All posts by Bert Gregory

Global Director Community Engagement

1WorldSync Annual User Group 2018 Recap: Unleash The Power Of Your Product Content in Phoenix – Part 2

Let’s hear it for our customer speakers!  We traditionally ask several customers to present their story to the audience at the 1WorldSync Annual User Group, and this year’s speakers really demonstrated exciting innovation and how they are unleashing the power of product content within their organization and beyond.

Keynote 1 – C&S Wholesale Grocers

For the event’s first Keynote, we had Riannon Hambleton from C&S Wholesale Grocers on stage walking us through the technology they are implementing that is automating their business and reliant on content coming through 1WorldSync to make it all work. Highlights included automated item picking, to entire robotic warehousing and fulfillment. Not bad for a company that is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.

Keynote 2 – Coca Cola

Our second keynote featured Liz Sertl from The Coca-Cola Company.  Liz provided us with a great example of how her career had a common thread – Standards.  She then walked us through The Coca-Cola Companies structure, systems and brands while weaving in some key challenges they faced in recent years.  Coca-Cola needed a single source of truth for their internal and external partners. Their journey began in 2005 by signing up with a datapool, but in the past 4 years has ballooned into a multi-tiered journey where they are now powering syndication of content leveraging a PIM, key organizations [like 1WorldSync] and content standards. This combination has led to Coca-Cola to a highly structured governance, MDM and syndication process which enables them to move at the speed of business and changed based on market conditions.

Panel –  The Evolving World of Digital Commerce

One thing that has been consistent over the past 4 years that I have had the pleasure of planning the event is the Panel.  This year’s panel had representatives from Bush Brothers, Kroger, Johnson & Johnson, Sam’s Club, TOPCO, and Walmart. Our goal was to get individuals who were happy to weigh in on several topics and passionate about their organization’s product content. There were great conversations ranging from trust to quality to timeliness to industry challenges.  Each panelist brought a fresh perspective to the audience and were able to provide several key takeaways that were discussed during the breakout sessions that followed.

Amazon Content Capture

We were very happy to have our customer, Amazon, take center stage as well. Kishore Kumar Venkatachalam shared insights on Amazon’s Catalog Content Capture initiative, provided clarity around why Amazon is leveraging 1WorldSync and GS1 Standards and finally to implore our audience to publish more to Amazon. They want all your content – Logistics, Marketing, Digital Assets, you name it!

1WorldSync Product Vision: Where We Are Today & Where We Are Going

The last main session for the day had 1WorldSync’s own Randy Mercer circling back to the Impact of Omni-Channel and Brand Representation Realities. He then highlighted the 1WorldSync Omni-Channel Platform, specifically around specific advancements to the platform in the recent past, and how we are building strategy drivers to further 1WorldSync value to all participants in the product content journey.

During this session, he delivered an in-depth demo of the latest functionality and wrapped the session with insights around where 1WorldSync is going technologically.

Closing Remarks

The end of the day Kurt Pannier, 1WorldSync’s new VP of Sales Americas shared some closing thoughts and wrapped up the day a bit for the audience. The final message was that 1WorldSync has evolved into so much more than a datapool, and while we truly value all the efforts from the past, we are looking forward to serving all our customers in innovative ways in the coming future.

Additionally, we announced the recipients of the 2018 Power of 1 Awards. Recipients are recognized for their market leadership, innovation and their focus on quality and completeness of product content. This year’s recipients show a unique commitment to delivering product content that streamlines the supply chain and drives increased sales across all channels of commerce. Find out who the prestigious winners were!

1WorldSync Annual User Group 2018 Recap: Unleash The Power Of Your Product Content in Phoenix – Part 1

During the 4 years I have been involved in 1WorldSync’s Annual User Group, not one of the events has been the exact same.  Each had their own formats, locations, goals and opportunities.  This last one however stands out as a celebration of our evolution from a GDSN datapool to a Content aggregation & Syndication powerhouse.  

Opening

Our New Master of Ceremony, Harris Diamand set the stage for the day for us to focus on “Unleash the Power of Product Content”. What a theme right?  We are no longer just your GDSN datapool, but have been driving towards the digital sector along with all of you. During the first part of the day, our speakers touched on what 1WorldSync has evolved to, and how we are continuing to evolve in the ever changing digital world.  

These sessions kicked off with 1WorldSync’s CEO Karin Borchert discussed the current challenges facing all participants in the product content journey – Trust, Timing, Quality, and the insatiable need for more content.  

With Content Management, Product Discovery, Content Syndication, Transparency & Compliance and Insights Solutions, you can arm all parties with the insights and means to get all impacting product content from the trusted manufacturer sources all the way to the digital footprint retailers, operators and sites are presenting to the customers.

Information in the Digital World – The Need for Web Ready Content is Now

The next speaker, Randy Mercer, 1WorldSync’s Head of Solution Sales, then dug into the specifics further by discussing what the impact of product content has in the digital world. Digital Sales are growing, an estimated $254 Billion over the next five years, and that digital is impacting not just impressions online but in store as well.  

Roughly 71% of in-store shoppers say that digital significantly impacts their shopping experience and 75% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels. In short consumers are expecting accurate representation of products with digital assets and transparency across all channels. Higher content quality, consistency and completeness drives conversion rates. Bad content results in cart abandonment, higher levels of returns impacting costs and reduction in brand loyalty.

1WorldSync has historically been a trusted partner in getting supply chain content syndicated throughout the product content journey, and will continue to excel in those areas.  Randy mentioned that 1WorldSync is also evolving based on these needs and we are continuing to focus on Customer Experience, Customer Value, how can we be better today and where can we be more agile to meet the needs in the future. These focus areas are driving our 2018 Strategic Initiatives in Growing Product Content, Strengthening Content Quality, Increasing Market Drivers and improving Customer Satisfaction.

1WorldSync End to End Partner Ecosystem

Tom Dillon, VP Global Community Management & Strategic Partnerships, walked the audience through the efforts we have been driving to expand our partner ecosystem.  The challenge of multiple requests from multiple recipients via multiple channels has been building for years now, and we have seen a significant want for a consolidated conversation providing best in class end to end services.  Tom highlighted a few of these partners and walked the audience through our eco-system and discussed use cases were leveraging 1WorldSync as a centralized point can promote quality, timelines and completeness for all parties in the product content journey and in the eyes of the end consumer.

And what is amazing is this was just the first hour of Annual User Group.  There were so many additional insights and outstanding speakers we needed to break this post into 2 parts!

Read 1WorldSync Annual User Group 2018 Recap: Unleash The Power Of Your Product Content in Phoenix – Part 2.

In Cart We Trust

Over the past few years, there have been several technological advances pushing the Omni-Channel expansion into brick & mortar stalwarts.

One of the last frontiers has been grocery.  But times are changing…Amazon Fresh and Walmart have been making major plays to move your weekly trip from the grocery store to your living room couch.

Just last week, Walmart announced that they will expand their online grocery delivery services to 100 metropolitan areas and 800 stores nationwide by the end of the year. They are contracting drivers through Uber, Deliv and other delivery platforms.

What about the relinquishing of choice?  

If I go to the store, I make a decision about which apples to select from the bin, what steaks to get from the counter, which milk has the best expiration date etc.  In the digital space, that choice is in the hands of the person designated to pull my order and deliver it to me. Will he/she have the same eye for quality and will take the care to select the right product for me? That is a tall order and without the right product content, my expectations as a consumer will not be met.

In store, I can see, touch and sometimes taste the food before I commit to buying. If I make the wrong choice, be it due to variety or dietary needs, then it is on me.  When we shift to the digital space, the only choice I make is by the touch of my mobile screen. All the activities I performed in store were limited to just one sense – sight. So my trust has now narrowed into two areas: a) what I can see and b) who is bringing my groceries to the door.

Because the delivery is entirely in the hands of the merchant, I have trust that Walmart [recently rolling out grocery delivery] is going to make the best selection from the products on their shelves for me.

Seems like information on that product better be complete and correct to ensure that my decision is the right one.

How does your content look?

Could it use a check-up? 1WorldSync, the leading provider in product content solutions,  can help.  With our Data Quality offerings, we  provide the right content to the biggest Omni Channel merchants and offer insight for end consumers so that they are making the right visual decisions.

To Marketplace, To Marketplace..To Buy And Sell! – Part 2

How is the Alibaba marketplace different than the Amazon marketplace?

Short version, for end consumers, there is not a huge difference.  People shop products, and there are multiple sellers who will fulfill those products.  Longer answer would focus more on the suppliers providing product and supporting them with content.  Vetting processes, agreements, reverse logistics, and commission/percentages all play factors into how suppliers/distributors/retailers collaborate to get product up on these marketplace sites.

Why has Amazon grown to be known as the best online marketplace?

  1. Much like real estate, location location locaton.  Amazon is a brand virtually everyone on the planet knows, and as such companies want to feature their products on Amazon.com.  For Amazon this results in one of the largest and richest selections of products available.
  2. End Consumers know how to interact with Amazon.  They are continuing to evolve their platform to ensure a user-friendly design [think Alexa], along with intuitive search options and multiple filters to get the end consumer to the right product.  
  3. They also provide end consumers comprehensive review system with star rating, personalized offers and recommendations to consumers, based on their shopping and browsing history and customer loyalty programs with free shipping and other goodies.

Why is it more important than ever to get your products listed on online marketplaces?

I wouldn’t say it is important to get your products listed, as they are already out there.  I would say that it is important to work with these marketplaces to ensure your brand’s integrity is maintained across all digital challenges, and be aware of how you as a manufacturer are being viewed by the global consumers.  Your products are out there, but how they are being represented might not be how you and your organization envision it.  

How Does 1WorldSync Enable You To Get Onto Marketplaces Like Amazon, Alibaba, Walmart.com & Google?

Marketplaces have the potential to help your products reach millions of new, global customers and 1WorldSync has you covered! It’s time for your products to be discovered by more buyers on the world’s largest marketplaces.

1WorldSync believes that trust and transparency are key components that account for a successful marketplace. What draws consumers to a marketplace is how the marketplace manages trust. A certain level of trust is required for any transaction to take place.

As a leading provider of product content solutions, 1WorldSync helps brands and suppliers organize their product content according to marketplace specifications and gets their products listed and in front of millions of new shoppers.

1WorldSync helps you easily publish your product content to key marketplaces such as Walmart, Alibaba, Amazon and beyond by:

  • Streamlining the item setup process with 100% accurate data and complying with industry standards.
  • Gaining exposure and managing all your product information via one solution.
  • Reducing operational time while increasing your online presence and penetrating new markets.

Learn more at http://solutions.1worldsync.com/getyourproductstomarketplaces.

To Marketplace, To Marketplace..To Buy And Sell! – Part 1

Today we sat down with Bert Gregory, 1WorldSync’s Community Manager to discuss the importance of marketplace and the path to purchase.

What is a marketplace?

An online marketplace is a website or app that facilitates shopping from many different sources. The operator of the marketplace does not own any inventory, their business is to present other people’s inventory to a user and facilitate a transaction. eBay is the ultimate example of an online marketplace, they sell everything to everybody. There are many other types.

What is the difference between e-commerce and a marketplace?

Well to be fair, marketplace is a component of how e-commerce is evolving.  If we look at the original model for e-commerce, the process went like this.  Supplier sold product to the e-commerce site who warehoused the items and put them up for sale to the end consumers.  Marketplace takes 2 big components out of that process, 1. The products are sold to a 3rd party [either a distributor or other ecommerce player] and 2. The product sold on the e-commerce site are supported and fulfilled by the 3rd party and not the site itself.  But marketplace is not limited to goods, Airbnb is actually a marketplace, just with temporary housing as the items being traded.

What types of marketplaces are there?

Well that depends on what is being sold or traded.  

  1. i) There are switch marketplaces – which are peer-to-peer, VRBO and Craigslist are great examples of this.
  2. ii) There are also vertical or industry specific marketplaces like Trivago and Hotels.com which offer very specific products to end consumers

iii) Then there are the retail marketplaces, also known as global.  Best examples of these are Alibaba, Amazon and Ebay.

What pros and cons do marketplaces pose for end consumers?

Data gathered from the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide shows that, collectively, the 26 retailers that disclosed their sales from online marketplaces brought in 14.4% of their total $3.1 billion in sales in 2015. That’s up 42.9% worth of goods sold through marketplaces in 2014 for the same 26 retailers.

Marketplaces represent an opportunity for sellers to expand their reach to more consumers, both nationally and internationally. With a plethora of online marketplaces available, merchants can choose sites that make the most sense for them.

End consumers benefit a couple of ways from marketplaces, they have extended selection of goods and services, the ability to comparison shop the ecommerce site rather than leveraging search engines and also the potential for lower prices due to increased competition.  There are however some challenges for the end consumer as well.  They may not realize that the product they are buying is not actually being sold to them from their trusted site, which can complicate communication and returns.  Another challenge/con is the concern over counterfeit goods.  Marketplace sites and sellers strive for perfection with this challenge, however the sheer number of products being sold can cause items to slip through the cracks.

