The Mobile Product Information Gap
Online sales in the U.S. totaled $263 billion dollars in 2013, an increase of almost 17% from 2012 according to the US Census. According to research firm Javelin, mobile commerce accounted for almost $60 billion, representing 188% growth from 2012. While this impressive growth in mobile commerce represents a tremendous opportunity for the retail industry, it also represents a huge challenge.
Many retailers and e-commerce providers are still learning how to serve the consumer on the web. The online consumer requires a broader and more detailed amount of product information in order to make a purchase. Not only have retailers struggled to keep up with providing product information the consumer needs, but they have also struggled to provide that product information with consistency and reliability.
There are many reasons for this. Many existing retail systems are more than a decade old and are not prepared to process large volumes of information from various sources. Additionally, retailers existing content supply chains have long been focused only on logistical product data and are not adept at sourcing the expanded type of product information consumers require; such as nutritional, technical, or social media information. Providing all of that information in a consistent manner across all online channels has also proved to be difficult, but retailers are investing in that area, and getting better at it.
As the consumer gravitates more towards the mobile environment, the same problems exist, and are often exacerbated. Mobile applications require not only different development and design skills, but they have different data requirements as well. In the mobile world the same breadth and depth of product information is required as in the online world. However, the challenge is on how that data is stored, structured, and served.
Product information in the mobile environment must be more atomic in nature. For example, in the online world, a technical specifications manual for a television in a PDF file may be sufficient to enable a good user experience. However in the mobile space, because of the small resolution and often low-bandwidth availability, the devices being used are not conducive to the use of long-form, large sized, documents. Product information must be stored at a field level. Rather than all of the specifications for the television being stored in one document, they need to be stored in individual fields in a database.
Additionally, that product information and data must be served in a low-latency fashion. The systems and database(s) which provide that information need to be able to deliver small packets of information, over a potentially broad geographic area.
Finally, there is an expectation in the consumer world that information is of a real-time nature. Social media apps tell you where someone is or what they are doing at any given moment. Maps tell you traffic conditions in real time and Twitter streams news that is mere seconds old. Those experiences have led consumers to expect the product information they are viewing in mobile apps to be real-time as well.
These demanding consumer requirements for shopping experiences are quickly shaping the retailers technology portfolio. Systems that can integrate and process large volumes of data, deliver that data across a diverse geographic portfolio, and in real-time are the new price of entry for the retailer that wants to be successful in the age of online and mobile commerce.
It is not just the technology portfolio of retail companies that must evolve. It is also their product information and content supply chain… because at the core of that technology portfolio is the product information that is ultimately shared with consumers. In order to be successful, the retail community needs a single source of authentic product information, from a wide variety of sources, available in real-time, and at a very granular level. Without addressing the product information, and in particular the product information requirements of mobile, the investment in technology and skills won’t provide the return the retail community is looking for, and needs.
At 1WorldSync, managing that single source of authentic, cloud-based, real-time product information is our specialty. And connected that trusted product data everywhere is our mission.