An online store must be visually inviting, easy to navigate and fast to use. The whole idea behind e-trade is to make purchasing easier for the customer, but even the most beautiful designs and the most well-thought-out user experiences are of little use if the basic form of product information is inadequate.
The foundation of e-commerce is actually all of the product information, which the customer will use to make a purchasing decision.
This means that incomplete and obsolete product information is also a major obstacle to succeeding in e-commerce. The first step on the way to removing this obstacle is to gain an overview. Which necessary information is available, where is it located and how complete is it?
You can easily gain an overview by creating a product X-Y chart, with products on the Y-axis and the necessary information on the X-axis. Even in a simplified version and with an elementary product such as a pen, there will quickly be a need for being able to show a set of information in the online store. If you make a corresponding matrix for your products, how many empty fields are you left with?
Manufacturing companies often provide the basic information, but it will typically be spread across several systems. Master data is located in the ERP, other product information is located perhaps in a database and several different Excel sheets, while images are located on a file drive, etc.
To bring together this information in a system in a logical way is a challenge in itself, but the major problem lies in the fact that the product information has basically been created for internal use. Something as basic as a product name can make sense in-house, but be meaningless to the customer.
The customer’s search behavior must be the starting point
It is completely crucial that it is the customers’ perception and search behavior that becomes the pivotal point for which product information is shown in the online store, and how it is specifically designed. If it is not possible for the customer to find the precise information that he needs to make a decision – and find the information quickly – the company will miss out on a potential sale.
For wholesalers, the challenge is twofold, because they are dependent on getting product information from the manufacturing stage. Bringing together and structuring the information from several different external sources, which do not supply product information in a uniform way, makes the task in succeeding in e-commerce more complex.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to getting basic control of the product information. It requires blood, sweat and manual work, but the whole thing will be worth the effort.
Help your customer - Download our white paper
In our white paper ‘Ready for B2B e-commerce? – How Stellar Product Information Lets Your Webshop Soar’ you are guided using six specific pieces of advice about how to transform your product information from being a hindrance into a competitive advantage.