Product ideation, promotion and lifecycle is something we take for granted as a consumer. We are bombarded with new and existing products from brands; for the sake of branding awareness, promotions and campaigns. The average consumer may not consider what goes into getting those products to market and what is included in the content creation, management and distribution process.
If you do work in primary content creation, product enrichment, brand management or in the promotional teams enticing consumers to purchase, you will know that it is complex. There is a large number of products and a limited amount of time. If something goes wrong, it can be disastrous to the brand or campaign.
The output of these efforts might be changing from printed catalogues and brochures to digital experiences, animated signage and email marketing but the principles remain the same. You need to match the latest product image or video to the right product copy and to the correct price.
The process and challenges behind Product Content Management
The problem with Product Content Management is that this data or content is typically stored in different places and has to come together via human involvement. The image is on a file store provided by the supplier or photography studio; the product copy in a spreadsheet from the product manager; and the price in the ERP or POS system managed by the retailer. All of this information needs to be combined to create a product. The magnitude of the challenge increases when factoring in various colours, styles or sizes for particular products.
As ecommerce increases in size, the need for a richer and broader range of images, including 360 and zoomable images, is needed as it emulates the ability to pick something up off a shelf as if you were in a store. As a result, primary content creation has become more complex as these materials need to be compared with the physical goods to ensure everything matches. The photography also must be managed, so it matches the style guide of the brand and fulfils the needs of the ecommerce platform.
On top of that, the product copy needs to describe the function and value distinction and to suit the channel and stage of review and consumption of the consumer. Often this is written out of sync with the primary content creation and can delay a product getting ‘on sale’.
The process does not end there. Content creators must manage promotional agreements for featured products, photographing customised packaging, and ensuring there is the right amount of stock to support your demand. What is more, pulling products from a campaign is not uncommon.
With all of these factors, PCM is a fast moving engine with many moving parts, multiple suppliers and lots of people in the driving seat.
In the same way there is a supply chain for the manufacture and distribution of the physical goods to a store, PCM is a supply chain of content that is ultimately delivered to the consumer to influence their purchasing decision.
In an omnichannel and digital world of consumerism, managing this process the ‘old’ way is just no longer efficient or scalable.
How does Product Content Management solve these problems?
What is needed? Technology that revives upstream primary content production and combines it with product data so enrichment can occur in a collective environment before being distributed to digital (and analogue) channels for consumption.
I have worked with many aspects of product content marketing over the years and integrating Digital Asset Management (DAM) into processes is a key tool. Creating catalogues by leveraging a DAM to store product images and combining them with product data from another system is something we still help people with. However, modern omnichannel frameworks need more than just an image library with individual assets matched to a SKU number.
There are limitations with most DAM platforms in their ability to manage the product schema and related entities for product groups and ranges due to their limited database structure in applying metadata to a specific record.
Sitecore Content Hub is an omnichannel content platform that is technically designed with a Product Content Management function. It is a DAM system primarily, but its graph database leverages entities (products and assets) to define objects. If I have ten images and a video of a product I can relate these asset entities to the product entity. I do not have to copy or embed the metadata into every asset record for it to appear in a search or API request. I can then deliver the specific product content to each channel and ensure it is synced across my customers experience and if I have to update a product shot if the packaging changes I only have to approve it in Content Hub and all the locations of the digital brand update automatically.
Enhance Product Content Management with Creative Folks
Sitecore’s Content Hub is not just a DAM platform with superior product management capability, it also has a Marketing Resource Management module for planning campaigns and assigning tasks to people in your team. It links directly to all product assets (images, video, EPR data, copy text etc). You can start enriching your primary content and send the curated content on a workflow for review, corrections and final approval with internal or external parties. If you want to create a digital article promoting your products, you can also leverage the Content Marketing Platform or the agile workflow for streamlining production and orchestration.
Sitecore Content Hub allows for true omnichannel content creation, which facilitates automated content distribution or ‘Content as a Service’ to reduce human effort and error, and improve customer experiences.