Executive Briefings

Creating Efficiencies to Drive E-Commerce Innovation Forward

Analyst Insight: In the age of information, there is a tremendous opportunity for retail companies to distinguish themselves as consumer-centric by exceeding expectations for online product content. Many retailers and brands are stepping up their ability to provide the detailed, accurate digital product information consumers need to make informed purchase decisions. To create competitive end-to-end shopping experiences, these companies are leveraging global standards to make it easy for consumers to discover and purchase products whenever and wherever they are. - Rich Richardson, vice president of standards development, GS1 US

Creating Efficiencies to Drive E-Commerce Innovation Forward

Mobile is currently one of the largest drivers of online sales, according to recent eMarketer research, and 45 percent of all shopping excursions now include consumers interacting with a mobile device, showing the gap between in-store and online commerce is shrinking. However, no matter the channel they shop, even the tech-savviest shoppers are still finding untrustworthy product information through mobile barcode scans and web searches. This can result from retail companies not having access to brand- verified data, the use of web scraping and other unreliable data sourcing practices, or simply a lack of a prioritization of data quality processes over the course of several years.

Brands and retailers are increasingly turning to standards to evolve their business operations to suit customers’ needs. There are two ways global GS1 Standards assist companies with providing more accurate product information. Standards such as the Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN) — the numbers contained in a U.P.C. barcode that globally and uniquely identifies trade items in the supply chain — can provide an important bridge between digital listings and physical product to ensure better search and discovery of products. Additionally, the industry can collaborate to better define and standardize product attributes that describe what consumers are looking for, eliminating the need for costly rework, manual processes and confusion among trading partners.

GTINs in Product Listings

E-commerce’s top players, including Google, eBay and Amazon, are already recognizing the importance of incorporating GTINs into their product listings. Leveraging GTINs, retail companies can enhance product content that is critical to aligning physical products with the digital data attributed to them. Using the GTIN, marketplaces of all types can help provide consumers with a single source of the product information truth. It helps align the product’s physical presence with the “digital shelf” data and streamlines the sharing of data with trading partners. The GTIN is an essential component of data validation and ultimately provides consumers with a consistent search, discovery and purchase experience.

Product Attribute Standardization

Suppliers and retailers often struggle to align on presenting accurate information to consumers when there are no set definitions for a variety of attributes across many product categories. For example, what is meant by ““color” or “height” may have different meanings between different companies. A standardized approach for listing and classifying products across all commercial platforms — as opposed to using proprietary data exchange systems — allows consumers to discover more accurate product information on any device. GS1 Standards enable trading partners to speak the same language by providing complete product identification, automated data capture and an organized way to share information. Through this language, retail trading partners can effectively share a single, standardized product data set — minimizing costs and optimizing operational efficiencies for all parties.

The Outlook

To drive forward evolution, it will take commitment from retail industry professionals to leverage standards to ensure product content accuracy and consistency. In 2017, retailers and brands can no longer ignore the consequences of erroneous or incomplete product data, as supplying information about a product so that it is easily accessible and shareable is no longer an aspirational goal — it’s an imperative for companies with an eye on long- term survival.

Mobile is currently one of the largest drivers of online sales, according to recent eMarketer research, and 45 percent of all shopping excursions now include consumers interacting with a mobile device, showing the gap between in-store and online commerce is shrinking. However, no matter the channel they shop, even the tech-savviest shoppers are still finding untrustworthy product information through mobile barcode scans and web searches. This can result from retail companies not having access to brand- verified data, the use of web scraping and other unreliable data sourcing practices, or simply a lack of a prioritization of data quality processes over the course of several years.

Brands and retailers are increasingly turning to standards to evolve their business operations to suit customers’ needs. There are two ways global GS1 Standards assist companies with providing more accurate product information. Standards such as the Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN) — the numbers contained in a U.P.C. barcode that globally and uniquely identifies trade items in the supply chain — can provide an important bridge between digital listings and physical product to ensure better search and discovery of products. Additionally, the industry can collaborate to better define and standardize product attributes that describe what consumers are looking for, eliminating the need for costly rework, manual processes and confusion among trading partners.

GTINs in Product Listings

E-commerce’s top players, including Google, eBay and Amazon, are already recognizing the importance of incorporating GTINs into their product listings. Leveraging GTINs, retail companies can enhance product content that is critical to aligning physical products with the digital data attributed to them. Using the GTIN, marketplaces of all types can help provide consumers with a single source of the product information truth. It helps align the product’s physical presence with the “digital shelf” data and streamlines the sharing of data with trading partners. The GTIN is an essential component of data validation and ultimately provides consumers with a consistent search, discovery and purchase experience.

Product Attribute Standardization

Suppliers and retailers often struggle to align on presenting accurate information to consumers when there are no set definitions for a variety of attributes across many product categories. For example, what is meant by ““color” or “height” may have different meanings between different companies. A standardized approach for listing and classifying products across all commercial platforms — as opposed to using proprietary data exchange systems — allows consumers to discover more accurate product information on any device. GS1 Standards enable trading partners to speak the same language by providing complete product identification, automated data capture and an organized way to share information. Through this language, retail trading partners can effectively share a single, standardized product data set — minimizing costs and optimizing operational efficiencies for all parties.

The Outlook

To drive forward evolution, it will take commitment from retail industry professionals to leverage standards to ensure product content accuracy and consistency. In 2017, retailers and brands can no longer ignore the consequences of erroneous or incomplete product data, as supplying information about a product so that it is easily accessible and shareable is no longer an aspirational goal — it’s an imperative for companies with an eye on long- term survival.

Creating Efficiencies to Drive E-Commerce Innovation Forward