the same product information regardless of which channel’s product page they’re looking at.

Expand to Sell Across Multiple Channels

Want to grow, but not exactly sure how?

Because product pages vary by sales platform, product information has to be specifically configured to requirements by channel.

What has to be configured?

  • File size
  • File type
  • Image size
  • Description length
  • Required information
  • Unit Value Length
  • Conditionally required information

Anything not set properly will detract from the overall pop of your product pages, turning off potential customers, and losing you revenue.

Selling on more channels requires robust organization and management of existing product information.

With PIM, you can create subsets of information from your master catalog. These can be automatically tailored to each platform’s requirements.

International Growth

What is ecommerce’s single greatest value to you?

Selling online levels the playing field, allowing small businesses to compete against massive companies in the global market, unlocking the potential for tremendous growth.

Problem: with expansion comes the need to sell in multiple languages with specifications to meet customer needs across the globe.

Adding new languages and converting units manually is nearly impossible.

Solution: PIM provides clear processes for all data and language translation.

Remember:

Time saved = money earned.

pim-efficient-management

#4. Efficient Management

Supervising manual processes is dull, time consuming, and difficult.

You need automation.

Further, management needs a consistent overview of ongoing processes to increase efficiency.

PIM automation speeds up processes, providing quick answers to important questions about:

  • Approvals
  • Launches
  • Updates
  • Translated text
  • Information changes
  • Product discontinuation

PIM systems come with built-in workflows providing visual overview of processes and project progress and completion.

PIM keeps management on top of everything so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

Enhance Team Productivity

Product pages populate with information generated by and spread across your entire operation.

  1. Images from your design team
  2. Feature bullets written by marketing
  3. Specs from product managers
  4. Shipping details from logistics
  5. Warnings from legal
  6. IT techs upload everything by channel specifications

Storing this information centrally supercharges efficiency.

Remember:

New product launches compound existing inefficiencies exponentially.

When individual bits of critical product information are held by dozens of individuals, emails fly back and forth and accuracy is lost in the shuffle.

Don’t sacrifice your product pages to miscommunication.
PIM centralization eliminates hassle, safeguarding accuracy.

Teams spend far less time managing existing product attributes, leaving them free to devote themselves to bringing on new ones.

PIM facilitates smart work over hard work.

Synergize Marketing and Sales

Ecommerce companies wage a war to win customers, this war is called marketing.

Good marketing is good messaging.

PIM allows you to consistently supply target markets with accurate information about products and services.

No more marketing promising one thing and sales delivering another.

PIM makes effectively and efficiently managing sales channels to ensure consistent messaging much simpler than traditional methods.

pim-reduce-time-to-market

#5. Reduce Time to Market

Time to market is how long it takes to go from conceiving of a product to being ready to sell it.

Fact: No retail business in the world can disregard reducing time to market.

Using PIM, different teams and departments can work to improve efficiency simultaneously. Having a single data repository speeds up teamwork as each update is centrally available immediately.

Workflow automation allows you to:

  • Assign tasks to multiple employees automatically
  • Manage progress at a glance
  • Automate reminders
  • Ensure tasks are completed in the correct order
  • Set permissions so critical data is protected throughout processes
For example, PIM automates time-consuming tasks like working with vendors.

Imagine how much less time it would take your internationally sold products to get to market if you automated collaboration with your translation services.

Produce Catalogs Faster

Product catalogs remain a big part of omni-channel marketing.

Aside from being of great use in direct marketing, catalogs guide customers through the digital landscape. Powerful and consistent catalog content presents the opportunity to up and cross-sell customers.

PIM organizes ecommerce product information into a central point of reference for both merchants and buyers, ensuring consistency and driving conversions.
pim-efficient-workflow

#6. Drive Innovation

As new technologies fill the digital landscape, the information filling your product pages needs to be flexible and responsive.

The most cutting-edge digital technologies, like virtual assistants and chatbots, require precisely structured data to work properly.

This data is very difficult to produce manually.

You need a system that ensures smooth updating transitions and supports as many channels as you want to syndicate across.

PIM centralization makes product information available for quicker integration with new solutions, so you can create customized and personalized customer experiences with ease.

Integration

As ecommerce businesses expand, so does the number of services vital to ensuring continued sales success.

