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Product

Jul 01, 2022

5 min to read

What is Product Activation?

Shoppers today are omnichannel by nature. So what brands and retailers need is a single comprehensive strategy that activates product stories across any channel, in order to grow revenue and create satisfied and loyal customers wherever they may be.

Keywords

activation

channels

experience

omnichannel

syndication

As I write this, family vacation time is almost here. It’s been 3 years since the last one abroad, and we realized there were lots of new things we needed for the trip. For me, it’s a new camera bag. Choices abound for these, across styles and features and price points. But which one should I get, as quickly as possible? Here’s how I came to a decision on one:

  • I checked out the websites of the brands I was already familiar with, many times over
  • I used a couple of search engines to see if there were any brands I hadn’t heard of yet. For the new brands, I checked out their websites too, many times over
  • I also browsed reviews, images, info, availability and pricing on Amazon, eBay and some of my favorite camera gear retailers
  • One evening, I popped into my local Target store to see if they had any inventory in stock that I could touch, try on and compare to (they didn’t)
  • I swiped through my social media feeds to see who else had bags from my shortlist, how they looked in real life, and how they were being used by those beautiful influencers
  • I read over countless reviews by photography experts I trust
  • I might have even clicked on an ad I saw while reading the news in my browser

I counted at least 15 individual touchpoints to come to a conclusion on a single product that I now really like and can’t wait to use. That doesn’t include the retargeting ads and “you forgot something!” emails I saw along the way.

Yes, like the other 90% of shoppers out there, I am a 100% bonafide omnichannel shopper.

Was I led by the brands to follow a particular customer journey? Absolutely not! My stops at these points and channels were totally random and at my convenience. My decision was based on that warm, satisfying feeling that I had all the information I needed to make a solid decision that I wouldn’t regret later.

What happened here is that the brand I purchased from [sorry, I won’t tell you which one here, you will just have to catch me at a live or online event and ask me directly] had done the work to ensure their brand values and style, alongside information and assets about their products, was shared and leveraged widely across all those different channels I was on. They didn’t come chasing me by tracking my every step (maybe a little, but that’s OK). Nor did they blatantly try to drive me to a particular place to buy (I ended up buying from one of those retailers I visited). Instead, wherever I went, I had a consistent, informative and enjoyable product experience with them, whether that was on their owned properties or someone else’s they didn’t control.

Brands like this one don’t look at each channel and touchpoint as separate strategies for selling and marketing their products. If that were the case, any one of those owned or unowned channels and touchpoints would have been a disappointment. Information missing. No images to see what the bag could carry. Unconvincing descriptions and reviews. We’ve all seen those bad product experiences somewhere. And all it takes is one bad product experience for me to not buy from that brand and go elsewhere. Or not be satisfied with my purchase once I receive it, inconveniencing me with expensive returns and no bag to carry all that camera gear in. When approaches to bringing product information and content to life in the market are siloed, the chances of mistakes slipping through are that much greater.

So clearly what’s needed is a single, holistic and comprehensive strategy to activate a brand or retailer’s product story across any channel or market that I, you or our fellow shoppers see, explore and buy from. It should support and drive their company goals and objectives, while meeting or exceeding the experience expectations shoppers have. It needs to be built on a strong and scalable foundation of the complete product record that encapsulates everything the shopper needs to make informed and satisfying decisions. It also needs to enable the brand or retailer to learn and adapt from what works and doesn’t work, and quickly launch into new markets and channels without having to recreate everything.

This single approach to having a product story win on any channel is what we call Product Activation.

“But isn’t that just product content syndication?” you might ask. Actually, it’s so much more than that. Product Activation brings together many different types of technologies and approaches for each of the channels you need to be on:

  • It needs a means to be able to reliably and scalably connect with and publish rich product data and assets to your owned properties, so your e-commerce sites, point-of-sales systems and people, and maybe your commerce-enabled apps, all have a consistent set of the latest and greatest information about your products in multiple locales for your international customers.
  • Yes, product content syndication and feed management are parts of Product Activation, so you have the pipework necessary to automate the publishing of your product data and assets to those unowned 1st-party retailers, 3rd-party marketplaces and marketing channels like ads, search and email. You need a way to be able to tell a consistent and compelling product story across all of these, even with their specific and sometimes ever-changing requirements.
  • For those unowned channels that don’t have automation endpoints like APIs, you need a method to be able to filter and transform your existing product record to their requirements as flat files like CSV or spreadsheets easily right from with your PIM, without you having to change your internal product catalog structure.
  • And don’t forget that people need to activate your product story too, whether they are your long-tail retail partners selling your products in that cool college town, or maybe your sales and service teams helping customers make informed decisions to buy from you, or influencers telling your story to their followers. They all need the means to make sure they have the latest, consistent and relevant product information from you too.

But why do this? It all sounds cool, right? By taking this Product Activation approach across all your routes-to-market, with a consistent and compelling product experience across any of those channels, you will be able to drive higher conversion rates and greater loyalty that comes from omnichannel shopping. But you and your teams will also be able to lower your time-to-activation of those product stories across current and future channels your shopper will be on, enabling you to get to revenue faster than ever before.

And many of our customers are applying a Product Activation strategy today. Take Bradfords Building Supplies as an example, a truly omnichannel business that just recently celebrated its 250th anniversary:

 

“Akeneo’s solution has played a key part in helping us optimize the digital sales channels and increase conversion. Not only are we seeing conversion rates improve, but we are also seeing returns volumes falling because customers are ordering and getting the product that is exactly what they asked for or that best matches their needs.”

As we head into a period of economic uncertainty, commerce businesses are beginning to wonder what will happen to the shopper behaviors that drastically changed during a pandemic when we all had to go into lockdown, unable to take that vacation abroad with our loved ones. The answer is: no one really knows. But one big thing businesses can control is their product story. And those businesses who are ready with a Product Activation strategy are the ones who will be able to survive and thrive through another unpredictable and tumultuous time. Will that be you? I’m sure it will be. If we can help you find a way through that, please do let us know.

In the meantime, let’s see exactly how much photography gear I can get in that bag. After all, there’s no such thing as too many cameras and lenses.

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