Okay, that one probably isn’t much of a surprise. In the digital age, we’re realizing that content (product content especially) is omnipresent and provides new avenues to reach customers in their daily lives. Retailers would be stupid not to take advantage of these new opportunities to be strategic…right?
Sort of right. There have been some surprising results coming out of the digital transformation of retail.
The product content management process is not for the faint of heart. Between the data collection process, aggregating, sorting, editing, and publishing, and the following maintenance, the process itself is no small task. Couple that with the number of people it often takes to manage and update items, you’ve got a fiercely tangled ball of yarn. How can brands put their best foot forward with customers when their internal processes are so mangled? Still, brands are finding creative ways to manage and leverage their product content to gain the attention of customers and keep it.
Ever since the first MP3 file, we’ve watched technology change the way we interact with commerce and each other. Digital transformation hit luxury items first (think the music industry, TV, box offices), and hit essential retail last (more like automotive and grocery). Outdoor falls into the luxury category (non-essential goods), and many brick and mortar purveyors struggled at the get-go.
Matt Daubenspeck from Ardisam put it like this:
“Outdoor products are typically larger and more expensive than items in other product categories. B&M retailers were able to take advantage of this for two reasons. First, the larger size of outdoor products meant higher shipping costs. Online retailers were not able to price outdoor products competitively and still offer free shipping. Second, customers wanted to actually speak to a salesperson before purchasing outdoor products at a higher price point.”
As Amazon makes longer strides into new verticals, outdoor brands were the first to recognize their unique challenges and pick up on a new strategy: investing in product content. Here’s the fun part: outdoor knew they had work to do on their content. Once they successfully aligned their content with their brand voice, it did the work for them.
But one problem remains…the personal touch of a sales associate. When your customer base expects a great salesperson experience, how can your online offering compete?
“Good product content, careful review cultivation, and customer questions engagement can now replicate the in-store experience of a salesperson. It will never be able to fully replicate the experience of physically kicking the tires, but it can feel almost the same. The recent growth of 360-degree images will make this even better.”
The transparency afforded by more available and accurate product information has resulted in more trust between customers and outdoor brands. When product content must inform customers about safety features of an item (for, say, an ice auger or deer stand), it becomes necessary to validate that accurate content is reaching the customer, for safety concerns as well as aesthetics.
“Much greater transparency had made it into the market through digitization. Individual products, but also topics on production conditions, can be delivered to consumers more consciously and quickly.” –Otto Leodolter, Löffler
More on the market effectiveness of 360 images from our friends at Snap36 later, but you get the point. A new need to delight and “wow” your customers has pressed retailers to adopt more technology, faster, and Amazon is at the crux.
Amazon has been working hard to improve the user-friendliness of their Vendor Central (first-person selling) and Seller Central (third-person selling) offerings, but the gem of 2018 has been their new marketing suite. Amazon has released Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), a suite of specialized marketing services, available as part of their Vendor Central offering. These services cover PPC ads, campaign reporting, ad targeting, and more. They both offer new ways to understand how your products are performing in search, and why.
Whichever mode you decide is right for your business to sell products through Amazon (be it 1P or 3P), be sure that you have a strategy for those tools and look to your customers and user-generated content to inform how to adjust and scale over time. The best advice you’ll receive will be from your own customers.
“We also know that consumers are reading reviews and asking questions on our detail pages. We try to respond to all questions and negative reviews so that people researching our products can sense our commitment to customer service.” — Matt Daubenspeck, Ardisam
Individual products, but also topics on production conditions, can be delivered to consumers more consciously and quickly.” Brands are now tasked with aligning their content to provide the level of transparency demanded by “new retail” culture. As we noted, is no shortage of tools when it comes to how to succeed online, especially when talking about Amazon. The trick is having a fully baked strategy for how your content will show up online and blending that with your brick and mortar strategy.
“The importance of great content extends beyond e-commerce transactions. Many brands like Ardisam also sell through traditional retail channels. We know that a significant majority of consumers consult Amazon before making a purchase, even when their purchase is made in-store. Our priority as a company is to get every product we make onto the Amazon platform either through 1P or 3P.” – Matt Daubenspeck, Ardisam
As Edgenet CEO Steve Proctor told content26, “You can’t ignore Amazon if you’re making things to sell.” The best part? It may not be as daunting as everyone thinks. By understanding your customers and leveraging the right tools, you can craft an eComm strategy guaranteed to generate and retain genuine customer loyalty.
Madeline, a millennial who enjoys Googling puppies in her spare time, is the Digital Content Coordinator at Edgenet, the product content platform preferred by thousands of brands and retailers.
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