If there's something you've bought offline that you weren't able to buy online, we're probably thinking about that.”
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As online retailers, big and small, incorporate new methods of displaying information about their products, they need increasingly sophisticated content management systems. Basic product pages featuring text and images have quickly developed into detailed landing pages with 360-degree product images, videos, links to social media networks and extensive customer review sections, among other features. Each of those features means added content, making managing that content effectively more important than ever.
Retailers must be prepared to display the most current and relevant information to customers across all outlets—Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, comparison shopping engines, affiliate sites, paid and natural search engine results, marketing e-mails and more.
But accomplishing that is increasingly complex, wrote analyst Brian Walker of Forrester Research Inc. says e-retailers in his December 2010 report on e-commerce content management systems.
Content management has not been a priority in many internally developed e-commerce tools, Walker says. That can make content management a secondary concern, he notes. Also, tools designed to manage product information focus on the supply chain—for example, making sure a retailer’s product numbers line up with its suppliers’ numbers—which makes it cumbersome to use them to manage the content that the retailer displays on its web site, Walker says.
But, better ways appear to be on the horizon. Product content management services are beginning to address e-commerce content management, Walker says, though many still maintain their roots in the supply chain and finance arenas.
And e-commerce platforms have improved their support. “During the past 18 months we have seen a wide range of e-commerce platforms improve support from product content and web content,” Walker says. “Businesses considering e-commerce re-platforming should make improved content capabilities a central set of capabilities in their evaluation process with a focus on multisite, multilingual and multichannel content management scenarios.”
Jennifer Haus, vice president of marketing for hearing aids retailer SongbirdHearing.com, urges looking for a content management system that balances functionality, simplicity and cost of deployment, and making sure it meets a retailer’s particular needs. “Don’t be persuaded by fancy functionality not optimized to your business,” Haus said.
In particular, Haus said a CMS should be intuitive and well organized, designed so that anyone in online merchandising and content management can use it The system should have rules about who has control over editing and approving content, and who has final approval before new content goes live.
And a retailer should know before deploying a content management system which types of content can be modified, such as the ability to create new types of video displays, and how much such flexibility might add in extra fees.
She also urged paying attention to the templates a vendor offers for organizing content. That includes answering such questions as how many templates come with the system, how flexible are they for changing content, and how much extra ones cost.