Tag Archives: product information cloud

“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.

 

Back to School Blues: The Chore of the Daily Lunch

The sunscreen bottles are nearly empty.  The luggage is stored in the garage (and if you’re lucky, the in-laws safely on their way back home).  We’ve binged watched every show in our queue and eaten the last of the season’s crop of good peaches.  Summer is this close to being in the rear view mirror.

Yes, and right around this time of year, as we vacuum out the beach sand, crushed potato chips and summer-old food wrappers from the inside of our cars, we are officially in ‘back to school’ mode.  For some it’s cause for cheering, (the kids go back to school after all), for others it’s a reminder of the long list of upcoming to-dos and calendar commitments (think soccer practice, school plays and scout meetings).  And aside from the obvious back to school prep work of clothes, books and school supplies, there’s the added chore of the daily lunch routine.

Are you going to stock up on lunch box supplies or will your kids buy lunch? Chances are that you’ll be one of approximate 60% of parents who opt for their school’s lunch program.  After all, parents are busy, kids are picky.  But fortunately, school lunches have become tastier and healthier.  In fact, a good deal healthier.    Most school districts now offer healthier food and beverages in vending machines, school stores, and a la carte cafeteria lines. Fruits, vegetables, water, and hundreds of nutritious snack products now fill these venues instead of the candy, sodas, and other unhealthy items that were commonplace less than a decade ago, mostly because of consumer demand and updated regulations.

Of course, that same demand is driving a level of clarity and transparency into what their kids are eating.  They ask questions and read labels.  So what exactly are parents looking for?

  1. Hidden Trans Fats

Over the next couple of years, food companies must phase out partially hydrogenated oils – a major source of artery-clogging trans fats – under a recent directive from the Food and Drug Administration. Until then, consumers are checking food labels for the word “hydrogenated.” If an ingredient list includes this kind of oil, but the trans fat amount reads zero, watch out.

  1. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Over 64 countries now require GMO labeling. Though studies have not determined that GMOs are harmful to eat, many consumers are concerned: limited research into their safety, a rise in “superweeds” that resist the herbicides used on GMOs, and, consequently, more overall pesticide use.  So consumers are voraciously reading labels and looking for ‘USDA-certified organic’ or the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal on the label.

  1. Wood pulp

That is not a typo.  Wood pulp is often lumped under the heading of ‘added fiber.’   So again, consumers are combing food labels for “cellulose” and “cellulose powder”.

  1. Allergens

Studies show that 16%–18% of children with food allergies have had a reaction from accidentally eating food allergens while at school. More than 170 foods are known to cause IgE mediated food allergies. In the US alone, eight of these foods or food groups account for 90% of serious allergic reactions: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Fortunately, federal law requires food labels to clearly identify the food allergen source of all foods and ingredients.

School organizations such as North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) are beginning to leverage the increased amount of available product information as well as detailed nutrition labels to mitigate the risk of allergic reactions among students. By utilizing the 1WorldSync Digital Catalog of product information, updated straight from the source, NCDPI is able to comply with USDA federal regulation for meal pattern requirements and easily distribute it this information to parents, students, and even healthcare professionals upon request.

Whether or not students choose to pack or bring their lunch this year, one thing is for certain: their decision will depend on the amount of available product information. It is clear that consumer demand for transparency far exceeds just the Consumer Packaged Goods and Grocery industries, but also extends to any organization that distributes and sells their products to schools.

Click here to learn more about how 1WorldSync solutions can help the Foodservice industry provide product information transparency.

Game, Set, Match. Online Shopping Takes the Lead.

We confess.  We do love online shopping.  There’s nothing quite like the thud of a big brown box (or red/white/blue box) hitting your front door.  For a moment or two, it’s almost a mini Christmas morning.

Here’s confession number two – it’s happening more and more (insert festive emoji here).  So frankly we’re relieved to hear that we’re not alone.

In fact, for the first time, consumers say they bought more of their purchases on the web than in stores, according to an annual survey of more than 5,000 online shoppers by United Parcel Service Inc.  The shoppers now made 51% of their purchases on the web compared with 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014, according to the June 2016 survey by UPS.[1] (“Although the findings are skewed toward consumers who already gravitate toward the web, and exclude the $602 billion bricks-and-mortar dominated grocery store industry, they nonetheless represent the latest in a steady climb over the past few years, as consumers become more comfortable buying items on the web.” [2])

The latest results of the survey—now in its fifth year—illustrate the degree to which the adoption of online shopping is accelerating. This year, 44% of smartphone users said they made a purchase from their device, up from 41% a year ago. It also helps explain why retailers are having so much trouble adjusting to the new cybershopping era.

