When you’re dealing with 20,000+ SKUs from multiple suppliers, managing product data for your e-commerce website can be chaotic. A minor typographic error can snowball into a massive headache.
Let’s take a simple example. Say the inventory stock levels for a product were mistakenly listed as 100 instead of 1000. All 100 sell out and the product page now mentions the product being out of stock though you actually have 900 in your warehouse. The effect is not limited to lost sales opportunities and dissatisfied customers. Your supply chain system may automate a reorder leaving you with even more inventory. Sorting it out and bringing your inventory back to manageable levels may take a few months.
On the other hand, if the stock level presented on the site is higher than the reality, a logistical error during the operational processing of the order may impact the entire promise. This is why it is necessary to be able to detect these discrepancies throughout the value chain.
When it comes to issues like these, the faster you can spot an error and fix it, the lower its impact. This is where feed monitoring and log supervision come into play.
What is a feed monitoring?
When you’re selling online, each SKU needs a product page on which various attributes such as the name, description, sizing, prices, etc. are visible. There’s more information too that is linked to this product such as quantity, attributes, categories, etc. that might not be listed on the page. The file containing all of this data is called a product feed.
When you’re dealing with 1000s of products, you need a data feed management solution. This helps optimize listings for all your chosen sales channels and keeps inventory details updated by tracking product responses across platforms. Feed monitoring is a critical aspect of data feed management and managing your offers, orders, and finances.
Feed monitoring and log supervision?
Feed monitoring refers to having visibility over your end-to-end product data feeds and making sure they are accurate, formatted correctly and reflect real-life values. For example, to manage your production, inventory, and selling, you need several IT systems including back office, middle office, and front office. Feed monitoring covers data flow in all these systems. This visibility helps identify errors as well as where they originate from.
Log supervision technology focuses on data. It empowers you to zoom in on the issue, retrieve the data, track where it came from, who interacted with it, etc. and understand what caused the trouble. For example, you can find whether the error made when data was entered into the product sheet or if you received an incorrect file from your supplier. This is important for transparency and accountability.
Common data feed errors
Some of the most common errors that affect product feeds are:
- Errors in product titles and descriptions
- Missing attributes and metatext
- Missing required data fields
- Images that do not meet site requirements
- Wrong inventory levels
- Prices that have not been updated
- Errors in order processing
- Incorrect payment processing
Why do you need feed monitoring?
You probably source products from different places and have multiple selling avenues. Thus, you need to integrate product feeds from all your sources and then distribute them amongst your selling channels according to their requirements. For example, you may prefer lifestyle shots on your website, but if you’re selling your product on Amazon, you need product pictures set against a white background. It sounds simple but when you’re dealing with thousands of products, it can easily get complicated. Let’s look at a few ways food monitoring can help.
Optimize product data quality and build brand value
What do you think of a brand that makes spelling errors in its product description? Reading products as “Laight blue t-shirt” or “Black tabele lamp” isn’t likely to inspire trust in the brand. Instead, you’re probably going to close down the tab and label the brand/ site as unreliable. Given the high number of fake websites and fraudulent brands in the market today, it isn’t hard to understand the reasoning behind this. When you look at it from a customer’s point of view, if you don’t pay attention to what is written on your website, how can they expect you to pay attention to product quality?
Regular feed monitoring helps avoid publishing such data. No matter how hard you try, there may still be a typo that slips past you into the product feed. Feed monitoring gives you a chance to look into the accuracy of your product details and make sure your descriptions, etc. are error-free. You can make corrections and build-in proactive checks to keep such mistakes from happening again.
When you have beautiful products accompanied by clear, correct content, site visitors will have a better opinion of the brand and be more comfortable placing an order.
Aid in product discovery to maximize sales opportunities
Whether you’re looking at an independent website or a marketplace, to sell your products, your target audience must first find them. You can use a number of tools like SEO to help with this. More importantly, you need a high level of accuracy. You might have the most beautiful set of tableware priced just right, but if your inventory team made an error and saved their stock amounts with the name “ableware” instead of “tableware”, it’ll never meet your expected sales volumes.
Not only do mistakes like this affect the image of a brand, but they also limit its visibility. When a customer searches for “tableware”, your product won’t make it to the search results. When customers don’t see your product, they can’t buy it. But, when you monitor your feeds you can identify and fix such errors thereby making your products more visible in online searches.
Improve data agility to increase your market reach
A good feed monitoring system not only helps you overcome typographic errors and other common pain points, but it also helps maximize product exposure. When you’re using a multi-channel strategy, it makes it easier to keep track of what information is required for each channel and structure your data accordingly without increasing your dependence on the tech team. You can scale up your product reach with a wider net.