How have marketplaces evolved over the years?

Quite a bit actually, I remember when Amazon was just selling books, and would allow an end user to sell their used books to others hence a peer to peer system.  The same can be said for Ebay as peers were selling their goods digitally to others.  This has evolved to major retailers, etailers and distributors now selling their products via the marketplace platform.  Oh and let’s not forget that marketplace has also change how end consumers find hotels/lodging, buy airfare, shop for clothes and even go to rummage sales.  Yep, even the weekend activity of shopping other people’s stuff has turned into a digital marketplace.  Ebth.com [Everything but the house] and LetGo are perfect examples of this.

What is the difference between a gorilla and a mouse?

In short a lot.

I’m not talking about Harambe vs Ratatouille, this is about the big box stores we all grew up with vs the online shopping universe. However in the world of retail today, writers, pundits and advocates are focused on how the mouse is being agile and changing, while the gorilla is the past. It is hard to argue against this when you see the Chapter 11 filings and job cuts that have hit the retail sector. When you look at the big picture, those gorillas still generated a ton of revenue in the past 7 months, and several of them are proving to be as agile as any mouse.

Let’s for a moment look at the grocery space. Companies like Kroger, Walmart, Albertsons and Target are all “preparing for war” or “staring down the Amazon barrel”. Interesting quotes, but in truth does the Amazon machine have the footprint in place to dominate the grocery space like they did with books?

The American consumer is still spending a tremendous amount of their hard earned dollars at physical stores. Of the $611.9 billion grocery-store industry business, in 2016 Wal-Mart controlled 14% of U.S. food and grocery market share. While Kroger had 7%, Whole Foods had 1.21% and Amazon was under 1%. Many are predicting those numbers to change drastically in the next few years. (Marketwatch 2016).

There is a David and Goliath battle erupting in the retail industry where small to mid size retailers are encouraged to adopt giant-killing tactics in a bid to grow their brands. We covered a similar topic in our e-book  ‘Battle of the Brands: David vs. Goliath’ that includes strategies on how to move quick to capture new eCommerce market share.

Keeping an eye on the mouse is one thing. Calling it the victor is another.

References

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-will-be-a-top-5-grocer-in-the-us-with-whole-foods-acquisition-2017-06-16 

NRA, NSA and NBA..I have heard of those, but what is NRF?

Do you ever feel like all you do is translate acronyms for a living? In this day and age we all need a playbook and glossary to understand industry terms, customer’s language and our own organizations lexicon. As we interact more with new industry acronyms, we tend to forget that not everyone can understand the distorted alphabet coming out of our mouth.

During my time at 1WorldSync, I have become fluent in GS1, Walmart, AutoZone and several others. Why do I label them like languages? Because they are. An organization that makes products is called a manufacturer right?

Well, in 1WorldSync, this organization would be a called a supplier, at Walmart they are known as a vendor and for GS1 they are known as a source. Why the different terms? It starts with understanding how 1WorldSync, GS1 and all the others view their world of customers/suppliers/contributors/partners/vendors. Each one has their own perspective on how this organization fits into their world.

NRF, the National Retail Federation, has been a popular acronym added to my repertoire lately.

Why is NRF the most recent addition to these industry languages and why should this interest you? NRF has a mission to “advance the interests of the retail industry through advocacy, communications and education.”

Sounds like a bold mission, and they have a massive membership that includes all aspects of retail consumption ranging from Department Stores to Grocers and chain restaurants, and we, 1WorldSync are a member too.

For anyone with children, you know that the back to school shopping rush seems to come earlier every year. The NRF has been conducting a Back-to-School survey since 2003, reporting on how consumers shop for the back to school season and how retailers need prepare as well adjust to industry trends. The NRF is a great “back-to-school headquarters” for every consumer and industry insider.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind..Does Your Brand Leave A Lasting Impression?

The strategy of getting product content from one place to another is pretty easy. Executing against that strategy is where it gets tricky.

It seems simple enough. Take the information that is shown on TV, Digital ads, social media posts, on the package and pass it on. Everybody sees the content daily so it must be in a place that is easy to share, oh and while we are at it, let’s send all the good info that helps an item get from point A [the manufacturer’s end of the production line] to Point B [a warehouse] to point C [The store or digital shelf]. In today’s digital age, you would think that this would be easy as pie.

