E-Commerce [Part 5 of 5]: Where to Begin with Ecommerce in Product Content Ecosystem | Top Tips

E-Commerce [Part 5 of 5]: Where to Begin with Ecommerce in Product Content Ecosystem | Top Tips

By Jing Wang

We get asked a lot by clients “where to begin with this Ecommerce content ecosystem journey?” Far too often we come across clients say “hey look, we know this new platform, let’s go with it first then we will figure things out later on”, “We have bought this platform a while back ago but never really used it, shall we look into it first?”.

Well, the answer is, if you have nothing in place, starts with people (then work on to process and technology). Otherwise, start with the things you have already known (be it people, process and technology) and map out a stair-step of how these things should come together. Wherever you start with, be assured you don’t have to build everything all at once.

 

People:

The aim has always been, and continue to be, keeping people (i.e. your customers, system users, your internal teams) at the centre – this is the foundation for a successful content ecosystem (and in fact, for any successful technology selection). We’ve seen successful brands win by right-sizing the effort initially, and it’s the people that CPG brands should take to heart.

  • Having an executive-level business champion to sponsor the initiative going forward.
  • Involve key business stakeholders earlier rather than later, with multiple and critical functions actively involved (e.g. packaging, creation, marketing, media, supply chain, analytics, legal, customer relation, techs, agency partners, etc.) – they are the “super stars” and “allies” within your organisation to be part of your digital transformation journey and contribute to the success.
  • Establish accountability from top to bottom.
  • Integrating & empowering teams.
  • Always keep end users in mind. Have genuine user empathy in terms of what process really works for them (i.e. your internal teams and external partners) and what content they (i.e. customers) really want to see.
  • Target digital shelf innovation to millennial’s – they are leading the digital commerce shift in CPG companies.

 

Process:

Once you have the interests of your customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders adequately represented, couple of “user-centric” points when it comes to mapping out the process:

  • Start with developing user stories and business scenarios (rather than checklist requirements).
  • Bear in mind that you should consider user stories as “variants” to address diverse processes, don’t do this just to justify edge cases.
  • When gathering business requirements, focus inquiry into your stakeholders’ most burning problems or intense needs.

Having the process consistency and quality all the way across so that your brand has unified message through your digital ecosystem and customer shopping journey. Two key points we’d like to highlight here:

  • Use common language (technical & business terminology) & measurement (across systems and processes).
  • Enable global to local executional excellence (consistency & quality). Check out Digital Asset Standard Guideline we touch-based on in #3 blog here.

 

Technology:

We’ve talked about technology a lot in the previous blog (link here). Some thoughts summarised:

  • Do your research on who is winning (there is knowledge available, so you can accelerate quickly).
  • Identify, focus and prioritise on quick win(s).
  • Keep a close eye on the market trends which has been going from integrated solutions towards the “content hub” and “all encompassing” solutions.
  • Even if you’ve come to the late party, you have the benefits of looking at how the marketing technology for digital shelf evolves and you may end up being a game changer as you leap-frog the early movers.

 

Try to avoid:

  • Technology checklist fetish (i.e. picking a technology because it passed your exhaustive checklist filters but have little bearing on whether it is really going to work for you).
  • Inadequate testing and adaptation.
  • Over-analysis and under-experimentation.
  • Emphasis on “big-bang” decision making.

One final thought on technology (I have the burning desire to call this out!) is: far too often I read in the press or hear people say “technology is transforming CPG and retailer as it is changing the world and even changing the way we think. This is simply not true. We (people) are changing everything, and technology is merely enabling us to do so. It is simply a tool. Just like the tools our ancestors used to start fires or chop wood had enabled them to transform the environment we live in today. Modern technology will help us shape the environment, the retailer and Marketing Technology landscape, of tomorrow, but it is certainly not the reason for the change – it’s the desire from people to improve the process and make it better.

 

Closing Note:

Ecommerce is, just as important if not more important than all other traditional channels that brands have today. Where the consumer journey starts and ends is becoming more fluid. Great examples in those well-established Ecommerce markets, like USA and China, are leading through innovation by leveraging technologies to blend online and offline shopping experience to meet consumer demands (check video links here: Amazon Go Store, Alibaba Hema Supermarket). Brands really need to understand that digital shelves are the future of shopping and Ecommerce is not just a sales channel, but a marketing and advertising opportunities in its own right – take advantage of that and create a whole brand-new shopping experience for your consumers to really surprise and “Wow” them!

 

 

About the author:

Jing Wang, has 5-year background in DAM business operations, change management & E2E support design.

 Her current role is project consultant leading business engagement and consulting for DAM integration programmes, Ecommerce product content & digital shelf ecosystem for FMCG & CPG clients.

 Outside of work, Jing can be found in Zumba dance studio and badminton court. She also enjoys spending most of her weekend mornings on Yoga mat.

E-Commerce [Part 4 of 5]: Building a Product Content Ecosystem for Your Digital Shelf

E-Commerce [Part 4 of 5]: Building a Product Content Ecosystem for Your Digital Shelf

By Jing Wang

Every single marketing technology ecosystem for every organisation is different.

