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The Demandware Product Data Dilemma

By Abnesh Raina

Demandware, now Salesforce Commerce Cloud, has long been one of the robust ecommerce platforms available to retail businesses. It’s a supercharged system that is awesome at doing what it was designed to do – handling the complex requirements of hosting a great ecommerce experience and maximizing customer conversions. It provides the scalability and agility to execute core ecommerce functions. However, many omni-channel retailers also try to manage their product content – including complex attribution, hierarchy, and digital asset management – through the ecommerce platform, a task at which it is capable of at a basic level, but for which it is not designed and could ultimately be detrimental to the business.

That is not to say Demandware’s competitors offer anything stronger. In fact, Magento was even called out by a leading analyst firm as having a specific deficiency in the area of managing product data. But if this is the drawback to investing in one of these major platforms, why should retailers care about it and what should they do about it?

The good news is there is no need to worry that your Demandware/Salesforce Commerce Cloud or Magento investment wasn’t a wise one. In fact, we think very highly of their capabilities across the board. But product content and the digital product experience that it powers for your customers, like other highly specific and highly valuable enterprise applications, simply needs to run on a best-of-breed application designed for this purpose specifically. Here’s why:

Product content is the fundamental element of everything a retail business does online. That should be obvious; the business doesn’t exist without products, and in a digital environment, only data about the product is what the consumer sees as ‘real’. Yet for retailers who attempt to manage their product content with their ecommerce platform, they quickly learn that it is extremely difficult to achieve complete, accurate, and timely product data in a system not designed for this purpose. This results in bad customer service, is bad business and a bad idea. Why?

Retailers lose revenue due to:

  • Items not found in search due to product attribution issues
  • Losing sales due to “black hole” issues – products in inventory that don’t show up for sale on ecommerce because of missing or incorrect attributes, data linkages, images, etc.
  • Delays in getting products on digital sales channels due to assortment / product mix complexity issues, combined with manual processes and organizational silos.
  • Highly manual nature of sourcing, enrichment and quality governance of product data today, managed by multiple teams in different locations, who aren’t set up to communicate well and still utilize Excel and Outlook as workflow tools.

What ultimately happens is that these companies are forced to manage their product content entirely offline before they are ready to load it into the ecommerce system. They use multiple spreadsheets for different hierarchy levels between different teams. They aren’t able to establish a consistent, automated process or workflow that streamlines data flow or provides data governance to ensure the product data is comprehensive, accurate or relevant for shoppers at a given time. An update on one side of the business – say, a sale, or a shipment of new items – needs to route through multiple configurations and systems, manually, before being loaded into the Demandware platform. Does this sound efficient? Not at all!

This approach breeds errors and drains resources. And ultimately, it means the investment in such a powerful ecommerce system isn’t paying its optimal dividend. Yes, it can host product
data and hold attributes for websites and ecommerce pages, but it isn’t designed to manage it effectively throughout the workflow.

So, if you’re looking into deploying Demandware/Salesforce Commerce Cloud, or you already run your ecommerce on the platform, you need to know that a dedicated next-gen product experience management system is the tool you need to get the most from your investment. With seamless integration to the ecommerce platform, and automated workflows and data governance that make item onboarding and management a breeze, the next-gen Product Experience Management tool by PlumSlice allows you to get your customers the information they need to make a purchase, create a more rewarding customer experience, and drive greater profit for your business.

Leave the spreadsheets behind. Contact us today to find out how we can help you get the most from your ecommerce platform.