There’s definitely been a dramatic shift as over time, people are getting more and more comfortable shopping online.  And unfortunately, that has hit retailers hard (conversely, Amazon accounted for 60% of total U.S. online sales growth last year alone).

Though millennials make 54% of their purchases online, the rate of adoption by older people is growing at a faster rate. Non-millennials made 49% of their purchases online, according to the survey, compared with 44% in 2014. And as for shopping by smartphone users: the survey found that 63% of millennials use their phones to shop, while 19% of baby boomers and 8% of seniors use their phones to make purchases.

Fortunately, 1WorldSync customers are well positioned to continue building on this trend.  Our customers are able to provide better quality product images and information, while reducing the cost data acquisition.  Ultimately, their customers (online shoppers) will experience fewer errors when searching for products, resulting in more time to concentrate on growing their business.

[1] https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/

[2] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/08/digital-buyers-becoming-even-more-loyal.html

“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

How to make a ridiculous, drool-worthy and perfectly dangerous online shopping experience

“I shop all the time – on my commute, at work, at home, during the weekend…..The ability to find exactly what I want at the moment I’m thinking about it can be dangerous.” Lisa Green, head of fashion & luxury brands at Google, NYC[1]

Consumers today have more places and ways to shop….and have increasingly shorter attention spans. So if you have an ecommerce business, and you want online shoppers to click BUY NOW , then you need to be able to grab their attention, keep their attention and convert the sale. Yes, I’m sure you already know this…but how?

Product Content is King.

Don’t underestimate the power of high quality images – with the ability to zoom in and see multiple angles and views.  Shoppers find images incredibly reassuring and helpful in identifying that this is in fact the actual product they will purchase.  Don’t assume the more commonly recognized or generic products (batteries, diapers, etc.) might not need that level of visual appeal.   Countless studies and surveys have made it abundantly clear that visuals are the most influential factor affecting purchase decisions (*92.6% of shoppers say visuals seal the deal[2]).

“The most important piece of information a manufacturer can provide to help sell their products is an image. Most sales people tell us this significantly increases their odds of closing a sale. In fact, the trend seems to be that they won’t even suggest an item without one.”

Chief Commercial Officer, Major Food Distributor

What did other customers say?

90% of consumers read online reviews and 88% of them trust the online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In other words, more people read reviews as part of their pre-purchase research before purchasing a product or service.  In fact, customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than a marketing piece from an organization and will specifically seek out websites with reviews[3].  By making ratings and reviews easily accessible across every touchpoint, brands can ensure a positive customer experience.  And there’s more!  Enabling customer reviews on your ecommerce site can have a positive effect on your company’s organic results. Each product review increases the amount of authentic and robust content offered… “meaning you’ll be seen as having higher authority, more relevance, and, as such, a higher chance of getting those pages ranked.” Forbes.

Trusted Product Information

Your shopper wants to know what they’re buying:  How big? What color?  Place of origin? Technical requirements? Add-ons Plug-ins.  Images, video clips, specifications, customer reviews and more are all part of the giant need of trusted and accurate product information.  The quality and completeness of product presentation in online retail has a quantifiable and direct impact on product sales.   On-line retailers that offer compelling, engaging, and complete content to shoppers will be rewarded by repeat purchases, lower levels of returns and long-term loyalty.

What’s a Retailer to Do?

A successful omni-channel shopping experience is dependent upon the depth and accuracy of trusted product content.   Working with 1WorldSync, etailers and retailers alike help to provide better quality product images and information, while reducing the cost of data acquisition. Your users will experience fewer errors when searching for products and you will have more time to concentrate on growing your business.

[1] Vogue, March 2016

[2] Invodo Marketers Summary, 2015

[3] Econsultancy, 2015

Don’t Click ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ button on Google after May 16, unless you’re using GTINs!

It’s that time of year…spring is in the air.  YoYo weather (hot one day, snow the next), debating the merits of iPhone6 vs iPhone 7, and counting the days until the Olympic Games in Rio.