Product Content Is King

Turns out it is a bit trickier than that. First off, you need to make sure that all the information is in a format that the organization you are sending it to can process and display in their systems and online. Not so bad you say?  

What about a picture of the product? You want the best light, studio quality pictures to perfectly represent your product in advertising and on your website right? The picture should also be a exact representation of what someone could buy today. The question is why does that not apply when you setup a product for a retailer? I am guessing it is because the images are not available at the time of setup or it is assumed that the retailer/e-tailer/operator can get those images elsewhere. Feels like there is something missing right? Retailers think that too.

Can you imagine how drastically different our purchasing decisions would be if product content wasn’t as detailed as it is today?

How Reynolds New PIM Implementation Cultivated Trust in Data and Decisions

If we examine a use case, Reynolds Consumer Products Company was faced with the challenge of decommissioning an existing Product Information Management (PIM) solution that would no longer be supported.

To implement the solution seamlessly, Reynolds enlisted the help of product content experts, the 1WorldSync Professional Services team, whose best-in-class product content management strategy solution consolidated product information from multiple, disparate sources, offering a “single source of truth” for all product attributes and allowed synchronization of product information to trading partners directly. Download our case study to learn more!

Shift or Reverse? Retail Is Alive!

Over the past couple of months, we have had some pretty significant changes to the retail/e-tail landscape. From mall staples shuttering their doors, to brand divestiture and IPOs going south.  It almost feels like the wild wild west. What has happened to change the landscape?  

Well it depends on the organization. Some took to embracing the future too far and lost who they were. Others did not change with the times and got stuck with their core competency shrinking.

When was the last time you went to a Sears or Kmart store? The announcement earlier last year announcing the closure of 265 stores was followed this announcing an additional 43 Sears & Kmart stores closing in 2017. They are no longer the new generations go to place when you need advice around tools or appliances.

Could these challenges have been stopped? Could companies like Sears have changed course? I could say yes, but the reality is that those driving the ships were the ones to initiate the change and not course correct. Even with some recent positive news around their deal to sell their Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon, they are just another store, where you can now get their products online from Amazon.

I have been listening to experts for years talk about the end of retail. They have changed their tune and now call retail locations as assets to the omni or multi-channel commerce experience.   

1WorldSync and DiCentral set out earlier this year with a white-paper exploring how brick & mortar retailers can develop the operational backbone that supports e-commerce investments. On September 12 they will host a webinar in which we provide valuable tips for achieving operational excellence and a connected commerce approach.

It’s Just Commerce!

Since I was a toddler, I have been exposed to multiple paradigm shifts within the marketplace that in one way or another are an attempt to reinvent how we as consumers buy things.

For me, it started with going to stores, or shopping in a catalog and then blossomed into the world of connected commerce today. Recently when I stepped back from the daily act of using my phone or computer to research and buy products I came to a realization, the revolutionary experience I have been leveraging was not all that different from when commerce started.

Commerce took a turn for increased accessibility to products and a centralized way to purchase multiple goods/services from one location. Trust, reviews, availability and price were still the cornerstones of commerce.

Customers trusted the store to offer friendly advice (owners & employees), have products on the shelves and if the prices weren’t right, the customer went to a different store. The main thing that changed was how the products were brought to the customer.

First Came The Big Box Retailers

You no longer needed to be concerned with selection, because the big box had “everything’ you could want. Stores got bigger allowing for greater availability, lower prices, and product insights from media outlets (newspapers, TV, Radio).

E-commerce has shaped our relationship with how we buy and sell products, but at it’s core e-commerce is just next evolution of catalog shopping The innovation is not the method or even commerce itself, but an expansion on the idea of getting any item even from the comfort of your couch.  

Bridging the gap between digital and physical does present a challenge for the retailers/e-tailers etc. as they are looking to make the trust, availability, price and review experience seamless across all avenues of purchase.

From Brick To Click

1WorldSync recently completed a data study that highlighted some of the key challenges suppliers and retailers face when trying to achieve true cross-commerce capabilities.  and uncovered key insights into the struggles that are faced in today’s omni-channel world.

Key findings suggest that a majority of merchants and suppliers are not fully prepared to meet the varied demands of modern customers. 45% of merchants and suppliers have lost more than $1 million in revenue due to challenges faced when integrating cross-channel capabilities into their commerce strategy (Source: 1WorldSync Data Study).

You can read more here about how 1WorldSync can you make your products stand out in a very crowded Omni-Channel world.