The Need is Now: Incorrect or insufficient data about any product means it s instantly out of the running.

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1 A CG T W h i t e p a p e r The Need is Now: Meeting Retail Demand for Digital Content Today s retail marketplace is all about the empowered consumer, and much of that power comes from access to information. In a few clicks, a shopper can obtain everything she needs to make a purchase: Images, detailed product attributes, expert and user ratings, comments from friends, in-stock positions, prices and shipping options, for all the competing products in the category. Incorrect or insufficient data about any product means it s instantly out of the running. sponsored BY These high expectations have made the ability to provide accurate, up-to-date product content mission critical for consumer goods organizations. Many are undertaking massive, long-term projects to deploy digital asset management and product information management platforms to ensure the shopper is consistently and uniformly informed about what their brands have to offer. But the need is now. While key account teams and other retailer support organizations at consumer goods manufacturers wait for those multi-year systems to deploy, their retail customers require an immediate solution. PRODUCED BY cg_gladson_wp_layout.indd 1 T h e Digital Consu mer Smart phones and tablets have supercharged shoppers ability to access product information anytime and anywhere. The advent of low-cost apps has also helped pump up the expectation that almost anything a consumer needs is accessible with just a few swipes of the finger. That empowerment has raised expectations across many daily activities, but particularly around shopping. 3/27/14 10:17 AM

2 One outcome of always-on access to information is that consumers path to purchase is now variable. They may ask friends about products via social media on their smart phones, read online reviews via tablet, visit an in-store kiosk, use a shopping bot on the laptop, or any combination of the above to make a product choice. They engage with more resources than ever and often shop in more than one channel. Keeping up with evolving consumer shopping patterns is the third most-cited business challenge cited by retailers in Retail Systems Research s (RSR) 2013 E-Commerce Report. Winners are focused on trying to understand consumer demand and keeping up with evolving shopping patterns: They have a much deeper understanding of knowing how important it is to crack this nut, and are laser focused on nailing it before they move on to other, ancillary challenges. Another outcome of the empowered shopper is a decline in loyalty. Instead, customers gravitate to retailers offering the best purchase experience. To win their repeat business, retailers need to become the resource they can rely on to always have the most accurate, complete information wrapped in a satisfying, value-filled purchase experience. Grappling with Omnichannel Responding to these changes, retailers have been working diligently to transition their previously separate channels into a unified brand experience. Omnichannel initiatives are becoming increasingly mature and complex: Creating more channels, including sub-sites, mobile sites, pop-up stores and even mobile stores. According to RSR s Supply Chain Execution 2014: Making Omni-channel Profitable, 77% of retailers say their top supply chain challenge is that consumers expect retailers to provide a seamless omnichannel experience. Increasingly granular personalization, including promotions of items of specific interest to that shopper. RSR s 2013 E-Commerce Study found 60% of winning retailers regard self-learning personalization of site information a valuable technology to reach their goals. More digital devices to enable the shopping experience, including LED and multimedia shelf displays, tablets, mobile apps, kiosks and smart shopping carts. According to Kantar Retail s Power Study 2013, the power of the screen should not be underestimated. Whether turning to online sources or stacking multiple screens to aid in the shopping process (i.e., using multiple digital resources simultaneously), digital has 100% impact on how everything is bought and sold today. Feeding the Engine This ever-broadening array of channels, formats and devices are fueled by content. Retailers often get only one chance to present the shopping experience consumers are seeking. They need consistent, fresh, accurate and compelling images and product data to satisfy the shopper s hunger for information. RSR s 2013 E-Commerce Report found retailers ranked providing richer product detail information, such as photos and video, their third-largest opportunity for overcoming their e-commerce challenges, even more so than investing in cross-channel capabilities or embedding social media into their web sites. 2

