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Automation in E-commerce: The Next Frontier

In our latest report, we dug deep into the psyche of the online consumer and looked at some of the oft-overlooked factors that influence buying decisions. What we discovered helped us identify action items and a few cautionary tales for both established and emerging players in the e-commerce space.

Delivery charges and product unavailability, according to Netscribes research, predictably emerged as two of the biggest hindrances triggering higher bounce rates and diminishing sales. But e-tailers are raising their game through better cataloging and inventory management. Especially in the grocery category in India, where there is a serious emphasis on same-day delivery and enhanced quality assurance. The trend though has been restricted to a select few players that have already established themselves in the industry.

As e-tailers scale up to stay competitive, their product listing warrants constant evolution. Here’s where automated catalog management helps. By automating tasks such as information sourcing, standardization, and validation, online retailers can hit the market faster with accurate and quality product listings, at minimal costs. Automated catalog management platforms help process a week’s load of product data in a matter of days. Here’s how they help iron out a few typical problems:

 

Plugging information gaps

More than 40% of product returns are caused by poor or incomplete product descriptions. Automated cataloging enables e-tailers to seamlessly capture product data from multiple sources, classify and fill information gaps before listing them on their website. By crawling through pre-specified databases and websites, automated cataloging platforms cull SKU-specific product information to present them for further quality and hygiene checks. This speeds up the process of collecting product information, including images, product title, and attributes such as style, color, dimensions, weight, etc.

 

Maintaining product data accuracy

A granular check for data accuracy of each product is an expensive and time-consuming ordeal.  But AI and machine learning-powered automated catalogs have made it incredibly easy and quick. They detect, highlight, and correct spelling and punctuation errors, incorrect text-case or sentence construction, spacing issues, special characters, etc, at jet speed with little or no human assistance. Plus, through deep rule customizations, you can even program the tool to purge banned keywords and make category-level exceptions and SKU-specific exclusions.

 

Implementing consistency and standardization

Often sourced from numerous suppliers, most product data lacks consistency in terms of product title format, units of measurement (centimeters to feet or kilograms to pounds), etc.  Through rule-based algorithms, catalog management platforms can automatically convert raw product data into category-specific templates. Aspects like product title, attributes, dimensions, content, price, etc. are automatically aligned as per the retail website’s style guide.

 

Formatting product images for uniformity

As humans, we process images a thousand times faster than text. So it’s no surprise then that 93% of online shoppers consider product images to be an important factor in their purchase process. But, to be online-ready, images need to match the expected size and resolution requirements and be devoid of any backgrounds, shadows, logos, and watermarks, etc. Reviewing them manually to ensure that they meet the required standards can be a laborious and error-prone task. Automated catalogs simplify the process by detecting such inconsistencies and serve them up for editing or retouching to ensure uniformity.

 

Optimizing discoverability

To ensure that your products are easily discoverable, it’s important to stick to well-established category trees. Automated catalogs accurately tag and classify your products based on pre-defined hierarchies. They also help in finding SEO-friendly keywords and tag them to your products for better discoverability.

Apart from these, a good catalog management software also provides:

  • Real-time visibility
  • A centralized repository accessible to multiple business users
  • Automated product tagging

Automated e-commerce cataloging platforms allow online retailers to scale and achieve greater accuracy, consistency, and quality across their product listings. Some of the world’s largest e-commerce players trust Netscribes’ highly customizable catalog management platform to create comprehensive digital catalogs with enriched product content at scale. It has helped reduce their time to publish new products by 20% to 30% while ensuring high-data quality, efficient resource usage, and driving revenue growth.

 

Contributed by Gaurav Kumar, AVP of E-commerce Solutions at Netscribes, a market intelligence and content services provider.

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