The role of data integrity in building a unified commerce customer experience
Photo by iStock.com
By Abnesh Raina, PlumSlice Labs founder and CEO
When consumers shop they expect a seamless experience that is able to flow between the digital and physical, and one that always ends up with the product of their choice in their hands. As such, incorrect or missing product information across platforms can hinder the shopping experience in many ways, and ultimately cause a consumer to lose interest and move on to another retailer. In order to meet consumer expectations, retailers must adopt the best practices of unified commerce, and to do so, they need to begin with a key foundational element; the product.
To create an exceptional customer experience in a unified commerce world, retailers need to ensure each and every one of their products maintains complete data integrity throughout the unified commerce cycle; here are the top factors to consider when creating a customer experience tailored for unified commerce.
Increasing consumer expectations
As technology continues to evolve, consumer expectation grows with it. And shoppers expect a continuous, uniform shopping experience when switching between mobile, tablet, web, or in-store. For example, a shopper might view a product on their mobile device, then switch to the e-commerce site on their computer, but eventually will decide to go to the store to try out the product. Shoppers with similar buying patterns expect that all product information, including images, sizing, or any additional details to help inform the shopper and make the sale, will remain consistent across all platforms.
Additionally, on top of product information being consistent, unified commerce enables a shopper to access a single cart for shopping on a mobile device, computer or in-store, which updates in real time. When shopping online or through a mobile device, consumers often come face-to-face with personalized recommendations or offers. Now, they have come to expect this same level of personalization when shopping in a physical store. In order to make a sale or ensure a return customer, consistent information needs to be wherever the consumer is.
Creating a unified commerce experience
Before unified commerce can face the consumer, a retailer must ensure that their product workflows are, in fact, unified. In the early days of supply chain, only a few people were responsible for product content. Now there is an absence of organizational ownership as product information passes through a number of different teams. For example, when product data comes from a manufacturer and goes through several outlets in the workflow, including suppliers and third party sellers, manual processes can lead to costly mistakes.
Creating a proper product workflow or implementing a Product Information Management solution can help retailers resolve organizational or assortment complexity, including managing large numbers of brands, assortment sizes, suppliers or geographic areas. This keeps product data and information accurate, which in turn is reflected in consumer-facing content.
Additionally, as retailers look to help their consumers move seamlessly from one channel to the next, they need to ensure that any new products maintain the same level of data accuracy as existing ones. To achieve this, retailers should look to create an automated process for product syndication. For example, syndication allows retailers to try out new marketplaces with increased flexibility and ensures the details provided will be the same at every stage, from search to shipping. With proper syndication, retailers can easily publish content about their products across not only their own e-commerce sites, but other sales channels such as micro sites, third party sites, or even Google.
Products with inaccurate information, or information that is missing from even one channel, results in a retailer not reaching their full potential. In order to ensure sales, profitability and an optimal customer experience, information must consistently and accurately be presented in front of shoppers, wherever they may be. Retail has quickly evolved from multi-channel to cross-channel, and is now experiencing channel convergence or unification. Unified commerce allows for the blurring between the physical and digital consumer experience, and for integrated organizations to share business rules and data. If a retailer’s internal system does not support unified commerce, they cannot manage or sell products effectively.
Therefore, accurate product data management is essential for retailers looking to stay ahead of the ever-growing consumer demand and truly deliver a unified commerce customer experience.