The fashion business has been one of the industries most affected by the global pandemic over the past 18 months: Closed stores due to ongoing lockdowns across many countries and changing consumer behavior, with buying preferences shifting in favor of online channels and more comfortable, casual clothing.
The accelerated move toward ecommerce is especially significant – the ecommerce fashion industry is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2025 and even 50% of B2B buyers in fashion now turn to the internet. These developments require fashion brands and retailers to further invest in and strengthen their digital commerce capabilities to deliver engaging online product experiences.
Overcoming Data Management Challenges
Selling mainly through digital channels comes with new data management challenges for ecommerce and marketing teams. They need to provide digital experiences to drive conversions, feed all channels—including websites, online shops, marketplaces, search engines, apps, and social media—with the right product information, and use cross- and upsell opportunities, all while understanding customer preferences and needs to deliver a personalized experience.
Product experience management (PxM) solutions help fashion brands and retailers to effectively manage product experiences that are customer-centric, personalized, and engaging. These experiences also must be based on relevant, contextual, and trusted product content across touchpoints. Underpinned by master data management (MDM), PxM centralizes the management of customer, product, supplier, and other data, applying machine learning and other artificial intelligence (AI) techniques.
“We understand the pain that bad data can bring to a retail organization and its customers, and also the exciting new opportunities that trusted data makes possible,” says the Master Data Office Lead, Analytics and Business Intelligence, at a major apparel company. “When we began expanding our omnichannel business strategy, we needed an MDM solution that could help us take product data management to the next level.”
Here are five ways apparel and fashion organizations can benefit from PxM:
1. Increase SEO Ranking and Digital Visibility to Boost Sales
Given that Amazon ranks as the number-one seller of apparel in the US, it is more important than ever for brands and retailers to increase their visibility in search engines and marketplaces and to use analytical insights to better serve their customers and grow their digital sales. To successfully sell online, brands and retailers must ensure their product content is not only trusted, up to date, and complete, it must also be channel-optimized, contextualized, and available in different languages, depending on the countries you are selling to.
PxM helps increase online conversations thanks to more relevant and optimized product information, descriptions, and images. This is relevant for marketplaces, websites, online shops, social media, and shopping apps, as well as for search engine optimization (SEO). For example, you can tag images correctly and have rich, SEO-optimized product descriptions for better visibility in search engine results.
Publishing product information online without delays or errors positions KLiNGEL, one of Europe’s leading fashion retailers, to increase omnichannel sales, helping the company sell its well-known brands on digital marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, and OTTO. KLiNGEL is also improving the customer shopping experience. With more complete and detailed descriptions of styles and materials and more images of products, customers can find what they want faster and be more confident in their buying decisions.
2. Enable New Personalized Product Experiences and Improve Cross- and Upselling
There are many ways digital marketing and ecommerce can create more value and increase customer loyalty by matching product information with individual customer insights and analyzing business-critical relationships. A 360-degree view of both customer and product data is the foundation for personalized offers, such as by combining information about the customer’s past orders or return reasons (e.g., “too small” or “too large”) to make automated size recommendations.
With a better understanding of purchase patterns from other customers who bought the same product, fashion companies can also optimize cross- and up-selling opportunities und ultimately deliver engaging and personalized omnichannel product experience based on trusted and relevant product content
“With Informatica MDM – Product 360, we can easily make product data available for advanced analytics, customer centricity, and personalization, and know that the information we’re giving the business is high quality,” says the Master Data Office Lead, Product Data and Customer Insight, at a major apparel company.
3. Speed Up Time to Market
With fast-changing assortments and short lifecycles, fashion companies rely on efficient workflows and automated processes when managing, enriching, and collaborating on product content. Heike Zenkel, Team Head Content Management Global E-Commerce at PUMA, says: “With a 12-week product lifecycle, speed, agility and time-to-market are key for PUMA, and we need to act fast before margins drop.”
Even if a company has “just” 2,000 products, the number of SKUs to manage per year can quickly explode, considering the different sizes, colors, and seasons.
PxM helps speed up time to market by up to 10 times by streamlining the process of product information management (PIM). Using Informatica MDM – Product 360, KLiNGEL publishes product information seven times faster. The company can also launch new products in just one or two days across all their 70 customer touchpoints, with a rich and complete set of data attributes in multiple languages.
4. Lower Costs and Higher Efficiencies
One big topic, especially for apparel ecommerce, is the cost of returned merchandise. Clothing and shoes are the most-frequently returned products, at a rate of 56%. According to salescycle.com, 64% of returned online purchases “do not match the descriptions.”
To avoid returns and ensure a great product experience, fashion brands and retailers need to provide trusted, relevant, and complete product content across all digital touchpoints. PIM helps reduce the number of returned items thanks to high-quality product information and personalized recommendations. It also helps reduce operational costs and automate workflows within one centralized solution.
“Informatica MDM – Product 360 has helped us reduce the amount of returned merchandise because more customers are satisfied the first time,” says Sebastian Klumpp, former Head of Product Data Management at KLiNGEL.
5. Feed AR and VR Experiences with Trusted Data
Perhaps more than any other, fashion brands understand that they cannot rely exclusively on creating engaging online experiences. To enrich the direct-to-consumer relationship, they must combine their digital efforts with dynamic in-store product experiences. Going forward, shopping will be more of a hybrid affair, with a mix of on- and offline engagements combined with augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) features.
In their stores, brands need to feed display, printed ads, AR/VR solutions, or endless aisles (in-store kiosks or mobile applications that allow customers to browse and order products that are not available in the store) with accurate product information.
By bringing interactive digital product experiences to life in its New York City flagship store, sportswear brand PUMA gives customers access to dynamic shopping interactions—they can customize and personalize PUMA footwear, apparel, and accessories in tech-driven engagement zones. Customers can view products in alternate colors and styles through AR mirrors placed strategically throughout the store. Fed with trusted product content, the intelligent mirror can bring up alternative selections, all based on the item the consumer tries on.
The successful use of AR in retail stores relies more than ever on trusted and rich product content to fuel next-gen omnichannel product experiences. This also applies to B2B commerce, such as for virtual showrooms in wholesale.
“Informatica MDM – Product 360 helps us make product data quality transparent, enabling our very successful Digital Showroom and Store of the Future innovations,” says the Master Data Office Lead, Product Data and Customer Insight, at a major apparel company.
To learn more about the advantages of PxM, read my blog post, “Innovative PxM Best Practices from Smart Brands and Retailers” and register now for our Digital Commerce and Supply Chain Summit.