Customers want a seamless buying experience. Once upon a time, “seamless” referred only to well-labeled aisles in the supermarket that could give shoppers a general indication of where they could find what they’re looking for; but now, a seamless buying experience has come to mean so much more. With rapid advances in omni-channel marketing, machine learning, and voice search, a truly “seamless” experience means finding, surveying, comparing, and purchasing select products within a matter of seconds—regardless of where or how the search takes place. Sellers who understand that a seamless buying experience is about more than just quality products, low prices, or helpful customer service are the ones that are going to bring in the most sales.
When it comes to ecommerce, content—in the form of product attributes—remains king. Retailers that hope to win the ecommerce game need to focus on sharing as much accurate and relevant information about their products as possible. Studies show that 87% of consumers say accurate, rich, and complete product content is very important when deciding what to buy.
But when we say “accurate, rich, and complete” with reference to product attributes, what does that really mean? Generally, speaking, it means going above and beyond what you may have done in the past for your product content. Specifically?
- Accurate: more than just saying things that aren’t true, accurate product attributes mean your customers are staying as up to date on your products as your functional retail and the manufacturer teams are. Whenever there is a change in the packing, ingredients, claims and certifications, or manufacturing process, your product attributes need to reflect that. And, let’s not forget about derived attributes. You better have a partner that really does understand how to ensure the derivatives are legitimate and accurate. And thanks to the instantaneous nature of the Internet, customers can learn of these updates almost in real-time.
- Rich: rich content is more involved than a simple product description and a couple of photos; it’s videos, guides, recommendations and reviews, 360-degree photos, long-form content, recipes and more. It’s product content that makes each product page truly stand out.
- Complete: complete product content refers to anticipating customers needs and questions before they ask them. Complete product information requires truly understanding your buyer personas, what motivates them, and what they’re biggest concerns might be and then having the right attributes at the right time in the right format.
Simply put: customers depend on comprehensive and complete product attributes—PERIOD!
What Are Product Attributes?
A product’s attributes are what makes it distinct from other products. Attributes include things like color, size, flavor, package type, and other relevant features. From a consumer perspective, these attributes are what determine the consideration set, and influence the ultimate purchase decision. From a retail perspective, product attributes help define how aisles, departments, and shelf-sets are organized in the store, and to fuel the digital shelf, allowing for search, sort, and filter online. Manufacturers, meanwhile, use attributes to help define their products’ competitive set.
Why Do Customers Rely on Product Attributes?
Customers base their online product search on certain keywords that relate to their desired products. These keywords can sometimes be brand name–based, but more often than not, they refer to product attributes, like “gluten-free breakfast cereal” or “locally sourced produce.” Whether it’s through search engine or filters on your website, your customers must be able to find the specific product they’re looking for (or at the very least, products that are strikingly similar). They can’t buy what they can’t find, so it’s very important that product names and descriptions are taking into account the specific words and queries your customers are using to search.
Customers use product attributes to compare choices. Whether it’s by brand name or product feature, customers are always looking for the best choice for them. And, as is often the case in the CPG industry, best often equates to healthiest. A growing contingent of the buying public has developed increasing strict lifestyle diets or food sensitivities, which translates to purchasing certain types of foods that they must be able to find. Product attributes make it possible to find these items.
Customers “window shop” online just like they do in brick and mortar. So it’s important to have a window display (or in the context of ecommerce, the product page) that puts your products in the best possible light. This involves attributes like high-quality product images that grab shopper attention in minimal time; otherwise, the browsers will pass you by. A single image and tweet’s worth of information simply won’t cut it if you want to encourage buying behaviors online. Up to 70% of shoppers must see at least three product images, as well as videos, product reviews, and ratings before purchase.
Creating a Strategy Centered Around Accurate Product Content
It’s not easy for sellers to have accurate, rich, and complete product information that is consistent across channels and touchpoints. If you have hundreds, thousands, or millions of SKUs, odds are against you for keeping the information organized and accurate.
Why such an emphasis on going above and beyond for your ecommerce shoppers? Because, more often than not, the product information retailers release on their digital channels is some combination of inaccurate, plain, and/or incomplete. These issues often stem from where the brand keeps the product data. And while there are many content service providers (CSPs) that promise to help brands deliver a seamless buying experience to their customers, some simply have an open product information platform that gives brands a central location to store their product data, but are not centered around data quality, nor do they create content with accurate, brand-verified data to ensure retailers get the most accurate information.
Having a CSP that takes in your data, collects accurate product attributes that are brand-verified, can become a centralized, single point of truth. Not only can the brand control their content but retailers can rest assure that the content they are pulling is accurate.
In short, if you want to go above and beyond for your customers, and deliver a truly seamless buying experience, you need to partner with a CSP that goes above and beyond for your brand. The data needed to power the customer experience comes from product attributes.