We have mentioned several times in these pages that more than three-quarters of shoppers conduct online research before making a big purchase and one-third search on common search engines to start product searches. In the B2B space, 71% of B2B buyers start their research with a generic search.
Why are these statistics so important?
Today, we are emphasizing these data because if your product has not yet been launched, it certainly cannot yet be found!
Bringing products to market rapidly is a Competitive Advantage.
If your products are on store shelves or in online webshops ahead of your competitors, you have a leg up on the competition. And deploying the right Product Information Management (PIM) tool can increase your speed to market—from weeks or months to just a few hours or days. Your products can be found and purchased faster with PIM.
Let me explain.
inRiver Provides a Central Source of Product Information
When you are juggling large product assortments and multiple channels across disparate geographies, you may be gleaning information from a plethora of sources—supplier portals, ERP systems, documents, spreadsheets, and image files that are spread across disparate teams. This means it can often take hours, days, or even weeks to compile all the product information you will need for a launch. Even then, you may still end up with product information that is inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent.
With inRiver, you instead will have a central repository of product information, one that pulls data from your backend systems and your suppliers, one that enables a transparent, orderly enrichment process, and one that is a single source of truth. With inRiver, you have a solution that saves a lot of time, so that you can focus on marketing activities, promotional campaigns, and delivering a better customer experience.
For nearly 100 years, New England residents have relied upon Jordan’s Furniture for the largest selection of brand-name furniture and mattresses. Although Jordan’s Furniture had a user-friendly website, they were trying to utilize their existing eCommerce and CMS platforms to store product information.
“We were searching for a product information management (PIM) solution that would integrate with our current web solution. We needed a flexible solution that could become the focal point for all product information.”
inRiver PIM allows the Jordan’s team to manage products better and faster. They can now pull the basic product information from the host ERP system, enrich it, and prepare it to be channel-ready. “When we compare the way we made changes in the past to how we do it today, we are more than 30% faster. An unexpected benefit has been providing our customers with really great information, telling them everything we know about our products. To this day, inRiver PIM provides great value and ROI.”
inRiver Enables more efficient Marketing Processes
When you deploy inRiver, you are also deploying a powerful workflow automation tool to help you manage your product launches. This tool ensures that product information is updated, complete, and approved. Alerts and dashboards tell you when imagery or descriptions are missing and what product information needs attention.
When you empower teams to work in parallel, people don’t have to wait for colleagues to do their part before taking action. The result? Greater speed to market for products, more effective marketing, and ultimately more sales for less effort.
At Sacha, all teams can manage and enrich product information in one place, which means launch processes now take place simultaneously. Teams can also automatically export and enrich information in the correct format for each channel, and everyone has complete confidence in its accuracy.
inRiver Enhances Your Product Storytelling Ability
With inRiver you remove the time-sucks that include searching for product data and seeking ongoing approvals for content. Now your team can focus on telling the right story for each product—for each market or channel and for each customer touchpoint. Not only will you get your product to market faster, but also your product messaging will be more compelling and your product information will be more complete. In fact, nearly 60% of shoppers indicated that having comprehensive product information is very important when shopping. An equal number are looking for product details that provide a “rich sense of the product.”
Why not have inRiver help you give them that?
Lindex, one of Europe’s leading affordable fashion chains, has created a competitive advantage through its management of product information, an advantage which has helped the company to enter new markets.
inRiver PIM has provided Lindex with a collaborative way to plan and handle content, campaigns, channels, and marketing activities, while providing a full overview of the work to be done. Staff know that products are always updated with the latest information, which activities are planned, when they are ready for release, and if the content has been translated or not—unifying product information for all channels.
As a result, Lindex marketers can spend more time on creating compelling stories and ensuring customers get the product experience they expect and the product information they need.
When you have the right system support in place, your marketing resources can do more in less time. They can focus on being more strategic and creative rather than taking care of low-end administrative tasks. Deploying a PIM system like inRiver means that you can get your products on shelves and out to the market sooner. You can sell sooner and longer, and generate more sales and profits.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Marketing Manager, inRiver
It is not surprising that an increasing number of customers—nearly 80%, according to a recent study by Pew Research—begin their product search and selection online. More than half of those surveyed have purchased something using their mobile phones. The main reasons for this surge are convenience and the ability to easily compare product features and cost. However, without these benefits, nearly two-thirds of respondents would prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store.
So, how can you give your customers the best of both worlds? Here at inRiver, we have a few ideas.
