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This is part 1 of a 4 part series on customer experience, sponsored by Contentserv.

eCommerce, on the surface, is an easy way to sell products. The cost of entry is minimal, there are more channels than ever to promote your products, and the potential audience is huge. In fact, the eCommerce market is set to account for 17 percent of all retail sales by 2022, notes Forrester. According to another study, eCommerce sales will more than double in 2019 from where they stood only five years ago.

But with easy entry comes more competitors — big and small — along with the challenge of being the first to get the right products in front of the right audience. Whether in-store or online, thumbing through printed catalogs or browsing social media promotions, consumers expect consistent, personalized product information to help them make better buying decisions.

Related Article: Five Reasons Why Fantastic Customer Experiences Start with Great Product Content

Why Prioritizing Your Product Content Is Key to eCommerce Success

That’s why many organizations are turning to tools like product information management (PIM) platforms, allowing you to better manage vast amounts of product content. And while consistent content can ultimately help you win and retain customers, there are many other reasons why you should get your product information in tip-top shape. Here are some of the biggest.

1. Gain a Single Source of Truth

Giving your customers the most accurate and consistent product information is impossible if you have data stored in multiple systems, or sitting in static spreadsheets. But this is the reality for many organizations. While a product manager might store the latest product information on the company network, your eCommerce manager might think it’s stored in Google Drive. And before you know it, confusion abounds over which files have the most up-to-date information.

But when you can manage product information in a central location, your whole organization can access a single source of truth whenever they need it. In addition, you can more easily categorize and bundle products — shortening your time to market — while keeping control of how your products are marketed by the retailers where your products are syndicated.

Related Article: 4 Ways to Connect Your Product Information with Customer Experience

2. Lay the Foundation for eCommerce

Keeping up with the growing number of channels, devices and customer locations can seem like a losing battle. According to Adobe, consumers use between six to ten channels while researching, buying, and after purchase. But when your product information is in sync, and you’re able to give customers access to the latest and most complete product information regardless of channel or device, everything falls into place.

By storing and managing your product information using a streamlined taxonomy — along with a syndication network that can easily distribute your products to the right retail channels at just the right moment — you can lay the foundation you need to provide the best possible customer experience, every time.

Once you have these pieces in place, you’ll be able to scale your eCommerce platform to accommodate existing channels like eCommerce, web, POS, print and mobile, as well as those that are yet to come.

Related Article: 3 Cant-Miss Predictions About the Future of eCommerce

3. Get More from Your Data

Collecting data about customer preferences and behaviors is important, but it’s what you do with that data that makes the customer experience stand out. Let’s say you’re able to track how a customer views your products, as well as her interests. Through the AI capabilities of a product information management platform, you can put similar products in front of her the next time she shops, or complementary products that can be bought together, increasing the chances for a higher sale. In fact, according to a Forrester survey, 77 percent of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.

Or, if you know how your product sells on one retailer site compared to another, you can adjust your strategy accordingly to match that of the better performing site. The key is having the ability to bring together data from a variety of sources — both internal and external — so you can understand which actions perform best in every channel.

4. Improve Internal Communications

Product information is used by many different people within the same organization. Product managers, engineers and eCommerce professionals rely on accurate and consistent data to do their jobs well. So if a product isn’t tagged correctly, or file names are wrong, that product can get lost in the shuffle.

A PIM solves this problem by providing a consolidated structure that accounts for common misspellings. And with the proper permissions and workflows in place, the right people will have access to the products they need at any time.

5. Strengthen Supplier-Vendor Relationships.

Managing product information from multiple suppliers and vendors can be difficult, especially if each one provides that information using different templates and spreadsheets. But if suppliers have access to your PIM, they can upload products in the format that’s best for you. That way, when products are syndicated to other retail channels, the right data is collected and the right products are pushed to the appropriate channels.

Pave the Way for Better Buying Experiences

While starting an eCommerce business might seem easy at first glance, the number of competitors that are doing the same can quickly become overwhelming. But by investing in the foundation to properly manage your products digitally, you can better meet buyer expectations, keep sales climbing, and always stay one step ahead of the competition.

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