April 28, 2005, 12:00 AM

Content management tool helps vendors and retailers generate site traffic

Retailers are using a content management service from WebCollage that lets vendors and merchants directly control branded content.

Retailers like CompUSA, Ritz Camera and Sony Electronics are using a content management service from WebCollage Inc. that lets both vendors and merchants directly control branded content.

WebCollage hosts a content management application for manufacturers like Sony Corp. and Palm Inc. that takes content, including product images, descriptions and logos, from the manufacturers’ web sites and displays it directly on partner retail sites, assuring the manufacturers that their content is accurately presented, says WebCollage CEO Eli Singer.

The system also provides some control to retailers, who can alter such content as retail pricing but not basic images and product descriptions, Singer says.

Sony uses the WebCollage service as both a manufacturer sending content to retailers and as a recipient of product content at SonyStyle.com, the retail site of Sony Electronics. “This allows us to get information to our customers through retail sites a lot more quickly,” says Scot Pettit, web merchandise manager for Sony. “When we update content on our site, it’s automatically updated to all of our retail partners’ sites.”

He adds that the WebCollage service has enabled Sony to quickly launch hot-selling products, such as its new M1 digital camera, on SonyStyle.com as well as on retail partner sites like RitzCamera.com. “When we have a new product launch, it gets to these sites almost instantly,” he says.

To make new products available for online ordering, retail partners now only have to enter basic information like SKU number and price to their databases, Pettit says. “They don’t have to wait for images or other content,” he says.

On SonyStyle.com, the system can save a few hours of content management work by one or two staffers for each new product. “Multiply that by a lot of products, and it really adds up,” Pettit says.

CompUSA has found that the WebCollage system produces better click-through rates by customers from outside marketing channels-such as e-mail marketing messages, Internet search marketing campaigns, and affiliate sites-who land on product pages with manufacturers’ official syndicated content, including extensive product specifications and research, says Will Pendergast, director of e-commerce for CompUSA.

“We have measured the click pathing of this option and have seen that customers visit more pages than if they were sent to the conventional product pages,” he says.

CompUSA is encouraging more of its vendors to use the WebCollage system, he adds. “While we have not done a thorough analysis of conversions, we are encouraging our vendors to partner with WebCollage to enhance the content as well as speed up the time for posting on our sites,” Pendergast says.



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