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7 Practices for Better Product Data

Margo Sakova
Updated 10/02/20 12:12 PM

Product data, otherwise known as product content, is key to success in ecommerce.

Product data heavily impacts your SEO, influences conversion on your website, and directly accounts for more than 27% of product returns in ecommerce.

While many factors are hard to control in ecommerce, product data is one you can start optimizing right now. 

What is Product Data?

First, let’s provide some context. 

Product data, or product content, is all the product-related information provided by both the business and the customers. It usually includes, but is not limited to:

  • Product descriptions, including technical specifications and even marketing messages
  • Rich media content, such as images, video, 360-degree photos and augmented reality
  • Business-related information like pricing, stocking, shipping and payment methods
  • Customers’ content, including reviews, questions and answers sections

Quality and well-structured data is essential for an ecommerce store to succeed. Here is a checklist to help you take your product data on the next level. 

  1. Mind Your Priorities
  2. Define Your Sales Channels
  3. Deliver Professional Visuals
  4. Meet Your Buyers' Expectations
  5. Optimize Your Product Data for SEO
  6. Analyze Product Returns Data
  7. Automate Product Data Management

1. Mind Your Priorities

Sometimes, done is better than perfect.

Optimization is an ongoing task, especially when it comes to product content. To succeed, you should always stay focused on your top-priority list. Here is how you can leverage it:

  • Define what product data is essential for a buyer, and what can be enriched later
  • Focus on the product content for the top-performing products
  • Organize your product database with a Product Information Management (PIM) system

Attributes are of extreme importance here. Not only for a user to read the necessary details, but to navigate through catalogs and land on a dedicated page. Product data governance within your content is a must. If you’d got gaps here, if navigation is broken — the most beautiful content won’t matter.

However, prioritization doesn’t end on the technical specs only. The best product data is the one that appeals to buyers’ sensations and desires. The essential contents in the product data sheet could vary across different industries:

  • In fashion, size is king, and the materials are greatly important
  • Among technical products, specifications are the key to success
  • In cosmetics, naming specific color shades and videos are essential
  • Among furniture and home appliances, dimensions are the must-have
  • In food, ingredients play a major role, with the emphasis on allergens

Regardless, it’s useful to look outside for inspiration.

Compare customers’ review and Q&A sections at your site and other websites. It will give you an idea of what customers are looking for. To dive deeper, you can organize focus groups.

Remember that a new, unique type of content could become your competitive advantage.

2. Define Your Sales Channels

Focus on 1-5 key marketplaces, depending on your company size and available resources. Thoroughly analyzing these marketplaces is crucial.

Amazon, for example, is by far the most popular and the most competitive marketplace in the world, where the fight between sellers is tough and ruthless.  

If you want to stand out on Amazon, you need to excel both at the way you run your ecommerce business and at the way you present your products.

Amazon's algorithms evaluate sellers on a variety parameters. The winners are rewarded with the highest rankings and Amazon Buy Box.

Here are the main parameters, which define your success on Amazon:

Business parameters

  • Pricing
  • Shipping time & costs
  • Customer feedback on a product
  • General seller’s rating
  • Amount of items available in stock

Product content

  • Product name
  • Bullets
  • Description
  • Product Images
  • Details
  • Keywords

Amazon retailers should constantly work on improving all these parameters. But while optimizing the whole business could be done only on a global level, enhancing product content could be quite easy.

The secret lies in correctly organizing the data. Those who do so will benefit substantially.

3. Deliver Professional Visuals

The human brain process images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.

It’s much easier for the human brain to absorb images than text. One image per product is not enough anymore, you need to showcase the product in context:

  • Add the option to zoom in for greater detail
  • Show dimensions & angles to provide deeper context
  • Provide lifestyle images and show the product in action
  • Share product details via the thumbnails gallery

Customers demand high-resolution and quality images. But keep in mind that uploading huge files could be quite dangerous. It pays a negative impact both on user experience (the site takes a longer time to download) and on SEO rankings.

Choose the image size wisely. For example, you could use WEBP format, which makes files generally two times smaller than PNG or JPEG formats, keeping quality the same.

But top-notch photos are still not enough. Buyers like extensive visual content such as 360º images and video tutorials. Augmented reality is becoming more widely used, as well.

You can go even further here by linking user-generated photos directly to your store. There’s plenty of different software to gather customers' shots from Instagram or Pinterest.

4. Meet Your Buyers' Expectations

Your product should be represented the same way across all the channels a customer may encounter. This means that advertisements, landing pages, catalogs, collections and product pages all need to accurately reflect the reality of the product.

Move away from vague or misleading visuals. Instead, provide 360-degrees photos, showcase products from different perspectives, and give the ability to zoom in for added detail.

Even so, the exaggerated info is not only about the images. If often refers to a shipping time range, product features, or prolonged expiration date. Showcasing information in the best light could help sales, but it does contribute to the major parts of product returns as well.

Even once you address these concerns to better meet expectations, you can continue further on this path. You should analyze buyers, define target personas, and adapt all the product content to your audience.

It takes time, but it provides a huge boost to your product data strategy.

5. Optimize Your Product Data for SEO

If your product is not well-positioned in search engines, you’re losing one of the most prominent opportunities. It could be a topic of a separate article, but to make thing short:

  • Regularly analyze your product pages and overall website performance with SEO tools
  • Put major keywords in titles, headers, image titles, image alt tags, navigation, and internal links
  • Make descriptions keyword-focused, but still do not forget to be appealing to users
  • Prepare unique images and other visual content

Whenever you start writing a product description, do a keyword research. You should pay attention to long-tail keywords, which usually have lower competition, yet bring more relevant traffic.

The major metrics are:

  • Volume, demonstrating an average number of queries
  • Cost per click (CPC), showing the pricing of the advertising campaigns
  • Paid (PD) and search difficulty (SD), sharing insights on the competition within these keywords

If we’re talking about a pair of jeans, for example. There are 201,000 queries in search per month for the US region, but the keyword is extremely competitive.

But, if you are more specific and define the style, brand or size — the competition is much lower. As a result, you will be able to attract a greater share of a more relevant audience. 

Below is an example, researching the keyword “jeans" via Ubersuggest.

In this case, you could use details such as gender, age, material, purpose, styling, brand to make your keywords more specific.

Still, do not over-optimize your product data. While searching, people will see the title, meta description, and possibly an image. You should still make them appealing to readers.

6. Analyze Product Returns Data

Product returns have become a real disaster for ecommerce businesses. During the last year, only the cost of return deliveries in the EMEA has reached $381 billion. Worse, that number of expenses includes neither restocking expenses nor inventory losses.

On top of that, returned products often can’t be resold. 

Product returns data is a game-changer. It’s hardly possible to find insights without using automation tools. They help to better understand customers’ behavior, their reasons for returning goods, and identify serial returners, such as wardrobers or fitting roomers.

7. Automate Product Data Management

To keep your product data organized and accessible for all departments, you should have a dedicated product data hub. It should become a single source of truth for your product portfolio. How to choose the right system:

  • For small companies, the CMS system plays this role
  • For growing brands, the ERP system enters the game
  • For mature businesses, the PIM system takes the stage

Having a single product data management system facilitates the speed to market, makes the content team more productive, and improves overall customer experience. 

Creating a single source of truth for product content is challenging. Although, it's nothing in comparison to adapting it to marketplaces’ requirements.

If you sell products through multiple channels, you always need to adapt to product content requirements. And the more goods you sell, the more marketplaces you work with — the more manual work needs to be done.

Companies have spent up to a year implementing PIM, aiming to get a strong central system for their content. But when it came to distributing product content, they met enormous challenges in terms of adapting it to marketplaces’ needs.

Sometimes it took weeks to adjust the product template. In general, that causes hundreds of hours of manual work, which would never have occurred if they had chosen a PIM with the product data syndication functionality

Final Thoughts

Product data analysis, testing, and improvements never truly end. Product data is now a key differentiator across the highly competitive ecommerce industries.

Explain to your buyers how the product will benefit them. Buyers do not simply want to know what the product is, but the value it will create:

  • Will it make life easier?
  • Will it resolve a challenge?
  • Will it provide enjoyment?
  • Will it create a sense of status

While enhancing your product data, craft unique persuasive descriptions. Focus on the target customer. Provide a better experience for your buyers.

And let your business flourish!

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