Create Endless Aisles
To allow brick-and-mortar shoppers some of the benefits of online shopping, take a page from the digital playbook. Some successful retailers are using information from online channels in their offline marketing and in-store displays, such as presenting Amazon reviews or product ratings on the shelf under the product. Other stores are providing tablets and laptops to allow customers to compare products, view online-only product selections, and check prices.
If a product is out of stock in the store, “endless aisle” technology enables customers to complete an online order quickly while standing next to the shelf. Integrated IT systems mean that customers can return online orders in-store instead of having to mail them back and wait for a replacement or refund.
However, the key to ensuring consistency across these channels in uniformity, accuracy, and completeness in your product information.
Enrich the In-store Experience
There are various ways to use online interactions across the customer journey to drive foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. Store locators, product reservation tools, and click-and-collect options all boost revenue because they help online customers leverage the benefits of the in-store experience.
For a customer who wants to try on a pair of shoes or test an electronic device before purchasing, it is likely that they will visit a local store. And if the product information that they reviewed online becomes a reality in the in-person interaction, you may have won a new customer!
Recognize Your Customers
Many merchants have the goal of not only recognizing customers throughout the buyer journey, but also personalizing, and thereby enhancing, the customer experience. However, it is necessary to first recognize buyers as they visit your store or site.
There are a number of traditional and “low-tech” methods of identifying customers, as well as many innovative and automated methods. For example, cookies embedded in the browser of website visitors “remember” selections made by the user and can attribute these movements back to returning visitors and to specific devices being used to surf the site.
Requesting that buyers opt-in to receive emails is a simple way of identifying existing customers and building a list of shoppers and customers. Recommending products based on previous purchases shows customers that you are paying attention to their preferences. In addition, developing a mobile app or online survey can provide a great deal of data about customers.
Providing in-store WiFi and requiring shoppers to sign in with identifying information is one way to collect information for identifying in-store customers and prospects. With the increasing use of social media and digital payment methods, more data can continue to be collected—adding context and enrichment to both personas and to individual customer profiles.
Once you are able to recognize your customers, you can offer more relevant and contextual content that suits their needs. And if your product information is enriched and accurate, you can upsell and cross-sell more effectively, enhancing each individual’s customized experience.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver
It is widely known and understood that prospects and customers begin their online product search on a search engine or on Amazon. In fact, according to a survey by PowerReviews 35% of customers begin their search on Google and 38% on Amazon.
Customers are looking for convenience when considering a purchase. Most prefer to search online rather than talking to one of your sales reps or walking into a store. Depending on the industry, as many as 80% of customers have researched their product purchase online before they even talk to you.
To take advantage of these growing customer habits, you must ensure that your products are findable through online search engines. Here are three tips to help make that happen.
When a prospect enters key words into the search field in Google or Amazon or another vendor site, how will they know that the best results will be presented? What can be very frustrating for the prospect, and a lost customer for you, is when no suitable results are presented. What the user will see will be the results crafted by the best search engine optimizers, pay-per-click managers, and feature advertisers. What the user is not necessarily seeing are the results that meet their needs.
We understand that search engine ranking is important, but consider this: What it you reallocated some of the resources spent on SEO or PPC advertising and used it for producing and displaying great content? What if you really let your products tell their stories? Not only would you be rewarded by Google’s website crawlers organically for having great content, but also your potential customers would find your products more easily and buy from you. In addition, as you review key word usage on your site, you will be able to more appropriately refine your key word selection through a feedback loop to reflect the words that your customers use to find products on your site. Read more on this topic.
Once a potential customer has found your site, you want them to be able to find suitable products within your assortment quickly and easily. By setting up a great taxonomy within inRiver, your products and associated attributes will be organized and properly classified, assisting users in being able to efficiently search and filter for the SKU that best meets their needs.
Read more on taxonomy and how it benefits your downstream channels in this blog by our partner, Earley Information Science.
Product Up-sell and Cross-sell
One way your business adds value is by helping customers make informed purchasing decisions. This does not just apply to the way you promote single products ― it also applies to the way you cross-sell and up-sell.
When you have high-quality information—categorized and tagged appropriately—it is easy to show customers how to combine complementary products. You gain a competitive advantage and increase revenue because you give your customers an in-depth understanding of the product and guide them toward the ideal solution for their needs.
When you deploy inRiver Product Marketing Cloud, you are able to quickly and easily create product assortments and relationships—in the manner of a “look book” for retailers or “additional parts and services” for B2B vendors. Contact us for a demo!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver