One of the realities of the pandemic is how difficult it has become for consumers to walk into brick and mortar outlets and make purchases to meet their requirements. Instead, they are relying on online means of purchasing products in ever-growing numbers. It’s also fair to assume that many of the consumers now turning to online purchases are not yet fully conversant with how eCommerce works. Some of them are less technologically inclined and others have usability issues.
This combination of factors has brought product information into the spotlight.
Good quality product images and complete product information on websites is something the pandemic-struck consumer base now expects. Our view is that this opens up several opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to derive tremendous value from their digital strategies.
The pandemic has brought about a transformational shift in how products are purchased
Long before the pandemic, retailers had begun venturing online for selling products and services. The objective was to cater to a larger customer base using intuitive online platforms. However, customers still had the option of physically visiting shops, touching, feeling, and trying products, and then making an informed purchasing decision. A certain percentage of the customer base resolutely stayed offline. Another set used offline channels for doing their research and then just made their purchases online once they knew exactly what they wanted to buy.
So many things changed, however, due to the pandemic. Essentials came into focus, panic-buying of sanitization and household supplies became normal, and we started hearing of terms like “revenge consumerism” even as other consumers started tightening their purse strings.
There’s little doubt that the traditional approach to purchasing goods has undergone a transformation. To add to that, consumers are also becoming more cautious in their spending habits fearing harsher economic conditions. This is already establishing new trends and habits. Pandemic-stricken customers exercise immense caution when it comes to how, where, and what purchases they make – causing a tremendous impact on how products are presented and sold.
As more and more people turn to online shopping, businesses have to quickly revamp their online models to keep up with the demand for products while ensuring quick and efficient deliveries.
The motivations of customers have changed, bringing product information into the spotlight
As the pandemic started to impact businesses, the shift in consumer preferences was instant. Online sales increased by 55% in July 2020 as compared with July 2019, with online spending reaching $434.5 billion in the first seven months of the year. As physical stores were shut and consumers became reluctant visitors, customers could not touch and feel products in shops. Under the circumstances, they
- Want information they can trust, shifting the focus from fast retailing to safe retailing.
- Place higher value on clear product descriptions, accurate imagery, and relevant product reviews.
- Need product information that aids them in the decision-making process by furnishing precise details about the product they were considering.
Product information is in the spotlight, especially for consumers new to the online retailing space or those looking to try new products or services.
Tips to optimize product information across online channels
Consumers expect brands and retailers to deliver product content that is accurate, consistent, and trustworthy. Here are some tips to optimize product information across your online channels to deliver just that:
- Make the transition to online shopping as easy and seamless as possible and provide consumers with all the details they need to make the right purchasing decisions.
- Use a modern content management platform to manage, enrich, and publish personalized product content addressing consumers, channel partners, and marketplaces.
- Use machine learning-based recommendation engines to accelerate and optimize the distribution of uber-relevant product information to achieve scale and sustainability.
- Build dynamic relationships between product owners and master catalog and make sure to align information with what customers need.
- Automate the process of updating product information and make sure to always present customers with accurate and current content.
- Use technology and tools to customize and tailor product information to suit the different pricing, language, regulatory, and cultural requirements of audiences across locations and geographies, even international.
- Embrace reporting and analytics to unearth insights into what customers want and curate your content accordingly.
- Display accurate product details including images, design specs, and inventory levels – especially for extremely sought-after goods – and manage consumer expectations efficiently.
- Deliver information in a way that fosters a sense of trust, boosts the probability of repeat purchases, and enhances upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
- Leverage dashboarding and visualization to allow business stakeholders to get a holistic view of how to manage and optimize information across all trading partners.
COVID-19 has changed much of life and work. In its wake, we are also seeing a sea change in consumer behavior. As the fear of infection and social distancing norms started taking root, even the most traditional shoppers transitioned to the world of online shopping to meet their needs. The result has been that although economies across the world have suffered a big blow, online retailers have found cause for celebration. Online retailers