From offline to online: A 5-point checklist when your product catalog is ever-expanding and growing
Fashion retailers are not only releasing more and more collections during the year, but they’re also looking for ways to dramatically reduce the gap between the unveiling of new collections and their appearance in store, and all online channels.
Onboarding new products in such a fast-paced environment can be overwhelming. It is more important than ever to keep teams in sync and break those walls, like the design, merchandising, manufacturing and data teams need to speak to each other to make faster decisions.
Some of the biggest inefficiencies we’ve studied through these processes are:
- distribution of inaccurate product attribution,
- inefficient product data generation, and verification,
- bad customer experience on the site, brand value and sales.
Data Warehousing Institute estimates that lack of product catalog management costs U.S. businesses more than $600 billion a year.
Read to know more about State of Catalog Management in Fashion Retail.
Expanding catalog is no easy task for sure, however, retailers can build a much more agile and flexible digitization process to onboard products faster and launch products-on-time across all sales channel. Here’s your checklist.
1. Get early access to product specifications and samples
The technical product brochure or document gives an overview of your product specifications with details such as products, prices, fabrics, and stock quantities. Often product data that are handed over to catalog team has bare minimum information. Several product attributes are not included and the little information handed over is not in the correct format.
Having early access to product spec means catalog managers or data team can identify missing attributes, gather any materials for content creation, research answers to any burning questions, and streamline various tasks to better plan the timing of launching new collections. This may take weeks for some companies.
2. Plan photoshoot operations to create images
Identifying where your product photos will show up, will help you plan out the exact shots you need, provide you with a range of content that is still cohesive and within your brand style, and ensure that you end up with content that fits within the specifications of various platforms.
While capturing images, you must highlight the unique style based on trend or seasonality, so that these photos will bring out small details in the outfit, illustrate what your new offering is all about and serve as a promotional material.
For a faster photoshoot process, gather samples, coordinate with photographers and models, get your call sheet out a week in advance, and generally make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Once images are captured, plan for post-processing images for the web and other channels. Your basic post-production objective is to facilitate browsing and increase conversion rates through high-quality and low-bandwidth images. Use consistent alignments, margins, backgrounds, shadows, and other elements in your product images.
3. Organize images by product types
Product categorization is often overlooked but more categories mean an increase in the number of landing pages, more keywords and numerous pages having indexed search results. All of this influences your online store’s long-tail traffic significantly.
Before defining products attributes, putting products in the right category and sub-category will make product attribution lot easier and accurate.
4. Create product attributes and metadata with AI
Customers demand accurate, high-quality product information that gives them enough detail to make a purchase decision. Providing detailed product information will help you build trust and greater customer loyalty. A Title, Type, Fit, Style, Occasion, Size, Design, Color, Pattern, Product description are critical information to meet customer needs.
It’s not just the product attributes that need to be accurate. Ensure all the information that goes on the product page is complete, concise, and relevant. This creates an emotional connection with your customers and differentiates your e-commerce website from the competition.
5. Review and Publish
A fresh set of eyes in the review process will ensure product data is accurate, consistent and fully-attributed. If you are selling through multiple channels, then listing your products across marketplaces is complicated. The challenge is that each channel has its own requirements for how your product must be listed. For an example, Amazon’s new item setup feed is different from eBay’s. Listing your products on Amazon shouldn’t be how you list your products on your own site.
With a comprehensive approach, customers are provided with apt and wide-range of choices and a well-structured logical catalog to easily navigate through the products of your online store. While this could be tedious and time-consuming, a good e-commerce Catalogue Management System can streamline these tasks for you and reduce your manual effort by 80% in generating product data that are accurate, consistent and ready to be published across multiple channels.
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