Tag Archives: omni-channel commerce

Why Trusted Product Data Matters for Omni-Channel Retail

Big Data’s Big Election Fail

If you followed this year’s United States presidential polls at all closely, chances are that you expected Hillary Clinton to win. So did all of the major prediction models that use polls to game out election outcome probabilities.

This year’s divisive election painted a picture of data divisions by race, gender,  and education. Pollsters will be digging for months (at least) to figure out how exactly their results may have been off. What can we learn from this year’s election?

The election may have divided us, but one thing that we are all unified on is the need for accurate data. This is especially true when it come to product data demands. The rules of competition have changed and your product information is now as important as the product itself, at least in the eyes of the consumer.  

With 81% of consumers scouring through product information online to find or verify the data about a product they are considering, and over 33% abandon shopping carts when the information they crave is absent, it’s apparent how critical product information is in the consumer’s path to purchase (ClickZ 2016).

The Challenge with Managing Product Information

One may think that managing product content and data is easy, but the challenges include:

  • 10’s enterprise systems in typical back end to manage product data.
  • 100’s people sourcing, aggregating, cleansing data needed for commerce.
  • 1000’s trading partners requiring exchange data with in a variety of formats.
  • 10,000’s of websites, apps and 3rd parties, representing your product/brand to the consumer.

Deliver Trusted Product Content Your Customers Can Rely On

With the proliferation of omni-channel commerce and the rising customer expectations, the stakes have been raised. Businesses that fail to provide consistent and contextual experiences across channels stand to lose customers and revenues.

Yes, product information matters – the quality, the completeness and the accuracy matters.  And as suppliers connect and partner with multiple retailers, the need for accurate, complete product information is even greater. Four in 10 shoppers say they’ve given up on an online purchase because they didn’t have enough information on the purchase (Internet Retailing 2014).

For example, consider Google’s 2016 mandate for GTINS (Global Trade Item Numbers which help classify and display products on Google Shopping) now needed for all products.   As of May 16, 2016, Google disapproved relevant products that didn’t meet the GTIN requirements, so it’s critical that suppliers double check that product data is correct and up to date. And according to Google, the financial implications can be significant:  “Merchants who’ve added correct GTINs to their product data have seen conversion rates increase up to 20%.”

The Google GTINS mandate demonstrates that they understand that product content (descriptions, feature bullets, images, videos, reviews) is a critical factor in driving conversion.  Consumers demand to know exactly what they are buying – and the right content makes for a great consumer experience.

Sourcing A Single Source of Truth

Accurate and timely product information helps instill trust and customer loyalty in the interchangeable and complex world of retail.

By working with 25,000+ brands and retailers to build scalable process to ensure the highest impact, consistency and levels of quality, 1WorldSync is the product information company. The 1WorldSync Product Information Cloud solutions deliver rich and trusted product content to engage customers and consumers regardless of the medium. 1WorldSync helps organizations align on the product information governance strategy to apply GTIN standardization, and implement for Google, GDSN, Walmart and beyond.

References

1 ClickZ, 2016

2 Internet Retailing 2014. ‘Four in 10 Abandon Purchase For Lack Of Information Study’. http://internetretailing.net/2014/02/four-in-10-abandon-purchase-for-lack-of-information-study/

 

Ringing In The Retail: Does Size Matter?

Currently, there are 28 million American small businesses, which account for 54% of all U.S. sales (Patriot Software 2016).

In the Internet Retailer 2016 Second 500 Guide, the most successful e-commerce companies in the middle tier have outperformed their larger rivals by identifying and leveraging their sweet spots (Internet Retailer 2016). Second 500 web merchants, whose 2015 web sales fell between $1.7 million-$28.3 million, are solid proof that small can indeed be mighty. As a group, they grew their online sales last year by 14.9% to $6.99 billion, ahead of their larger Top 500 competitors, who grew at 13.5%.

Many smaller retailers rely on Small Business Saturday, an initiative launched by American Express (CNBC 2016). In its seventh year since the recession, Small Business Saturday events and entertainment encourage consumers to shop at small businesses versus big-box stores and malls that draw in Black Friday shoppers.  

However, as a smaller retailer, competing for e-commerce dollars during the busiest shopping season of the year is no easy feat. With higher than ever stakes, how do you tackle the big retailer squeeze?

Avoid Getting ‘Amazoned’ This Holiday Season

Smaller retailers face the constant struggle of having to match the convenience that Amazon offers, while personalized and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights, to keep streams of loyal consumers returning.

The only way is to create a better end-to-end user experience that is driven by customer insights. Failure to deliver on this experience will mean leaving revenue at the door – revenue that Amazon will be happy to gobble gobble (pun intended!).

86% of companies want to excel at customer experience. But only 27% even qualify as “good” in the eyes of their customers (Forrester Customer Experience Index 2015). One thing is for certain regardless of your size as an organization:

Consumers expect a seamless path to purchase from discovery to delight across all channels and devices.

Agile Is The New Black

One of the greatest benefits a small business has is that they can react much more quickly than most larger corporations or big box stores. In other words, if you see an opportunity to introduce a new vendor, you can make this happen more quickly than the many steps necessary it would take at a big box store.

For example, if you see inventory sales have gone cold turkey (pun intended!), you can help move it through displays, employee engagement and even marking it down to help it sell faster.

Big retailers have the advantage of large scale systems that optimize processes. However giant companies suffer when they lose touch with the granularity of their businesses. As a smaller retailer, you can better understand how swiftly consumer needs change prior to larger competitors because of direct contact. You are better equipped to deal with changes in the environment and test new ideas quicker among customers without obstacles.

Retail Is Big On Small Business

Gaining a national footprint no longer relies solely on big brand partnerships – with the right attitude, resources and strategy, small business have the power to go it alone.

And if a little support is needed to survive holiday pressures, there may even be opportunities to partner collaboratively with industry giants. Smaller retailers may offer flexibility and a more intimate customer experience but when coupled with their larger, wealthier counterparts, the global market offers an array of quality goods and services. If you can’t beat them, join them!

References

1 “The State of Small Businesses in the U.S” Patriot Software. 2 May 2016.  https://smallbusiness.patriotsoftware.com/small-businesses-in-the-us-infographic/?utm_source=FRB45&utm_medium=article&utm_term=smallbiz_sat&utm_content=GBL

2 “Keeping up with innovation keeps smaller retailers in the game” Internet Retailer. 13 June 2016. https://www.internetretailer.com/2016/06/13/keeping-innovation-keeps-smaller-retailers-game

3  “A secret weapon to help small retailers on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday”. CNBC. 23 November 2016. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/23/ai-software-aids-retailers-on-black-friday-small-business-saturday.html

 “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015.” Forrester. 6 October 2016 https://www.forrester.com/report/The+US+Customer+Experience+Index+Q1+2015/-/E-RES117482

“Are You Ready for a Micro Moment?”

Picture this.  You’re in line at the airport, waiting to board that 6am flight to Atlanta.  You look to your left and notice the perfect smart carry-on luggage.  You try to look more closely to capture the brand.  As you board the plane, you take out your smartphone and Google the item name.  You scroll for the product specs – the size, the color.  A moment later, as you buckle your seatbelt, you hit ‘Add Item to Cart.’  The passenger sitting next to you pulls out the latest headphones du jour.  Is it compatible with your laptop? You take out your smartphone again.  What’s the show he’s streaming?  Who’s that actor?  Take out your smartphone and find out.  They’re serving breakfast now and you wonder what’s healthier – the bagel & cream cheese or the poppy seed scone?  No need to wonder, just check your smartphone one more time.  

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“Silos – A Roadblock to Omni-Channel Victory”

Silos: an insular management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related information systems.

No matter your company size, it’s quite likely you’ve seen “silos” in action.  Or maybe you’re struggling with this right now.  The power struggles, the lack of collaboration and the loss of productivity. Ultimately, your business, your ability to sell and market better will suffer.

