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Product Feeds and eCommerce: How the quality of your product data can impact your business

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Product Feeds are now an integral part of any ecommerce channel strategy.

They allow merchants to take their products to a wider audience, but there are subtleties to their creation and delivery that may cause issues for the unwary.

We discuss why Product Feeds matter and what merchants can do to ensure they get the best service from their current feed provider and maximise their conversion rate across their channels.

Product Feeds and eCommerce: How the quality of your product data can impact your business

  1. 1. PRODUCT FEEDS AND ECOMMERCE How the quality of your product data can impact your business © Bright North 2015
  2. 2. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 001 Executive Summary 002 What Are Product Feeds? 003 The Problem With Product Feeds 005 Why Should You Care? 007 5 Things You Can And Should Do 010 Conclusion 016 How We Can Help 018 Clients 020 Get In Touch 021 Contents
  3. 3. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 002 Product Feeds are now an integral part of any ecommerce channel strategy. They allow merchants to take their products to a wider audience, but there are subtleties to their creation and delivery that may cause issues for the unwary. We discuss why Product Feeds matter and what merchants can do to ensure they get the best service from their current feed provider and maximise their conversion rate across their channels. Executive Summary
  4. 4. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 003 What Are Product Feeds?
  5. 5. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 004 Primarily, they’re a technology that allows a merchant to publish their inventory to external sales channels, expanding their reach and enabling increased conversions. Comparison Shopping Engines, Affiliate Networks, channel partners, advertising systems, Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay and many others demand clear, accurate and validated product data. Good feeds are generated from clear, detailed product information on your systems, and are quickly and reliably formatted for each of your output channels. Output channels vary wildly in their requirements for the formatting and validation of your data; Google Merchant Centre, Amazon, eBay and the Affiliate Networks all have differing, separately evolving and complex requirements. Channel Intelligence Marketplaces Publishers CSEs + More... Data Files Clients Data Files Website Scraping APIs Merchant Web Platforms SFTP API
  6. 6. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 005 The Problem With Product Feeds
  7. 7. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 006 At Bright North, we work with feeds from a wide variety of different merchants, multiple feed providers and a large number of formats. It’s become apparent that the lack of consistency in the feeds, combined with high error rates, poor reporting and a lack of transparency across the sector are leading to merchants losing significant revenue. In the case of one of the UK’s largest retail and fashion groups, a lack of transparency from their feed provider resulted in them being unaware that their entire performance marketing feed was offline and full of out-of-stock and out-of-date products, for almost three months. And in the case of one of the UK’s largest supermarkets, we found that up to 5% of the products in their feed were missing images, even though those images were available to consumers browsing the main site. In the case of one of the UK’s largest supermarkets, we found that up to 5% of the products in their feed were missing images.
  8. 8. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 007 Why Should You Care?
  9. 9. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 008 Ultimately, substandard Product Feeds lead to reduced revenue for merchants, affiliate publishers, networks and everyone in between. Consider that the Product Feed is the sole means of providing these channels with the collateral they need to effectively sell a retailer’s product, and that this is core information needed by potential customers to influence buying decisions. A feed that does not accurately describe each product’s attributes, pricing and availability will lead to • customer confusion • loss of brand trust and capital • and a corresponding reduction in sales. In particular, there’s a huge opportunity for increased conversions through performance channels like affiliate marketing; one travel company we spoke to attributes 50% of their entire digital revenue to affiliate marketing alone. Substandard Product Feeds lead to reduced revenue for merchants, affiliate publish- ers, networks and everyone in between.
  10. 10. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 009 Existing research indicates that the provision of high-quality Product Feeds can lead to • double-digit increases in conversion, • a near-doubling in Earnings-per-Click (EPC), and • a 5-10% increase in customer retention. Feeds with missing or incorrect product data result in a poor brand experience, decreased trust and customers buying from competitors instead. In an increasingly competitive environment retailers simply cannot afford to miss out on these conversions through bad product data.
  11. 11. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 010 5 Things You Can And Should Do