3 Images and product data also play a key role in retailers ongoing efforts to craft messaging around individual shopper preferences. According to Aberdeen Group s September 2013 E-Commerce Supply Chain report, online retailers have identified two key strategic actions to personalize the e-commerce experience: Increase available product data for customer review (30%) Coordinate product placement with customer behavior (24%) ss Retailers need consistent, fresh, accurate and compelling images and product data to satisfy the shopper s hunger for information. By increasing product data availability, retailers give customers more control of the shopping experience. Consumers can compare products by attributes and categories, and the retailer can offer up- and cross-sell recommendations based on the consumer s search patterns. Content is also critical to retailers promotion efforts, which are becoming increasingly dynamic as the ability to sense and respond to demand signals continues to improve. Promotions can be shelved or scaled back if images and content are unavailable on demand for the channels where they are needed. And content itself is becoming more diverse. Even for static beauty shots, retailers often need formats suitable for print, for the Web, for social media, for mobile devices, for kiosks or digital displays, each with its own dimensional and format requirements. As digital interaction grows increasingly dynamic zoom capability, 360-degree rotation and so on the complexity of sourcing and managing the massive files these features require adds to the complexity. Impact on Consumer Goods Relationships with retail Retailers content needs are only growing more diverse and urgent. Maintaining a strong relationship with a retail customer requires being proactive and responsive to these needs. Retailers will gravitate to those manufacturers that make their job easier. Consumer goods manufacturers, too, increasingly need better access to their own content to support promotional and commerce efforts, such as for social media, web sites, advertising and marketing. Unfortunately, current organizational barriers are making it difficult for account teams to meet the needs of their retail customers, as well as those of internal colleagues. It s even harder when supporting smaller customers without their own dedicated account teams. For many consumer goods manufacturers, product images and content are managed and maintained by a variety of individuals in a variety of departments in siloe d systems that don t communicate: Packaging and production has packaging art R&D has ingredients data Marketing has beauty shots Supply chain has data on case packs and cube sizes 3

4 The majority of consumer goods companies do not have an organization set up to gather and distribute those images and content in an efficient and consistent way. According to Aberdeen s Reap What You Sow: Better Product Data Leads to Better Product Sales (June, 2013), Managing product data has become one of the thorniest issues facing organizations a high priority project, with wide-ranging implications, that is becoming more complex and costly. s ss Current organizational barriers are making it difficult for account teams to meet the needs of their retail customers. Retailers can t wait for multi-year digital asset management platform projects to be completed. They need consumer goods companies to support their immediate product marketing needs. Consumer goods manufacturers must act now to provide complete, accurate and up-to-date product images and content, or risk negatively impacting customer relationships, brand integrity, internal efficiency and, ultimately, omnichannel effectiveness. The Solution: A Content Partner There is no one-size-fits-all approach across all consumer goods companies to address this problem. The right solution for each brand owner is based on its roadmap for digital asset management. Strategies may include both outsourced components and significant investment in digital asset management infrastructure. Regardless of the mix, a company s digital asset management strategy must account for the creation, maintenance and distribution of digital product assets. A manufacturer s digital asset management strategy is only as strong as its weakest link, however. Consumer goods companies with gaps in their current approach must find ways to increase their capabilities rapidly so they can deliver the digital images and content their retail partners need right now to expand their own digital outreach. Once a manufacturer can optimize the creation, maintenance and distribution of their digital product assets through outsourcing and internal initiatives, they are able to achieve: One version of the truth established in a single digital library. Compelling, consistent, up-to-date images and brand content that support retailers and brands marketing programs, web sites, mobile applications, etc. Efficient and effective support for the requirements of internal audiences, including web sites, sales team requirements, market research, research and development, operations, and shopper insight programs. Greater brand control and consistency across all media and channels. Product images and content maintained at the lowest possible cost while simultaneously ensuring timely availability and delivery. Product information and images that are complete, consistent and compliant with GS1 standards. Internal systems and processes that run at peak performance through the availability of accurate product data. Distribution of product images and content to an extensive network of retailers, online apps and web sites, as well as custom delivery to satisfy specific customer requirements. 4