Chances are that you know what it looks like – various isolated groups, with little incentive to the team and little information sharing.  You might see leaders focused on their own agendas and the inevitable result is poor productivity and missed opportunities.  For example, many retail organizations have IT systems that are a decade or more old. In many cases, the technology infrastructure that supports the channels of online, mobile, catalog and in-store operate in silos which result in a huge problem.  Data silos, by virtue of their inherent characteristics, breed data distrust.  One group owns branding, the other product specs or nutritional info, so if they aren’t talking, the data (product information) will not be optimized.

We know that consumers don’t view these as different channels, they expect (and assume) that their experience will be the same, no matter how they are choosing to shop.  Unfortunately, with silo’d technologies, the inconsistencies may proliferate across channels. It’s a key reason why products may not look the same to consumers; from the store, to the circular, the website, or the mobile app. Consider the consumer journey.  The nature of marketing, selling and customer onboarding today will likely mean a journey through a dozen different touchpoints and business systems. In order to overcome these challenges, retailers must remove the silos, and implement integrated technology and information strategies.

It starts with infrastructure – systems, process and content.  All of these have to be in place, and must work seamlessly across your organization for different channels to be supported. Omni-channel leadership requires a mastery of detailed, relevant and trusted product information. This is exactly where the 1WorldSync Omni-Channel Product Information Cloud can help.

1WorldSync helps to remove roadblocks to Omni-channel victory by enabling suppliers and retailers to deliver rich and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights – to engage customers and consumers – regardless of location or medium.

This Summer, we announced several value-added apps including merchandising and sales tools including a sales kit, merchant kit, and a universal content feed solution for all customers.  This release includes significant benefits for our customers that are organizing for Omni-Channel sales growth and making their products digital, discoverable and highly shoppable. New apps in this release include information and syndication capabilities to sell products through Walmart and other global retailers, and eCommerce providers.

The 1WorldSync Product Information Cloud enables businesses to move beyond foundational product content management, to drive sales and merchandising efforts while aiding in distribution, customer integration, consumer product transparency and regulatory compliance.

Interested in finding out more about Common Roadblocks to Omni Channel?  Check out our newest Infographic.

 

1WorldSync 2016 Annual User Group, Europe is just around the corner!

Join us for 1WorldSync 2016 Annual User Group, Europe taking place September 19 & 20 in the heart of Berlin!

You will have the opportunity to engage with industry peers and trading partners and learn the emerging trends and developments surrounding omni-channel commerce. You will also hear success stories from Europe’s industry trailblazers from EHI Retail Institute, METRO Group, Nestlé Purina Petcare Deutschland, PSIORI, Salesforce and more!

If your role involves a focus in Consumer Transparency, Omni-Channel Commerce or Data Quality, then this is a must-attend event!  

As a registered attendee, you will have admission to the annual Power of 1 Awards Networking Reception, on September 19, at Berlin’s chic Gendarmerie Hauptstadtrestaurant. This year’s reception dinner will honor leading companies that have made outstanding advances in innovation and community engagement in the global product content aggregation and distribution space. The night will conclude with plenty of networking opportunities and great entertainment.

On September 20, the 1WorldSync Annual User Group Europe will be located at the new Titanic Chaussee Hotel with special opening remarks by 1WorldSync’s CEO, Nihat Arkan. The day’s agenda is filled with power packed and thought-provoking sessions, including an exciting industry panel touching on the enhancements and implications of digital supply chain in Europe. Later on, there will be dedicated industry workshops focused on insights in Healthcare, DIY, FMCG & Foodservice sectors.

Don’t wait! Register your participation for this year’s 1WorldSync Annual User Group Europe!  Be a part of this exciting event that is tailored-made to address your needs into the next phase of product database and supply chain management in Europe.

To view the full Agenda of the power packed event, please visit our Annual User Group, Europe website.

For more information or questions, contact us at events.eu@1worldsync.com.

Have you attended 1WorldSync Annual User Group, yet?

One of the main value adds we bring to our customers is the ability to provide our community with collaborative platforms for open engagement and industry alignment. 1WorldSync Annual User Groups ensures opportunity for community engagement and encourages user-led information sharing.

