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Why it may be time for retailers to reimagine vendor onboarding with technology at the forefront.

As retailers face ever-growing competition for online consumers, their ongoing need to quickly,  efficiently, and cost-effectively receive accurate and complete product information from their brands becomes more critical than ever to their success. New research shows that 94% of consumers say product information plays a key role in their purchasing decision (i.e. Content is king.), and better product information (e.g., more images, more specifications, better descriptions, etc.) can help drive sales. For retailers, getting the right product data and images, ensuring the data is good quality, and doing so both quickly and cost-effectively can mean the difference between success and failure.

In this post, we talk about some of the challenges common to product content collection for both retailers and vendors and offer a better way for us all–a solution that uses technology to do the heavy-lifting instead of humans.

Content collection status quo and common challenges

Many retailers continue to invest massive amounts of time and resources in product content collection, or collecting product data, images, and rich additional information from their vendors (e.g., suppliers, brands and manufacturers). Product information is key to building out compelling product pages that attract consumers and result in sales. Each year the demand for more and richer product information has increased and will continue to increase if the trends hold. This means that the content burden will continue to grow for both the retailer teams responsible for product content collection and vendors. Growth is happening very quickly in this space, as retailers chase the endless aisle–pushing for more and more SKUs. And, with content collection processes being build out piece-by-piece atop this shifting landscape, and with such urgency, it’s not surprising that these stopgap solutions share a few challenges and points of friction.

The status quo for content collection suffers from three key issues: manual processes, errors, and less-than-user-friendly systems. We talk a bit more about each below.

1. Retailers rely too much on manual processes.

The processes most retailers currently follow to collect content are far from efficient. Retailers have built vendor portals, but, for the most part, buyers and content teams spend vast amounts of time reviewing content received from vendors to check for errors, data completeness, and formatting compliance. With expanding product catalogs and product information requirements that are increasingly detailed, manually reviewing product information will always result in a bottleneck that slows the speed with which products can go live and be shoppable online, delaying revenue.

2. Error resolution is inefficient.

Finding errors in vendor submitted product content is all too common. When a retailer encounters errors in the product content they receive from a vendor, typically the assigned buyer must contact the vendor to inform them about the error and then communicate back and forth with the vendor until all issues with the submission have been resolved. This process can be a long one. SPS Commerce reported that it takes 13 messages on average to get a vendor to respond. Add into that the different parties on the retailer’s side that need to work with the vendors’ content (e.g., image team, copy team, etc.) and the amount of communication required among those teams (and likely even vendors) about missing or insufficient content, and the result isn’t great. As you can imagine, this process leaves retailers with a very high cost-of-SKU-acquisition, slow speed-to-site, and lost revenue opportunities.

3. Vendors struggle with the submission process.

Whatever a retailer’s content collection process is, if it involves filling in a spreadsheet provided via a portal or as a Microsoft Excel template with built-in validation, then vendors probably find it difficult. Whether the struggle is due to a dated or cumbersome vendor portal, product data templates that require too much time and effort for vendors to upload product content into, changing and ever-expanding content requirements, or the endless back-and-forth communication between vendors, buyers, and other retailer teams, the result is a resource-intensive process, slow speed-to-site, inadequate product pages, a poor consumer experience and, ultimately, poor online revenue performance.

To make it easier on vendors and encourage timely submissions, some retailers have chosen to address this issue by accepting whatever product information their vendors send them. While this lessens the burden on vendors, retailers end up spending a lot more time manually reviewing and enriching the content on their end (refer to point #1). Regardless of which side bears the burden, it’s still a burden that must be carried.

The good news is that retailers are starting to recognize that a more efficient product content submission process for their vendors is necessary for online sales and survival and success. Collection processes need improvement across the board, and this is where vendor onboarding programs can be a great investment.

Reimagining content collection with Venzee’s Vendor Onboarding Program

Venzee’s Vendor Onboarding Program addresses common challenges in content collection, removing friction from the content collection process for both vendors and retailers.

Program overview

As a retailer, what if you could offload your team’s task of having to hunt down and review content, communicate back and forth with vendors about incomplete or error-filled content, and push content to the appropriate teams and workflows? This is the problem Venzee solves. Venzee has created a vendor onboarding solution for retailers that streamlines and accelerates the product content collection process. Our program addresses the common inefficiencies we mentioned above, while also helping retailers improve the quality of online content, accelerate speed-to-site, provide a better consumer experience, and increase online sales. In short, Venzee applies people, process, and innovative technology to streamline the collection, delivery, and validation of product content.

Program highlights

Here are the key features and capabilities of our Vendor Onboarding Program:

  • Full validation and transformation of product content from vendors ensures accurate and complete product content submissions
  • Two-way API integration with retailer systems and workflows automate and accelerate the delivery of product content
  • Self-service, intuitive vendor user interface (Venzee Studio) available for efficient product content upload
  • White-glove onboarding support for each vendor
  • Fully documented, open API for integration to vendor PIM, DAM, or ERP solutions for automated content upload or for integration from any product content source
  • Dashboard with actionable insights and KPIs related to product content submission status to reduce or eliminate endless back-and-forth between vendor and retailer team member
  • Structured program rollout to ensure high vendor adoption

Program advantages and benefits

Why the program is great for retailers

Venzee’s vendor onboarding program can provide retailers with a streamlined process that results in the following benefits:

  • Significantly reduces the cost of SKU acquisition
  • Reduces inefficiencies caused by manual work throughout the collection workflow, and accelerates delivery of content into the appropriate workflows and back-end systems
  • Ensures product content submissions meet current retailer content requirements, whether it’s Prop 65 or other additional attributes that will improve the product’s online sales
  • Reduces time lost due to errors
  • Improves speed-to-site
  • More uptime per product increases online revenue potential

Why the program is great for vendors

The benefits our Vendor Onboarding Program provides aren’t exclusive to retailers. Vendors see the following benefits:

  • Streamlined content submission process eliminates the inefficiencies that result from filling in templates
  • Instant feedback on content accuracy, completeness, and compliance with retailer requirements
  • Opportunity to fix product data based on the instant feedback prior to product submission
  • Visibility on the status of content submissions
  • Faster speed-to-site
  • More accurate, complete, consistent content gives customers what they want, resulting in more sales

Venzee takes care of vendors with one-on-one onboarding and white glove support, so retailers don’t have to spend resources on gathering product content. Let us remove the friction from your content collection process.

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