Amazon announced it will hold the “nation’s largest job fair” next week to support its seasonal staffing needs for the upcoming holiday season. It’s clear that Amazon is expecting another record year – 2016 was declared its best holiday season ever, eclipsing sales of prior years. Brands can expect to cash in on the Amazon wave – if they have the product data and engaging content, like images and descriptions, to support their products.
The Power of the Generation Z Shopper
Adding more fuel to this fire is the recent study that found over 50% of Gen Z shoppers (roughly 21 years and younger) are more interested in doing their holiday shopping via mobile sites than other times of the year. Gen Z shoppers are a powerful bunch that has their own money to spend and greatly influences household spending overall! Most research groups predict this young group will become the most financially powerful generation of all, but many manufacturers don’t really understand their full purchasing power yet. Fact, they are currently spending $44B a year and make up 40% of U.S. consumers, and that overall household influence they wield, it’s to the tune of over 93% of their families purchasing decisions.
Youth Looking for Tangible Experiences
The interesting twist to this holiday study is that 45% of those same Gen Z shoppers like to shop at brick & mortar stores throughout the year, and especially during the holidays as well. What does this seeming contradiction mean?
Gen Z appears to like to do research and shopping in a digital medium, but they also like to see physical products. This younger audience is looking for authentic, hands-on experiences that they can trust. Less loyal than their Millennial counterparts, Gen-Zers are looking for true experiences that use personalization, offer value, and keep them coming back for more. They are fully embracing the notion of a seamless shopper that moves effortlessly between traditional store environments, online websites, and e-commerce platforms.
It’s All About the Data
Knowing this, brands must rely on their ability to loop data into the retail experience – this is where visual search, voice search, social engagement, Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) might come into play, to instantly surface reviews, ratings, tutorials or in depth data on a product that is physically seen in a store, instantly creating a seamless digital and physical experience. The kind of shopping trip that Gen-Zers shoppers expect.
The Magic, or the Grim Reality, of Your Product Pages
The key for brands right now is to take a long, hard look into the quality of product data and assets as they appear in the “wild” to the consumer. And truthfully, this is no longer just about those youngsters.
What do your Amazon product pages look like? If a customer scans your product in a retail store, what will they find online? Are the records complete, with multiple images and accurate product characteristics? The best product data is complete and consistent. If your product has five flavors, all five item records should have the same basic data. Having consistent, high-quality data will pull in shoppers and foster buying confidence. While we are learning that this young generation requires authenticity, clear messages, and value–is it really so much to expect that all our consumers demand the same?
The Holiday Rush to E-Commerce
Experts are predicting another 16% increase in e-commerce spending this holiday season, which calls for big gains for the companies who are prepared to engage visitors and convert shoppers. Analyst Relations firm, Gartner, has been saying, for years, that the next competitive frontier is customer experience. When it comes to your product pages, are you even in the arena?
What is E-Commerce Readiness Anyway?
E-Commerce Readiness is the ability to organize your product pages, using best practice methods, not only for customer experience, engagement, and conversion in the digital world, but also for SEO tools like Google, Bing, and other search engines. Even Google has separate algorithms for mobile and desktop applications.
Product Data must be structured in a way that all these entities can index, search, sort, filter, and ultimately consume the data, not just the shopper. Search engines, e-commerce sites, and shoppers alike are all looking for the following criteria to truly engage with your product pages:
- Consistent Brand Control
Once you’ve ensured your product records are complete, you need to make sure they are verified and accurate, consistently represented across all of your offerings, wherever and whenever it is sold. Today’s consumer is seamlessly interacting with your products on multiple channels, often simultaneously. Imagine the confusion if a shopper is reading one product description on a mobile device while staring at another when price comparing a product in the store.
- Optimized Product Descriptions
Optimizing your descriptions for a digital experience means content is for the consumer, not just structured as data attributes. Keep descriptions short, for scannable and easy consumption.
- Scale Images
A scale image is a picture that showcases how big a product is, next to a human form. They help online shoppers quickly identify the item size, allowing them to be confident that they are purchasing what they intended.
- Display Images that Sell
Creating better content means deleting assets. Tops and bottoms of products, that contain no useful information, should be eliminated from the image carousel in favor of assets that truly help to identify size and variety.
Shopping for the Holidays is More than Gift Buying
E-commerce visitors during the holiday season are shopping for more than Santa’s nice list. Shoppers are preparing for everything from Thanksgiving dinner, to the after-work white elephant party. Time is sparse and online visitors are looking to quickly stock the pantry by scanning the digital shelf. Help them out by following these important steps:
- Well-Crafted E-Commerce Descriptions:
All product content should come equipped with e-commerce descriptions, both for SEO and for shoppers. These are different than the product descriptions, which typically come straight from the manufacturer. Think about what the shopper wants to know. This is about shopper engagement, what would convince the shopper to buy this product?
- Enhanced Content:
Savvy shoppers are looking for more than just the core product information constantly available to them, like ingredients, certifications, and product images. Now, visitors require a greater degree of storytelling and authentic information, like recipes, meal pairing ideas, and product applications to convert them into buyers. Work with your marketing and merchandising teams to find social and product content that your visitors need to make smart shopping decisions.
Product Data as Clean Fuel for the Future
As the retail playing field continues to shift, one thing is for sure–consumers are going to expect more personalization from their shopping experiences. With new technologies like voice search and virtual reality already reshaping the landscape– producing, storing, and serving up structured product data to distribute verified and complete high-quality data, to every consumer, is absolutely the minimum standard to succeed this coming holiday season. Product content must be searchable and sortable by machines and visually engaging and informative to humans.
They want every brand, everywhere. Holiday 2017 is right around the corner. Are you ready?