PIM works with:

  • ERP systems
  • Procurement systems
  • Suppliers
  • Data suppliers
  • Legacy systems
  • Print channels
  • Digital customer channels
  • Source systems
  • 3rd party channels

Centralization of information is nothing if the information isn’t complete because it comes from a system you can’t integrate.

The Goal: Ecommerce Success

Today’s ecommerce leaders know the role quality product pages play in the success of their businesses.

Hence: PIM

In a bid to differentiate their brands from the competition their product content is overflowing with:

  • Rich description
  • Beautiful images
  • Precise information
  • Interesting videos
  • Compelling presentation
  • Exhaustive completeness

Ultimately, ecommerce thrives on the digital exchange of information.

This is what PIM is made to facilitate.

Which is why ecommerce success is centered on PIM.

Now that you know how a PIM empowers you to increase revenue by optimizing your product pages, click here to see what Catsy can do for you today.

Product Information and Images Should Be Stored Together

Product information, such as product attributes and images, can’t be separated when creating quality custom content. The average visitor to your site sees the images before reading anything. If you fail to impress your visitors right off the bat, you make it harder to convert them into customers.

It’s safe to say quality product information and rich images make for engaging copy. And this great copy naturally leads to increased sales. Thus product information and images are central to the success of any ecommerce business. And storing them together in a centralized database makes for easy retrieval by users.

Product Information Management (PIM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) make retrieval easy. Instead of spreading product information and images around, they are collated and stored in a central location. Basically, PIM and DAM create one product information source for your operation’s content needs.

It isn’t enough to describe a product with words. You need images, so customers can form mental pictures of what they want to buy. The question every shopper asks is, “What will this look like?” Providing rich images answers this question quickly and easily. This converts lookers into buyers.

Remember, the downside of ecommerce is customers can’t touch the products. So ecommerce business owners have to make up for this by including the best pictures possible. Your product images are key elements for your product pages. If images are blurry, unattractive, or the wrong size, your customers will lose interest.

PIM and DAM: the Perfect Combination

PIM is the processes and technologies that manage product information centrally. The focus is on the data required to market and sell products on one or more digital channels for distribution. PIM uses automation to bridge data sources and sales channels for the management and distribution of product information. Simply, you can use PIM to manage your product catalog centrally and therefore efficiently.

DAM is the efficient storage of digital assets. It provides a way to centralize, track, manage, and share digital content among internal teams. Each digital asset includes the metadata necessary to fully describe it. This completeness drives the positive online customer experience.

In short, PIM is used to store product related information. DAM is used to store digital assets, like images, that aren’t necessarily related to just one product. However, PIM can sometimes include functions to act like DAM. But make no mistake, both systems help increase operational efficiency and make product information easier to find. As the digital world becomes more complex, ecommerce companies need to combine PIM and DAM to maintain competitive market edge.

Product Information vs. Product Image

The content attached to a product that defines its complexity is product information. Because a brand can only influence customers’ purchase decisions with the correct information, selling different products requires different content. Obviously, managing product information can be a herculean task without the ability to organize centrally.

Product information serves as a guide through the buyers’ journey, and chances are your customers already know what they want. But incomplete, low quality product information can point them in the wrong direction, costing you sales. You need to publish superb and complete product information to convert lookers into buyers.

Product photos communicate your product information in a way text can’t by itself. An image grabs attention much faster than text, especially when the image is large and colorful. Rich images also capture attention because shoppers will want to reconcile their expectations against the color, size, and style of your images. Success is matching the images on your product pages with the picture in the customers’ heads.

Product images also provide customers with the information they need to fulfill their aesthetic needs. Product images help satisfy the need for understanding a product’s physical appeal, showcasing qualities in a way that builds emotional and psychological connections with your customers influencing them to buy from you.

It’s also critical to allow a zoom feature for your photos. If customers can see a large amount of detail, there will be less chance they will miss something about your products. Zoom helps eliminate disappointment.

Another bonus is the boosted product appeal that comes with complete product information drives up traffic on your site. This is critical, because maximizing the connection between your products and your brand in the minds of your customers, results in brand loyalty.

Statistics have revealed that a large number of customers said the quality of a product image is very important when selecting a product to buy. Long story short, complete data and rich images drive higher engagement and sales.

Today’s Visual World

We live in a highly visual age, a time when everyone’s phone comes with a camera. This focus on the visual increases the importance of product photos in telling a brand’s story. No wonder, as social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, that embrace image sharing have become central to marketing and sales.

Increased care must be taken when storing digital content like images, which require product information to make sense. Clear product information must be communicated so customers understand your message as perfectly as if they were in a brick and mortar store. Also, ecommerce brings with it the tremendous scale of product diversity, meaning you will have more product information to manage.

Ecommerce puts the customer in the driver’s seat and they increasingly demand more consistent product information to make informed decisions. Customers don’t accept excuses from brands delivering anything short of their full expectations. The message is clear: fulfill your customers’ expectations or lose them.

The Importance of Storing Product Information and Images Together

A lot of customers research products before making final purchase decisions. Thus product information and images are centrally important, so take care and pay attention to the importance, completeness, and accuracy of that data.

But, how do ecommerce business owners benefit from the storing product and images together? The goal is to save your customers’ time. If you don’t store product information and images aren’t together, retrievals can often result in dead ends. Manually entering complete product information with matching images for everything your business offers will cost you hours. And it won’t even guarantee sales.

Product information maintenance involves automated processes that increase efficiency. With automation you can easily keep product information up to date with current trends. Automation means your business processes run faster, and the amount of errors and time wasted fixing them are reduced. Finally, you can easily update old images and push new ones out across your internal teams and external sales channels centrally.

Storing product information and images together goes a long way toward increasing team collaboration. Because product information and images are easily accessible, making content becomes less of a chore. Explaining the accompanying cost savings is obvious, as centralization reduces redundant work making employees more productive.

As a result of the superior data management PIM offers, organized product information can be shared across all customer engagement platforms easily. Thus delivering accurate information at the right time with a minimum of wasted effort becomes simple.

Ensure Consistent Delivery of a Winning Customer Experience

According to eBay, “it is not enough to sell on all platforms; you need to develop creative new ways for customers to engage with your brand.” If visitors come to your site and can’t get all the information they want, they’ll likely lose interest. Frustrated customers move on to an offer that can give them what they’re looking for.

Storing data on separate systems can lead to a fragmented, inaccurate display of product information. These broken promises will negatively affect your brand image. On the other hand, storing product information and images together will lead to a single source of product content truth, guaranteeing consistency of information.

Customers have access to the virtual world on the go and at virtually any time. They connect digitally to multiple channels and see varieties of the product they’re thinking of buying. This is why brand consistency across channels and platforms is key: to always communicate an identical message. When a company manages its product information with PIM, customers have easy access to superior, accurate, rich product information, which leads to seamless delivery of a brand experience which meets or surpasses customer expectations.

According to research conducted by Augment, customers return 22% of products purchased online because they received something other than what they expected. And, of these, 23% are receiving the wrong product entirely. This dissatisfaction is the result of communicating incomplete, inconsistent, and incorrect information to customers. The central storage of product information and images reduces this, driving customer satisfaction, further driving sales.

The more reliable and complete your product information and images are, the more you can control your customers’ experience. Ultimately, customers get the products they expect, increasing the chances of a repeat purchase from you.

Increase Sales

Ecommerce shoppers are awash in options, so more often than not the brand that stands out will be the one they choose. According to Nchannel, “thirty percent of US online adults cited that they would consider buying from an online retailer they had never previously purchased from, if the retailer offered detailed product information.” This means comprehensive product information gets you closer to closing a sale, driving profitability.

Without proper management of your product information and images, your operation will be less efficient. Good product information and high-quality product images communicate your brand style making it more recognizable. Improved visibility drives improved sales.

The increase in social media has brought the need for high-resolution images to generate more shares and views on platforms. As you consistently deliver complete product information, with rich visual imagery, you help give your customers a better shopping experience. In the same vein, departments and teams have access to complete information, enabling them to deliver quality customer service.

Ultimately, these increase conversion rates and increase your profitability. This is because delighted customers are loyal customers who will keep coming back to buy.

Improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

When you are at the top of search engine results, you enjoy the benefits of more impressions and clicks. This is because shoppers rarely explore more than a page or two of their search result lists. If you don’t consistently produce unique, engaging product content, it’ll be hard for your site to rank high in search results.

Accurate product information and high-quality images communicate the style of your brand and make it more recognizable, improving visibility. In order to attract more visitors to your site, search engine optimization is critical.