Driven by 1WorldSync experts coupled with leadership and guidance from our valued customers, 1WorldSync has a series of usergroups to capture the community needs and develop roadmaps towards industry betterment.

During the week of May 31- June 3, 1WorldSync held its Annual User Group, Americas and Joint Industry Council meetings in co-location with GS1 Connect in Washington DC. This event and all associated activities and workshops were very well organized and ushered remarkable customer attendance from the US/Canada to Germany, UK and Japan. Having such a diverse community, along with GDSN’s post Major Release 3 excitement, initiated very interesting discussions around today’s demand for omni-channel requirements and product content management.

I received many positive comments around 1WorldSync’s User Group workshops where many of our customers (Sam’s Club and The Kroger Co. to Target and Kellogg’s)  shared their experiences, opportunities and best practices. I was particularly pleased to see how well 1WorldSync customers eCommerce content acquisition strategy is aligned with 1WorldSync’s omni-channel strategy (linking  GDSN to Digital Commerce  requirements).

As a global organization, 1WorldSync hosts various community activities throughout the year. In fact, building on the momentum and success of 1WorldSync Annual User Group, Americas, we are in the final planning stages of 1WorldSync Annual User Group, Europe scheduled for September 19 – 20 in Berlin, Germany.

This is 1WorldSync’s largest event in Europe with over 200 community members from CPG, Retail, Foodservice, Healthcare and DIY industries discussing strategies on Data Quality, Supply Chain Enablement, Transparency, Compliance and Omni-Channel Commerce.

We will keep you fully engaged and informed on all our community events and will continue to invest in global community enablement and engagement.  In the meantime, I would like to thank 1WorldSync customers and partners for openly sharing their experiences and insight with the community. We all look forward to seeing you soon at our upcoming European event.

“Retailers & “Summer-itis” – 3 Tips on How Online Retailers Can Avoid the Summer Blues”

“Summeritis”

“A rapidly spreading condition occurring every year when the weather begins to warm up and summer approaches. Symptoms include: extreme laziness, distraction and sudden lack of effort.”

Yes, indeed it’s a real disease (according to the Urban Dictionary). So here we are, with Memorial Day in our rear view mirror and summer literally days away.  And of course, with summer comes…. vacation and people wishing they were on vacation… and full blown cases of what we call “shopping summeritis.”  While this may be a joyous time of the year for many, online retailers may not exactly share the same excitement. Don’t believe us?  Well, there’s research to confirm that. When temperatures rise, online sales go down – way down.

“When consumers start reaching for sun block and ice cream rather than their credit cards and tablets, that shows up on e-retailers’ bottom lines. An analysis of online shopping habits in the summer by SumAll shows gross sales for online merchants in July decline 30% from December highs, and average order value falls nearly 5% below the annual average in August.”[1]

Well, have no fear.  We have a few great suggestions that will help keep your shoppers engaged and avoid the dreaded ‘summer-itis.’

  1. Leverage Monday Madness

Online shoppers spend the most per item on summer Mondays ($41.13) and the least on summer Fridays ($34.74). So it’s a great opportunity to incorporate sales incentives, such as free shipping for orders of $100 or more on Mondays. This will help push consumers to purchase higher priced items.

  1. Increase your Social Media Engagement

Remember those millennial shoppers we’ve talked about?  Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, no matter what the season, you can always count on millennial’s heavy usage of social media.  This means that their phones and tablets are still within reach. Take advantage of this opportunity to constantly update your social media channels to engage with your customers. Whether you are showing off a new product or providing a discount code. One day to focus your energy towards is Wednesday. During the summer, Wednesday accounts for a very high number of sales throughout June to August, according to Internet Retailer.

  1. Information, Information, Information!

While people may not be reaching for their keyboard or laptop, their mobile device is always within reach. Take this opportunity to create a summer focused communication sharing information pertaining to discounts, new products and special promotions. Provide links to product specifications, photos & videos and customer comments.  Don’t underestimate the power of relevant, complete and trusted product information to boost your online sales this summer.  It might just be the antidote you need to combat the dreaded summer blues.

