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Why Product Content Matters
In brick-and-mortar, your shelves have the products displayed and organized, and the salespeople have the product information. Online, though, there are no shelves and no salespeople. The only way customers can experience or understand the product is virtually, based on the functionality of your website. Online, product data is more than just specs—it is the product.
The best way for companies to succeed in driving research and sales online is through an effective product content program. High-performing keyword search, highly relevant attribute filtering, and persuasive product detail pages all contribute to B2B e-commerce success. Each of these tools is powered by well-organized product content.
To build this correctly, you need to have a comprehensive strategy for product content, including how it is designed, built, and governed as well as ongoing resources to improve it based on analytics.
A few notes on what product content is not:
When managed strategically, product content becomes more than a nuisance – it becomes a sustainable source of competitive advantage that drives revenue, profits, and customer satisfaction. In this section, we discuss our approach to product content and why each step matters. From there on, it’s up to you.
How to Organize Product Content
A reason that B2B e-commerce sites fail is bad product content – product content that is disorganized, inconsistent, or incomplete. Unlike B2C sites, where products often sell based on popularity and trends, sales of B2B products are primarily based on whether the item is effective for a given application. Determining whether a product fits an application requires complete, clear, and consistent product content not only to find the right type of product but also to differentiate each individual item within that category from others. Also, it’s critical to clearly show why the product works. For product content to do this successfully, it must be highly structured.
In the context of product content, “structured” means the content is made to exact standards and guidelines – following a “rulebook” that defines what information is required for each product sold. In e-commerce, websites rely on a virtual organizational structure called a data model. Data models consist of two components that document the structure needed for B2B content:
Taxonomies are hierarchical grouping methodologies that group things with other similar things. Usually seen in the “left-hand browse” list of product categories, taxonomies are analogous to a brick-and-mortar store layout. Just as brick-and-mortar stores put similar items near each other to make it easier for buyers to compare, effective taxonomies place similar products near each other in the product hierarchy. Well-structured taxonomies facilitate product discovery but also impact SEO, marketing, and data governance, so they are a critical foundation for e-commerce success.
Attributesdescribe the features of a product that buyers use to differentiate products within each category of the taxonomy. Once they have found the right product category for their application, buyers use those features to select a specific product. Using attributes to pick products in e-commerce is similar to brick-and-mortar buying.
Different types of attributes capture different aspects of each product. Each type can serve different purposes in e-commerce, but all are frequently used. The three primary features captured as attributes are: