When it comes to the modern omnichannel retail experience, consumer expectation has never been higher. How does the digital showroom factor into success here, and what advantage can a digital product experience platform offer?
The way that we shop has changed beyond all recognition in recent years. The rise of omnichannel experiences has led to the expectation of a seamless, personalized pathway to purchase, across all touchpoints.
This expectation carries over into the digital realm. Shoppers are increasingly insistent on online retail that provides an informative, relevant and sophisticated experience. As a result, a sound understanding of the modern digital showroom is essential.
Those providing an exemplary digital showroom experience can expect high levels of consumer loyalty, better conversion rates and a decrease in support requests. With brands and retailers witnessing the impact and importance of the digital showroom, standards are rising. Those without a clear understanding and prioritization of this essential area of retail risk getting left behind.
What exactly is meant by the digital showroom? Also known as the digital shelf, the digital showroom represents each and every interaction a consumer has with a product, within a digital environment, on their pathway to purchase. As a result, it should provide essential information, inspiration and support. Increasingly, it represents an opportunity for differentiation when it comes to close competitors.
The digital showroom represents the “how and where” when it comes to the way that products are presented online. As a result it can’t be defined as any one place or format. Instead, it represents a range of different platforms and presentations, ranging from third party marketplaces through to product pages on retailers’ websites.
In traditional brick and mortar retail, brands invest to ensure their products are presented in eye-catching packaging, and strategically positioned at key locations around physical stores. In the digital realm, brands can lean on SEO and visual merchandising when it comes to positioning on search results pages, but the true success of their product positioning usually comes down to one key factor – content.
Let’s examine a typical purchase experience and consumer journey of the modern shopper. A mother is browsing the Instagram profile of a children’s clothing retailer when she comes across a sweatshirt she wants to buy for her daughter. As their feed isn’t shoppable, she is forced to follow links to find their standalone store.
Having found the retailer’s store, she now needs to search for the item she liked and after entering keywords, she’s able to find the product page titled “Pink Leopard Sweater”. However, she soon learns the sweatshirt is out of stock. Frustrated, she looks for the brand name of the sweatshirt – perhaps she can find it stocked in another store.
Thankfully, the information that she needed is included in the product description. She navigates to the brand’s standalone website and confidently enters the product name “Cute Leopard Sweater” – only to find no results.
Assuming she does not give up on her quest at this point, she may start to search using the store’s menu navigation, or even by using different search terms. Eventually she finds the correct product page – using a different product name and updated imagery, which she didn’t immediately recognize. Only one pixelated image is available, and there are no reviews present on the product page. However, having come into contact with more compelling content at the start of her purchase journey, back on that inspirational Instagram post, she still decides to make the purchase, adds to cart and proceeds through check out.
In this example, there’s a happy ending – but it’s easy to see how an inconsistent product content experience as the result of poor digital showroom strategy from a brand can prove highly frustrating to a shopper trying to locate an item of interest. Had the product been represented using the same name and images across all retailers and channels, location would have been much easier.
Content is king. We often hear it said, but it’s scarcely ever more applicable than in the case of product content. What’s more, the importance of high quality, consistently representative product content is increasing – not only because consumer experience is reliant on the clear presentation of these attributes, but also because the efficient governance of this high volume of data is a crucial factor to business performance.
The ability of businesses to scale effectively is directly proportional to their capacity to competently handle, distribute and leverage accurate and engaging product information. Slow, inaccurate or inefficient product onboarding will hamper expansion. The inability to confidently command brand experience over an extended range of sales channels will throttle a brand’s reach.
The brands who are struggling to cope today have no chance tomorrow. The need to handle more data across more channels will only rise in terms of importance. New mediums and formats of digital engagement are constantly evolving – the bar continues to be raised, so it’s imperative that organizations get a solid grasp of their content management to be able to meet new challenges with confidence.
