It is not uncommon for marketers to have to justify their needs for the latest and greatest technology and marketing tools to their counterparts in IT. Some of these needs include solutions for marketing analytics, lead scoring, and email marketing that help marketers better target prospects and get messages out in a timely manner.
Here at inRiver, we pride ourselves on understanding the plight of the marketer, especially with respect to “content spaghetti” - product information that resides in Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, and disparate legacy systems. Implementing a product information management (PIM) system can bring relief to many of the frustrations that marketers feel regarding their product content.
However, to explain the content challenge to IT, it is sometimes necessary to quantify tasks that are, frankly, hard to quantify - time spent searching for the latest version of something, lost sales due to a lengthy time to market, or higher product returns due to incomplete or incorrect information. But, as e-commerce become ubiquitous - for both B2C and B2B enterprises, technology solutions such as these are increasingly critical.
With mobile shopping increasing exponentially, micro-moments are becoming equally prevalent. Micro-moments are those intent-driven moments when shoppers want to learn where to go, what to buy, or how to do something. These micro-moments are driven, for the most part, by our obsession with and reliance on our smartphones and tablet devices. You have heard the stats - 82% of smartphone users consult their phones while they are shopping in-store!
What this means for ecommerce merchants is that you need to be ready, with the right content and the right tools to capture those micro-moments when they arise. And to accomplish this, marketers need to cross the corridor and ask their IT counterparts for help. And in turn, the technology experts across the hall need to understand what marketing is trying to achieve and offer solutions to address the challenges of micro-moments.
Forrester Research’s July 2015 study on Moments That Matter brings this point home. Companies that have IT and marketing executives who are aligned to address micro-moments are more successful and have better ROI on marketing expenditures. When their infrastructure is integrated - with mobile experiences aligned with back-end systems, they outperform their peers and competitors.
We are so intrigued by the need for this partnership between marketing and IT that we are hosting a webinar with our technology integration partner, Jasper Studios. Join us on March 23 at 2 PM CDT for Meeting the Challenges of Micro-moments, when Johan Boström of inRiver and Jon Marsella of Jasper Studios will discuss the enormous opportunities and challenges that retailers need to be aware of when addressing micro-moments.
You will see that by meeting in the hallway, IT and marketing organizations can work together to create the relevant, rich experiences that customers are expecting in their micro-moments.
In the meantime, don’t forget to register for the webinar on March 23.
Although online shopping has continued to increase in both frequency and dollars year over year, it still only makes up about 10% of B2B sales transactions. However, online shopping influences many more transactions, even in B2B buying. B2B buyers want to make informed purchases with the least amount of friction possible—a trend that is illustrated by the increase in ratings and reviews, price and feature comparisons, and shipping options offered on B2B eCommerce sites.
B2B online shopping and purchasing will continue to increase; according to Google, the value of physical goods ordered via digital channels is expected to grow another 15% in 2017. With more than 100 billion searches per month originating on Google’s search engines, the company is instrumental in connecting brands and consumers. As mentioned in a previous blog, your eCommerce presence on Google Shopping is critical, because many product searches originate on google.com.
inRiver is partnering with Google to make it easier and more effective for our manufacturing customers to take advantage of the nascent Google Manufacturer Center (GMC). inRiver strives to enable enterprises to enrich product information so that they can tell perfect product stories, regardless of sales channel.
Google furthers this campaign for complete and accurate product information through the GMC. As the manufacturer of products, you have the deepest knowledge of your products and should be the ultimate authority on what information is displayed across your sales channels and throughout the buyer journey. Together with Google, inRiver can help you influence the accuracy, completeness, and consistency of the product information that is being syndicated to Google Shopping.
inRiver manufacturing customers, such as TOPS Products, are already taking advantage of the many benefits of the GMC—relevant searches based on key words, authority over syndicated product information, and comprehensive (and free!) analytics. And it is even easier to leverage this tool through the GMC Connector from inRiver, which “auto-magically” maps inRiver fields to GMC fields.
We invite you to take a look at the Google Manufacturer Center as an option to provide better product information, a more enriching brand experience, and improved eCommerce performance. And we are here to help get you easily connected with your product information! Download our Google Manufacturer Center Connector Solution Brief for more information.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver
A few weeks ago, we published a blog about how to improve your product rankings on Amazon.com. As we mentioned, a large percentage of shoppers—online and offline—start their product search on Amazon. However, we all know that not all shoppers have the same shopping habits. Not only do you need to pay attention to how your product stories are rendering on Amazon, but also you need to monitor your product information on other sites and search engines—and one of these, of course, is Google. A survey by PowerReviews earlier this year concluded that while Amazon, at 38% of respondents, is the preferred online search vehicle for product search, Google is a close second, at 35%.
Many shoppers, especially those that are Amazon Prime Members who enjoy free shipping on many items on the Amazon site, find shopping on Amazon to be convenient. Many products have multiple reviews and there are frequently multiple sellers for a given product, enabling price and shipping comparisons.
However, Amazon may not actually boast the best product or price options, especially for those shoppers without Prime membership. Likewise, product information found on Amazon.com may be inconsistent and limited by keyword search terms. In contrast, Google’s keyword and algorithmic power can provide shoppers with product options from a variety of retailers—a selection that rivals what is found on Amazon. When shoppers limit themselves to just one shopping site, they may be limiting their product knowledge and options.
When shoppers search on Google, they can find the best products and prices more quickly. For example, when shopping for an “ugly Christmas sweater” for my husband, I searched on Amazon and found this one for $29.99:
However, when I searched for this same sweater on Google, I found the same item for $24.50 on another site. Normally, I wouldn’t be so price-sensitive, but in this case, since I was purchasing a “gag” item, I wanted to spend as little as possible!
Not only may Google provide you with lower price options for your product search, but also Google provides local inventory listings from retailers that are physically located near you. Considering that most retail transactions still take place in a physical store, this information is very useful to shoppers. For last minute gift-buying, this information could be a deciding factor.
Another benefit for shoppers is the better product information they will likely find on Google. Since Google Shopping is a “pay to play” service, requiring retailers to purchase Product Listing Ads (PLAs), retailers may be more inclined to ensure that up-to-date and accurate product information—in terms of imagery, pricing, and product descriptions—is being presented. For manufacturers that participate in Google Manufacturer Center, better product information is pretty much guaranteed due to the tools and analysis that Google provides.
The take-away here is that shoppers can be unpredictable with respect to how and when they conduct a product search. We can provide you with behavioral data and statistics all day long, but to reach the individual shopper, you need to monitor all the channels where your products can be found so that you can meet those personalized needs as they arise. Each individual shopper has unique habits and preferences—where they begin their product search (Google versus Amazon versus retailer), what their criteria are (price versus convenience, for example), and what their timeline and delivery preferences are. Therefore, you need to have accurate, complete, and compelling product information available on every channel to ensure that you can be found and considered, each and every time a shopper searches for your product.
As we embark on 2017, check back with inRiver for more on this topic. We will have additional blogs and webinars to help you create great product stories, raise the visibility of your products and your brand, and stay abreast of your competition and the latest tools and trends. In addition, we will share information about our relationship with Google Manufacturer Center and our connector to that helpful portal.
Watch our webinar 2017 Trends to Expect for Retail eCommerce!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver