Keys to Success for E-Commerce Leaders

By Jason Purcell — April 07, 2016

We’re off to the races in 2016, and leaders from brands and retailers across all industries are already analyzing what’s working and what isn’t. More importantly, now is the time to identify what needs to be improved for success the rest of the year. One striking statistic that everyone in e-commerce should focus their 2016 efforts around is this: Comscore and UPS state that 73% of consumers reported detailed product information as the single most important factor in the search and selection process when buying online.
 
For consumers, detailed product content emerges at the forefront as a very important factor in the decision to click “buy.” Retailers tell a different story. To investigate this telling statistic further, we explored how brands are preparing to meet the demand for product content. Through conversations with 200 leaders in e-commerce that revealed a major disconnect between how brands sell and consumers buy, we discovered—they aren’t.
 
We’ve studied the gaps, examined what works and what doesn’t for the brands and retailers we work with, and have a couple recommendations for e-commerce leaders.

Get in Sync with Product Content
We are finding more strikingly than ever before that consumers care about product content. They click away from “men’s full zip sweatshirt” and toward “men’s full zip hoodie with kangaroo pocket and ribbed waistband, made from 50% cotton/50% polyester and 7.8-ounce fleece.” Retailers like Kroger, Walmart and Google have been rolling out strategic initiatives to collect more content from brands, demonstrating a marked interest in content, too. Brands, however, care a lot less. Only 43% of brands surveyed believe that consumers buy based on product content, and despite the clear consumer demand, only 41% of brands listed improving their product content management systems as one of their top priorities.

Implementing technology for product content management at the brand level is crucial for getting organizations in sync across the retail supply chain. More than half of brands (57%) with a product content management system in place feel their content is completely accurate, versus 44% without a system. Brands with a PCM system in place are much more aligned with consumer buying trends, with 68% of them believing in the power of great content to drive sales. They are also much better equipped to handle retailer content requests, making them better merchandising partners.
 
According to McKinsey & Company, these are the brands that will “win” at e-commerce: “The best-performing CPG companies are pushing the boundaries of the ‘perfect page’ online by providing rich product information and content that also helps deliver search results that are more favorable to their company.”

Get Ready for New Shopping Channels
Mobile commerce is expected to make up one-third of all U.S. e-commerce transactions by the end of 2015, according to Criteo. Not to mention the consumers who are taking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google’s “Buy Now” button and connected wearables to buy the products they crave. The future is online.
 
Brands recognize this and care about growing sales where consumers shop most. Our market research found that brands are planning to drastically expand their use of digital channels in the next two years:

73 percent of brands plan to sell more SKUs through major online marketplaces

75 percent of brands plan to sell more SKUs on major retail sites

40 percent of brands that don’t currently sell through their own websites, will do so in the next two years
 
While most brands have their heads in the right place, actual readiness is lacking. Only 25% surveyed believe their organizations are ready to adapt to future shopping channels. Similarly, only 29% agreed their organizations know how to capitalize on growing e-commerce and mobile commerce markets.
 
The challenge of new shopping channels is not going away. Consumers exploring their options on mobile, social and beyond will continue to expect the shopping experience to be fully baked and loaded with the detailed product information they’re looking for. Brands and retailers need to view one another as partners and collaborate to optimize product content for new shopping channels. This includes refreshing and customizing content for seasons, holidays and other events that spur consumer shopping sprees.
 
The goal? Create one, streamlined and excellent shopping experience across all devices in 2016.

-Jason Purcell


Jason Purcell is the CEO and Co-Founder of Salsify. Follow him @Salsify. To learn more about Salsify’s market research data, or to download the full results, please visit: http://hubs.ly/H01npg10.

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