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3 Critical Connections for Omnichannel Success

Omnichannel commerce strategy is quickly becoming a requisite for strong sales and brand loyalty. But to see real results, you’ll need these 3 connections in place.

Omnichannel commerce is gaining prevalence for a reason—proving itself as a strategy that provides a holistic sales experience, engages customers, and builds long-lasting brand loyalty.

Opportunities abound as brands and manufacturers look to engage customers beyond their traditional sales channels. Those that learn to seamlessly serve customers where and when they want are reaping the rewards. 

Omnichannel customers purchase up to 70% more often than offline-only peers, based on studies from McKinsey. However, many discover too late how difficult it can be to synchronize product experiences across multiple new channels, causing frustration and confusion for companies and their customers.

What’s the missing key for unlocking this potential? Product information. 

Product information is the lifeblood of omnichannel commerce. Rich attributes, localized content, and digital assets guide buyers through discovery and consideration, with touchpoints in every sales channel. 

This information is a crucial driver of customer experience, but it’s so often overlooked. According to Ventana Research, nearly 80% of companies are still managing product data in spreadsheets, limiting omnichannel growth. Spreadsheets and siloed systems are slow, sloppy, and fail to scale with the data demands of channel expansion.

To take full advantage of omnichannel growth, three critical connections need to be factored into your overall product strategy from concept to customer.

1. Connect product data across ALL value creators

As a product travels through the value chain, each team along the way contributes rich information to its narrative to form a strategic asset: the product thread. Design creates a vision, engineering adds specifications, and suppliers contribute quality details as the product comes to life.

But simply building a great product does not drive sales. Commercial teams need to inherit the continuous product thread to build on the existing framework and enhance the product story further. 

Too often, though, the powerful whole product origin story gets lost. With each downstream handoff through scattered systems and functional silos, the product thread breaks down and data integrity degrades. Teams spend more time collecting and cleansing product data rather than creating thoughtful content for customers. 

When maintained successfully, a continuous product thread:

  • Mitigates errors in data transfers
  • Minimizes time duplicating efforts in separate systems
  • Empowers accurate and consistent content

Working in a unified product information platform alongside development teams allows merchandisers to incorporate rich descriptions and digital assets within the product record and seamlessly transform technical data into compelling content. 

2. Connect product content throughout ALL sales channels

Once product information is consolidated into a central source, commerce teams still need to share it with customers and personalize the experience in each channel. That’s easier said than done. 

Consider:

If a single product has 5 SKU variations x localized content for 5 regions x different distribution formats for 5 channels in each market = 125 versions of output for one product. 

Multiply that for a full product catalog, and layer in the fast pace of product and retail changes, and it quickly becomes overwhelming. Merchandisers need an integrated platform that combines the product thread with automated workflow, rich analytics, and distribution agility to fully capitalize on all sales channels. 

SEAMLESS, AUTOMATED WORKFLOW

By choreographing the contributions of attributes and assets, workflows ensure product information is enriched and tailored for each market. Connected systems and processes streamline content creation tasks, such as translations, document revisions, category updates, and copy approvals. Channel teams can then invest more in value-add activities that increase customer engagement, including deeper content analysis. 

INTEGRATED, RICHER ANALYTICS 

Linking customer data with product information allows merchandisers to understand content quality as well as content impact. These actionable insights help optimize product presentations to resonate with customers and drive omnichannel conversions. 

STREAMLINED DISTRIBUTION AGILITY

With fine-tuned content in hand, commerce teams can finally synchronize sales channels for a unified product experience. Template exports and system connections allow product information to be quickly and efficiently published in multiple formats for sales teams, distributor sites, marketplace portals, and ecommerce platforms such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This enables strategic agility to scale new distribution channels and engage customers anywhere they choose. 

When a company lacks the right underlying infrastructure connections, channel expansion can quickly lead to customer disappointment, poor reviews, and high returns as incomplete and inconsistent information floods the market. By leveraging the continuous product thread as a trustworthy foundation, marketers can deliver compelling information in multiple formats and capitalize on channel diversity.

3. Connect product experiences across ALL customers at scale

In commerce today, simply distributing the content doesn’t mean the job is done. Ensuring a lasting connection with customers requires a robust strategy. 

Teams need to layer business insights, process automation, and cross-functional collaboration with product information to become an engine of engagement. 

This is what lays the fertile ground for creative, brand-building customer experiences.

CAUTIONARY TALE: HOW MUCH DISPARATE DATA DOES IT TAKE TO SELL A LIGHTBULB?

Storytime. Mary’s new lightbulb is so popular in the US that people all over the world want to buy it too. She wants to make sure to serve every new market well, but she faces the challenge of tracking down product information from at least three different systems and product management teams in disparate silos. She knows there must be valuable business insights she could extract from the product data, but she doesn’t know where to begin to hunt them down, let alone synthesize them and turn them into an automated workflow for distribution globally.

In the end, she tries to build a manual process for localizing her content, including updating catalogs, detailing item specifications, localizing warranty information, and jumping through regulatory hoops. 

But the market moves fast, and the pace of her distribution moves far too slow. Sadly, in the end, Mary’s light bulb lost out on revenue due to decreased market share, incorrect product messaging, and slow delivery timing for the customer demand.

Here’s what Mary could have done instead.

With a single source for product information, teams can easily build and maintain a continuous product thread that connects the value chain to the demand chain.

If a product company’s current goals revolve around driving revenue growth, gaining market share, and increasing brand awareness, a product information platform isn’t a “nice to have” — it’s critical for success.

Companies face a virtual guarantee that distribution timing will fall behind, lead to inaccurate content, and create poor customer experiences if they don’t try to connect:

  1. product data to the value chain
  2. product content to the sales channels
  3. product experience to the customer 

With product value management solutions such as Propel, companies can develop quick, easy ways to engage more customers with their brand and products. Companies like Traeger and VIZIO are devising clever, creative customer experiences that lead to building stronger connections, and drive revenue and engagement.

And now, with their exponential growth in the market, they’re able to manage the corresponding growth of their product data and capture the full value of their future product cycles.

Learn more about how a single source of product truth can transform customer experiences and escalate revenue growth. It’s all covered in our new eBook “Achieving Product Success in Omnichannel Commerce.”

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Post by
Jill Mueller
Director of Product Marketing, Propel

Jill has a passion for bringing brands to life to drive strategic growth. Her experience in both retail and manufacturing provides a strong balance of marketing, development, and production knowledge. Most recently, Jill worked with private-equity-backed firms to identify and execute market growth opportunities, including channel expansion, product category launches, and global supply chain improvements.

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Jill Mueller