Believe it or not, 2019 is almost over. Before too long, the year will have passed us by, and brands and retailers will be returning to normalcy after a hectic holiday season.
That means it’s time for companies of all shapes and sizes to start preparing to succeed in the new year — but what exactly does that mean?
To answer that question, we’ve searched far and wide to find predictions on what trends, technologies, initiatives, and more are in store for the year to come. Here’s a recap of notable trends happening in both B2C and B2B, and our perspective on how they apply to managing your product information. If you want more information on these trends or find out more about what’s coming up in the next year, click through on the links to learn more.
Trend #1 – Help customers move quickly
The days of the one-size-fits-all experience are coming to an end. Already, consumers increasingly expect companies to provide compelling, convenient, and one-of-a-kind experiences tailored to exactly their wants and needs. As Forbes says, “Today’s consumers don’t just want their products fast, they want to be able to get information about them quickly,” and this trend is one of the reasons AI is becoming important in digital retail.
As we have blogged before consumers should be able to get product information anytime, anywhere. Retailers can use AI-based technologies to help ensure that product information is accurate and complete. These technologies can verify if the information a retailer has is accurate, and can also uncover additional product attribute information that may be missing. AI can also be used to suggest better product categorization or even suggest missing attributes in your product data, or better product categorization.
And of course, content also needs to be presented in the proper context for the channel it’s being viewed on — desktop-based eCommerce websites, for example, have different rules than social shopping offerings or mobile apps.
Trend #2 — Breaking borders
Retail Touchpoints just published their annual eCommerce Tech Preview for 2020. This forward-looking report offers perspectives from a dozen industry experts. One interesting trend is enhancements in managing product content and how to ensure it is tailored for use globally as well as in local markets.
We believe context is king when it comes to product information. Cross-border commerce is a growing phenomenon in the internet age — customers are projected to spend $3.5 trillion on purchases from merchants outside their own country in 2019 alone. What’s more, that figure is set to balloon to nearly $5 trillion in just two years. With this increase in international spending comes obvious opportunities for merchants as well as new challenges for product information.
Just as your content needs to be tailored to meet the unique needs and advantages of a specific channel, it also needs to be put in context for the geographic market a customer lives in. That means thinking globally and acting locally by expanding to new markets and giving them product information in the language they speak every day. It’s about more than just language, however — you also need to make plenty of other changes to localize your product catalog. That could include everything from adjusting measurements for local units and values, to changing product images to fit the context of a given country, even changing your entire product assortment.
Trend #3 — Brand creation
A report by Summit Partners on eCommerce trends includes the observation that brand creation is changing. Nowhere is this occurring more rapidly than in the context of social interaction and engagement in a community.
Creating a brand today is as much about external factors as it is about internal factors — and product information is at the center of all of it. Building trust and a relationship with a customer requires that the brand provide accurate, correct, and consistent information. If customers don’t feel your information can be relied upon for one reason or another, they’ll surely abandon your store for a competitor’s, or just abandon a potential purchase altogether.
It’s also important to ensure that your product information isn’t too sterile — even in the B2B market. Customers are far more likely to make a purchase if they consider your customer experience to be a positive and exciting one.
Trend #4 — Social shopping
Another trend highlighted in the Forbes article is the social shopping phenomenon. It’s no secret that social media has a huge influence on commerce these days — after all, there’s a whole industry of social media influencers doing just that every day.
Social media has long played a role in industries like fashion, home furnishings, sporting goods, and more. Already, 3.5 billion people around the world are connected to social accounts, and what’s more, 72% of consumers on Instagram and 55% of those on Pinterest users have made a purchase based on something they saw on the site. Now, as platforms like Facebook and Instagram add direct eCommerce features, they are becoming an even more important sales engine.
Other brands have elected to create their own social media platforms and integrations in hopes of better connecting with like-loving consumers, a trend that will likely continue into the new year. In either case, it’s crucial to include plenty of accurate, consistent product information, presented in context for the particular social media work, in order to find success with consumers.
Trend #5 — B2B investment in social media
B2C players aren’t the only ones going social, however. While social media hasn’t been host to the same number of B2B integrations, more and more of these sellers are moving to social platforms to reach new customers.
But while they are embracing social media in much the same way that consumers have, B2B buyers do so in different ways, and through different platforms than consumers typically utilize — and it’s crucial to know the difference. The key is finding the channel your target audience is most active on, paying specific attention to emerging social media channels or niche platforms that speak to a certain demographic or interest group.
According to a piece from B2B Marketing Zone, LinkedIn will likely be especially relevant in the B2B space. More than 590 million active professionals are on Linkedin and 80% of B2B leads from social media come from LinkedIn. The platform has over 60 million senior-level influencers, 40 million decision-makers, and 10.7 million opinion leaders, and is predicted to keep growing in the near future. This means that product information must be tailored to fit this business-focused platform.
Trend #6 — SEO must be kept up to date
Like social media, search engines are becoming a growing driver of B2B sales as more B2B organizations embrace eCommerce and omnichannel offerings. But, as B2B Marketing Zone points out, showing up at the top of these customer searches is often easier said than done.
Google changes its algorithm constantly—several times a day in fact, and from hundreds to thousands of times per year. Because Google changes its algorithm constantly, it pays to have dedicated SEO specialists to keep up with changes so you can remain among the top search results. Fortunately, while it remains crucial to remain as current as possible when it comes to SEO changes, the best way to ensure that your site ranks well among competitors is to craft a compelling, high-quality and relevant content.
It’s also important to be aware of how new innovations and emerging touchpoints are changing how customers search for products, and by extension, how SEO is calculated. As voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa become an increasing part of commerce, SEO results will skew increasingly in favor of the ways in which these new searches are conducted.
These are just a few of the emerging trends we’ve highlighted. Check out the remaining predictions in the articles and posts here and look for trends that are applicable in your industry!
Get ready to conquer these and other 2020 trends with PIM and PXM! Learn how PIM and PXM can help your company make next year its best yet by reading our blog on Turning A New Commerce Channel Into A Success or get in touch today!