Are you able to present your company's products consistently and effectively across any channel that customers use at any moment? For merchandisers, this doesn't have to be a pipe dream any more.
It's getting harder for many merchandisers to engage target audiences and represent their brands consistently across retail and online environments. Having an increasing number of channels has made life more complex, especially if there are hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of descriptions and photos in the mix.
If you're a merchandiser struggling to keep up, then there are three particular challenges you could be facing right now:
Challenge #1: Parallel universes
Maybe your website looks great, but is your mobile site something of a compromise where crucial details like specs, accessories and other upsell options are missing? And what about your app — does it seem like a different company altogether once customers attempt to locate products?
When it comes to merchandising, companies shouldn't have a "best" channel; they should all give your products the attention they need, everywhere. One channel can't resemble a gleaming flagship store, while another feels like a shady street stall down a dark alleyway.
Challenge #2: Time-to-market delays
As merchandisers know, speed is essential when you're trying to share new products and services with audiences before your competitors. This goes for bundled deals, price drops, and other special offers too.
However, companies cannot launch products properly until all their channels are ready, and updating multiple systems can seem to take forever. Launching on some channels but not others would mean customers get confused, you'll miss out on sales, and the whole thing looks alarmingly unprofessional — as if the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.
Challenge #3: Lack of personalization
Most merchandisers have a good idea of who's going to be buying their new products and services. They know the USPs, the niche audiences who will be attracted, and the advantages over competitor offerings.
But the value of this business-critical intel can be lost if product information is simply uploaded and then flung in all directions in the hope that someone, somewhere will be in the mood to buy at just that moment. With so many other companies doing exactly the same thing, key messages get lost in the noise. It's impossible to cut through.
However, the good news is that it's now possible to overcome each of these challenges.
Tackling the root issues
If the scenarios just described sound familiar, then it's likely you have too many content systems that fail to feed data between each other — or connect with other systems that hold customer data. It then becomes virtually impossible to create the kind of memorable, personalized shopping experiences that customers treasure.
However, the outlook for merchandisers changes dramatically when companies fuse together their content, commerce and customer data. This is something now possible with Sitecore's Experience Commerce 9 platform.
Rather than battling with multiple systems, merchandisers can get an easy-to-use tool to decide how products are organized, priced, packaged, and shown in a single inventory that works across all channels. That way, entries and updates only need making once. And there's a neat staging area to test your work before going live.
It's then possible to launch targeted campaigns quickly with a single integrated platform and streamlined workflow. You can unify content, commerce and data with always-on personalization for precise delivery and outstanding results.
Suddenly, you have the ability to present products — and all the relevant information around them — in the optimum way on every channel, at just the right moment for customers. What's more, you can create individualized offers.
For merchandisers, this is a breakthrough moment. That sample product you're holding in your hands, or those pallet of items that's just arrived at the warehouse, can be brought in front of the right customers within hours — not weeks.
Closer to customers
Sitecore is enabling continuous, individualized shopping experiences across every part of the customer journey. It's the key to achieving greater ROI, sharpening your competitive advantage, and winning customers for life.
To discover how it's done, get your copy of Experience Commerce: The Strategic Guide for Executives. It explores the big issues, the specific challenges facing merchandisers, and how leading companies are delivering meaningful experiences that drive customer loyalty.
Wanda Cadigan is Vice President of Commerce Sales at Sitecore. Find her on LinkedIn.