  12. 12. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 011 First impressions count; consumer trust is directly linked to their first experience with your brand. Ask your supplier for error reporting to establish where your product data has missing or incomplete information. They should be able to give you the percentage of broken images in your feed, and how many of your products are being rejected by policies at Google Merchant Centre or Amazon for example, as an absolute minimum. There are 5 key factors that can influence how your feeds perform. 1 Accuracy
  13. 13. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 012 Sometimes, retailers struggle to match consistent product details with the amount of info available from manufacturers. A common problem is missing manufacturer product identifiers, which are required fields for many marketplaces including the Google Merchant Centre. Ensure that your feed provider is picking up all the data you need. Missing details could see your feed suspended or even banned from key channels like Google Shopping. 2 Completeness
  14. 14. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 013 Where available, ask your supplier for distribution reports. Understand who’s using your feeds and ensure they have the most recent versions. Alert your top publishers when feeds are updated, particularly in the event of new offers or flash sales. Ensure that your supplier is refreshing your feed in line with the times you update your product catalogue. If your feed is out of date then your customers will land on invalid pages or out-of-stock products, and your conversion rate will suffer. 3 Timeliness
  15. 15. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 014 Product feeds are a simple concept, but their implementation under the hood is complex and relies on many moving parts, from your platform to the channels you’re pushing to. Channels change, without notice, systems go down unexpectedly and product description authors make mistakes. Make sure that your supplier is clearly communicating with you on these issues; if they were unable to pull your feed because something went wrong with your ecommerce platform, they should be the ones telling you, not leaving it until you find out days later as your sales tail off. Great reporting from your supplier will help you to identify products whose descriptions need rewriting, systems that are performing poorly at busy times, imagery that should be replaced and new channels who can help you to increase your sales. Expect the best from your supplier and they should help you to drive more conversions. 4 Transparency
  16. 16. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 015 Make sure that your feed supplier is talking to you. Not just basic reporting but also proactively suggesting ways to improve your feeds, increase your conversions and push your products into new and emerging channels. Amazon, Google and eBay frequently change the regulations and recommendations for the content of feeds into their systems; ensure that your supplier keeps you abreast of these changes and their impact on your business. And the next time you find an interesting channel you’d like to investigate, ask yourself why your supplier hasn’t already suggested it to you. 5 Communication
  17. 17. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 016 Conclusion
  18. 18. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 017 Product feeds are an integral part of any multi-channel strategy. Issues can arise when your feed supplier doesn’t communicate with you, where their technology falls short of the mark, or where they’re not up-to-date with changes across channels that might affect how your products are represented to customers. Ultimately clear communication, reliable, effective technology and a commitment to staying current with this ever-changing industry are the hallmarks of a good feed supplier. Expect the best from your chosen partner and you can benefit from real improvements in your bottom line. Expect the best from your chosen partner and you can benefit from real improvements in your bottom line.
  19. 19. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 018 How We Can Help
  20. 20. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 019 Bright North’s feed technology, Convolo, pulls product catalogue data from any source and serves it to any channel in multiple formats. The system guarantees higher quality data feeds than any competitor meaning a superior customer experience and higher sales conversions. Add to this complete publisher integration, error identification and augmentation, smart widgets for experience personalisation and full dashboard reporting enabling full feed optimisation, and Convolo is the most powerful feed technology on the market. Convolo has been developed using a best-in-class technology stack that enables us to stay current with emerging trends in ecommerce. This ensures that Convolo will always be compatible with your stack and that our solution can be integrated with minimal time and effort, maximizing the time your products are available to your partners. To find out more, get in touch at convolo@brightnorth.co.uk
  21. 21. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 020 Clients
  22. 22. © Bright North 2015 PAGE: 021 Get In Touch PHONE +44(0) 20 3598 2217 EMAIL convolo@brightnorth.co.uk WEBSITE www.brightnorth.co.uk

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