E-commerce-ready Item Management

5 Tips for E-commerce–Ready Item Management

Find out here how to support online shopping with product information that sells. Online shopping has empowered consumers to find their product, compare prices, and determine which retailers have inventory. Meeting the demand for an easy and convenient online shopping experience means retailers need the necessary product information available on their website.

Unfortunately, e-commerce–ready item management is a highly manual process that’s time consuming and error prone. There’s tremendous pressure on brand marketers to improve the accuracy and timeliness of the product information that helps retailers sell online.

Our recent report, Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success, identified e-commerce–ready item management as one of the top three priorities for building a customer-centric supply chain. Defined by extended attributes to support e-commerce content management and fulfillment processes, e-commerce–ready item management greatly improves time-to-market. In fact, one national chain reports a 2- to 4-week reduction in website product page setup using extended attributes, while a major e-commerce retailer reports vendor item setup time has been cut in half.

GS1 has published standards for extended e-commerce product attributes in their Extended Attribute Guide, and as brand marketers typically produce the content required to meet the needs of e-commerce item management, including marketing descriptions, images and videos, product specifications, and shipping weights and measurements, they should review their product information now to ensure compliance.

OpenText™ Active Catalogue supports extended attributes for general merchandise and apparel to easily share e-commerce-ready product information with retailers such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Amazon, Dillard’s, Belk, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Stage Stores, Nordstrom, Boscov’s, Bon-Ton, and Lids.

With more retailers requesting extended e-commerce attributes along with their traditional GTIN-based data, we’ve got five tips to help brand marketers meet the requirements for e-commerce–ready item management.

1. It’s your brand: Make the standards work for you

Industry standards have allowed retailers to scale B2B integration, streamlining supply chain management and reducing costs; getting product to consumers faster and maintaining inventory levels to drive sales. E-commerce product information standards aren’t any different. Using them will get your product on retailers’ websites faster and with greater control over how your brand is presented online.

Get to know standard description attributes and use them to your benefit. Some attributes support standardization, enabling navigation, filtering, or search–such as Brand, which is your label or trade name. Others, like the attribute Features-Benefits-Marketing Message, is a free-form text field of up to 4,096 characters that allows you to provide rich information you want to convey about your products, as in the example below with the product description and details content.

E-commerce-ready Item Management - Example Online Listing

2. Don’t panic: There’s flexibility in the standards

The thought of using standards causes some brand marketers to feel hand-cuffed. But brands and retailers jointly developed these, aware of the need to give brands the flexibility to market their products the way they want to, while also supporting retailers.

For example, each standard for describing a garment closure includes 9 basic descriptions–and there are a total of 53 closure description options. Plus, there’s an option to use a free-form description if a brand’s closer type is included in the standard.

E-commerce-ready Item Management - GS1-Extended-Attribute-Guide-Closure

Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016

3. Get a quick win: Image standardization

Sharing image attributes is easier than ever, since many brands already produce imagery for their own website. The growth in online shopping has led to some best practices regarding what’s required to effectively display products to consumers.

These two websites illustrate the five basic images needed for e-commerce: quarter-turn, front, back, top, bottom. You may already have images available that you can share with retailers.

E-commerce-ready Item Management - Product Catalog photo examples

4. Get it right: Measure twice, share once

There’s an adage used in construction to avoid costly mistakes: “Measure twice, cut once.” The value of accurate, consistent measurement can’t be overstated in e-commerce. Did you notice that the websites in the previous example list two different heel heights for the same shoe? Consumers have only the details retailers provide to make an informed purchase. Not having the correct information can mean getting a sale and keeping it–or a return by a dissatisfied customer.

The standards for what to measure and how to measure it are well thought out and described in the GS1 guidelines. There are specifics listed for different merchandise categories, such as the standard for how to measure the heel of a shoe.

E-commerce-ready Item Management - GS1 Extended Attribute Guide - Heel Height

Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016

5. It’s all about the customer: Streamline order fulfillment

In addition to online shopping descriptions, it’s important to provide the necessary shipping information. Standards have been developed to support extended supply chain attributes specifically for e-commerce fulfillment.

Shipping package dimensions–including size, weight, and hazardous material coding–help retailers ship customer orders more efficiently. Other extended attributes like Consumer Available Date and Lead Time support drop-shipping to customers, which has become more widely used by retailers.

E-commerce-ready Item Management - GS1 Extended Attribute Guide - Consumer Package Depth

Source: GS1 Extended Attribute Guide R2.0 05-05-2016

Watch our recent webinar, Catalogue–Extended Attribute Project, for more about how Active Catalogue can help you manage extended product attributes.

To learn how you can implement a customer-centric supply chain, download your copy of Smart Trading Networks Define the Future of Retail Success.

About Greg Horton

Greg Horton
Greg Horton is a Product Marketing Director for OpenText Business Network. Greg is responsible for sharing how OpenText B2B Integration services and Active Applications can impact business agility, profitability and growth. Greg brings more than 20 years of enterprise software experience. Prior to joining OpenText, he held positions in marketing, product planning and product management at Microsoft, Relex Software, M*Modal, Epicor Software and Serena Software.

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