Trying to distil the content in terms of what the product content ecosystem should look like is a tricky task. But there are some great examples that we have seen and we can try to abstract this to bring the best practice of how people, process and technology should come together.

We have illustrated a high-level landscape of Product Content Ecosystem in the diagram below. Before diving in, there are some thoughts we’d like to put forward first:

  • Building the product content ecosystem all at once is a nearly impossible task. Start with key components, and, as long as you have a clear strategy and a roadmap of how all of the components will eventually come together, you can, and really should, build the ecosystem piece by piece.
  • Before starting with the technology, you need to look at the context of your organisation, your existing technical capabilities, and map out the people journey and data process to come up with a holistic ecosystem that you can develop.

 

Now let’s walk through each stage throughout the end-to-end process and content ecosystem:

 

Content Trigger:

The trigger to create new content could be a new product to be launched, or an existing product to be refreshed, or there’s a gap of your product content presence online. Typically, the initial requirement is raised by your brand team, Ecommerce team, customer insight teams, account manager on retailer sites, etc.

 

Content Creation:

Once the content requirement is triggered, there needs to be a clear brief and instruction on what content is to be created. You are working with your internal design team or external agencies for creative briefing. Typically, this is managed in a Project Management System where you can track your campaigns and delivery schedules to make sure the brief is accurately executed and ready for final approval.

 

Product Data Management:

Going on to the next stage is Product Information Management (PIM) system. PIM is usually integrated with upstream ERP platforms (e.g. SAP) to store and manage your core product information (e.g. GTIN, EAN/barcode, which country the product is created for, etc.). It also receives product technical information (e.g. product weight, size, legal and nutrition information, etc.) from a variety of sources within your organisation. This particular area is the one that you shouldn’t speed through as you need to ensure the source of truth is properly orchestrated and governed to identify unique products accurately and consistently in downstream processes and systems.

 

Product Asset Management:

This is the stage where you have the digital assets that have been briefed, approved and these fly straight from the Project Management System into Digital Asset Management (DAM) or manually uploaded into DAM directly. At some point, you need to link the asset to product data record that comes from PIM. It is crucial and important to make sure the person/team who is linking the asset and product data record knows the information. For example, if your brand team or agency is responsible for asset creation and is asked to upload assets into DAM and link the asset to product data record, make sure they are briefed on what product record to link to. We’ve seen in many cases that marketing and agency teams simply don’t know what product record should be linked to the asset (as they just don’t have the information available from the briefing, so it’s very difficult for them to create that connection). Essentially, it’s not about how to use the tools, but about orchestrating your data across systems and connecting the dots throughout business processes.

PIM and DAM are the two crucial components across the digital ecosystem and different life-cycles you need to manage. PIM manages the lifecycle of your product, whilst DAM is a single point of truth of managing the life-cycle of your digital assets. And those are two different things. Your product might no longer be on shelf, but the digital assets may still be re-usable in different channels (e.g. print, OOH). And the other way around. You have a digital asset with expired usage rights, but the product is still valid and needs to be sold. Building PIM and DAM in parallel is an ideal approach, but if you already have one in place, make sure you adopt the same data orchestration when building the other.

 

Product Content Distribution:

Come on to the content distribution stage where you send all the combined product content (including marketing copy, product data, digital assets) to online stores or retailer sites. Typically, there are three different “flavours” of content distribution: (1) interim solution via syndicators and aggregators (e.g. BrandBank in UK, Equadis in France, Salsify in US) which effectively means building a global API between your internal ecosystem and third-party platform (the latter directly integrates with local retailers); or establishing a product content portal via (2) “Push” or (3) “Pull” mechanism to distribute content to retailers.

 

Content Auditing & Reporting:

Finally, going to the content auditing and reporting stage. There are lots of data analytics solutions out there to help you evaluate how complete your digital shelf looks and how your brands are doing compared with  your competitors, without going through a manual audit process. Whichever platform you choose, the key point is, that, to make these auditing solutions truly effective, they need to have a single source of truth (i.e. your PIM and DAM) to cross-reference and compare against, then indicate how accurate and compliant your product content is. This then brings the whole process right back to the original stage to act as the “content trigger” to close the content gap.

 

Closing note:

To reiterate what we said at the beginning, you don’t have to build all the solutions all at once. We have clients who have started the ecosystem journey with just DAM, then integrated with PIM, then added analytics solution afterwards. We also work with clients who implemented PIM and DAM solutions together at the same time.

The key point is, what you have built (or are building, or going to build in the future), adds a really essential piece to your wider marketing technology ecosystem – your websites, social media platforms, campaign management tools, mobile apps, etc. Your product data and digital assets are re-usable not just by taking content from other channels for Ecommerce, but the other way around as well (as we illustrate in the diagram below).

In the next blog (which is the last one of this series), we will give away key watch-outs and top-tips on where to begin with the digital shelf journey for your brand(s).

