From Our Members

Cross-border eCommerce: How brands can improve efficiency and reduce time to market

In today’s highly competitive eСommerce environment, brands and B2C retailers face a doze of challenges, from meeting customer expectations to keeping up with the most recent technological advancements.

Due to global trade expansion, cross-border and omnichannel eCommerce is emerging as a significant opportunity for manufacturers and retailers. Nevertheless, entering a foreign market can pose certain challenges for suppliers of goods. Without a doubt, the modern eCommerce industry is data-driven. It looks quite impossible to manually monitor the accuracy of the product data information across dozens of sales platforms due to the multi-channel sales, varied product data needs, and peculiarities of local markets and there is a chance that a retailer is often waiting for product data from a provider. Today, brands can use digital shelf analytics to optimise digital shelf performance and react to market demands rather than investing significant time and money. 

In this article, I would like to share our experience of how Gepard solves one of the most common problems faced by suppliers in eCommerce: managing the quality and accuracy of product information. I will also show the best practices for overcoming this challenge with a product information management solution (PIM). It helps companies automate data flow, increase employee productivity, easily expand into new markets, increase sales, and strengthen customer relationships. It’s worth noting that this is one of the most important yet often overlooked factors of eCommerce businesses’ success. 

Challenges that both brands and retailers face

Some of the most common challenges B2C brands and retailers face when entering new markets are strong competition, managing product data and content flows, customer acquisition and retention, effective inventory management, sustainability issues, and implementation of complex omnichannel sales strategies. 

Overall, all of these challenges require brands and retailers to be agile and adaptable, constantly looking for new ways to improve their operations and stay ahead of the competition. However, there is one challenge that should be given more attention as it is at the beginning of the cross-border journey, and for some brands, it is the starting point for entering a European market and affects the entire future operation and profit. It is the management of accurate product data flows. 

In recent years, for example, we have seen strict European data protection regulations, consumer protection laws, and compliance with VAT. In addition, manufacturers have recently been required to follow the stricter EPREL (European Product Database for Energy Labeling) regulations and to be more open with the specific performance data in product data sheets and labels. These changes take into account the latest technological advances. In addition, some products require certification to be legally sold in certain markets. Obtaining the necessary certifications can be time-consuming and expensive, especially for new or smaller brands. 

The importance of managing accurate product data 

Accurate product information is critical for market players. It can improve the customer experience and increase sales. And why? Because accurate product data can contribute to a successful sale, while imprecise data can lead to delays in time-to-market or dissatisfied customers, and eventually harm brand reputation.  

Let us dive into some of the details. Customers typically need all the necessary information about a product to make an informed purchase decision. This includes details like product descriptions, specifications, images, and reviews. Customers who have access to accurate product information are more likely to make a purchase decision and leave positive product reviews.  

Consistency in product data is one of the most crucial factors for suppliers. The same quality content across all platforms and sales channels, as well as effective supervision of product information for newly launched products, may typically ensure this. Product data distribution across multiple platforms should be simple and automated. Because retailers and marketplaces have various needs for product content, it’s critical to consider these needs while transferring data. Therefore, ensuring that the data fulfills their requirements is one of their top objectives. 

However, managing product data can be a complex and difficult task, especially for vendors with a large number of products. This is where a Product Information Management (PIM) solution can be an important tool in solving this problem. 

PIM solution at a glance 

PIM by itself is not new, but when combined with syndication it makes it a cutting-edge eCommerce solution that serves as a unified product content database allowing users to easily manage product-related information, enrich, and in a few clicks distribute it to the various sales channels in an already adjusted data structure. Its specific capabilities include Product Data Syndication, Data Enrichment, Data Standardisation and Validation, Multi Taxonomy Management.  

When integrated into an IT landscape, a PIM solution can streamline workflows and provide a unified view of product data across various systems and channels. By creating a single source of truth for product information, businesses can improve data accuracy, reduce errors, and speed up time-to-market.  

One of the major problems businesses face when managing product data is inconsistency. Inconsistent product data can confuse customers and lead to negative shopping experiences. By organizing and centralising data, a PIM solution can assist in resolving this issue and guarantee that the information is correct, consistent, and accurate across all channels. 

One more challenge is the need to manually update product data across multiple channels, such as marketplaces, social media platforms, and online stores. This can be time-consuming and error-prone, resulting in customers being shown outdated and incorrect product information. PIM can import data from any source and in any format and automate the process of distributing data across all channels. This enables PIM to automatically track product listings and performance, all in one place, with a user-friendly interface, and to ensure data control, completeness, and validity. Product data is updated in real-time and displayed consistently across all channels, resulting in increased sales and customer satisfaction.  

Product data accuracy is also critical for search engine optimisation (SEO). Search engines like Google use product data to determine the relevance and authority of eCommerce websites. Inaccurate or incomplete product data can negatively impact website SEO rankings, resulting in lower visibility and decreased organic traffic and sales. 

Based on our experience different suppliers and manufacturers usually use different formats and standards for their product data storage. PIM can solve this problem by integrating multiple systems and standardising product data across all sources. The result is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date data that leads to greater efficiency and fewer errors. 

How can you choose the right PIM software? 

The PIM market is currently experiencing unprecedented growth that is expected to continue over the next seven years, according to a recent PIM report 2023 by TGOA. The Group of Analysts (TGOA) estimates that the global product information management market will reach 63.8 billion US dollars, with a CAGR of 21.09 per cent. The report is available to download for free on Gepard’s official website

This figure includes both PIM software products and services and reflects the growing importance of accurate product data for companies in all industries and regions. These facts indicate that the supply of these services on the market is growing proportionally to the demand and developing qualitatively, that is, technologically. 

Any software evaluation process should begin with an analysis of current and anticipated future requirements. All stakeholders must have a shared vision of what they are as a team and what roles perform. 

The challenges of cross-border eCommerce can be overwhelming for businesses. However, with the right tools and solutions, brands can improve managing product data and achieve better results. As businesses continue to invest in software solutions, PIM system is becoming an essential component of modern commerce. 

For B2C brands looking to improve their data and processes, there are several tips to keep in mind, such as investing in automation, centralising product data, and optimising product content. Overall, implementing a PIM solution can help B2C brands to streamline their product data management, improve accuracy, and deliver better customer experiences. 

This content has been produced in collaboration with a partner organisation through our Global Visibility Programme. Our programme helps companies boost their digital presence and strengthen the thought leadership of their experts. Find out more here.