SEO goes a long way to ensure a brand ranks high in search engine results when customers search keywords related to your product or business. This gives you the edge over your competitors. Your search engine ranking will increase if your site contains useful product information that meets the needs of your target markets. If more people can find your site across different platforms and locations, more of them will buy.

Quality data minimizes the duplication of content, meaning your message will be free of outdated images and information. The added visibility SEO provides improves the image of your brand in the minds of your customers and generates more traffic to your site.

Increase the Quality of Your Product Content

High-quality product content leads to increased conversion rates. The popular adage “content is king,” coined by J.W. Click and Russell N. Baird could hardly be more applicable to today’s ecommerce world. Today, quality content composed of accurate product information and rich images indeed rules.

Media in the form of digital assets have become popular, creating a more appealing picture that drives engagement. You can sustain customer interest by delivering quality product content. Centralized storage of product information and images makes this possible.

Further, with PIM you can easily make custom content to appeal to different customer segments, creating a unique experience for them. Industry specific content allows you to narrow in potential clients with hyper-focused tailored content. It should be obvious that it’s difficult to achieve personalization without proper data management. Think about the sheer number of pictures you are currently trying to manage, for example.

High-quality product information, with complete descriptions and plenty of images, has the capacity to reduce shopping cart abandonment and product returns. This increases sales and improves customer loyalty. The production of quality content drives conversions, if only simply because the correct image will be tied to the appropriate description. These simple mistakes are often the biggest killers.

How likely is it you have lost customers because your product information was incomplete, inaccurate, or not compelling enough to attract their attention? Without PIM, it’s very likely this is the case.

Pull It Together To Win

Managing a huge amount of product information without automation can be a frustrating hassle. PIM delivers an easy way to tie centralized, accurate product information to rich, compelling images. This marriage helps build trust in your brand at every touchpoint.

Just like your typical brick and mortar store, an average customer decides to trust your offer or not the first time she sees your site. How will you make her trust you just enough that first time to make a purchase? How will you drive repeat sales? It all boils down to the quality content you push out across all the platforms your customers interact with.

An ecommerce product offer without an image is like a bride in black clothes in a dark room: invisible. Thus, without rich images you lose customers before they even have a chance to buy from you. And we all know they will head directly to your competitors’ websites.

Strong online content contains accurate product information and colorful images, increasing a site’s pageviews. Remember, one product photo is worth a thousand online sales, as most customers complete a purchase only when they’ve seen rich images. Storing product information and images together makes it easy to provide customers with multiple views of each item. This creates a complete mental picture informative enough to allow them to buy.

Nothing is worse seeing poor quality photos of the product you want to buy, especially when the description is impressive. How can you deliver product information corresponding to your product images without storing them together?

Companies wanting to remain competitive use PIM and DAM to facilitate workflow and deliver great customer experiences, driving repeat purchases. With PIM, your product information is complete and easy to find, while DAM helps differentiate product experiences.

At the end of the day, consistency matters across your ecommerce operations. Unified storage of your product information, delivering a consistent shopping experience, is key. Hence, your product information and images have to be stored centrally, so they can communicate your brand message consistently.

Now that you know why product information and images need to be stored in one central location, click here to see what Catsy can do for you.

7 Steps to Creating Tailored Content to Grow Sales

Today, tailored content is king.

More than 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of data are made or posted online every day? (source)

Yes, and every moment someone spends looking at a screen the possibility some bit of content will catch their eye increases. Simply dishing out more won’t automatically get you more customers. Customers are smart, so be smarter.

Break through the clutter, if you want to be a customer-centric brand.

In this post, we’ll explain how to tailor your content to improve sales, grow market share, and increase revenue in 7 easy to understand steps.

But first, you need to know…

Why Tailored Content?

Did you know that 90% of all online data worldwide was created in the past two years? (source)

With all that data, your content is unlikely to appeal to customers if it doesn’t speak directly to their needs. Everyone is looking for product information and content that will benefit them and their needs specifically.

Tailored content is all about personalization.

Make your business one that’s concerned with satisfying the particular needs of your customers to hyper-charge the customer experience you provide. Tailored content is all about delivering experiences that speak directly to each individual customer.

It’s the perfect way to deliver solutions that customers aren’t yet aware of.

Personalized content is the heart of the new age digital revolution, helping digitally-savvy shoppers discover what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, with minimal effort.

