Retail Data Compliance: Why Should Brands Care?

Last time I posted a blog, I spoke about the “lost child” (see here). Today, the “lost child” is still lost in the store. But now we’re going to follow his decision making process on the path to purchase.

Remember how he lost the shopping list, and how he ended up with a handful of goods that he hadn’t planned taking home? Right. He was distracted. He saw different colours and brands. He saw the stacks of tyres, toys and food. He saw the aisle-side advertisements and the pretty pictures on boxes.

I bring this up due to the subject on hand today: how brands and their retailers adhere to their data requirements and specifically, how they collectively represent their brand online. When shopping online, the factors which lead to the “lost child” in a brick-and-mortar store are just as important in the digital realm of e-commerce.

Your average brick-and-mortar hypermarket carries, on average, around 142,000 products. Online retailers like Amazon, eBay and the like manage anywhere from 5-400 million SKUs, to give you an idea of the sheer scale of the project at hand. They don’t have the time to care about your brand’s image or your content. But, of course, that’s your job!

A brand, let’s use US company Axe as an example, has roughly 100 SKUs (5 categories on their site, with 20 SKUs each, give or take). As a result, Axe’s team maintains their brand quite well –— each product page has engaging images, descriptions, product comparisons, customer reviews and some even have links to articles and how-to videos. Check out this product example here. Nearly every product is as detailed and contains insightful content that’s unique to the brand.

Another thing Axe does especially well is providing this same content to their retailers. Look at a product page for the same SKU on another marketplace here. It has a great deal of what was on that very same page on Axe’s product page.

Quickly, just for context, let’s look at another example on the other end of the spectrum. The Grandpa Soap Company is another US company, similar in one aspect to Axe, in that they advertise their product extremely well on their own site. Check out the same experience here, on CVS’s website. Are you compelled to buy that product?

Someone (my sister, a 2015 Ad Age Woman to Watch) once told me that marketing is deciding where you put a product on a shelf while advertising is deciding what goes on the box to get people to buy your product. That same concept applies to e-commerce on a grand scale. You have so much opportunity to control what goes on that digital box on the shelf by supplying your brand’s products with quality content. Invest in content that assures that your retailers are representing your brand with the exact same quality and scale. This is how your brand will advertise your product effectively and efficiently while also constantly working to maintain your retail relationships. It’s on you to make sure they’re constantly optimising on their end, and that they’re finding the right place for your product on the “shelf” — after you’ve decided how to make it stand out.

This isn’t a small project. Once a brand like Axe starts thinking about that scale — and for the sake of the argument let’s say they sell online to 10 retailers — all of a sudden that’s 1000 SKUs worth of data and content to manage and optimise. This takes time and effort, or an investment in someone to do it for you. Think about that in this path to purchase conversation. What are you doing to manage and optimise those products of yours that are scattered across the World Wide Web?

Blog post by Nat Luger, Sales Development Representative – Brands at ChannelAdvisor