August 25, 2020
Welcome to the third in our “Top 10 Reasons Distributors Choose DDS” series showcasing exactly why so many distributors are choosing DDS as their partner for next-generation e-commerce product content.
So far we’ve shared some detail on how our custom ingestion process for manufacturer content allows us to deliver more of the information your suppliers produce to help you market and sell their products online, which is essential for serving customers—and enabling your internal sales teams—as the events of this year have made all the more clear and urgent.
We also introduced the concept of true “e-commerce-ready” product content, distinguishing some of the types and characteristics of content required for an online offering, as well as the considerable resources (man-hours and technology) involved in transforming raw data from manufacturers or industry data sources into such web-ready format(s) for uploading to your unique e-commerce website platform.
This important distinction—between basic transactional content used by your ERP system (and supplied by most traditional industry data sources), and true e-commerce-ready content provided exclusively by DDS—is the focus of this week’s post, and a major reason that the more “discerning” distributors in our industry are choosing to upgrade to DDS’ next-generation e-commerce product content.
When it comes to product content—which, make no mistake, is the most important component of a successful e-commerce offering—there’s a “usability” factor that often gets overlooked in industry discourse around the topic. Experienced e-commerce distributors are painfully aware of the extensive post-manipulation of files required to transform manufacturer content to the optimal format for their webstore. And sadly, we hear from some distributors trying to launch a new site (especially those with fewer resources) who are finding the challenges of obtaining usable content to be a non-starter.
Well, we have good news: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS HARD.
The truth is, most content providers/sources are essentially just “repositories” for manufacturer data, whereas DDS adds value to the content—not by altering it in any way, but in how we organize and deliver it to you for maximum usability.
Another key differentiator in DDS’ offering, we don’t just pass along the data; we actually help you use it.
On that note, let’s dive into more detail as we reveal the third Reason why distributors choose DDS for their e-commerce product content:
REASON #3: DISTRIBUTORS WHO CHOOSE DDS UNDERSTAND (AND WANT) WHAT WE MEAN BY E-COMMERCE-READY PRODUCT CONTENT
Distributors with e-commerce experience understand that e-commerce product content is NOT the same as what you find in an ERP, often referred to as transactional content. Some of the more obvious types of web-friendly content—images, videos, spec sheets, etc.—just aren’t necessary, nor do they “fit,” in an ERP, but it gets much more nuanced from there.
Elements as simple as product names and descriptions differ significantly when you’re talking about a webstore or other online application. In an ERP, there may be character limits or other standards that dictate what things are called, while on a website, these elements need to be formatted to be search-friendly. Things like “marketing descriptions” often don’t exist in ERPs at all. (And unfortunately, there isn’t one magic formula for creating “standardized” product names or descriptions from one manufacturer or line to another. But that’s a discussion for a different day…)
As we’ve said before, if your content provider’s technology was built around transactional data, it’s already at a disadvantage for the online experience.
Another element worth mentioning is product imagery. As discussed previously, manufacturers spend a ton of money to produce marketing-quality imagery to help sell their products. But how many images, and in what formats and sizes, does a given manufacturer reasonably make available—whether directly to a distributor, or via a standard industry data source? Let’s say they provide each image in a single, hi-res format (from which additional sizes and formats can be created). But what if that one master format from Manufacturer A differs in size or spec from the one Manufacturer B provides, and so on? Anyone with a sophisticated e-commerce offering knows that a plethora of images is needed for various usage, file format and file size considerations—think thumbnails for search results and image carousels, plus medium and larger formats (i.e. zoomed-in views) for product detail pages. If you want all product imagery to be consistent on your website (for the best possible user experience), how long would it take you to create all of these specific sizes and formats, for every single image?
As part of our next-gen product Content-as-a-Service offering—CONTENT/io, DDS does all of this for you, delivering multiple image sizes—according to e-commerce best practices—of all your manufacturers’ product images, for web-ready display. And, we can host the assets for you so you don’t have to worry about any of it.
The way content is organized on your website can be as important as having thorough product information when it comes to helping your customers find exactly what they’re looking for.
Categories, facets, and normalized facet values (used for left-hand navigation drilldowns) make up another major aspect of e-commerce data, and these values don’t come from traditional or ERP sources either, nor are they provided by manufacturers, so they must be assigned and then periodically maintained “in-house.” So again, a lot of time and effort is required for a distributor to set these categories and values for display on their website.
DDS helps distributors manage this part of their data too. While the choice is yours how to ultimately organize your website content, we offer a robust base-level categorization according to industry best practices, and we have tools that allow you to make changes to product categories as you see fit for your website.
These are just a few examples of what makes DDS’ product content not just different, but exponentially better than what distributors can source by themselves or through other providers.
Like our customers, we understand that e-commerce requires special content, and we believe the role of a valuable content provider includes helping make the process of obtaining and using product content easier.
So, a final question: What does your content provider do (TODAY) to help you use the data?
Stay Tuned for More!
This “Top 10” list is part of our ongoing efforts to educate the industry as to the realities—and also the tremendous opportunities—involved with e-commerce product content. Don’t miss the next Reason, where we’ll talk further about how we deliver data to distributors in a custom-tailored format for even easier integration of our next-gen product content.