Mike Lapchick

The eCommerce landscape is looking bright, in large part due to modern content management, distribution and collection technology that has enabled brands to streamline product information processes. This technology has never been more important given the astounding growth of the eCommerce landscape in the last five years.

New data from the 2015/2016 Shotfarm Product Information Report found that sharing compelling, engaging and consistent product information with customers will maximize sales, minimize returns, optimize speed to market and enhance brand equity. Businesses that understand this are making investments to improve the product information they share with their customers. But the study found that those who fail to do so risk damaging customer perception of the brands and businesses at hand.

To gauge the true impact product information has on retail sales, Shotfarm surveyed more than 1,500 consumers on their online shopping habits and product information needs. Respondents reported that companies that provide detailed and accurate information about the products for sale are more trustworthy. However, when consumers are presented with inaccurate and inconsistent product information from online stores, it leads to more abandoned shopping carts, a higher number of returns and damaged brand reputation. All of these issues can significantly impact the financial health of both retailers and manufacturers.

Read on to learn more about customer habits and preferences for online product information, as well the solutions that will empower brands and businesses to meet customer needs and enhance revenue growth.

Impact of Poor or Inconsistent Product Content

The survey results show the impact of poor and inconsistent product information is remarkable. With 95 percent of surveyed consumers reporting product information is important when making a purchase decision, there’s no doubt that failing to meet their needs will impact retailers’ bottom lines. The impact of poor product content on digital sales is most readily apparent in three areas:

  • Returns: Poor product information leads to a greater number of returns. The report found that 42 percent of consumers have returned an online purchase in the past year specifically because the product information did not match the product they received. And clothing apparel brands are hit the hardest by this — a quarter of all consumers have returned a clothing item due to inaccurate product descriptions or images.
  • Abandoned Carts: Abandoned shopping carts are also a direct side effect of inaccurate product information. While cost is the number one reason why consumers abandon shopping carts, 30 percent say they have abandoned a shopping cart due to poor product descriptions, and 26 percent say it’s because of poor quality images or too few images.
  • Brand Reputation: Negative experiences with product content perhaps most significantly impact long-term brand reputation. Eighty-seven percent of consumers say they would be unlikely or very unlikely to make a repeat purchase with a retailer that provided inaccurate product information. In other words, even a one-time mistake can lead to losing customers forever.

The Solution for Brands and Businesses

It’s clear that high-quality product content is of critical importance for brands looking to maximize sales. But how exactly can they improve the content development, management and distribution process?

The flow of information through the supply chain when utilizing legacy technology is incredibly complex. But the next generation of product content management and exchange networks makes it a piece of cake for brands to meet retailer requirements and for retailers to collect the best possible data for their customers. To create winning content, brands can choose from a variety of content creation services to optimize their content library and curate the highest-quality data. Maintaining ownership of the data is a key component to ensure its remains consistent and isn’t abused.

Additionally, by partnering with a product content distribution network, data can be automatically converted and delivered to retailers in whatever format they desire, allowing brands and manufacturers to focus on data quality instead of data requirements. As a result, businesses can decrease product time to market, minimize returns and increase revenue growth.

The survey identified the critical importance product information plays in consumers’ purchase decisions, as well as a golden opportunity for retailers when empowered with the tools to present consumers with high-quality content. With the right technology in their arsenal, retailers are poised to increase customer satisfaction and optimize digital sales.

Mike Lapchick is CEO of Shotfarm.