We’re less than four months away from 2022 and while we don’t yet have hovering cars, we’ve come a long way on many other fronts. eCommerce is one of them.
There are many reasons for the surge of people and businesses opting for the eCommerce route of purchasing, including competitive rates, a massive expansion in the number of internet users, and technological improvements. In fact, this year alone is expected to see worldwide eCommerce sales approach the $5 trillion mark.
This is all possible due to the increase in one critical factor that had previously held the medium back: trust. Without the ability to physically examine goods to be purchased, online shopping used to be a gamble: you weren’t always sure if what you see is actually what you get. What has significantly reduced this amount of risk for consumers is product data and its quality.
So, I’m sure you can imagine how bad product data can mean bad news for your eCommerce business.
What qualifies as ‘bad product data’?
The main aim of product data is to give an accurate idea of the product to an online shopper. It has to be able to communicate practically everything regarding the product that they would like to know, from use cases to range and physical attributes. Product data is also not limited to the written word. Images, how-to-videos, and brochures, for example, can go a long way to not just inform customers about the product, but actually market it to them. Bad data is anything that can get in the way of these two objectives. Bad product data can take many shapes and forms, including:
Your customers need the full picture. Providing information that does not answer their many questions regarding the product would be enough to have them move on to other available options. “Full information” would typically answer the 5Ws and 1H, i.e.:
- What is the product (Does it match their requirement?)
- Why choose the product (Features, dimensions, USP)
- How does it fulfill that requirement (Features)
- When and Where can the product be delivered (Can also include details regarding availability)
- Who (The brand behind the product)
Should they not get a straightforward answer to these questions from your product content: consider it incomplete. It is also crucial that these answers are supplied in a format your audience seeks. The deployment of simple language versus the right terminology and taxonomy also matters in sealing their trust in your product.
Obvious errors and/or low-quality content
You wouldn’t appreciate having your reading of this article interrupted by a typo or a repeated paragraph. Potential customers have similar expectations of quality from your product content. While their response may vary from laughing to being dismissive depending on the type of error, it would leave an unfavorable impression regarding your brand.
In the worst-case scenario, it may even annoy them enough to leave the window without giving the rest of the information a chance. Links should go where they promise to go and content should ideally not be duplicated, too. While there may be genuine reasons behind the errors, the customers — used to the kind of shopping experiences big leagues like Amazon provide — will not be likely to be as forgiving.
Outdated or inaccurate information
Imagine your customer being completely on board with you. They know that your product is exactly what they want or need. But what arrives does not match what is promised, throwing a wrench in their plans with it. That customer would not just demand compensation that may prove costly, it’d also be very unlikely that they would give the product or the brand a shot again. Furthermore, word of mouth here would work against the brand, causing damage that may be hard to measure but can be felt by the business nonetheless.
Content that does not meet the competition
You may ensure that your product data does has none of the above issues, but if your product content somehow lets your competition look better, you may lose the sale even before it is made. Especially in the B2B sector, buyers are doing their homework, so your competition appears more appealing or put-together than you poses a risk to your business. These appearances will include but not be limited to: the quality of enriched content (i.e., photographs, video content, product descriptions, spec sheets), creativity into them, their design, color palette, and more.
The price of bad product data
The last section did repeat “lost customers” both before and after the buying process as the key consequence of bad product data, but this can manifest itself in different ways: none of which are pleasant experiences neither for the customer nor the business: really, lose-lose scenarios for everyone involved, except maybe the competition. Here are other ways in which bad product content can affect your business:
Search Engine Optimization factors in various aspects of your eCommerce business, product data included. The product taxonomy used to label each product is directly relevant to search queries – meaning if your product content is not in its best shape it can reflect poorly on your brand or worse, prevent your product from showcasing in results directly relevant to it.
Recommended reads: 8 eCommerce Product Taxonomy Best Practices that Guarantee Conversions
Increase in returned products
When the product does not match the consumer’s expectations, an immediate reaction would be to return the product and get back the amount lost to a bad purchase. With bad product data and content, this issue can be exacerbated, leading to more returns and subsequent loss of revenue that could be made. Note that proactive and dissatisfied consumers would also feel free to go ahead and leave a bad review, further impacting future sales.
Long term impact
Individual instances with bad product data are a symptom of a much larger problem when, if not addressed, can risk not just profits but reputation too. This does include your standing among your target audience (Forbes notes a whopping 94% consumers skip companies with bad reviews), this can also potentially impact your advertising too. Facebook, for example, can restrict ads for business pages that receive a significant amount of negative feedback.
What you can do about bad product data
Map Your Current System Out
Take stock of your current situation. Map out the sources of your product content and if you need more/alternative ones like a content aggregator. Map out the various places – both online and offline – where this content is being published. This will help you visualize the flow of product data taking place within your organization, how that can be streamlined, and which aspects are becoming too time or effort-intensive. This will also highlight gaps or areas that could benefit from solutions you haven’t previously tried.
Product Data Cleansing: Optimize what you can right away
Going over currently published content with fresh eyes may help you spot potential hotspots for bad content. Not to worry, we have guides in place to help you navigate optimizing various aspects of your product content:
- Looking at optimizing your eCommerce images? Here are 9 Ways to do so
- Feel like your product descriptions could use touching up? Here are 10 tips for you
- And here’s 8 practical tips for product titles
- Looking at leveling up your Google shopping presence? Here’s a detailed guide
- If it’s your Amazon listing you’d like to optimize, look no further than this 2021 guide
It would also help to standardize your content as far as possible. This will not only ensure that your content remains uniform across SKUs, but will also help ease the process of maintaining said data.
Too many cooks can spoil the broth. Too many people with access to your product content, and you’ll have more errors and fewer means to track their origins. Restrict the number of people who have access to your product content and further still, for those who can make edits and updates to it. This will ensure greater accountability for the product content and any errors or missing data that may occur. With greater accountability comes greater opportunities (to catch errors before they become costly).
Get A PIM
No, we’re not just saying that because our product is one. In an environment where consumer expectations are at an all-time high, as is competition, automating your product data processes will go a long way in saving time and doing away with taxing repetitive processes in your organization. With streamlined product data transactions, the number of content errors and missing data will also reduce significantly when compared to an all-manual process. If you are currently using spreadsheets to manage product data, this may be a good time to reevaluate and switch to a more modern solution.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of six PIMs available in the market to help you select the right fit for your product data requirements and expectations.
Assuming effective product information management to be a luxury would be an expensive mistake. Trust, once tampered, with is hard to regain. Product data being a crucial conduit for trust being placed in an eCommerce product or brand, efforts to ensure good quality product content will pay off.