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Product content: the key to creating winning shopping experiences

Having the right product information, in the right place, at the right time, could be the difference between success and failure when selling through online marketplaces.

Having the right product information makes a measurable difference to online sales. For vendors selling through online marketplaces like Amazon, the information they provide to consumers via their product pages is absolutely key because that’s how they can stand out from the crowd, differentiate what they’re offering and keep the consumer from leaving the page to check for any missing details elsewhere. And it can also prevent customer disappointment through inaccurate information about the product itself or stock levels and reduce product return rates.

According to Salsify’s research about best practices for Amazon pages, A-rated content converts 3.4 times better than F-rated content and appears 9.7% higher in organic search results. But to get content to that top level, vendors need to have proper visibility of the right information about each individual product, and of how each page is performing, so they can update and optimise as needed.

Many brands have traditionally struggled with keeping this kind of information accurate because they’ve been slow to move towards digital commerce. The role of maintaining product information may be siloed away from the team that gets that information online, and often the multiple different teams involved struggle to cooperate and collaborate quickly enough to provide the necessary information and keep it up to date. They may be reliant on cumbersome systems of Excel spreadsheets being manually updated that makes getting new or updated information into all the different places a major, time-consuming headache.

Even businesses that recognise the issues and move beyond spreadsheets may struggle if they don’t have the expertise to create and maintain a proper product information management (PIM) system that doesn’t require continuous manual intervention, which is where Salsify comes in – offering solutions that go beyond traditional PIM by creating a centralised system of record that manages all of the product content needed to power multichannel, differentiated commerce experiences. “We want you to be able to centralise your content, optimise that content, syndicate that content and then continue that loop, right, so that you’re continuously sending really good information out to the digital shelf,” says Salsify’s head of analyst relations, Alexandra Alves.

To meet evolving consumer demands, businesses need to be providing more information and content about their products than ever before. On Amazon, sellers have the opportunity to publish a wealth of different types of product information to try to win over consumers. As well as basic product information, vendors can include enhanced content: videos, lifestyle images, comparison charts, or even sustainability information, which shoppers can see once they dig into the product details below the digital fold.

This so-called A+ content acts as a retailer’s physical packaging might in telling the story of the product and the brand. Alves says: “We find that enhanced content definitely drives conversion, with increases of around 10% on average. But it’s also just a way for brands to differentiate themselves. Where in a physical store you might draw consumers in with the design of the packaging, for consumers shopping online the product detail page is the brand’s packaging now. Brands who have enhanced content just do so much better across industries and verticals than brands who don’t.”

But as big as the opportunity that enhanced content presents is, there’s a challenge for businesses in terms of finding the resources and expertise to actually get it from their PIM into their product pages on Amazon in the right format and optimise it to drive the most sales. This is where a platform like Salsify becomes indispensable, with templates and bulk creation processes that make it easy to get this kind of content onto your product pages on Amazon and elsewhere.

Salsify offers more than just technology. Alves says Salsify is constantly in touch with Amazon and other major retailers: “Our partnerships team is talking to them all the time about their best practices, and what we should be telling our customers, so it’s a good way for brands to get information they may not have been getting from the retailer. We can act almost as a broker of information to continuously optimise content.”

Fine-tuning product information has implications beyond the product page itself and has to reflect consumer behaviour; 81% of searches on Amazon are unbranded. Even the way the product’s title is composed matters. The consumer might not be looking for a specific brand, so that alone isn’t enough of a descriptor.

Sellers also have to pay attention to how their products are becoming visible – or why they are not appearing in search – and adjust the information they provide accordingly. To do this, companies have to delve deeper than examining weekly reports. They need to be agile enough to spot issues and opportunities as quickly as the marketplace itself moves.

Alves says: “You want to make sure your systems are talking to each other because of how quickly the digital shelf moves. On Amazon, if you search for ‘coffee,’ there’s a different product at the top of that page every few minutes. But it’s hard to know what the algorithm is going to do when you send your content out into the wild. If something changes or if you drop in rank, you want to make sure you know right away so you can take action.”

And the customer journey is increasingly more complicated than just going from a search page to a product page. Customers might browse a product page on their phone, then buy in store, or do some of their research by asking Alexa about the product before they buy on Amazon. Product information needs to be available everywhere the consumer wants to access it, so making sure you can quickly get it to everywhere it needs to be rather than being locked behind Excel spreadsheets and manual processes is increasingly important.

Beyond general information about a product, vendors also need to consider the impact the status of their inventory could have on the product page. If the page is claiming a product can be delivered by a certain date when there’s been a delay, or saying something is in stock that isn’t, the end result will be disappointed customers who take their business elsewhere. This is an area Salsify is expanding into, says Alves, because “having your inventory tied to your PIM increases your teams’ visibility and promises a strong product experience at every touchpoint.”

Product information has come a long way from making sure the right product is on the right physical shelf with the right price. Now, businesses constantly need to be thinking about where their information might be used and the new types of information and content, they might need to be providing to move customers through the shopping journey.

Companies selling through online marketplaces face a particular set of challenges. They should consider whether it’s worth the time and resources to resolve these challenges themselves or whether it makes more sense to look at existing solutions like those offered by Salsify that can streamline the process and help them stand out on the digital shelf.

To learn more about how product content can help brands succeed on Amazon, and to see an analysis of over 14,000 product detail pages across the UK, France and Germany, read Salsify’s Content Advantage report.