From clothes to electronics, we buy everything online. Reports reveal that global eCommerce retail sales will hit $4.9 trillion by 2021 – that’s a 265% growth from 2014.
However, tell me, have you made a purchase if you found the product content less than satisfactory? There’s research that shows that 87% of shoppers rate product content extremely or very important when deciding to buy. Clearly, product content matters!
Of course, the B2B landscape has also woken up to this Digital Commerce reality. An online presence is a necessity today. B2B eCommerce is estimated to top $ 1.3 trillion and account for 13.1% of all B2B sales in the US by 2021. Already, some reports suggest, that 96% of B2B buyers prefer to do online business with manufacturers and distributors
Just like the B2C space, product content plays an equally important role when it comes to B2B sales. After all, products in the B2B space may be more complex and prone to change. Great product content guides a customer and also convinces them to buy. Don’t take my word for it – statistics show that 31% of B2B buyers choose content as the primary reason for typically making a purchase decision on a B2B eCommerce website
Having said that, not all product content is the same. It’s impacted by factors like the evolution of the product, the stage at which the content is produced and consumed, the specific utility it is trying to convey, and even prevailing standards and regulations.
This complexity suggests the need for product content to be in harmony across the entire value chain to help drive the buyer journey forward.
The importance of product content
Here’s a look at why you need to look at your product content closely
1. Your product content operates like your sales force. It has to say the right things and give the right information at the right time.
2. Great product content enhances searchability.
3. Product content helps in building trust – poor product descriptions have only as much impact as those incompetent salespeople you fired yesterday.
4. Product content empowers the customer to make quick purchase decisions by providing the right information at the right time and at the right touchpoint.
You know that you’re not the only company selling those products. You have competition, possibly global competition. Your buyers too are becoming savvy. Research shows that more than half the B2B buyers are now millennials, a generation proficient and comfortable with technology and with high expectations from all their interactions – both online and offline. Are you serving these savvy customers product information that is inconsistent across stages, outdated, insufficient, or irrelevant for the purpose? Is your product content complete, accurate, and scalable? Is it updated in real-time or are you simply batch processing?
The question ask yourself is, is your product content consistent across all the points where it is likely to be consumed? Without that, it’s likely customer will get confused with different product descriptions for the same content.
Product content drives value
Product content has value and hence can drive value. However, this can only be done when product content is in harmony across the value chain. Keeping the complexity of product content in mind, here’s how you can achieve this.
B2B products are complex and the B2B landscape is only getting more competitive each day. To stay ahead of the curve, B2B companies have to focus heavily on innovation. As product catalogs grow, you have to provide a uniform product content experience for all products at all times. That needs a consistent content workflow that can be updated easily to keep up with the pace of innovation.
Supplier management and measurement
Your product content has to be displayed correctly and uniformly for your entire supplier network as well. It must be distributed across your distribution chain. Iy must be easy for this network to accept product information.
For this, it is essential to have a dynamic relationship between these partners and your master product catalog. You should be able to automate the updates in the catalog with ease and publish “usable product content” for your channel partners and marketplaces. Keep in mind that their systems and processes may be vastly different from yours so the product content must be inherently capable of surviving the move across the integration boundary between your organization and your distribution channel.
You should be able to enable reporting and analytics to drive ongoing supplier onboarding progress completeness and effectiveness.
Product information changes as products evolve. The role of product taxonomy cannot be over-emphasized in that light. Timely and accurate availability of product data improves findability. Correct product taxonomy can drive meaningful categorization of your products for your customers to aid search and deliver elevated digital experiences?
There’s also the visual consistency to factor in. Catalog information must align with your style guides to reduce the cognitive load on buyers. Continuous management becomes vital as product evolution accelerates.
Reduce the complexity
Yes, B2B products are complex. But does that mean product information must be too?
This is the age of ‘Don’t Make Me Think’. Even a complex product catalog has to be complemented with a simple search process. Elaborate technical specs, image to live inventory, advanced filter options, consistent product tagging, advanced navigation, etc. all contribute to simplifying the process. And how can you do this? Yes. With product content.
As product content becomes an important driver of sales it has become important to ensure that it doesn’t become the Achilles Heel of the digital experience. Clearly, the scale of the product content challenge is vast but a good place to start addressing it is to ensure that the product content is in harmony across the value chain.