Click here for part 5.

About the author:

Jing Wang, has 5-year background in DAM business operations, change management & E2E support design.

Her current role is project consultant leading business engagement and consulting for DAM integration programmes, Ecommerce product content & digital shelf ecosystem for FMCG & CPG clients.

Outside of work, Jing can be found in Zumba dance studio and badminton court. She also enjoys spending most of her weekend mornings on Yoga mat.

E-Commerce [Part 3 of 5]: Designing Product Visual Content & Digital Asset Standard Guideline by Leveraging DAM

E-Commerce [Part 3 of 5]: Designing Product Visual Content & Digital Asset Standard Guideline by Leveraging DAM

By Jing Wang

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to browsing products online. When shoppers can’t pick up the product and read the details as they do in a physical store, what content can quickly draw their attention to make a purchase?

In this blog, we will talk about types of product images and enhanced content created to visually convey the product available for purchase, as well as how to leverage DAM solution to optimise content re-usability across channels.

 

Product Lead Image(s):

The first impression is always paramount. Product lead image (also known as primary image) is one of the first things the shopper sees (along with product title, check out our previous blog here). It is essentially the product lead image that displays in the search results and should invite the shopper browsing through to make the next click.

Typically, lead images contain a simple front pack shot of the product and a mobile ready image (also called Hero Image) which the shopper will view (via different touch points, e.g. PC vs. mobile) to confirm that the product is what they are looking for.

Front pack shot. Right: mobile ready image. Source: Amazon (UK)

 

All online retailers require standard conventional front of pack shot for the product. It helps shoppers see that it is not a counterfeit product. Here are some examples of the standard front of pack shot and mobile ready image across product categories:

Source: Amazon (UK)

 

Tips: don’t be too creative with front pack shot image as the goal is to offer shoppers a clean, consistent online experience when locating your product. Make sure you familiarise yourself with retailer’s lead image guideline. Most of retailers require the front pack shot created on a plain white background and only be the product that is being offered with no additional props.

Source: Amazon (UK)

 

Mobile ready image is not a physical product shot, it is a digital representation of a product illustrates the key elements (brand, format, variant, size) of the product and make it easily recognisable on smaller screen like mobile. GS1 has recently published mobile ready image guideline, working in conjunction with some of the biggest FMCG and CPG companies who are leading this trend. We recommend you refer to it for more details.

 

Product Enhanced Content:

Before explaining what it is, let’s talk about why you should invest in product enhanced content. Think about the numerous different motivations your shoppers may have when visiting a product page, can you help everyone find the information they’re looking for, without having to leave the website?

For example, the reverse ROPO shopper (read our 1st blog to learn more) who have just went to your local store, has gone online and add a product to their shopping cart. At this point, how can you maximise this opportunity of encouraging more purchases? Perhaps you can recommend a good wine to go with that steak they are about to buy, or suggest a few recipes and do a bit of cross-selling? Or even better, a branded video to drive your conversion rate.

So what enhanced content could encourage the purchase and more purchases? To help shoppers understand your brands quickly and more efficiently, you could invest in a selection of product enhanced content related to how to use, packaging from different angles, what’s inside, UGC (User Generated Content such as benefits, testimonials, awards) or product videos, etc. Here are some visual examples for your inspiration (time to get creative!):

Source: Amazon (UK)

 

Source: Amazon (UK), YouTube

 

To have all these great content on your digital shelf, doesn’t mean you need to create everything from scratch, for every product, and every time. What you need is to establish a digital asset specifications standard to optimise content re-usability, by leveraging DAM solution.

Long story short, we have illustrated the concept via the infographic below:

  • Talk to the teams who are doing image creative design to get a cross-sample of creative recommendation.
  • Consult with internal and external experts to collate best practice of technical specifications for creating the master image. Document in a standard guideline.
  • Make sure the master image is created by complying the standard guideline.
  • Upload the master image into DAM system. By this point, you have a very high-res image ready for downstream use.
  • Lower res image for multiple uses – Print/Point of Sale, multimedia, Ecommerce, social media and web – can all be created in specific specs by leveraging DAM’s ability to convert assets on demand. Technically, you could build channel-specific conversion feature inside of the DAM, or via API to make it more customised to downstream requirements.

The benefits you would get, is not just costing-saving, fast and simplified delivery, but all the outputs are available at the same level of quality. Cheaper, quicker and better, who said you can’t have it all?

Now you have produced great content in a cost-effective way, what’s next is to have a robust supply chain and technical solution to manage the end-to-end process. Stay tuned for our next blog in which we will do some tech talks over the tools that enable efficient management of your digital shelf.

Click here for part 4.

About the author:

Jing Wang, has 5-year background in DAM business operations, change management & E2E support design.

 Her current role is project consultant leading business engagement and consulting for DAM integration programmes, Ecommerce product content & digital shelf ecosystem for FMCG & CPG clients.

 Outside of work, Jing can be found in Zumba dance studio and badminton court. She also enjoys spending most of her weekend mornings on Yoga mat.