The first two times we tried to syndicate product data across our major retail partners, the attempts failed. Each retailer has its own data needs, templates, and other requirements — and activating product content across all of these platforms was a difficult task.
These difficulties had the added effect of inhibiting our ecommerce growth. We weren’t able to acquire new customers as efficiently, and we had a slower go-to-market time.
My name is Kevin Creese, and I have over 20 years of experience transforming complex data into helpful information and am the owner of Ecommerce Data Solutions LLC and ecommerce manager for Wastequip.
Wastequip is North America’s premier manufacturer of waste handling and disposal equipment. After our previous failed attempts, we decided to turn to Salsify to syndicate product data and enhanced product content to our major retail partners.
Once we had accomplished that, we then found we could achieve so much more, including building a successful customer acquisition strategy. Here are essential best practices for building a successful business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce strategy.
Use Clean Data to Drive Customer Acquisition
Our original content- and data-management goals were achieved pretty quickly after implementing Salsify, but we soon began to see other ways the platform could drive our ecommerce businesses.
One of the most significant areas we found was in customer acquisition and sales enablement. We were able to onboard a wide variety of additional customers by utilizing Salsify Digital Product Catalogs and Activation.
Because each retailer has its own requirements for the data set needed to publish products onto their platform, onboarding used to be a lengthy process involving a lot of confusing back and forth. But by utilizing Salsify, we were able to leverage our central source of truth in Salsify and present data in the templates that the retailers expected.
We were also able to share our cleaned-up data with our sales team. We didn’t realize how impactful this would be in enabling them to overachieve on our sales goals for 2020. Not only were catalogs used to establish new business partners, but we used them to help improve existing customer relationships too.
In one instance, we utilized one of our catalogs to get to the root of a quality issue that our customers were noticing and solved it. The takeaway here is to use Salsify with an open mind. It’s not just a content-management solution; it is a growth by acquisition solution too.
Speed Time to Market With Automated Workflows
On average, Wastequip launches five to 10 products per quarter. Setting up new products using Salsify Workflows has helped us reduce our time to market by two to four weeks.
We start with an initial data pull from our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that’s imported into Salsify as new items are created. This data is raw and requires inputs from multiple segments of our business before it’s ready for ecommerce.
My team will do an initial scrub of the data and ensure that the product is assigned to the correct topology. Then we simply set a “New Item Flag” to “Yes” and watch the workflow kick-off.
The workflow sends an automated email to our logistics, pricing, engineering, and marketing teams. We can make sure the program only requests relevant information from each department — and all of these data collection processes can run in tandem, making the whole process quick and efficient.
3 Steps for Successfully Synchronizing Data
Making everything come together required a three-step approach. This process allowed us to build a solid foundation that allowed for streamlined processes and teams.
Step 1: Standardize Topology for Product Data
Define a topology strategy related to the products you are loading into Salsify. Ensuring that you have a hierarchy associated with each of your sellable items allows you to isolate your data using smart lists.
Narrowing the scope of the products you want to work with in Salsify allows you to take advantage of the bulk updating functionality, which increases your overall efficiency in using the platform.
You will also find it easier to set up catalogs, channels, and lightboxes if you have a pre-defined data architecture.
Step 2: Create a Foundational Set of Properties
Identify your most complicated retailer, and review the properties associated with their data upload sheet. While these properties vary between each retailer, they are similar enough to set a foundation for you to grow on.
Having a foundational set of properties makes formatting modifications easier without introducing redundant property values.
Step 3: Define Streamlined Workflows
Build workflows that streamline end-user actions. We’ve been able to build workflows that introduce new items into our data architecture and then kick off cross-departmental tasks to collect details that we had to chase down previously.
Our users simply log in to see what task is pending for them to complete. As they collect the data, I can monitor our overall performance by simply opening a customized readiness report to see how far along our products are on their trip to the digital shelf.
What Clean Data Can Do for Customer Acquisition
Our CEO’s vision is to show our customers the full breadth of our products at every stage of the waste-collection process.
As we continue to incorporate various divisions of our company into Salsify, we realize that building a single catalog to represent the entirety of our offerings is not only attainable but a by-product of simply collecting the data needed to go to market.
Since implementing Salsify, we’ve been impressed by everything we can achieve with the help of an effective commerce experience management (CommerceXM) platform.
In the future, we’ll continue to synchronize all of our data until our CEO’s vision is realized. This approach will continue to empower our sales team, our marketing team, and all aspects of our customer acquisition strategy.
It’s amazing what clean data can do — and it’s amazing what a company can accomplish by using product catalogs throughout their business.
Download our ebook, “How to Write Top-Performing B2B Product Descriptions,” to learn how to drive product discovery and conversion online.
Kevin Creese has over 20 years of experience transforming complex data into helpful information. His specialties include ecommerce and product information management (PIM) and digital asset management (DAM) integration, as well as data architecture, OpenEdge 12 or Sequel query writing, data analytics, custom business applications, business analytics, and process evaluation.
While he is firmly committed to the continued growth of Wastequip as its ecommerce manager, he’s also the owner of Ecommerce Data Solutions LLC, which provides data solutions for companies that are trying to achieve more than just putting products online.