Personalized product content helps customers find their way by placing them at the center of the digital shopping experience.

Tailored content facilitates the buyer’s journey, because the process will make more sense to your customers. When you tailor messages to customer behavior, demographics, and searches, conversions become more likely.

Tailored content increases engagement by speaking directly about the personality of the ecommerce retailer.

This deepens the relationship your customers have with your brand. First time shoppers will want to stick around if content speaks directly to them. Content that is relevant to the problem or need they have does this.

Start with research and ask yourself…

1. Who Are My Customers?

Tailor content won’t suit your customers’ needs if you don’t know at least as much about them as they know about themselves.

Buyer personas are generalized descriptions of people who make up your ideal market. But the trick is to make them as detailed as you can.

How is it possible to make buyer personas both general and detailed?

By including as much information about them as possible:

  • Age
  • Behavior
  • Gender
  • Job
  • Income
  • Education
  • Status

(source)

  • Likes
  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Motivations
  • Difficulties
  • Fears
  • Values
You might think it’s most important to know what your customers want to buy, but don’t forget about why.

For example, are they buying for themselves, to give to others as a gift, or for further resale? You need to know whether your business is specific to different demographics or does more business on holidays.

Knowing your customers inside and out speaks to your brand’s authenticity.

You need to know their reasons for buying from you and what doubts they have about you. Also, you need to find out which media they use regularly so you can make sure you’re reaching them.

Find all this information by:
  • Surveying your customers directly
  • Studying their past purchases
  • Examining their account setups
  • Looking at your site analytics
  • Going through their profiles
  • Soliciting feedback
  • Reviewing and responding to comments
Two ecommerce retailers may be functionally identical, but appearing exactly the same will spell ecommerce suicide.

What’s even more important is to come back to buyer personas from time to time. The audience you had when you started your business is unlikely to be the same group of people you’re selling to today.

Who are you selling to now?

Your target audience is at best simply older than they were when you got started. Do they like the same things and find information in the same ways? Alternatively, they might be a completely different group of people, with preferences you never even considered.

And ask…

Who is my competition?

You should routinely visit your competitors websites and social media pages.

This is a good way to stay on top of current trends and gauge your competitiveness. Knowing what your competitors are doing allows you to spot gaps in your service and content to fill.

It’s a great way to come up with new blog ideas.

There are companies, like Buzzsumo and Ahrefs, that provide products like consolidated lists of content by URL and numbers of social media shares. However, doing the research yourself comes with 2 distinct advantages.

  1. It’s free.
  2. You are likely to find more than just what you are looking for.

Doing research yourself is by no means easy, but the price is right, and who knows what you could find? Because research companies provide a specific product, they may not be set up to get you that little something extra you can find by accident yourself.

Differentiate yourself.

Developing your brand has to do with communicating something to your customers that your competitors are not. Your tailored content needs to strategically highlight how what you offer is both different and superior to other companies in your space.

Tie functionality to benefit to sell your brand.

Directly trashing your competition with a long, complicated list of everything you offer that they don’t is going to turn potential customers off. Instead, provide easy to absorb examinations of how your products’ features translate into concrete benefits for anyone who buys from you. Back these up with customer testimonials and reviews.

Bring customers to your website with…

2. Dynamic Landing Pages

How customers find your site is equally as important as them finding it in the first place.

You already know who your customers are and where they exist online. Your landing pages need to reflect this origin. Each link you share should lead to a landing page personalized to the interests and needs of the specific persona you target in that space.

If a potential customer clicks one of your links and doesn’t immediately find what they want, guess what they’re going to do?

Reduce your bounce rate and demonstrate your commitment to your customers at the same time with personalized landing pages. Dynamic landing pages can be set to display a wide variety of different information based on how each visitor gets there.

Set landing pages to change by keyword searched, too.

You don’t always have to build content from scratch to cater to different market segments. Making a few small tweaks to the targeted content you already have is easy and far more likely to pay off than presenting everyone with the same message. Also, if you want to increase lead generation, it’s important to tailor calls-to-action by persona.

When are your offers being made?

There are several time-related factors to keep in mind, if you want your content to resonate more deeply with your potential customers:

  • Are your social media posts timed by channel to reach your target audience?
  • Have you set up automatic emails that trigger when a purchase is made or by length of time since then?
  • Do you collect personal information about your customers, like birthdays or work anniversaries, which also trigger emails?
  • Is your systems designed to leverage Christmas or another holiday when your sales tend to spike?
  • Do your products have a long history or have any of them changed significantly over time in ways you can highlight in your content?
  • Can you create or participate in events that would allow you to highlight your company and products?

You need to offer…

3. Personalized Website Design

Reduce the likelihood your customers will abandon shopping carts.

Your website design and layout can be more instrumental in keeping customers glued to your website than you think. This is especially true when websites are designed with customer preferences in mind. You should offer a persona-centric website experience to make customers feel comfortable and fulfill their expectations.

Personalization of your homepage will increase online sales.

It’s important that you craft your website’s design with your buyer personas in mind. The more your website gives customers what they expect to experience, the more time they will spend there. As a prospect spends more time on your site, the chances of you making a sale increase dramatically.

Your website needs to be packed with…

4. Personalized Product Descriptions

Descriptions are the virtual equivalent of a sales pitch.

Product descriptions answer customer questions and arm them with the information to make informed purchase decisions. With the help of your buyer personas, you can tailor product descriptions to your customer.

Under-promise and over-deliver.

Many sites miss from the beginning by writing specifications instead of true descriptions. Specifications do not communicate experience, because they focus on what a product is, not how it will solve their customers’ problems.

Customize descriptions by including only what customers care about.

Just because you think something is important, doesn’t necessarily mean your customers will, too. Help customers by replacing bland repetitive language with specific helpful information. Also, make suggestions that make sense with what they want to buy.

Less is more.

This is especially true for those well-versed in scanning pages. You can attach more detailed descriptions to address further concerns. Also, use easy-to-understand grammar and vocabulary.

Revisit your content regularly.

It’s going to take Google about 35 weeks to rank your pages. Once you’ve identified content that’s off or stale, update it as quickly as you can. Remember, just because that blog post of yours popped when you wrote it, doesn’t mean it’s going to forever, so update anything that looks dated.

Your descriptions need to feature…

5. Rich Product Images

Ecommerce’s one drawback is its lack of immediacy.

Your customers are not going to be able to pick up and hold the products you’re offering, so your pictures have to do the work. All product details must be clear, so the same hand-held feeling comes through.

Include high resolution pictures taken from all angles.

This will help clear up any misgivings customers have about buying from you. Make sure you have a relevant picture for every product variant, and that you show the product being used and in tandem with associated products.

Here, it’s better to provide more than not enough.

People often abandon purchases because they can’t reconcile product images against descriptions. They need to see highly detailed images, so they don’t feel the need to examine the item in person. Including a variety of close-up images of your products will dispel customer doubts.

Pay close attention to…

6. Customer Ratings and Reviews

Publish all the reviews you receive, whether positive or negative.

When you get negative ones, reply courteously and strive to bridge the service gap. Often times, if you turn bad reviews around, you can turn customers into brand advocates.

Negative reviews are golden opportunities to turn a prospect around.

Have a personalized system for handling complaints and negative reviews. Address each one in a personal manner to show prospects you hear them. Do this even if you don’t immediately have a solution for them.

You can also find out about potential customer questions on Q&A sites.

Use sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers to identify the questions your potential customers have before they even find your website. Make sure that if you use these sites for marketing purposes, you state your intentions clearly and at the beginning of your post.

Nothing erases brand authenticity faster than deception.

These websites are yet another way to find out about and stay ahead of changes in trends. The Internet isn’t doing anything if it’s not changing all the time. Research is the only way keep up.

Monitor social media to demonstrate customer satisfaction.

You could either manually publish positive customer comments and tweets or set up a stream to bring them in as you “like” them. Use these to add that additional pop to your landing pages, as well.

Don’t forget to…

7. Tailor Content by Specific Channel

The average Facebook user is 40 and a half years old. (source)

But is that the same for Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn? Definitely not. Each channel you sell on is already attracting a certain type of visitor, so you can only disregard those differences to your detriment. New channels are coming up and older channels are going out of style, so make sure to figure out a way to stay on top of those changes.

The average age of customers buying on Amazon is 37.

It’s not an overstatement to say you’re unlikely to enjoy the benefits of personalization unless it’s applied across all digital channels your customers interact with. Documents, text, images, manuals and other business tools inform your customers about products and services. All these must include tailored content.

Finally…

Bring It All Together

Nobody’s going to read your content if it’s not informative.

According to McKinsey and Company, the 3 Cs of customer satisfaction are consistency, consistency, and consistency. In practice, the easiest way to say this is that you have to make promises you can keep and then keep them. (source)

Customer experience is as much a promise as high product quality, good prices, and fast delivery.

Personalized content is your path to improve overall customer experience and overcome the constant stream of new competitors. This, of course, relates positively to sales, because personalized content warrants continuous consumption, keeping customers coming back to your site.

Now that you know why product content needs to be tailored to boost sales, click here to see what Catsy can do for you.

5 Ways to Improve Workflow Product Information Management Efficiency

Success in today’s ecommerce world is authenticity. Customers want to buy products and experiences simultaneously, and optimized experiences are unique and compelling.

Authenticity means knowing…

  • who your customers are
  • where they exist online
  • what their expectations are
Convert customers by making and keeping an authentic promise.

Your promise has to be delivered in the form of tailored product content. But working without a product information management (PIM) system makes that difficult. Trying to scale operations without a PIM can be impossible. And because PIM implementation is a daunting process, picking the wrong PIM can be a disaster.

If you’re having trouble centralizing, optimizing, and syndicating your product information, it’s likely you aren’t the only one in your organization struggling. Without the efficiency that comes with PIM workflow functionality, it’s also likely a lot of time and thus money are being spent on tasks that could be automated or eliminated.

Here are a few ways centralizing product data drives efficiency and saves time, so you can increase revenue and grow market share.

1. Bulk Product Maintenance

Manually updating prices and specifications for thousands or even millions of products is incredibly inefficient at best. Optimizing each product page or component one by one requires time and money better allocated elsewhere.

Selecting a PIM system with bulk product maintenance features makes it a far easier task to change information across your product pages.

2. Application Programming Interfaces

APIs streamline the process of integrating software. The most common way to use APIs is to share data between applications.

For example, you can automatically send product information to a partner’s administrative back end. Or you can send your data to other back-end applications you use, such as a shipping solution, so all parties are working with a single version of the database.

A powerful API is necessary when you are managing thousands of products or more and are looking to improve product information management efficiency.

3. Publishing Options

Your sales and marketing teams often need catalog options quickly. If they have to wait for an extended creation and approval cycle, they could end up losing customers.

The creation process doesn’t have to be separate from your product information management system however. A lot of the best PIMs offer built-in publishing automation functionality that pulls your product data directly from the main database.

Automating this process via templates and a centralized product hub minimizes turnaround time and provides them with a direct link to approved product specifications and language.

4. Online Marketplace Integration

Ecommerce companies grow by diversifying the channels they sell products across. One downside to this is manually preparing individual spreadsheets for each marketplace.

PIMs automate creation of these spreadsheets for all channels in minutes, dramatically improving efficiency.

 5. Synchronized Product Listings

Price, style, and availability changes are difficult to manage when you’re working with a variety of distribution channels. You don’t want to upset customers by asking them to pay more than they expected or if an item is out of stock.

Synchronized listings propagate at the same time, so everything stays up to date. Stop wasting product development and marketing time on inefficient processes.

Bonus #1 – Direct eCommerce Integration

Managing product data for ecommerce can be tedious, especially when you use a database separate from other channels that also need to be updated. If you aren’t managing the data in a streamlined manor ecommerce becomes yet another channel requiring updating and most likely involves a chain of emails and Excel documents.

The most powerful PIMs make it easy to integrate directly with ecommerce companies, so the products on your website are automatically populated from your system, drastically improving accuracy.

Bonus #2 – Built-In Digital Asset Management

Working with non-text content can be daunting, especially when using a file server or some other tech not designed for managing content files. Disorganization can lead to messy directories and file deletion.

PIMs often offer built-in content management. This can include image storage with individual items or product families, storage of multiple images per product, housing product videos, linking CAD diagrams, storing PDFs, and more.

How to Get Started

CATSY PIM not only meets all these criteria, but offers advanced features as well:

  • Interactive catalogs
  • Interactive digital catalog technology with analytics
  • A hub for customer service representatives

With CATSY you can unite all teams that work with inputing, managing, and publishing product information in an easy to use platform.

To learn more about how CATSY has helped companies like Lazy Boy, Whirlpool, and Don improve efficiency click here or sign up for a quick educational demo.