5 In Retail Systems Research s 2013 E-Commerce Report, 40% of retail winners called integration to manufacturers product and content a valuable technology. Half of retail winners have this capability, along with content management systems to maintain all of their own content across channels. These increasingly pervasive retail content engines need to be fueled with manufacturer s images and product data. s ss Consumer goods manufacturers need a more efficient approach to the creation, maintenance and distribution of product images and information, right now. The Business Case for Digital Product Content Outsourcing Engaging with an experienced expert to outsource digital product content activities is the most cost-effective way to drive ongoing revenue opportunities in major accounts. A wellqualified provider offers the technology expertise and robust platform needed to create, manage and distribute product data and images quickly, accurately and efficiently, freeing account managers to focus on other value-adding services for their retail clients. To build a business case for digital product content outsourcing, consider: Cost of manually tracking down missing images: The number of people searching for images and data or interfacing with customers about images multiplied by the hours spent per year. This should be considered for customers with dedicated account teams, as well as smaller retailers without teams. Missed opportunity costs: Promotion, co-marketing and other opportunities lost due to the inability to provide correct content in a timely way. Cost sales: Consumer goods companies make considerable investment in developing and marketing products; significant portions of that go to waste if information about those products is not where it needs to be when the customer goes looking for it. This data is a key part of the path to purchase. Research by GS1 shows that nearly 40% percent of shoppers would not buy a product if they did not trust the accuracy of the digital information. Cost of retailer dissatisfaction: This can be measured through data from supplier scorecards, promotions that get awarded to competitors with better data, changes in order volume and so on. Gladson mybrands Outsourcing a critical business requirement such as digital content to a third party requires engaging with a provider with a long and successful track record in supporting consumer goods companies content creation and distribution efforts. Benefits include: Increased account team productivity. Better responsiveness to retailer needs, and therefore competitive advantage in satisfying a need your competitor cannot fully accommodate. Higher retail customer satisfaction and deeper customer relationships. The ability to take advantage of retailers rapidly expanding array of promotional opportunities. Increased item turns, driving to increased revenue and return on investment. 5

6 Gladson, the leading provider of product information and related services to the consumer goods industry for more than 40 years, has evolved its offerings to include a solution specifically designed to streamline digital product content creation, maintenance and distribution for manufacturers nationally branded products and for retailers private label brands. Gladson mybrands combines the best-in-class capabilities of Gladson s image and content creation, management and distribution services for e-commerce, advertising, category management, logistics, nutrition and market research content into a single solution designed to make it easy for brands and retailers to meet the escalating digital product content needs of internal and external constituents. The Answer to Today s Retail Content Demand Lies in Outsourcing Consumers have changed for good, with more access to information and higher expectations than ever before. Retailers are taking action by quickly adopting omnichannel retailing and leveraging new channels, devices and personalization technologies to enhance the brand experience. This ever-broadening array of channels, formats and devices is fueled by digital product content from their consumer goods partners. But consumer goods companies are often not set up to handle this sudden spike in demand. Increases in the volume, complexity and velocity of retailer requests mean consumer goods manufacturers need a more efficient approach to product images and information creation, maintenance and distribution, right now. Promising better availability of digital content in the future isn t enough. Satisfy your retail customers rapidly expanding need for consistent, accurate images and information right now by outsourcing digital product content activities to an experienced and trusted provider. sponsored BY About Gladson Gladson, headquartered in Lisle, Ill., provides product information and related services to consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and brokers. The company builds databases of product information and images for a wide range of uses, including shelf space management, e-commerce, mobile applications, category management, logistics, PRODUCED BY advertising and market research. Gladson also provides data analysis, consulting and in-store merchandising solutions that support efficient planogram implementation and increased product sales. Gladson is a GS1 US Accredited Provider for Package Measurement Services. For more information, visit

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