At the same time, it builds trust in your data and the results of tests run on it. For example, let’s say you want to test product titles to see which has a better response; “green dress” or “green cotton dress”. Since you know all the other details are correct, you can trust that the preference shown in the test is a result only of the different titles.
Assess performance more easily
Good feed management and monitoring not only bring all your information together but also helps you keep an eye on the quality of information coming in from different sources. Your information typically comes in from external sources as well as different departments within your organization. It wouldn’t be fair to penalize the team uploading data to your sales channels for mistakes that weren’t theirs.
For example, it might be caused by a lack of standardization. While you categorize product SKU colors as red and blue, your vendor may categorize them as red, blue and dark blue. As a result, your system may miss out on accounting for the dark blue inventory. Data monitoring makes it easier to spot such inaccuracies. With further log supervision can you see where the switch was made and address the issue there rather than for a single product. Thus, it simplifies product management at scale.
It also helps visualize product performance. By monitoring products across all sales channels, you can see what’s working and what elements need to be fixed. Further, you can see the effects of data optimization and tweak them as required.
Improve campaign performance
You designed a great marketing campaign, invested a lot of time, money and human resources into it and yet it doesn’t create an impact. Why? One of the reasons could be that the product being promoted in your campaign is listed as out of stock on the website because of an inventory error.
This has happened before, probably many Times. Timothy’s World Coffee, for example, launched a marketing campaign offering existing and prospective fans a free sample in exchange for following their social media pages. It started out as a great tactic, but the brand ran out of samples within 3 days. Unfortunately, they realized this only 2 weeks later. By then, they built up a sizable disgruntled audience. The damage could have easily been averted if the issue was noticed earlier.
However, when your data is reliable and correct, your product visibility improves, your brand perception improves and so does the performance of your sales campaigns. This is after all why you are making such an effort to monitor your data feeds.
Increase product information accuracy for a better customer experience
There is also the impact feed monitoring has on customer experience to be considered. Bear in mind that studies have shown that 2 bad experiences are enough for 76% of customers to stop doing business with a brand and look for alternatives.
Firstly, feed monitoring improves searchability and makes it easier for customers to interact with the website and make purchases. By keeping stock values and prices, etc. updated to reflect real-time values, it makes sure the order and delivery process is smooth. Imagine how a customer would feel if they placed an order and then found out that they have to pay an additional fee for shipping!
Feed monitoring also helps ensure that customers get what they see and thus lowers the chances of order returns. Let’s say a shoe retailer made a mistake in a product listing and published images of a discontinued model. A customer looking for that particular piece placed an order. The fulfillment team only sees the product name and ID and sends a pair of shoes that doesn’t match the image on the website. The customer is sure to return the order. Thus, the company pays double shipping and faces the potential loss of a customer, all because of an unmonitored product feed.
Paying attention to product details and maintaining high data quality levels go a long way in enhancing the overall customer experience and building a loyal audience.
Who can benefit from feed monitoring?
A screwdriver is a powerful, versatile tool, but it won’t be much help when you need to put in a nail. Like the tools in your garage, you need to make sure you use technology in the right way for the right purpose. So, who stands to benefit the most from feed monitoring?
Companies with high-volume SKUs
When you have 10, 20 or even 100 SKUs, checking data manually and making edits is a possibility, but it still takes a lot of time and effort. The same can’t be said for merchants with 100,000+ SKUs. It simply isn’t possible to handle that much data manually. Feed monitoring takes over this role and makes sure your content quality does not suffer as your company grows.
Companies with variable catalogs
Data is never static. But, for some companies, it may change more often than it does for others. Prices can change, you may discontinue a color scheme, a product goes in and out of stock, etc. With the right automation tools, you can keep track of such changes and make sure you don’t use incorrect data.
Companies wanting to sell through multiple channels
Feed monitoring is especially important for brands retailing through multiple channels. Each platform may have different requirements and if you don’t meet these requirements your product may not be listed.
When you’re preparing products for your website, you base your data on the style and tone you want to project as a brand. For example, you may choose to list an outfit as “cerulean ocean breeze top”. You probably won’t be thinking of how your product pages fit the requirements of marketplaces like Amazon or Google. However, when you decide to market your product to those channels too, you will need to make certain edits.
Automation and feed monitoring tools can help optimize content for each channel and manage the product catalog laterally to all your chosen sales channels.
Ready to experience the benefits of feed monitoring?
Every business seeks growth. Growth means scaling up and dealing with higher product volumes, more sales avenues, wider vendor networks and so on. The key to managing feed integrations as you scale up lies in feed monitoring.
To experience the maximum benefits, look for a low-code solution as offered by Marjory. This helps you automate workflows between apps and control data feeds. The inbuilt feed monitoring ability makes sure you catch mistakes in the early stages and keep them from building up. Level up your digital selling game today.