3 Reasons a Faster Last-Mile Matters More than Ever in eCommerce

Brands spend significant amounts of money, time, and human resources on product information management. Some invest in technology designed to tame the chaos of product information management internally, but these solutions address only part of the problem. 

Suppliers and retailers struggle with the last mile of product content delivery (i.e., the stage of getting enriched, complete, accurate product information to retailers and in front of customers). In a time when speed matters more than ever, accelerating speed to market will be a key differentiator for space leaders.

Organizations can improve last-mile delivery with automated solutions that build more efficient data-driven supply chains. Companies risk falling short in the competitive online retail space if they fail to implement modern solutions that accelerate product content delivery.

Here are three reasons a faster last-mile matters more than ever in e-commerce.

1. Consumer demand is increasing.

Online purchasing is increasing across the globe, and retailers continue to pursue a moving target to meet consumer demand.

High-level expectations include the following:

  • Online shopping experiences should be reliable and convenient.
  • Orders should be shipped quickly.
  • Product catalogs should have a large variety of products with accurate, well-documented listings and better prices.

Many online shoppers say speed is a large factor when choosing to purchase online over brick-and-mortar. Convenience and ease of use are additional perks that drive online purchases. Retailers cannot rapidly grow online sales if they fail to simplify and optimize the customer experience. 

Omnichannel commerce continues to be a concern for retailers that have both physical and digital storefronts. These retailers struggle with delivering real-time data to customers, unifying in-store and online shopping experiences, and leveraging online product listings and the physical store experience to be more attractive to customers (e.g., online ordering with in-store pickup, in-store shopping with online ordering, or searchable product listings that guide customers to particular products and precisely where to find them in-store).

2. Competition is getting stiffer.

In retail, the concept survival of the fittest rings truer by the day. Many organizations are trying to adapt to the evolving retail landscape with intermediate technologies that are cumbersome, expensive, and difficult to implement. These solutions are not future-proof. Brands and retailers can better compete if they invest in intelligent technologies that modernize and streamline processes and tech stacks.

Consumer expectations for shopping experiences are mainly driven by retail behemoths like Amazon and Walmart. Platforms like Amazon, which are predominantly, if not exclusively, online are digital at their core and therefore positioned to be more responsive to improving digital experiences for customers. Such businesses are able to do more with less when compared to those that are brick-and-mortar first. 

As margins continue to shrink across the board, proactively addressing inefficiencies, cutting costs, and maximizing revenue opportunities are absolute necessities for all retailers. For retailers with both physical and digital storefronts, aligning the physical and digital experiences for customers while also getting faster and more efficient at all other operations is a challenge online-only retailers don’t need to worry as much about.

For online stores, improving speed to market is key to maximizing uptime for products and keeping product information up-to-date and accurate. This gives customers what they are looking for and, in turn, positively affects customer retention. Overall, the retailers and brands that are faster to market with products will have a competitive advantage over those that aren’t.

3. Slow speeds cost you money.

Speed to market is crucial to success for brands and retailers, as it directly impacts revenue. Slow speed to market delays revenue. Slowdowns are typically caused by inefficient content handling processes on the side of the retailer or the brand (or even a content service provider that sits between the two). Products don’t go live until product content is ready to be seen by consumers, and every minute product information isn’t in front of customers is a minute the product isn’t being purchased. 

With current content management processes, a bottleneck occurs when product information is passed between organizations. Before products can be pushed live to site, product data must be prepared or adapted to suit the end platform. Regardless of who is bearing the burden of adapting product content, manual processes and disjointed systems on the brand or the retailer side mean that it takes more time to get products live than it would if the process of product transformation and distribution was automated – preventing faster speeds to market for brands and retailers alike.

The submission process for brands to sell products to retailers is complex. Accurate communication and delivery of product data is already a time-consuming process for brands and suppliers, who face additional challenges as they expand their catalog and retail partners. 

Every retailer has unique product data categories and subcategories, and brands must make sure they submit product data in accordance with those categories. Keep in mind that this process doesn’t consider country-specific sites and other languages. When a brand updates product information or adds new products (which we can assume is a minimum of twice a year and anticipate that the frequency of product information updates made by brands will increase as online retail grows), it must again adapt information according to current retailer formats and product data requirements. 

Understandably, this process takes a long time, especially when you consider the approvals and other manual steps that happen on the retailer’s side once product information is received by their system and content team.

How to get products to market faster

Accelerated speed to market is important for scaling revenue and gaining a competitive advantage in the retail space. Too many organizations hinder their growth because they use inefficient processes for preparing and distributing product information to retailers so it can be viewed by customers sooner. Organizations can save significant time and effort by automating these processes. 

Fortunately, technology exists today that displaces inefficient product content distribution methods with intelligent, machine-driven solutions that increase revenues, drive sales, and improve speed to market. 

Venzee solves the product content bottleneck with its artificial intelligence platform for product data. Venzee specializes in automating the transformation, validation, and delivery of product content for new products. In addition, Venzee conducts product updates faster and more reliably than the manual, standard methods of emails, spreadsheets, and retailer portals. 

Venzee sits between brands and all of their retail channels, offering digital connections that unlock intelligent product data syndication to any global retailer via its Mesh Connector™ product.

Regardless of where your organization sits on the digital supply chain, Venzee can guide you to content efficiency. Speak to us about how you can exchange product data faster and more efficiently at venzee.com.

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