Digital Commerce Complexity: How to Deliver Product Content

Most of us don’t think twice about jumping on to Google to search for anything we need to know about or quickly shopping on Amazon for home, personal, recreational or even for work. Today’s consumers expect find product information within a few seconds and a couple of clicks – even in a B2B setting. One of the biggest problems facing manufacturing companies who are trying to build a modern enterprise digital commerce system is how to organize product content for digital commerce. Creating a digital experience for your customers and employees is vital to your future success. In this post, we’re taking a closer look at the complexity of product content:

  • What challenges companies have with product content and catalogs? 
  • What does the new generation of employees, distributors, and customers expect for product content delivery? 
  • How can your eCommerce platform deliver a top-notch product content experience?

Challenges With Product Content and Catalogs

The main problem with product content is the many different locations and mediums used to store the info. If you’re reading this at your desk, take a minute, grab a scratch pad, and write down all the ways you distribute and store product content. 

How many of these were on your list? 

Common Product Content Formats

  • Printed Catalogs and Manuals
  • PDF Catalogs and Manuals
  • Microfiche
  • Database systems
  • CAD files
  • eCAD files
  • Paper files
  • Company intranet
  • Company file server
  • Training videos

While the list isn’t exhaustive, it should at least give you some hope that you’re not alone in dealing with this challenge. Many companies have spent years amassing product content in a variety of formats. The sheer volume of content and in multiple forms creates three main problems:

  • Accuracy - how do you know which version is the most up to date? 
  • Accessibility - how can employees, customers, and distributors easily access the content? 
  • Searchability - how can people quickly search to find the content they need? 

The main goal of any product content is to deliver accurate information about a part or product. But if the data is stored in multiple locations and different formats, version control can become a nightmare. How can a customer service representative be confident they’re giving a potential customer the right information? 

Some content formats make accessibility an issue. Information on company servers or intranets cannot be accessed by customers. Customers will have to call a representative, and an employee will decide how to export and deliver the content to the customer. This wastes the customer’s time and eats away at your team’s productivity. 

Finally, the biggest problem with many of these traditional product content formats is that they aren’t easily searchable. One of the most significant advantages of converting product content to a digital format is the ability to make it readable to search engines like Google. 

Customer Expectations for Product Content

Now that we understand the challenges behind product content let’s take a closer look at the expectations of the next generation of both buyers and sellers. 

A generation ago, people didn’t mind flipping through a paper manual or calling customer support, but that’s changing as a new generation enters the workforce. Millennials are a digital generation. They grew up with the internet and smartphones. Handing them a paper catalog to try to find a replacement part is like expecting them to use an old fashioned card catalog at the library. They’ll eventually figure it out, but not before they get frustrated. 

So what experience do modern Millenials want? They want a smooth digital experience that is: 

  • Mobile friendly. Nearly two-thirds of millennial buyers say they’ll switch brands if a vendor doesn’t have an optimized mobile experience. 
  • Searchable. Millennials use search engines multiple times a day. They expect the search experience on your eCommerce site to work the same way. 
  • Informative. Buyers expect to have access to a wide range of product information without having to log in or request access. 

It’s important to remember it’s not just buyers that have these expectations. As your workforce expands, they’ll need to learn your products quickly. New employees are going to turn to digital methods before legacy mediums (media?) when trying to find product information. 

Digital Commerce Features for Product Content

So how can you meet the demands of a generation that would rather watch a YouTube video describing a part than look up a part number in a catalog? The best solution is to digitize your product content and include it in your digital commerce system. 

When we launched the digital transformation journey with a leading automotive and industrial company on PhazeZero’s CXCommerce platform, we had to integrate 6 product catalogs covering over 300,000 products. We knew that the product pages would need high-resolution images as well as specifications, lists of compatible products, and links to any existing literature. The entire system is searchable on any attribute that a part might have. The additional product information also has the added benefit of helping the site rank better for search engines like Google. After implementing the enhanced product pages and with SEO techniques, the site saw a 450% increase in organic search traffic. 

Before Phase Zero, the company’s product information was challenging to navigate. The company had hundreds of websites and ways of connecting with customers depending on the line of business, brand, or country. Customers would need to go to several different sites to complete a transaction. They’d start by trying to locate the part, but if they didn’t type the part exactly as it was listed in the database, it likely wouldn’t show up. Then they’d have to go to another website to see if the part was available before going to a third website to place the order. 

CxCommerce unified the customer experience making it easy to both find product information and complete an order. 

Product content is a complex challenge for enterprise companies. You need to make it as easy as possible for both internal and external users to find the information they need. If you’re struggling with modernizing your product content experience, request a demo today to see how CxCommerce can help and make your content digital, searchable, and easy to find.