Fewer sentences are more tragic than “But the timing wasn’t right”. Even the best solution or offering can fail if its timing misses the mark. And in an increasingly competitive world, getting that edge can make all the difference in being ahead of the curve or struggling to keep up.
This is exacerbated in the world of eCommerce where customers are getting used to and thus expecting faster delivery and improved customer experiences, often curated by the competition. With 2021 set to have 2.14 billion digital buyers, the market is big and so are those catering to it. Hence, to let your product shine, if there’s one thing you need to ensure you get right it is an improved time to market. Here are a few ways to get there.
What is time to market in eCommerce?
It’s the time taken between the ideation of the product to when a customer can first purchase it. In the world of eCommerce this can also extend to the procurement of the product until its successful sale. Aside from thorough research into ensuring that the product is being offered at the right time, there is a need to prevent any roadblocks to its successful availability on the online store from inside the organization.
Why aim for a faster time to market?
Assuming that your research for the product and its production is in place, there are several reasons why it is worth investing in ensuring a faster time to market in eCommerce, including:
Preventing roadblocks can ensure that in an increasingly competitive sector, your online store and its offerings are the first to cater to the customer’s requirement as soon as said requirement occurs to them. If your competition gets there first, the likelihood of your product being considered falls.
The appeal of the new
Especially in the case of newer rollouts, the appeal of having the newest or latest version of a product out is short-lived, and hence, the sooner your brand is able to capitalize on the same the better.
Have a say first
By leading the market, there’s an added advantage for your ability to craft narratives as part of the marketing strategy. Instead of taking a comparative tone, you can establish one of a leader instead, with every right that comes with being the early bird. The scope to adapt and improve would also favor brand in this situation
Connected to the point above, is the impression your target base would receive. Noting your brand as among the first to bring certain products to the market would be noticed even by those not immediately seeking to purchase from you. This goodwill can help your brand’s image and increase the likelihood of them purchasing from you down the line.
A happier team
While it is important that your customers are kept happy, it’s an extra cherry on the cake if your team is also enjoying the process of delivering the best. A smoother process to get your product to the market will also alleviate a lot of extra stress that your team may experience in the days leading up to the launch, and even possibly have a little fun along the way.
How to increase speed to market?
With the whys done, let’s get down to the hows. While you won’t be able to remove 100% of all potential roadblocks that may occur in getting your product live and available on your online store, it would certainly help to make the most of foresight. The last thing you’d want are preventable delays.
Research research research
The cardinal rule of “Know Your Audience” typically would apply to all aspects of your business, but is even more crucial when handling a new offering. Having data and insights on your audience, competition, the industry and external factors would go a long way in determining the best course of action for your product roll out.
Have a solid GTM strategy
A Go-To-Market strategy is basically aforementioned foresight penned down for your entire team to be on the same page. By breaking down the various aspects of your product release, your team would be better equipped to identify and mitigate potential roadblocks that can occur in your process.
Factor in rainy days
Despite your best efforts, there are going to be circumstances that are out of your hand. While these would come out of the blue there are measures you can put in place to minimize the impact they would leave: from setting aside an emergency fund in your budget to having extra hands on deck to handle the situation in case someone on the team is unavailable. Here is especially where the next step comes in handy:
Automate what you can
Budget and skills provided, it is advisable to automate processes where you can, particularly those that tend to be time consuming, repetitive or bear a heightened risk of human error. For example, having a Product Information Management (PIM) tool in place will help manage product content for various channels more efficiently (more on that in a bit) and help avoid the alarming pitfalls of bad product data.
Not everything needs to be accomplished internally
Sometimes it’s good to not be the jack of many trades. Where required explore the possibility of outsourcing key tasks, especially when they require a skilled hand. This may range from product photography to graphic design and copywriting. Investing in the right external partners can ease the workload on your team, improve output across various fronts, cut down on time taken and prevent multiple iterations where not required
Recommended reads: Product Photography Tips To Make Them Shine
How a PIM can help
As foreshadowed earlier, having a PIM would contribute to your efforts to reduce the friction that comes with getting your product live online. As of September 2021, average eCommerce conversion rates stood at 1.73%. Product information is an important means of establishing the trust needed to ensure you’re on the right side of that statistic. With the tool being designed to ease product information management, publication and marketing there are many ways the tool can increase your product’s speed to market, including:
- Bring everyone on the same page
Being a centralized repository for the product information, the PIM will ensure that anyone looking up information via the tool gets the latest data in real time. No team gets left behind and communication will be made seamless across your organization.
- Preventing costly errors
Errors such as missing or duplicate content would at best, take up time in their correction. At their worst, they can get published and leave a less than preferable impression of the brand in the eyes of potential customers. PIM tools are designed to catch such errors are prevent these risks in the first place through automated interventions.
- Many content cooks? No worries about your broth
Product content may not come from just one source. Whether they are manufacturers, brands, copywriters or even content aggregators – a PIM can save a ton of effort and time by accurately collating product information from these sources. It also allows for an easier means of onboarding both new team members internally as well as external vendors and sources of product information.
- Reformatting for specific channels
Different channels – whether your eCommerce store or physical brochure – have different formats in which they host product information. Updating each one accurately within their preferred formats is tedious: only without a PIM. Since, with one, the PIM will handle syncing the information in the format required.
- Manage digital assets easily
Managing various digital assets such as graphics, images and videos is made easy with a PIM, preventing the need to coordinate using various documents or folders. All necessary information is stored and viewable in one place, and can be accessed together.
- Free up your team’s time and save costs
There are definitely better things your team can be up to instead of repeatedly copy-pasting similar data across various spreadsheets. A PIM can help make that happen, by negating the need to have multiple copies for the same information. It will also automate syncs across channels, and when coupled with the advantages above, also means for saved time as well reducing extra costs for your business.
However you approach it, ensuring a faster time to market for your eCommerce brand can make all the difference when it comes to making your products hit the market at the right time. The strategy you choose to deploy would need to be tailor made for the product and its use case.
Your team would have its own unique mix of individuals, but knowing when to lean on external help or investing in the right tools can help bring the right edge to your product roll-out process. Add some good planning into the mix and you’re all set to speed up how your product is made available to those looking for it.
All the best!