With more focus today on the overall product content experience, it is important for brands to understand readiness: The point where product information meets the unique needs of your recipient partners.
This is sometimes referred to as the ‘Five Steps’ conversation – the pathway to deliver content that is seamless across recipients and delivers an experience that engages and converts shoppers. Here are the Five Steps to ensure your content is ready for retailers to accept.
Definition of ‘Readiness’
Before we begin, let’s define content readiness. This term, along with ‘completeness’, ‘validation’, or ‘health’, are sometimes used interchangeably. For the purpose of this discussion, however, content readiness defines the final state of a product’s images and attributes that align to a recipient’s needs. This can differ very specifically from recipient to recipient, which is why it is important to understand the requirements beforehand. Contrast this with content integrity, which can be thought of as how complete and up to date the content for your items are, without the added retailer requirements. Content integrity is an important first step, but ultimately content readiness is what enables a recipient to accept your items.
Step 1 – Capture and clean your data
If you are managing your own item attributes, first ensure it meets basic industry specifications for content integrity, including proper image size, format angle, and background. Also ensure accuracy in ingredients or other contents, exact weight (imperial and metric), and dimensions (item package, as well as case/tray if necessary).
In some instances where a solution provider manages this for you, it may be possible to use digital files to capture information, and even create full product images through CGI technology. However, note that some retailers require actual validated dimensions and weights from a “physical” product for acceptance. This may require additional time or resources upfront; however in the long run, it may actually save time and cost by avoiding a rejection or resubmission from a data recipient.
Step 2 – Build your data to retail requirements
This is where the readiness part begins. While all data recipients require essentially the same information (such as brand/product name, label attributes, weights and measures, etc.), the format required may be different – for example, some may require brand name first, or title in all capital letters. Others may want weights or measures in decimal rather than fractional formats. Some may even wish to edit the product name for consistency on their site.
All this may add up to the difference between listed on the first page or not being listed at all. And like any other business, retailers are constantly refining and upgrading their processes, which means changing requirements. You will need to stay on top of them to stay current.
Step 3 – Use categories and filters to manage your data
Whether you manage items yourself or use a solution provider, being able to group and filter your content based on recipients or attributes required can help you find the gaps between your content and the requirements, and quickly address such issues. If you can highlight the fields that have data quality issues according to the recipient (or are missing certain attributes), this can help to quickly resolve any issues needing attention.
In addition, it is important to track the status of product completion closely, to ensure your items are being accepted and reaching the recipient as planned. By monitoring whether your items are posted, still awaiting a response or held up due to errors, you can quickly resolve any outstanding issues.
Step 4 – Be proactive in communicating with your recipients
Launching a new product? Changing a label configuration? Creating seasonal SKUs? Let your recipients know, as soon as possible. This may seem obvious, but across the hundreds of millions of product assets that pass in and out of CXH each year, we see many discrepancies that may get flagged for being incomplete or non-compliant. Be sure that you and your trading partners are on the same page!
Step 5 – Prepare a final check before submitting
Even in the best situations, there can be occasions where a supplier’s submitted content does not appear as intended. A final step of content readiness should be one last check – to ensure that all proper content is submitted in the appropriate format, with no content gaps.