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Ensuring a Successful Customer Experience through Unified Commerce

By Abnesh Raina

When consumers shop, they no longer expect to navigate multiple channels; they expect a seamless experience that is able to flow between the digital and physical, and one that always ends up with the product of their choice in their hands. Incorrect or missing product information across platforms can hinder the shopping experience and will ultimately cause a consumer to lose interest and move on to another retailer. In order to meet consumer expectations, retailers must adopt the best practices of unified commerce, and this starts with implementing a next-generation product information management strategy. For example, next-generation product information management, or next-gen PIM, can serve as the foundation of a unified commerce environment that will deliver an enhanced digital shopping experience for consumers.

The Growing Need for Unified Commerce

As technology continues to evolve, consumer expectation grows with it. Shoppers now expect a continuous, uniform shopping experience when switching between mobile, tablet, web, or in-store browsing. For example, a shopper might view a product on their mobile device, then switch to the e-commerce site on their computer, but eventually will decide to go to the store to try out the product. These shoppers expect all product information, including images, sizing, or any additional details to remain consistent across all platforms. Ensuring that accurate and consistent product information is always in front of the consumer – regardless of how they shop – will help inform the shopper and ultimately drive the sale.

However, before unified commerce can face the consumer, a retailer must ensure that their product workflows are, in fact, unified. In the early days of supply chain, only a few people were responsible for product content. Now there is an absence of organizational ownership as product information passes through a number of different teams. When product data comes from a manufacturer and undergoes several outlets in the workflow, including suppliers and third-party sellers, manual processes can lead to costly mistakes. To resolve this pain point, implementing a next-gen PIM solution can help resolve organizational or assortment complexity issues a retailer may be currently facing. Whether a company faces issues of large numbers of brands, assortment sizes, suppliers or geographic areas, all retailers can benefit from PIM.

Retail has quickly evolved from multi-channel to cross-channel, and is now experiencing channel convergence. Channel convergence allows for the blurring between the physical and digital consumer experience, and for integrated organizations to share business rules and data. If a retailer’s internal system does not support channel convergence, they cannot manage or sell products effectively. PIM is essential for retailers looking to stay ahead of the ever-growing consumer demand.

Ensuring Accuracy Through Next Generation PIM

Next-generation PIM can serve as the foundation for enhancing the digital experience by helping all organizations and teams in the workflow automate and improve the efficiency of sharing product data. Reducing the complexity and limiting the opportunities for human error leads to more complete and accurate product information, which in turn is reflected in more engaging consumer-facing content. PIM reduces complexities in SKUs and item onboarding to ensure that any new products maintain the same level of data accuracy as existing ones. With next-gen PIM, retailers can be sure their data is always clean and well-managed.

Additionally, next-gen PIM automates the process of syndication so retailers can easily publish content about their products across not only their own ecommerce sites, but other sales channels such as microsites, third party sites, or even Google. This simplicity of syndication allows retailers to try out new marketplaces with increased flexibility and lower risk.

Products with inaccurate information, or information that is missing from even one channel, results in a retailer not reaching their full potential. Retailers looking to ensure an optimal customer experience must provide consistent and accurate information to shoppers at every stage of the shopping journey, from search to shipping. Once they do this, they’ll be ready to meet the full potential of their unified commerce initiatives.