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What is the Product Content Lifecycle for ecommerce?

February 23, 2022
6 min read

The digital shelf is like brick-and-mortar stores in that it is always changing.  The speed of change is much quicker on the digital shelf, however.  For brands to be able to remain competitive, they need to continually adapt the way the way their products are perceived in digital retail channels.  This means that they need to master the Product Content Lifecycle to ensure that they are always providing a consistent and rich product experience. Product content lifecycle management is about managing changes to content about the product.  It is a self-feedback loop that is iterative.  This article discusses each step of the lifecycle.

Why is product content lifecycle management important?

There is no doubt that product content has a significant impact on customer decisions. It’s one of the primary tools they are using in their decision to purchase. In addition, it plays an instrumental role for smaller brands and larger enterprises.

Managing content assets is a complex process, and if executed poorly, it can lead to many issues for brands. Customers must be able to completely understand what the product is, its features, and what they are truly purchasing. Inconsistent content across various channels can become frustrating for retail teams to manage, but it can also lead to mistrust among customers. If they can’t trust the content surrounding the product, how can they trust the product itself?

What does successful product content look like?

There are a lot of opinions around successful product content, but it must be:

  • Informative
  • Descriptive
  • Detailed
  • Consistent

That can feel like a lot to accomplish, and your content will likely go through many different variations to land on the right one. That’s where the product content lifecycle comes in and why it’s so crucial. It gives businesses an idea of how the content has evolved and what it needs to improve and include to capture more customers.

And as versions are iterated and developed, there needs to be a centralized source that manages these changes and ensures that each retail channel has the most up-to-date version. Plus, older content needs a place to live so that teams can come back to it as needed during the optimization process.

What is the process for product content lifecycle management?

While the process for product content lifecycle management will differ from business to business, there are some core elements that can help map out processes for teams. A successful process needs to consider the customer experience, team resources, and assets currently available versus what needs to be developed. Let’s look at some of these elements in more detail.

1.   Strategize

Without a strategy in mind, product content will not be as effective. Retailers need to consider their target audience, their needs, and how the product can solve those needs. Keeping those considerations in mind, teams can create a strategy around product content that is more targeted and relevant.  You need to consider not only the product cards, but the entire buyer journey and every touchpoint.

That means identifying what customers resonate with, what they are looking for, and where your product fits in. Then, you can use existing data such as analytics and customer feedback as the foundation of product content strategy.

2.   Define and create assets

Once there is a strategy in place, what will that content be? Again, teams will need to work together to identify the most relevant content types to bring the strategy to life.

That can include short descriptions, social media copy, and longer pieces for product promotion. They may need to include certain information for regulatory reasons and, of course photos.  There will likely be a whole ecosystem around the product to ensure that content covers everything customers must know. Once those are identified, teams can start to create these assets to implement the strategy.

3.   Edit, revise, and approve

As content is created, there needs to be a central place to store and access the content as it goes through approvals. Furthermore, edits and revisions need to be centralized against brand guidelines and other factors.

The content will likely go through multiple stages of approval to ensure all departments are happy, and the process will involve many stakeholders. Everyone must work out of the same place to keep content clean, organized, and up to date as it is revised and edited.

Access controls need to be put into place, so there is a chain of accountability around edits, revisions, and changes for the team to manage on their end to manage collaborative efforts. This process will include larger processes and smaller detail-driven considerations such as naming protocols and ways to make searching for content easier.

4.   Syndicating data to retail channels

Once the content is edited, approved, and ready to go, publishing and distributing the content is the next step. Depending on the tools being used, syndication can be the easiest or most difficult part of the process.

Plus, there needs to be a secure way to track content on each channel to ensure standardization and consistency. Otherwise, a lot of manual work goes into ensuring that product content is accurate, up-to-date, and fits channel requirements.

Each channel will likely have varying requirements that need to be addressed in the content as it is distributed. Between keeping track of emails and channel requirements, it can be a lot for teams to manage.

5.   Improvement and optimization

This is where feedback loop comes into play. As products move to different channels, requirements change, or there is data to suggest changes need to be made (or really, all the above).  This data is often manually collected and analyzed and can be difficult to manage across multiple products and retailers.

As the content is pushed out onto channels, there will also be a deeper understanding of what is working with customers and what needs to improve. Perhaps the product team decides to make packaging changes deploy a new design. As a result, the product content needs to be adapted.

As the new content goes back through the content lifecycle, the need for a central repository to manage the content takes on more importance. Older versions need to be preserved as part of the improvement process. New versions of the content will require a similar level of oversight and collaboration to manage it across the different stages.

Managing the Product Content Lifecyle

Product content lifecycle management is a continuous part of running omnichannel e-commerce businesses. Successful product content lifecycle management can improve the customer experience, but it can also make business operations much smoother. However, successful product content requires a lot of steps and a lot of collaboration. That’s why having a comprehensive strategy is important, as is having the right tools in place to manage product content across its lifecycle and ensure that teams can easily manage product content as they work with multiple retail channels.

Our clients at Brandquad manage their entire product content lifecycle with our entire PXM suite, or they take one of the four modules to integrate with other existing tools they have. To learn more about Product Information Management (PIM), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Data Syndication, or E-commerce Intelligence, be sure to get in touch with us.