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Can agile data transform FMCG ecommerce?

Why product content is more powerful than ever for FMCG ecommerce businesses today

Fast-moving consumer good (FMCG) purchases account for over half of all consumer spending in the US. However, ecommerce and digital marketing sites don’t generally include FMCG alongside the more trendy industries like fashion, travel, and automotive. So, if this industry is such a powerhouse, why isn’t it addressed as such? It may be because businesses in the FMCG and consumer packaged goods (CPG) sectors are not often at the forefront of digital transformation. They can be uniquely reliant on retailers, making transformation difficult.

However, with online spending on groceries expected to reach $100 billion by 2025, companies in the FMCG industry will need to reevaluate their digital strategy and digital inventory management. They will need to be more digital-friendly and take full advantage of online opportunities by mastering their digital product content. In short, FMCG ecommerce is the future of the industry.

FMCG ecommerce sales statistics

Read more on this study from Nielsen

 

Driving returns in ecommerce often comes back to the product catalog, and the FMCG industry is no exception. Though FMCG businesses have a unique relationship to retailers, brands must also begin to take control of their product information and get creative in order to sell more.

The setting: brand-retailer relationships are changing

Direct-to-consumer sales work great for certain products. Shoes, headsets, and gaming consoles are all products that consumers will likely research online before purchasing. That’s why businesses in these sectors place a high value on digital marketing and their online store. Milk and cereal, on the other hand, don’t necessarily require online research before buying. Plus, a shopper looking for cereal isn’t likely to visit the General Mills site. They’re going to visit Walmart, Amazon, or other retailer pages where they regularly make purchases. That is why FMCG brands strongly rely on retailers in order to get products in the hands of shoppers. However, with the growth of ecommerce, this dynamic has become strained. In fact, 76% of brands report dissatisfaction with their CPG retailer partners.

One problem is data. Whoever closes the sale gets the related customer data. That means, a company like General MIlls can’t really define who is purchasing their products on a retailer website, and they certainly can’t try to retarget or market to them later on. They won’t know what brought the shopper to a given product or what made them convert. Cross-selling and upselling opportunities, as well, are left entirely to the retailer. FMCG giants, in particular, are at risk of losing market share to agile startups and those brands who are able to capitalize on every little micro-opportunity. Agile brands are dominating on sites like Amazon and targeting shoppers better, stealing shares away from existing heavyweights.

As a result, brands are moving to take some power back by syndicating their product content directly to more channels and catching up on digital transformation.

FMCG marketing needs to get creative—and agile

It’s not an easy time for traditional brands. In fact, consumers would not care if 74% of today’s brands were to disappear. Consumers are more concerned with getting the best deal for the best products and – of course – in the most convenient way possible. They don’t care if the brand is old and established or trendy and new. This means new brands, who are agile and digitally native, have a huge upper hand. The Dollar Shave Club, for example, broke the mold by leveraging great, direct-to-consumer digital marketing strategies. By reaching out directly to consumers and pulling them in with great content, the company was able to create a pure sales funnel, always leading users to make an easy and direct purchase on the Dollar Shave Club site.

But this shift isn’t just about direct-to-consumer opportunities. It’s about stimulating growth where sales are beginning to struggle. Thus FMCG brands are finding creative ways to stimulate growth and expansion, beginning at the very foundation of ecommerce.

Google Manufacturer Center is one example of a creative solution just for brand manufacturers. It helps: ensure a manufacturer’s product information appears consistent throughout the Google universe; and let manufacturers show products directly to consumers on Google. Now, brands can fill in the gaps of their retailer-based strategies by exerting more power over the way their products appear online.

Want to take advantage of Google Manufacturer Center? This guide can help you get started.

Discoverability and scalability

Discoverability is what allows shoppers to find a particular product. For example, consider a customer searching for detergent. You want them to find your brand’s detergent, of course, but that user won’t necessarily be searching for the exact product or brand name. They’ll be using common keywords and terms related to the product they want and the problem it solves. Whichever product listing or website most closely relates to these search terms will surface first in search. If your products use the wrong terms, they won’t always surface when they should. This is true for search sites like Google or Bing as well as marketplaces like Amazon or Walmart.

This is yet another reason why small, agile startups are able to compete with established, goliath-sized companies; they know the importance of catering to digital with optimized product information.

How can brands ensure online product discoverability? There are two ingredients.

  • Strong and optimized product information. SEO-inspired terms and keywords help shoppers find products; keywords should always be carefully included in titles and descriptions as a rule. Thorough information also helps shoppers understand whether the product is exactly what they’re looking for. This makes it much more likely that a browser will stop browsing and convert.
  • Smart product content syndication strategies. By listing on numerous sites, brands can ensure that shoppers will find those products across the web. It’s not enough to only be on Walmart or just on Amazon. Even when many purchases are not occurring on a specific channel, that channel may still serve as a key touchpoint for shoppers who are researching and gathering information.

With the right software, content optimization and syndication can be a highly automatable task with huge rewards.

The key to a great content syndication strategy

Let’s consider all the places you need to syndicate product information. Sure, there are the obvious channels. Amazon is home to about half of all ecommerce sales in the US. (That was some $250+ billion in 2018.) And then there’s Google, where over 40,000 search queries occur every second. But these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to content syndication and necessary channels. Products need to be visible on other global sites and local niche marketplaces. Even content databases are all fundamental to competing in the modern FMCG ecommerce space. There are three key avenues to consider in your strategy.

  • Content databases like GDSN or Icecat. These allow brands to drive more sales and better customer experiences by giving retailers access to higher quality product content.
  • Service providers such as product photography agencies or Brandbank. Chances are, a brand won’t have the power to do everything in-house; they may need to use a third party to take and create product photos or manage data.
  • Sales and marketing channels including – of course – Amazon and Google as well as local or niche sites like Southeast Asia’s Lazada or Europe’s Allegro. For example, FMCG businesses in Norway or Denmark may want to be on Shobr, a channel dedicated to fresh and frozen food straight from brand manufacturers.

As you can see, what started as just a couple of syndication channels can quickly turn into dozens of unique channels (and languages, and localized messaging). Once you know which channels need to be reached, the next question is, “how can you reach them?”

The unique complications of FMCG data

In many ways, product data in the FMCG sector is not so different from data in other sectors. The difficulties that FMCG companies face when attempting digital transformation is clearly, in many ways, due to the nature of their audience. However, FMCG data can also be complex.

Products often have far more attributes than just “title” and “GTIN.” In FMCG, there may be nutrition information, details about chemicals, allergens, or different certifications. For international brands, all of these attributes must also be translated and localized for target countries and regions. All of this can create a very complex, as well as confusing and delicate, chain of information. That’s why it’s even more important that businesses in FMCG have a strong system for managing and tailoring their product content.

FMCG ecommerce product content syndication: it’s more manageable than you think

Many of the most important components to digital transformation and success are right there in front of you. The product catalog that is regularly leveraged in commerce is a huge part of any content syndication strategy. It’s just a matter of cleansing and preparing the catalog for target channels.

Each target channel, whether it’s Alibaba, Tmall, or GDSN, will have its own unique requirements. Thus raw product data will need to be tailored to fit each channel. This may mean standardizing titles, reformatting prices, or adding unique attributes. Regardless, the process should be as automated as possible. This will allow brands to scale quickly while minimizing opportunity costs. Plus, once the data is tailored, it will need to be regularly uploaded to the target channel in order to keep product listings and ads up-to-date.

Reach more channels with dedicated feed management

Productsup makes all of these steps simple and lets you centralize all your data cleansing and tailoring in one platform. Use our channel-ready templates to ensure product data is properly tailored to each and every target channel.

Plus, our drag-and-drop rules let you easily automate the content optimization and syndication process. No matter where you want to send your product content, Productsup makes it easy, so you don’t have to ask IT for help or waste time and resources doing excessive manual work.

Use modern syndicated sales data sources to boost return on trade promotions

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