But more importantly (really!), we’re waiting with baited breath for May 16 – the day the heavens will open on Google Shopping.   For those of you who need a refresher:

“If you sell brand-name products that are sold by multiple merchants, you should take a close look at the new requirements and double-check that your product data is correct and up-to-date.”

Bottom line: If you are promoting products that have Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN), now is the time to make sure your feeds are updated to include them. Because come May 16, 2016, Google Shopping will start disapproving relevant products that don’t meet the GTIN requirements.  And this isn’t just for the U.S.  GTINs will be required when targeting ads in Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Doing it Now. You’re probably already including some of these, GTINs for most products in your feed for years. In mid-2015, Google Shopping started requiring all sellers who used its Google Shopping Campaigns to use GTINs in their product data for all SKUs across 50 handpicked brands. But now you need to include it for everything that’s a new brand-name product sold by multiple merchants.

What’s really important (and where 1WorldSync can really help) is that with this new GTIN update, Google Shopping is affirming the importance of data quality, which as we have learnt from experience contributes towards retailers’ bottom lines in more ways than one.

Shoppers Today: As consumers search and shop in-store and online, they expect access to richer product information to make informed decisions. They rely on trusted product information about products and services that may impact their health, belief systems, or nutritional well-being.

At 1WorldSync, we’ve been helping thousands and thousands of Retailers and Brands to align on the product information governance strategy to apply GTIN standardization, AND implement for google and beyond.

Talk to us about how we can help you map the product information footprint of your customer base, to win in the YoYo world that blurs the line between digital and physical commerce.

4 Reasons Why Consumers Heart Online Shopping

Welcome to the leveled playing field of eCommerce.  A field paved with opportunity, growing market shares and reduced barriers of entry.  Forget traditional store fronts and other demands of maintaining a physical presence.  Who needs costly advertising in Yellow Pages, newspapers, or magazines when there are free search engines, email campaigns, low cost banner ads, or other online promotional tools like Google AdWords.  And as a consumer, why brave the snow, sleet and rain to purchase the latest “toy” when your heart’s desire is merely a click away?

Because, along with banana slicers, live lady bugs and canned unicorn meat (yes, you read that correctly), you can officially buy just about anything online.  Even craft beer is getting into the act, such as AB InBev, hoping to engage fans of craft beer by embracing e-commerce.  Overall, 70% of Americans (and 85% of the world’s population) are regularly shopping online and the reason isn’t just for the beer.  So why the online shopping explosion?  Here’s what we think.

It’s so easy.

Yes it is easy.  Certainly the proliferation of mobile devices has been the driving factor (4 out of 5 shoppers are mobile shoppers).But whether by phone, laptop or tablet, you can shop anywhere and at any time.  You don’t have to drive, park and battle with long lines.  You shop at your own pace – whether laser focused for one item – or leisurely scrolling for next year’s Christmas gifts.

More to choose.

If you’re an online business, you have an advantage over traditional retailers in that you aren’t limited to the amount of shelf space available when considering which items to stock. Adding selection, therefore, may help you appeal to online buyers, as can keeping your prices below traditional competitors and streamlining your purchase process to create a convenient experience for shoppers.

Comparison shop.

Try spending a Saturday afternoon comparison shopping for a new flat screen TV.  How many brick and mortar stores will you hit on your quest for the best value and the best product for you?  Sound exhausting?   Ironically, you’ll likely spend more money on gas than you are planning to save.

Conversely, online shopping is ideal for comparison shopping.  Product details, specifications, photos, customer reviews and pricing are easily searched and weighted according to a customer’s needs.  As consumers spend more time researching product purchases online (71% of in-store shoppers use smartphones for online research), the importance of high-quality product content becomes paramount for retailers, manufacturers, CPG firms and distributors alike.

Find More.

One of the best benefits of ecommerce for customers is they can get robust information that is not possible in a physical store.  As talented as instore salespeople can be, they’ll likely have challenges responding to customers who are looking for information on different product lines. But ecommerce websites offer additional information to their customers in a much more direct and thorough manner.  All the given information is provided by vendors so that their customers find it easy to purchase products with information.

This is where 1WorldSync’s Omni-channel solutions help.  We put authentic, trusted content in the hands of your customers and consumers; empowering them to make the right choices, purchases or health and lifestyle decisions.