[1] Internet Retailer

What Makes a Trend… a Trend?

Rubik’s Cube.  Leg Warmers.  Juicers.  Boom Boxes.  Atari, Tivo, Game Boys. Chances are good that you bought in to one of the many product trends from the last couple of decades.  After all, whether its fashion, toys, gaming or foods (think “artisanal” cheese), who can resist jumping on a trendy bandwagon?  Admittedly, some trends are best left to the pop culture history books, but today – in 2016 – we’re seeing a definite trend towards trends becoming more than trends (did you get that?).

Consider eCommerce.  It was only 15 years or so ago that online sales were left to Amazon or eBay. For others in retail, online shopping was a nice add-on.   The theory was that the consumer wouldn’t abandon the brick and mortars.  Consumers wanted to see, touch and hold their purchases. So what was considered a trend in the year 2000 (15 ½ million households shopped online in September 2000), has evolved into a full-fledged way of life (spending a total of $4.2 billion online – an average of $272 per person).  Today, consumers are spending an average of $2,466 per person on online purchases.  Even traditional grocery items are added to the list, with online grocery growing at nearly twice the rate of any other industry.

Convenience, value and the proliferation of mobile devices have been key drivers in changing consumer shopping behaviors.  So what’s a growing retailer to do?  How can retailers capitalize on current eCommerce buying trends, while building for the future?

  1. Invest in digital technologies that enhance the Omni-Channel experience whether in-store, online or anytime. For example, consider tools that enable online chats and video merchandising to help describe and demonstrate how an item looks or works.  Curated content, suggested buys & upsell, on-line shelves and eCarts are varied components of an engaging on-line shopping experience. Walmart recently announced making a move to marry the retailer’s online and mobile assets with its 11,500 stores worldwide..  According to Fortune Magazine, “Walmart said it was merging to the two divisions to create a new unit called ‘Walmart Technology.’ Walmart pointed to the recent launch of its Walmart Pay mobile payment service as an example of the kind of collaboration between the teams that it hopes the merger will spur.”
  1. Offer a convenient shopping experience that responds to the consumer path to purchase. One-stop-shopping convenience is no longer about selling everything from a single supercenter or website. It’s more profitably targeted at giving a seamless Omni-Channel experience to shoppers who are budgeting for both time and money. Consider retailers that are offering services that combine their in-store and digital capabilities, for example ‘click-to-curb’ for groceries, ‘site to store’ at mass retailers or virtual dressing rooms for apparel.
  1. Content, content, content…did we mention Content?

We encourage retailers to focus on enhanced content and content distribution strategies to provide differentiated levels of product information for customers and consumers.  As research indicates, rich content, more content and trusted content will make a consumer click BUY NOW and continue as a repeat customer online and in-store.  Conversely, if a consumer cannot see a picture of the product they want to buy…they go elsewhere, and likely never return.

What sets a seller of goods apart from competition is their ability to give the buyer what they want, how they want, where they want it, when they want it.  Omni-Channel is not a trend – it is a full-fledged way of commerce and consumerism: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

5 Tips for Moving Business Online After the Era of “Black Friday”

It’s December 2015 and Black Friday is behind us.  I mean that in a literal sense (2 weeks have now passed) but also in the sense of The End of an Era.

Per retail analysis firm Shopper Track, Black Friday 2015 showed a 10.4% drop year-over-year in physical store sales since 2014.  This drop is unprecedented, and is attributed to consumers shopping over a longer span of time and taking advantage of the convenience (and safety!) of the online marketplace.

Meanwhile, Cyber Monday was reported by Adobe Digital Index to be the largest online sales day ever in the US, up 16% from 2014 to top $3 Billion.

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A Better Way to Find Stuff Online

Finding and comparing products online is far more frustrating than it needs to be.  Especially if you’re trying to find the online version of a product you found in the store. There is almost no correlation between the offline product world and the online product world. I can say this confidently, because I found out from personal experience recently. Continue reading