Retail continues to evolve at an accelerated pace – what certainties can we rely on when it comes to the future of the digital showroom?
As the importance of the digital showroom has become increasingly apparent, internal solutions have evolved alongside the need for great control, accuracy and automation. However, some common stumbling blocks still present themselves to retailers. Let’s take a look at some of the most persistent and problematic issues.
When product content as a whole is dipping below the standards that you would like, start by addressing supply. If you’re relying on suppliers to provide the information and assets you require, it can feel like your hands are tied.
But whether you are obtaining assets and attributes from external suppliers, or generating content internally for your own range of products, you need to ensure that your process for the generation or collection of content is watertight, following a specific flow to ensure consistency.
Ownership of content is also an important factor. Without a clear taxonomy to help with the management of metadata and tagging, content can be underutilized.
ECP enables dual syndication of content. This means that it’s possible to directly import product content from supplier catalogs, or export to digital marketplaces with accuracy and ease. ECP’s digital content experience software also provides you with simplified management flows that ensure you’re getting the best leverage out of all available content.
Better control of attributes, product rules and digital assets combines to make sure you’re maximizing the impact of your content, across all channels. Additionally, advanced taxonomy management guarantees your team has total clarity when it comes to collaboration, helping them deliver at pace and scale.
How robust is your product onboarding process? How well are you leveraging the content that you do have access to? If there’s no efficient way to manage the process of upload and population, you’ll always be fighting a losing battle in the effort to bring your full inventory up to standard. This is problem isn’t going away anytime soon – as consumer demand for more product content grows, and inventories expand – the sooner this issue is solved, the better.
ECP’s digital content management software offers an easier path to product onboarding. Workflows around this important, high volume task can be dramatically streamlined via automation. Not only does this win your team valuable time, it also reduces the margin for human error, boosting the accuracy and consistency of your product content output.
As new sales channels open up, keeping product content and brand representation consistent across such a wide range can feel impossible. The opportunity to boost revenue and brand reach by selling across more platforms is tempered by the difficulties in maintaining a universally optimized consumer experience.
ECP’s content experience platform brings order and end-to-end visibility to your product content management. Working from one central content repository, you’re able to effectively and efficiently distribute to multiple commerce channels.
A big factor in the success of your digital shelf strategy is the strength of your channel relationships. How well do you collaborate with the other parties you depend upon for access to content? Another element to address is the effectiveness of your internal quality control. What systems are currently in place for reviewing and improving your content – and is this process proactive or reactive?
In addition to providing dual syndication for ease of collaboration with suppliers and export to channels, ECP’s digital content management software enables clear content quality scoring. This invaluable feature gives instant clarity on the areas where your product information could be improved. Automatically generated quality scores help you identify problem areas and act quickly to remedy them, improving consumer experience with additional content quality.
With consumer expectations continuing to rise, inventories expanding and sales channels multiplying, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to systemic improvements for your product content processes. The answer lies in the intelligent application of data, driving tangible change – but again, where do you start?
ECP removes this blocker. Stop worrying about the next best step and spend more time driving value. Intuitive, data-driven reporting pinpoints the optimal next action, not only for your business as a whole, but for each individual platform user. Optimize your team’s time at the same time as driving AI-informed progressive improvements.
As we’ve seen, in the age of consumer-centric, omnichannel retail, the digital showroom is central to scalable success. Working with a dependable digital content experience platform is key to achieving sustainable workflows, but a few overarching best practices can also prove helpful
The digital showroom represents a key factor in determining the success of increasingly essential consumer experience and brand control. As a result, for any business looking to step up and benefit from the enormous opportunity afforded by changing consumer behaviors and the omnichannel experience, it must be a priority focus.
With the right infrastructure, support and partnerships, modern consumer expectations represent an opportunity, not a challenge. ECP’s digital content experience platform offers the perfect range of functionality and practicality, when it comes to stepping up and evolving your business in parallel with the modern digital showroom.