Go beyond the label with the 1WorldSync SmartLabel solution

Transparency and trust are critical in today’s shifting marketing place.  Consumers are making smarter purchasing decisions on the spot by using their smartphones to access information about the products they buy. *  Connect consumers with your products and deliver an empowering consumer experience.

Adopting SmartLabel for your products is an easy and efficient way to demonstrate your commitment to your consumers and stand out from your competitors.

SmartLabel goes beyond the label, bringing extended attributes right into the palm of your consumer’s hands. As transparency becomes more critical to your consumers, your ability to provide trusted product information to your consumers is a strategic differentiator.

At 1WorldSync we understand how important this initiative is to brands, that’s why we made an easy and efficient way for you to add a SmartLabel solution to your existing subscription. Learn more about the 1WorldSync SmartLabel solution or contact your account manager to get started today!

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*Source: http://fortune.com/2015/10/13/food-revolution-millennials/

Catalog1 and Communities

The capabilities of 1WorldSync’s Product Information Cloud are growing!  Since December, we have been actively releasing new functionality to Catalog1 and Communities.

Catalog1, a solution to distribute content easily with a rich contextual GUI, look and feel is shared with TAG: an attribute rationalization and reporting tool that allows users to interact with industry, recipient and regulatory requirements called “playlists.”

Our latest release introduced:

  • Smart Label Solution offering a seamless and efficient way to fulfill the industry initiative requirements and easily generate a Rich Product Content page for all of your products.
  • 1WorldSync Communities “Chatter” provides the ability for customers, industry groups, like communities to collaborate, learn, inform and relate on key topics and initiatives.
  • Get your products to Google Manufacturer Center to meet their online requirements, with Catalog1
  • Click here to view a demonstration of key Winter Release capabilities

Please reach out to businessdevelopment@1worldsync.com with any questions about adding Catalog1, Content1 or Chatter capabilities to your existing subscriptions.

2016 Readers’ Choice: Mobility

Originally posted in Readers Choice of CGT – A Short List of the Best Technology & Services Providers to the Industry

According to Peter Drucker, “Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation.” But with the pace of innovation and technology quickening we might want to think on using a new portmanteau; TECHNOVATION.

Technovation suggests that marketers must recognize the accelerating pace of evolving technology, now inextricably linked to adapting consumers, while adjusting our comprehension and organizational structures to embrace not just the obvious, e.g., big data and analytics, but also how consumers, themselves, view their online and offline lives as part of a seamless whole. Marketers must understand that technovation is not only about understanding what consumers are doing with technology, but also what technology is doing to them.

Mary Meeker of KPCB notes that since 2008, the time an adult spends on digital media has gone from 2.7 to 5.6 hours per day, and that mobile has increased from 12 percent of that time spent to 51 percent. In June 2015, Pew Research noted that a fifth of Americans are ‘almost constantly’ online, with 36 percent of 18 to 29 year olds reporting they are ‘almost constantly’ online. Nielsen recently reported, in the desirable 18 to 34 year old demographic, that 8.5 million people per minute now use smartphones and other TV connected devices, surpassing 8.1 million per minute that use traditional TV screens.
In his book “Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy” Kit Yarrow opines, “our use of technology has changed our psychology” including for innovation optimism, consumer empowerment, faster thinking, symbol power, and new ways of connecting.

The Ericson Institute, in a just released study representing 1.1 billion people across 24 countries found that constantly having a screen in the palm of your hand is not always a practical solution, however. Prognosticators now believe this technology will be a thing of the past, perhaps in fewer than five years.

What might make this forecast a reality? The Internet-of-Things has already taken hold, and Virtual Reality now has a purchase on popular imagination. Watch for a plethora of new form factors, from flexible screens, to wearables, to implantables. The computing power driving this technology is readily available and rapidly evolving. IBM has Watson, and Google claims its “D-Wave Quantum Computer” will be 100 million times faster than any of today’s machines. If true, D-Wave could theoretically solve a mathematical problem within seconds that would take today’s digital computer 10,000 years to calculate.

This kind of computing power, linked to Artificial Intelligence, coupled with new user form factors, will drive innovation for the next era of digital communication making possible – quite literally – commerce-at-the-speed-of-thought.

A brave new world is upon us, taking shape around us and with all of us as participants and innovators in our own right.
Hail the consumer!