June 14, 2011, 3:47 PM

IRCE 2011 Report: Retailers offer tips on content management that works

A new content management system should be flexible and easy to use.

Lead Photo

Jennifer Haus cautions against too much complication for content management systems.

When choosing a web content management system, it’s crucial to find one that is easy to use and designed to provide the functionality and flexibility a retailer needs, Jennifer Haus, vice president of marketing for hearing aids retailer SongbirdHearing.com, said at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 today. She added, however, that a CMS should also be as simple as possible, avoiding unnecessary features and functionality that can put the cost of system out of a retailer’s budget.

Overall, a successful content management system deployment requires a balancing act of functionality, simplicity and cost of deployment that meets a retailer’s particular needs, she said.

“Don’t be persuaded by fancy functionality not optimized to your business,” Haus said

For example, she once paid for a set of nine web content templates for rendering a home page, but came to realize she needed only one to get the desired variety of home page content displays.

Haus gave the following tips for choosing and deploying a CMS:

● 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.

● A retailer should know before deploying a CMS which parts of the content management can be modified, such as the ability to create new types of video displays, and how much such flexibility might cost in extra fees.

● Pay particular attention to templates. 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.

Mike Bridge, vice president of marketing and product management for Pasco Scientific, a retailer of educational products, joined Haus in the IRCE session. He said Pasco decided to deploy a commercial content management system after attempting to build one that failed to meet the company’s needs of creating web content for more than 1,500 products and being able to re-use the content in multiple online and offline venues.

Pasco went with a software-as-a-service CMS from CrownPeak that it accesses through the Internet for a monthly fee. Pasco uses the system to not only build effective web page content that describes its products in details—such as through multiple displays of screen shots from its educational software products—but also to share the same content with partner web sites.

Bridge noted that the biggest challenge for Pasco in implementing the CrownPeak system was the preparatory work of gathering and organizing the content from its own databases for supporting the new CMS. “It took about five months to implement, but mostly that time was our staff figuring how we wanted our content structured in the system.

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