For years, Akeneo’s mantra has been “there’s no good customer experience without a compelling product experience.” We have had this vision for a long time and have invested accordingly in our PIM-based solution to help B2C brands and retailers, and B2B manufacturers and distributors, be able to deliver better product experiences. The link between product experience (PX) and customer experience (CX) is well-established and documented not only by us, but also by industry analysts.
Consider this report “The US Digital Retailers Customer Experience Index, 2020: How US Digital Retailer Brands Earn Loyalty With The Quality Of Their Experience” from Forrester. (Forrester clients can download a copy of this report from the Forrester website). This leading analyst firm created a CX Index methodology that measures how well a brand’s customer experience strengthens the loyalty of its customers.
The report lists 4 key drivers, and this is the first one in the list:
“Products and services is the most important driver category for digital retailers’ CX. Drivers relating to a digital retailer’s products and services — including what it offers and how well its online descriptions match reality — have the most impact on a brand’s overall CX Index score.”
I’ve highlighted part of the sentence for emphasis. From Akeneo’s point of view, product descriptions are key, but the PX isn’t just limited to the description. It also includes all the other relevant data: accurate technical specifications so buyers can be sure the product will fit and meet standards; usage information and how easy that is to access and understand; and emotional information, which includes great product descriptions as well as high-resolution images, videos, and other documents. Think also about what kind of images you offer. Are they simple photos of the product floating in space? Or do they show the product “in action”? For example, stage the furniture you’re selling in a room where it is designed to be used. Context is king, both in terms of product information relevance by channel and by country, as well as in imagery. Be creative! And use that creativity to build trust and emotion.
This last point leads me to note one of the other interesting statements from the Forrester report, and that is about disappointing your customers. This one of course feels very obvious, but there is a measurable impact when customers are frustrated by their experience. From the report, Forrester states:
“Annoyance, disappointment, and frustration will drive customers away. Making your customers feel annoyed, disappointed, or frustrated is the most harmful to their loyalty. Out of customers who felt disappointed, just 12% will advocate for the brand.“
These research findings from Forrester are based on US company data, but they align with surveys Akeneo sponsored with both B2C and B2B audiences globally.
What do consumers and buyers say about product experience?
In our 2021 Global B2C Survey, we talked to 3,500 consumers from France, Germany, the UK, Australia, China, Canada, and the US. We learned that 50% would pay a premium (10% or more) for a better product experience consisting of more accurate product information.
Our 2020 Global B2B Survey of 1,600 B2B manufacturers and distributors in the same seven countries found similar results. 56% said they could increase sales conversions, and nearly half of them said they could charge more for the same product thanks to a better product experience for customers and buyers.
On the downside, in the 2021 Global B2C survey, nearly 4 in 5 consumers said they would abandon a planned purchase if they discovered the product information to be flawed or inconsistent. And to underscore Forrester’s findings regarding customer annoyance and disappointment, our survey found that 3 in 4 consumers would switch brands following a poor product information experience.
These are some alarming statistics that can be easily avoided if brands, manufacturers, retailers, and distributors invested in ensuring a good product experience. This can be aided by using tools that bring teams together, foster collaboration, evaluate data quality and suggest improvements, and enable marketers to ensure that the digital assets associated with a product are the right ones. How many times have you come across a product you’d like to purchase only to discover that the images did not match the descriptions, or so much product information was missing it was impossible to select that product?
Review your product catalog and make sure it is complete. Are all the mandatory fields filled in? Do the images match the items? Can shoppers search on the right filters, or is important information embedded in descriptions that make it hard to find and compare products? There are so many seemingly little things that can ruin the shopping experience. If your teams find this difficult to spot and fix, perhaps it’s time to review your people, processes, and technology and see if there are things you can do to improve.
Check it before you wreck it!
What it boils down to is makers and sellers need to check their product experience before they wreck the customer experience. Or their digital transformation initiative. Or customer loyalty. Or ultimately the bottom line.