#1: Retailers Make All The Rules
One size fits all on the digital shelf. How do you remain compliant and still stand out?
The retail world is decidedly digital and our clients have shared what a challenge it is to manage product data content at e-commerce retailers to ensure that it is compliant, effective, and helps to drive sales. We hear you! And we have chronicled your challenges in our e-book that addresses Ten Pain Points in E-commerce to Overcome.
The first challenge we look at is that the Retailers make all the rules! One only needs to look at the millions of SKUs each manufacturer has to manage on sites such as Walmart, Amazon, or Tesco to realize that rules are needed. From the retailers’ points of view, there need to be rules for everything from product safety (to ensure that consumers’ health and safety is protected), to out-of-stock and other inventory issues, to the number of times and that the text matches the actual product being sold. They need to ensure that their sites and especially the images representing the products sold there perform optimally on the shopper’s platform of choice: desktop, tablet or mobile. Digital retailers need to have concrete and automatic systems for flagging and potentially even de-listing products and manufacturers who violate rules. But from the manufacturers’ points of view, the rules extend beyond things like safety compliance to the word count and text that can be used in various places and all other elements that make up what is called the PDP (Product Detail Page).
Clarity is a key component of Retailer Rules. This also stands to reason; a consumer’s satisfaction with a retailer can potentially be negatively affected if a shopper makes an undesirable choice based on vague or misleading content from the manufacturers at the product page. So, size of product units, quantity of units for a particular price point, ingredients that might have a deleterious impact on a consumer group (gluten as an example), or any other criteria that COULD cause a shopper to make an inadvertent unintended choice are prioritized in the retailer’s rule books.
To be fair, most retailers are following guidelines for use of text and images in the PDP that are informed by academic UX experts like the University of Cambridge in the UK, so they are not arbitrary or punitive in the rules they set. However, all these rules are established for the sake of uniformity to advantage the retailer, not to afford the brand or their products the ability to stand out. For the manufacturers, it would be one thing if there was ONE set of rules, but every e-commerce retailer has their own with a slightly different set of criteria.
As with any new retail channel, it takes time and patience for the e-commerce marketers to understand the rules and to establish processes including the adoption of new software tools that facilitate the posting of product content at the SKU level that adhere to retailers’ guidelines. An entire cottage industry has sprung up publishing tips, training, and even hands-on consultancy in the arcane arts of just Amazon or Walmart product content management, not to mention all the other regional and category specific retailers with their own sets of rules. Some are more formulaic, with stringent rules for how product variables are described, as an example, “lemon flavored” to describe a line extension of tea. Some provide more latitude to incorporate terms that address lifestyles, aspirations and benefits that are more claims oriented.
All this adds up to a devilishly difficult task for the e-commerce marketers at brands to keep straight, because non-compliant content could result in delisting of the product (or the manufacturer) and suboptimal product data will not convert to sales. Anecdotally we know that the average e-commerce team has to address and fix more than 636 unique non-compliant pieces of product content PER DAY! So, this is a time-consuming, never-ending challenge.
(And spoiler alert: the tools that manufacturers use to manage product content on the PDP are almost exclusively focused on text … not imagery. To be covered in a later post, but yes, a challenge indeed.)
The Solution? Flash.PDP™!
Behaviorally is the leading digital partner to help brands drive shopper growth. Knowing these challenges exist for our clients on e-commerce teams who want to win in digital retail, we developed a solution that leverages visual recognition AI, our extensive database of shopper marketing content, our unique behavioral framework, and decades of category expertise. Introducing Flash.PDP – an always-on alert system to identify and optimize product images on the PDP that will convert to sales and drive shopper growth.
To learn more, contact a Behaviorally digital retail expert today at firstname.lastname@example.org.