To demonstrate true ROI, Product Content Solution projects should be backed by a well-thought-out strategy that resonates with a company’s customers, personnel, and goals. In other words, any product content project that is going to be truly transformational will need to be aligned with greater business initiatives.
Here are four types of product content projects that support strategic business goals and that can help unite stakeholders from various different departments.
Product Taxonomy Development
Product content taxonomy creation is basically the process of determining how products will be categorized and organized.
Having a shared taxonomy is important because it gets everyone across an organization to use a common system to communicate about its products. This can help with accounting, operations, and sales — as well as coordinate between those functions.
To develop a taxonomy, a product content solutions provider will
• Audit the current database
• Look at incoming manufacturer product data classifications
• Review competitor, marketplace, and industry taxonomies
• Analyze how customers search for products
These findings will then inform a recommendation for a coherent taxonomy that will serve all the interested parties’ needs. Often, the hardest part of a taxonomy development product content project is making sure all these different stakeholder perspectives are represented — and getting them to ratify the final taxonomy.
Attribute and Content Modeling
Once a taxonomy has been created, a common schema for attribute and product information can be developed for products in each category. Essentially, this means deciding which bits of information need to be provided for each product as part of a standard product listing — e.g. name, photo, weight, dimensions, etc.
As with taxonomy development, attribute and content modelling needs to be done with the input and feedback from the various stakeholders at a company if the result is to reflect their viewpoints and garner team support for the enterprise-wide digital initiative.
Product Content Normalization & Cleansing
Creating lists of valid data values for each attribute, including abbreviations, symbols, fonts, and image and file naming conventions, helps standardize product content, making it much more useful for customers and internal reporting.
These sorts of details — such as where to put hyphens in an SKU, if pounds will be abbreviated “lbs.”, and whether or not prices should include a currency symbol — can make a huge difference when it comes to standardizing presentation and reporting.
Once decisions have been made regarding these approved product data values, all attributes associated with individual products in a database can be formatted (or “normalized”) to conform to the pre-ordained list of approved values.
The product content normalization process can include
• Merging data from various sources
• Eliminating duplicate products listings
• Removing discontinued products
• “Cleansing” all the content so it is formatted consistently (e.g., changing “&” to “and”)
• Identifying missing collateral information
Normalizing data in this way assures accuracy and supports basic online store functions such as filters and onsite search, as well as more advanced features such as suggested products and visual search.
Product Content Enrichment
If an online store is missing crucial pieces of product information — such as images, MSDS sheets, or user information — a product content enrichment project can improve the quality of individual product listings.
The benefits of product content enrichment are most tangible for customers and salespeople since studies show that customers are much more likely to buy from retailers that provide more product information.
Whereas taxonomy development and product data normalization involve making strategic decisions about how to group and arrange products among internal stakeholders, product content enrichment projects primarily comprise outbound detective work like:
• Going to manufacturers’ sites or other published sources of product information (e.g., PDF catalogs, spec sheets) to collect technical information about the products
• Accessing other sources — such as industry databases — to secure any additional available assets
• Creating enriched product titles and descriptions
• Image sizing, cropping, and improvement
• Video and graphics editing and enhancement
• Renaming digital files with keywords for SEO
• Adding product reviews and evaluations
Getting Started on Strategic Product Content Projects
Product content projects can — and should — be more than just tactical clean-up initiatives for the e-commerce or marketing teams. If handled correctly, they can benefit various departments at an organization and play a crucial role in forward-thinking business strategy.