In our last post, we looked at a few strategies you could roll out right away to make improvements in your product data management. Timely action is incredibly important in the fast-moving world of e-commerce, but you should also spend some time on long-range planning to improve your overall product data management protocols. If you’re ready to dig into the adjustments that could build your data management from adequate to excellent, keep reading.
1. Take a good look at your process, and be open to improvements.
There are a lot of reasons you manage data the way you do. However, no matter what your process is, there’s a very good chance that evaluating your methodology will reveal a few ways to improve. Considering where your data comes from is a good place to start. Too many retailers are juggling a number of data collection methods, from data feeds and vendor portals to item setup sheets and web searches. Will this improve data quality? Probably not, as it’s more likely that you’ll find contradictions that take time to clear up. What’s more common is that you’ll spend a lot of time and money without improving quality.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re using all of your existing resources to their fullest potential. This is especially true if you’re ready to invest in solutions: why spend money if you’re not getting the most out of your current investments? This is a great time to look at everything your PIM and/or DAM system has to offer. If a portal or other tools aren’t being utilized, look into how these options may simplify your data collection efforts and aid in achieving better data overall. But keep in mind that no matter how good technology may be, it’s not going to solve all of your data challenges.
2. Define and Enforce Quality-Control Protocols
If you take nothing else from this checklist, remember this: nothing compares to human review of your data. There are many automation systems that can save you time and effort, but relying on data feeds or automated quality control won’t yield the level of data integrity that e-commerce demands. Putting your data in the hands of trained professionals ensures more than just accuracy. What you’re really getting is the benefit of experience and a discerning eye that understands your data requirements, governance rules and content strategy and how to evaluate whether product data meets them or not.
You’re probably well aware that inaccurate data costs sales, because with so many online retail options, customers don’t have to settle for questionable information. But the problems of incorrect product content can have far more serious consequences. For one, mistakes can cause significant damage to your reputation, which will hurt today and in the long term. With the prevalence of online reviews, blogging and social media, it’s far too easy for negative word of mouth to tank your brand. Even worse, bad data can lead to legal risk and costly lawsuits. Imagine presenting a toxic substance as safe for children, or publishing inaccurate weight limits that result in serious injury. The consequences for such mistakes are severe, which means you must take every precaution to ensure quality data.
3. Establish strict normalization standards.
Managing your data isn't just about how you collect it – you also need to know how it will be processed. In terms of product data management, consistency is key. That's because unless you offer consistently formatted data, shoppers can't make use of it. Defining data normalization standards ensures that your customers can use product attributes to compare items and understand what they’re really buying, which is especially important for online retailers who don’t provide a brick-and-mortar alternative. Not only will this lower returns, but it also helps build trust for your brand.
Plus, this is a great opportunity to save time getting SKUs online. Whether you use an in-house writing team or work with an external content creator, you’ll ease their work by providing fully normalized, high-quality data. That’s good for your business on a few fronts, because it cuts down on back and forth between teams and helps prevent inaccuracies.
Better Practices, Better Data
In closing, remember: creating the value-rich product description pages that drive conversions requires product data management strategies that deliver clean, accurate and fully normalized data. There’s no doubt that reviewing your processes and implementing new ones will require serious evaluations of your current strategies and significant time spent devising best practices. That said, the time – and money – you’ll save by implementing better standards and more stringent review protocols are likely to be well worth your initial investment in both time and resources.
You may also find that a managed service provides the solution that’s right for you and your suppliers. If so, Virtucom Group can help streamline product information, including data procurement, normalization and even product content creation. To learn more, contact us today.
Data integrity, time to market and increased conversions are vital to all e-commerce retailers. Our product data management and unique content creation program ensures consistent product names, robust product descriptions, complete and accurate product attributes and an array of digital assets are at your disposal, providing time to market and quality improvements that will outpace your fiercest competition. Contact our team and get started with Virtucom Group today.