2 January 2020
Geoff is the Director of Technology at Upp. He contributes posts on the present and future of retail technology.
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Ecommerce has changed. There are more channels, more data, more shoppers and increased opportunities for forward-thinking brands. Changing circumstances means adapting your toolset. In the world of ecommerce, necessity has driven demand. There are now more purpose-built tools than ever which afford brands opportunities to make better informed strategic decisions and get their products in front of their target audiences.
And, inevitably, that means investing in the right data management tools.
Data can be an invaluable tool in delivering insights and allowing you to track the efficacy of your campaigns. But without the right tools to help you manage that data, it can become an overwhelmingly time consuming task. When it comes to managing and leveraging data, ecommerce brands can choose to either use a dedicated PIM (Product Information Management) system or a more all-encompassing ecommerce platform. Both are potentially useful solutions that can offer valuable insights that drive successful strategic decision-making. Nonetheless, an ecommerce platform can combine the capabilities and functionalities of a PIM with a robust suite of additional capabilities
Let’s take a look at how PIM and ecommerce platforms stack up against one another to meet the changing needs of online retail brands in an increasingly challenging and competitive landscape...
There’s no doubt about it, omnichannel flexibility is the only way for ecommerce brands to get ahead of the curve and differentiate themselves from their competitors. PIM solutions deliver a central repository of information drawn from a wide variety of sources. They enable the sharing of information from websites, catalogues, PLM systems, ERP systems and data feeds to allow brands a quick and easy snapshot of product data. This can aid with the creation of new listings and the managing of existing product listings, but they do little to grow your visibility across third-party platforms like Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay and the like.
If you want to get ahead of the competition, a channel-agnostic approach that maintains visibility across all of the major platforms is absolutely essential. The trouble is that each channel has subtly different requirements when it comes to getting product listings just right. Google Shopping can be particularly fiddly for ecommerce teams and managers who are unfamiliar with its workings, but if you want your listings to gain an edge in visibility over your competitors’, it’s something you’ll want to learn more about.
For example, Google has extremely stringent “exact match” demands that require detailed colour, style, size, price and availability data in order to reduce the risk of listings that are un-representative and may be disappointing for online shoppers. It has much more comprehensive search filtering options than other channels. Quite simply, a listing that ticks all the right boxes across all other channels can still fall afoul of Google.
With ecommerce platforms, you don’t have to waste your time searching around for each individual channel’s requisite data. An ecommerce platform can pull the data you need straight from each channel, saving you time and effort and ensuring a robust presence across all the right channels.
No matter how much time and effort goes into a channel-agnostic approach behind the scenes, the truth is that today’s consumers expect it. We live in the age where convenience is king, and if you’re not prepared to take your listings directly to the customer, there are plenty of other brands that will.
If you’re not posting listings across multiple channels, you’re missing opportunities. An all-encompassing ecommerce platform makes it quick and easy to do exactly that.
Ecommerce teams have limited time and resources, and a lot that they need to accomplish to stay ahead of the pack. As such, automation is absolutely essential to maintaining operational excellence.
However, when implementing any form of automation, brands must manage a difficult balancing act between speed and accuracy. Often the former can come at the expense of the latter, and this can be problematic… Especially when creating optimised listings across multiple channels. However, ecommerce platforms like Upp are invaluable to brands as they can take data on product listing optimisation and use it to create highly accurate automated form fills. This can lead to an exponential increase in both speed and accuracy as they can manage listings far more quickly and efficiently than doing them manually.
The benefits of this for brands? They’re able to list more products quickly. And the more robust your online inventory across multiple platforms, the less unsold merchandise there is taking up space in your warehouse. What’s more, being able to integrate your listings quickly and seamlessly helps to keep your brand visible and relevant, boosting your SEO in the process and helping you to reach more customers.
Success in ecommerce and a channel-agnostic approach go hand in hand, but there’s more to an effective ecommerce strategy than making sure that your products are visible to customers no matter what platform they’re using. It’s also about recognising and being able to capitalise upon consumer trends and getting ahead of the curve before the competition.
And that’s not as easy as it may seem.
If you’re only gathering insight data from your own listings and products (the kinds of insights you get with a PIM solution), it’s like you’re looking at a vast jigsaw puzzle through a keyhole. But an ecommerce platform can come to the rescue here yet again.
Don’t you just hate it when by the time you’ve identified a trend it’s, well, no longer a trend? Not only does it make you feel like your business has missed an opportunity, it can waste your time and efforts without generating a meaningful return on that investment.
Ecommerce platforms can pull trends from across the internet, allowing brands to target consumers using a broader range of insight data, not just the data that’s directly related to their own listings. It gathers information from customer habits on third-party sites like Amazon and eBay and uses artificial intelligence to translate this data into actionable insights… This is something that even the most sophisticated (and costly) PIM solutions can struggle with.
For example, ecommerce retailers with more resources will regularly check their traffic, interactions and conversion rates across their websites. This data will be pulled from across every channel and reviewed in aggregate, as well as for specific channels so that they can see which are gaining the most traction.
Ecommerce platforms pull similar data from all over the internet to afford you a much broader understanding of how consumers are behaving, what they’re buying and how much they’re paying for it. Essentially, instead of a snapshot, an ecommerce platform gives you a panoramic view.
Today’s consumers use familiar and trusted channels when making ecommerce purchases. And if you aren’t bringing your products to them in the form of highly optimised listings, they’re less likely to make the effort to seek you out. That’s why a channel-agnostic approach is so integral to an effective ongoing strategy.
Yet, while this can be a chore that takes a lot of legwork, the flexibility and utility of ecommerce platforms to deliver data, facilitate automation and channel-specific insights make it quick, easy and highly effective.
Campaigns can be holistic rather than segmented between your own website, Google, eBay, Amazon etc. Platforms like Upp provide an overview across all channels, allowing users to monitor and manage their listings with ease.
This frees up more time for teams to spend on the strategic aspects of managing their campaigns and ensuring that they resonate with their target audiences. Less time spent sifting through data means more time spent taking action!
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