It’s a challenge for eCommerce brands and brick-and-mortar stores to find new ways to connect with their customers. Brands strive to be top of mind when a customer needs a particular product; they may publish industry-relevant content, run promotions, buy ads, sell products on marketplaces, connect with influencers, develop loyalty programs, and more.
Once a brand successfully reaches its customers on multiple levels, there is an opportunity to link those touchpoints together and create a unified customer experience. This intertwined relationship of multiple channels is known as omnichannel.
“Omnichannel is more than just selling your product on multiple marketplaces,” said Mitch McKay, BigCommerce’s Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager, at a recent Commerce Roundtable. “It’s about delivering that consistent brand experience across specific channels that help meet your customer’s needs."
But how do you do that? 🤔
Getting started can seem like a jigsaw puzzle as you figure out how ad campaigns, marketplace listings, and order fulfillment all fit together. The fog begins to clear when you realize the key to a successful omnichannel strategy is excellent data feed management—because everything in eCommerce relies on data.
Data feed management is the process by which you distribute and manage the digital listings of your products. From reaching new customers via Google’s search network to retaining customers with a streamlined fulfillment process, data feed management impacts multiple eCommerce processes.
Maintaining an accurate data feed management system can be tricky for online sellers when expanding a business. Some eCommerce platforms have tools to make this easier for merchants. For example, BigCommerce’s new Multi-Storefront functionality allows you to manage the operations of multiple stores from a centralized dashboard. Feedonomics’ platform is an advanced feed management tool that uses AI technology to transform your data and optimize it for better performance on marketplaces and ad channels.
With streamlined operations and a solution that tailors product data for each shopping channel, your business growth is scalable.
Five ways a data feed management solution unlocks omnichannel success
#1: It enables more accurate data synchronization across channels
Studies have shown that expanding to new shopping destinations increases revenue, but it's difficult to maintain accurate product listings across multiple channels and systems without regularly syncing your data. The right data feed management platform does that for you automatically.
Keeping your listings up-to-date with new product information and inventory changes isn't scalable when done manually. Data feed management platforms like Feedonomics ensure you don't oversell and that your ad channels display the correct information to your audience.
A study by Forrester found that 95% of customers use at least three channels in a single interaction with a company. Ensuring your product data is consistent across your ad and marketplace channels improves the overall customer experience, especially when brick-and-mortar stores list in-store products online.
“A trip to the store is a much bigger commitment to a potential customer than a click to a website,” said Zak Haines, Senior Director of Paid Media at Ovative Group, in a recent interview. “You do not want a shopper to arrive at your store only to find the item they want is out of stock, a different price, size, or color than what was shown in your ad.”
#2: It ensures your data is optimized for your marketplaces
Every marketplace has its own best practices and data requirements for listing products, and merchants increase the likelihood of customers finding their products when they follow them.
A data feed management solution makes it easy for sellers to create these unique and optimized data feeds. Every product category has required and recommended attributes to include in a product listing; the more recommended data you can provide (in the correct format), the more your listings stand out.
For example, a customer who is shopping for a table would want to know the kind of wood used, the size of the table, the finish, and other details that would differ from the attributes found in a listing for granola bars. Showing more product details to your customers increases their confidence in your listings.
The right data feed management partner takes your original product data—titles, descriptions, images, and more—and automatically reformats and optimizes it for performance on each marketplace. Feedonomics ensures that your products are correctly categorized for each channel as well. When your feed is optimized and your products are well-categorized, the search relevancy of your products improves. This can increase your return-on-ad-spend as well as generate conversions by making it easier for a search engine algorithm to match your product listings to customer searches.
#3: It streamlines data optimization for your ad channels
Like marketplaces, ad channels also have their own data requirements and best practices for creating ads with a feed. Promoting a product on Facebook with dynamic ads is not the same as promoting it on Google Shopping. And you might want to only advertise a subset of your catalog on Snapchat. A feed management solution makes this easy by taking the raw product data and modifying it for each ad channel.
It is also important to note that channels constantly change their best practices and add new features. Having a feed management partner also gives you access to a team of channel and feed experts who stay up-to-date on the latest updates, and who can make the appropriate changes to your feeds.
#4: It allows for better order management
Another challenge merchants face when growing their businesses is order management. Having a single, centralized dashboard to see all of your orders is a game-changer when you've expanded to several marketplaces. Some data feed management solutions seamlessly transfer data between your existing platforms and systems, facilitating the entire order management process.
Rather than logging into several marketplace dashboards throughout the day to check for new orders or adjust inventory, sellers can use a single hub to process all of their orders. A centralized hub increases order fulfillment efficiency while also improving customer satisfaction.
#5: It helps create a consistent brand presence
And all of these points bring us to the way customers see your products online. Streamlining data management allows you to expand to new markets relatively quickly and reach your customers wherever they’re shopping. When you reach them, you can ensure that they have a consistent and positive experience by providing high-quality listings, accurate prices (and sales), and up-to-date inventory.
When all of your data is optimized and synced across multiple marketplaces and ad channels, it strengthens your brand presence, increases ROI, and improves your chances of securing repeat customers.
Ready to get started?
Here are the steps you should take to manage data effectively and create high-quality product listings on multiple channels.
Step 1: Create a single master data feed containing all of your product attributes. These attributes should be consistent with your product category, so be sure to research what your customers are searching for. For example, a contemporary furniture company has an entirely different set of attributes than a nutritious snack company.
Step 2: Research your ad channels and marketplaces for their data feed specifications.
More research! Check out the best practices and requirements for your channels. It also doesn’t hurt to do some competitive analysis so you know what other brands are doing in their product listings and to gather inspiration for your data feed.
Step 3: Copy the original master feed and modify it according to the data requirements for each channel.
In this step, try and follow the required specifications closely. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work when it comes to following feed specifications; for channels like Amazon, each product category has its own rules for required data. Thinking back to our first example, the product specifications for a piece of furniture are different from the required specifications for snack food.
Step 4: Upload your data feeds to each channel and keep them fresh.
For feeds that rely on inventory data, it is crucial to update your feed several times a day, depending on how quickly your product sells. Doing so ensures your product isn’t oversold on any platform.
What happens when you need a bigger solution?
When businesses begin to scale, these steps become more complicated and tedious. For someone with thousands of products, researching specifications, conducting competitive analysis, and building data feeds takes valuable time away from other projects. That is why so many eCommerce merchants tend to let data feed management fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, when a multichannel eCommerce presence isn’t built on a solid foundation of data, growth and performance are harder to come by.
Some online sellers hire an in-house data feed specialist to handle data feed management. But even with a dedicated employee whose sole purpose is to manage product data, you can be limited by technology that you use to manage that data, and you risk starting over if that employee moves to a new company. Cheaper apps and platform plug-ins are another option, but they offer little to no support when something goes wrong, or data gets difficult to manage.
A full-service feed management solution
The best solution, in this case, is a full-service one. When product data gets to be too much to handle, eCommerce merchants should turn to a full-service feed management partner who has the technology and team of specialists to support and optimize feeds for all of their channels. A feed management solution takes away the hassle of staying on top of the latest channel changes and constant data feed updates, so you have more time to focus on your business strategy.