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Three Steps for Syndicating Your Product Content in a Changing Digital Landscape

Josiah Gray
PXM Lead Consultant, Valtech

april 21, 2022

If you are a brand owner, manufacturer or distributor, you know how important it is to have your products show up on the right channels with in-depth product information. You also know that, like the rest of the digital world, commerce is rapidly changing, and it is easy to get left behind with last generation tools and processes.

Four of the main online sellers have made significant changes in recent years:

  • 2019: Target launched Target + Marketplace 
  • 2020: Walmart launched the Item 360 platform 
  • 2021: Lowes started piloting a new item platform
  • 2022: Amazon launched new product API

And the required attributes change constantly. In this article, we walk through the three steps for syndicating your product content:

  1. Deliver data to commerce channels 
  2. Structure your data model for flexibility 
  3. Constantly receive feedback and adjust

Speed, Efficiency and Scale: Product Syndication Has Come a Long Way

Amazon launched its online bookstore in 1995. Anyone who remembers it knows that the Amazon of today is practically unrecognizable from its origins. Product syndication has come a long way too:

  • Product syndication was the set of tools and processes to create products across commerce sales channels.
  • Today, product syndication is the set of tools and processes to deliver and maintain product information to your Commerce customer endpoints in the format that they require at scale, quickly and efficiently. It’s a way to better manage your product information as it shows up on third party retail platforms like Amazon, Walmart, etc.

Before getting into the “how, we need to take a deeper dive into the changes in product syndication:

  • Content requires regular updates: Product content is no longer “set and forget; content needs to be updated and kept relevant to consumers and SEO algorithms to prevent it from falling further down the search page. This depends on the attributes and keywords used in your marketing copy.
  • Opportunities for truly interactive content: Videos and below the fold enhanced content (A+ content) are critical to a brand’s representation. Retailers are prioritizing search results for pages with extra content. Consumers can be exposed to so much more of your product and brand value using these methods.
  • Rapidly changing commerce requirements: Retailers and marketplaces have unique requirements that can change 100+ times over a year. The more categories you play in, the more changes there are to keep in sync.
  • Growing number of SKUs: Brands cannot afford to leave products offline, and they cannot afford to skip the Commerce sites their consumers frequent. For instance, even if Amazon is not your main selling channel, many consumers start their product search there, even if they will ultimately purchase on another platform.
  • Customers are hungry for information: Brands no longer have the luxury of taking their time to get their products online. Consumers search for products on Amazon, Google, branded websites, etc. Even when standing in the store looking at your product, shoppers want more information than the packaging can deliver. If it exists, then it needs to be online now!
  • Processes can be automated: Some leading commerce merchants don’t have a published phone line to call and tickets opened on their platforms can take weeks to resolve. Retailers are relying more on automated API and systemic checks to provide customer support.

All brands can adapt to meet these challenges. At the same time, it is hard to know where to start.  How do you achieve this goal of syndicating your product content in today’s world? There are three main processes needed:  

  1. Deliver data to Commerce channels 
  2. Structure your data model for flexibility 
  3. Constantly receive feedback and adjust

Deliver Data to Commerce Channels

The most obvious step in syndication is delivering data to your commerce channels. The two key components are: 

  1. Exporting and transforming your data to fit the channel specification 
  2. Loading the data into the retailer/marketplace system.

A modern Product Experience Management (PXM) system can automate the transformation of product data into your commerce channel’s preferred format, deliver that content via APIs, data pools, and catalogs, and include rich content like videos and enhanced content.

Structure Your Data Model for Flexibility

Syndication isn’t just slapping a delivery method on an existing information system. You need a data model inside your PXM that is structured for flexibility to meet the constantly changing commerce requirements. How quickly can you identify missing data, build that requirement upstream in your workflow, and source the data? Use taxonomy, status codes, and workflow to keep your product information in line with changing downstream requirements. Your PXM system should show you, at a glance, if your product is ready for a channel, and your PXM should pinpoint the product content that is missing for your Commerce partners.

Receive Constant Feedback and Adjust

All of this may sound challenging, but each of these steps will bring value. The commerce world is constantly evolving, and you need two feedback loops to continuously adjust your PXM:  

The first is a product feedback loop—you need in-PXM confirmation that your product data is displaying correctly to consumers. Even when you do everything right, your product content can still be blocked downstream due to legacy information or third-party competitors. Through automated retailer feedback and web scraping analytics you can have confidence that your products are displaying correctly online.

The second is a requirement feedback loop—you need continuously updated requirements from your retailer/marketplace partners inside your PXM. A product that meets commerce requirements today, may not be ready for syndication tomorrow. Seeing these data gaps directly in your PXM allows you to action them and adjust your data model and workflow accordingly.

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