In today's omnichannel landscape, it’s more important than ever for customers to be able to find product information easily. 

All eCommerce sites have product information, or product data. This includes details such as: photos, videos, detailed descriptions, technical information, pricing, and more. Product data also indicates product varieties, such as different colors, sizes, or add-on equipment. 

As a manufacturer or distributor, optimizing product content can help your products stand out from the crowd. Consistency is key: whether a shopper is browsing online, at a large retailer, or a specialty shop, the product information should be equally easy to find.

The Power of Optimized Product Content in the Omnichannel Era

Of course, this is no small task. Providing product content to different retailers and eCommerce channels can be complicated and time consuming. Most retailers have their own policies and procedures for submitting product content. Some are technologically advanced and some are not. Many change their requirements frequently, and brands are at the mercy of retailers’ parameters. This often means collecting and formatting content in multiple different ways, and then submitting the product content to each individual retailer.

Depending on how many channels your brand uses to sell your products, this can be an extremely costly process. Manually managing data is never an ideal solution. 

Fortunately, there are technologies that can help brands equip retailers with product content in an efficient manner: product content syndication solutions, which are automated technical solutions that allow the product content information from your database to be used by other partner distribution channels.  

Understanding Product Content Syndication

Product content syndication, sometimes called product data activation, is the practice sending product information to retailers in a way that meets their requirements.

A product information management (PIM) solution, allows manufacturers and distributors to prepare product information for syndication via data modeling. Data modeling sets up relationships and properties within your product catalog. You map this information to each retailer’s requirements. 

This process enables brands to quickly, easily, and accurately send all of your relevant product data to your own channels, such as websites and mobile apps, as well as retailers’ channels, like websites and brick-and-mortar stores. 

Via your PIM and data modeling, you can circulate just one version of product information to all distribution channels. This cuts down significantly on the repetitive, manual labor involved with customizing product content information to each retailer’s specifications. 

Effective Tools and Strategies for Product Content Syndication

There are different ways to syndicate product content, but the most commonly used process is templated exports.

As the name suggests, each retailer provides their template, which contains all of their requirements for product content. Then, via syndication software, the templates are automatically populated with the information that is mapped from your PIM via data modeling. Rather than manually populating individual spreadsheets or forms, this process is done quickly via technology. 

Once these templates are populated, the syndication solution will verify that the content matches the retailer’s requirements, at which point templates can be emailed to retailers or loaded into a retailer portal. Some syndication solutions can even automate the delivery process, or can have a custom integration to the retailer’s channel, depending on the retailer’s preference. 

While this process saves significant time and greatly reduces the margin for error, it does require frequent template review, as retailer requirements can change quickly, rendering a template useless. 

Syndication Scorecard blog post CTA

Direct connections, another method for product content syndication, solves this dilemma. However, many retailers lack the technical capacity to offer direct connections, meaning that this option is limited to digitally mature partners. 

Retailers who have more robust technical capabilities, such as an API, can connect directly to a brand’s syndication solution. This allows the solution to send product content directly to the retailer’s channel. Some connections can even provide automatic updates to brands so that they know when retailers’ requirements have changed and they need to adjust their content information.

Regardless of the option that works best for your brand and your retail partners, product content syndication can save massive amounts of time, centralize data, automate tedious processes, enhance retailer relationships, and provide a consistent customer experience, all while allowing your teams to focus on higher-value tasks.

Is Product Content Syndication the Right Solution for Your Brand?

While all of us want to improve efficiency, a product content syndication solution may not be right for your business. 

Before exploring the possibility of integrating one, consider these questions:

  • Do you need to send product content information to multiple retailers? Do they have different requirements?
  • If you currently share product content information with retailers, how complicated is the process? How much time does it take your team? Is all the information accessible in one place, or do they have to gather requirements from multiple sources? 
  • Do you foresee your brand expanding its retail partner network? What about its eCommerce capabilities? Are you prohibited from doing either of these things now due to product content challenges?

Your answers can help guide your next steps. Brands that are looking to expand or enhance their eCommerce or retailer footprints can reap the benefits of implementing a product content syndication solution. 

Selecting a Product Content Syndication Solution

If you’ve decided to proceed with product content syndication, the next step is to evaluate which solution best suits your needs.

This may vary depending on:

  • How many products you currently have and plan to have
  • The number of retailers you are working with and hope to work with
  • The complexity of retailer requirements
  • Whether the retailers in your network use templated exports or direct connections
  • Your current syndication process

As with any technology decision, involving all appropriate stakeholders, getting buy-in up front, vetting multiple vendors, and taking advantage of solution demos can help you select the best solution for your brand. 

Implementing a Product Content Syndication Solution

With a vendor selected, you then need to implement the solution. This is a multi-step process, but should always start with cleaning up and centralizing product data. We all know the old data adage: garbage in, garbage out.

This is a great time to evaluate your current product data and consider updating or enhancing it. Does it need better images or videos? Are your descriptions outdated? Are there frequently asked questions you should include in the product information? How often do you plan to review this information to keep it current?

Next, set up your retailer connections. If possible, and retailers in your network offer it, start with direct connections first. Then move on to templated exports, as they require more monitoring.

Once your solution is deployed with retailers, pay attention to what needs to be tweaked, and where there are opportunities for improvement. Even with a syndication solution, retailers will change their requirements and customer needs will evolve. 

Navigating the Complexities of Product Content Syndication

Product content syndication has become increasingly complex and time-consuming, especially as more and more eCommerce channels emerge. It can be a challenge for brands to keep up with retailer changes, forcing them into a reactive rather than proactive product strategy. 

The good news is that technology can help, by automating this process, reducing the margin for error, increasing efficiency, and ensuring a consistent brand experience. 

Interested in learning more about the impact product content syndication can have on your business? Reach out to the team of experts at Object Edge for a free consultation. 

About the Author

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Adam Arbour

Principal Consultant, Data Practice

Adam brings over 12 years of experience in helping organizations solve their data challenges. Working with manufacturers, distributors, and CPG, has is a key consultant to the C-suite to drive digital transformation roadmaps. He's designed and implemented multiple software platforms supporting Master Data, Governance, Data Quality, and BI/Analytics engagements. He brings a depth of expertise and experience at driving business outcomes and simplifying complex technical engagements.

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