73 per cent of corporate managers believe that a good customer experience creates the most important strategic competitive edge. A good customer experience is the sum of all the encounters, ideas and emotions a customer has about a business. One key area is often dismissed when developing a multi-channelled customer experience: comprehensive, up-to-date and easily accessible product information.
Product information is the cornerstone of a good multi-channelled customer experience. Without good product information, it is impossible to create a consistently excellent customer experience from analogous channels to digital visibility. Product information can be as simple as the size and colour of a T-shirt. On the other hand, it can be as complex as detailing the potential side effects of a medical substance when taken together with another substance.
But how can you use product information to create a competitive edge for your business?
Product information is an inseparable part of making a purchase decision
In terms of the customer experience, it is crucial to offer product information that is relevant. Product information must be offered in a consistent and multi-channeled manner, regardless of whether a customer encounters the business online, on a mobile device, in-store, on a brochure, or via some other channel. Although most customers may not think about it, product information is an inseparable part of their purchase decisions. It equally affects the search for a product, the recognition of a brand, product comparison and the final decision of whether to purchase a product. In other words, all the key phases of the customer experience as a whole.
Today’s digital consumers tend to find out as much about a product as they can before purchasing it. Information on an interesting product is looked up using search engines, by watching product demonstration videos and reading reviews in social media, researching different online stores, reading about product recommendations and experiences in discussion forums and by reading the manufacturer’s official product pages. Online stores also offer built-in tools and services for comparing product prices.
If the information offered on a product, service or delivery in an online store is not detailed enough, customers are not likely to make a purchase. If customers feel that not enough product information is offered, they can easily move over to the competing online store or service. Complete and enriched product information enhances the shopping experience and considerably decreases the number of aborted purchase processes in online stores.
Product information should fulfill expectations
Product information must fulfill various requirements. It must be comprehensive, precise, easily understandable and, above all, up to date. This applies in particular to retail businesses that wish to serve their customers consistently across a number of different channels. Updating and distributing product information spread across different systems can be slow and difficult. For this reason, it is important to focus on how and where product information is managed, and who is responsible for producing and maintaining it.
Core commercial product information includes product images, videos, product descriptions with a sales flare and channel/market-specific sales arguments–and naturally, the technical specifications of products. At its best, product information management fluently combines the management of factual content with enriched marketing messages as well as language-specific and regional versions of the content.
As much as 22 per cent of products purchased via digital channels are returned because they do not meet the customers’ expectations. Inaccurate product information including poorly portrayed colours, non-standard sizing and unclear availability information can be frustrating and confusing and result in weakened customer loyalty.
Product information conveys brand values
Creative and expressive product information can be an invaluable tool for marketers who wish to convey a brand story and to cultivate an emotional connection with their customers. After all, consumers are most likely to choose products that make sense to them and that are in line with their personal values. An environmentally aware consumer for instance will appreciate the mention of recycled materials and environmentally friendly packaging.
Efficient product information management can also help retailers roll out new products faster and more reliably across all channels. The complexity of multi-channelled sales operations requires a solid product information solution, enhancing product placement online, on mobile devices, in-store and across other sales locations and channels in real time. The reliable, comprehensive and real-time management of product information can bring a crucial competitive edge in this context.
Good product information lays the foundation for a consistent customer experience across multiple channels. One might go so far as to refer to the globally acknowledged term “product experience”. It is not possible to achieve an excellent customer experience without a solid product experience.