What Are Product Data Feeds
The Australian e-commerce market saw sales of a record high in 2012. In Econsultancy’s Australia and New Zealand ISC January 2013 survey (See bottom of article), only 43% of Australian retailers claim to sell their products online but importantly, 83% of those are expecting to increase their online spend this year. What does this tell us? For starters, there are plenty of opportunities for the companies who do want to sell online.
Secondly, those that are already selling online are reaping the rewards and are looking to invest more. The huge growth potential is borne out by other statistics.
According to dgm, only 4% of the top 25 Australian retailers use affiliate marketing, compared to 100% in the UK and US. The affiliate channel, though popular in Europe, is yet to make a big impact down under. A recent article asked whether 2013 would be the year that Australian retailers embrace technology, as dgm noted that Australians were nervous about integrating new technology into their current ecommerce systems and concerned about stakeholder ability to use it.
In reality, e-commerce marketing can be simplified, requiring little or no in-house tech time, if retailers use product data feeds for multichannel marketing.
Roger Lee, Senior Account Manager at dgm, understands the importance of data feeds in online marketing.
“At dgm we are leaders in performance marketing, delivering online sales and/or leads for our clients. Data feeds, in particular those of a high-quality, are an essential tool for e-commerce, as they help to improve product and brand visibility and accuracy, by allowing retailers to integrate their products across the online channels.”
What is a product data feed?
Product data can be extracted from the front end of retail e-commerce websites using special software. A product data feed is actually a structured XML file (think Excel) that contains all products’ information and attributes. Typical attributes extracted include: price, colour, gender, size, image, keywords, product description, product availability and customer reviews.
This file can then be used to distribute products into many other online channels and marketing applications. The product data feed should be refreshed at least once a day to ensure that all published product data is accurate, up-to-date and the same as on the parent e-commerce site.
What are product data feeds used for?
As internet usage grows more sophisticated, data feeds are becoming vital in online marketing. Product data feeds can be used within a variety of ecommerce marketing practices including:
- Paid Search Automation (Google PPC)
- Online Marketplace integration (Amazon, eBay, play.com)
- Affiliate Marketing (To produce advertising)
- Retargeting Applications (Add relevant products to advertising)
- Price Comparison Site integrations (shopbot.com)
- Google Product integrations (Google Shopping)
- Dynamic Display Advertising
- Facebook integrations
- Email Applications (product led marketing)
- Mobile Site creation (using product features)
- On-site merchandising (re-positioning products in interesting or useful ways)
What are the advantages of using product data feeds?
“Product data feeds offer many advantages in online e-commerce,” explains Marta Xufre, International Business Development Director at FusePump. “Once you have a good quality feed, you can quickly take advantage of multichannel marketing because your product inventory can be integrated into online channels quickly and simply. As the data comes directly from an e-commerce site, the stock is accurately represented no matter which channel the consumer is browsing.”
Typically, data feeds enable the following:
- Quick adoption of new online channels
- Greater product distribution across the web
- Rapid ROI driven by incremental channel sales
- Consistent and reliable presentation of data straight from the parent e-commerce site
- Improved and more consistent consumer engagement and shopping experience
- No technical or in-house development time is required
- Control over the way products are displayed and increased engagement
Who needs a product data feed?
Product feeds should be integral to any online sales and marketing strategy. This is especially true for e-commerce sites selling a wide variety and large volume of products, or those with frequently changing product pricing and availability. For this reason, the main e-commerce verticals that utilise data feeds are Retail, Travel, Telco and Entertainment Media.