Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢ . It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott considers content management and its place within the retail industry's drive for lower costs and increased convenience.
Since the cosy (rose tinted) days of the neighborhood store and cheery aproned friend of the family serving behind the counter, retail has been the poster child of disruption. Out of town big box retailers and super market chains have eaten up the smaller high street businesses and are now consuming them online as well.
This disruption has been continually driven by the desire for lower costs and increased convenience. From out of town cheaper rents with easy parking to the low overheads of online stores needing no physical presence and the joy of next day delivery, these two factors have been the driving force behind the innovation of the past 50 years.
This includes the news that Amazon recently opened an unmanned store . This is perhaps a strange step back to bricks and mortar, but you can’t argue that as a physical store, it’s the ultimate in customer convenience, and I suspect that the buying power of Amazon will give them a cost advantage too.
So, is there a place for content in this cutthroat cost and convenience war?
Of course, a retail experience, whether on or offline, is dripping with promotional content, images and videos, plus the data that needs to be managed and delivered alongside the product such as price and promotions, as well as the detailed product information necessary to conforming to various regulations.
Then chuck in seasonality, local product variants, languages, location based pricing, different cultural expectations and national legislation, and getting the right content in front of the consumer is a complex challenge.
And yet, these are just the basics, the everyday challenges of marketing product information management. The challenge now lies not just in getting the right content in front of the consumer but getting relevant content in front of the consumer at the right time and on the right channel.
I regularly refer to content publishing as being every organization’s second business and for retailers, with all these challenges, this is especially true.
Their first business of selling physical products, is achieved through a highly optimized supply chain consisting of centralized systems, enterprise planning, discipline and thinking. Nobody would consider creating a random excel spreadsheet or implementing an independent and silo’d quick cloud solution to manage a small part of the process, and any third-party supplier who chose not to directly plug into the data interchange which manages these processes wouldn’t make it past procurement.
The second business, that of content publication, needs to be run in the same way. In order to be competitive, retailers need to apply the same thinking to the content.
Ask any content management professional and they will argue that all businesses could use a bit of enterprise level thinking. The potential gains in efficiency for retail, however, with all the requirements I described above, are even greater.
Plus, it’s stating the obvious to say that retail has the most to gain from personalization, the upsell of related products, parts and consumables, which requires a fine degree of content orchestration.
The early part of my career was spent in supply chain technology and, as a technologist, my role focused predominantly on integration, connecting things into the enterprise nervous systems of product oriented businesses. So perhaps all this content has its place as the blood stream. It starts with a beating heart and a centralized system which has been implemented with integration in mind.
A good example is the conversation I recently had with Frédéric Lezy, Head of Digital Group at Elior Group, a huge food services company with 25,000 restaurants and points of sale in 16 countries, each with their own specific content needs. He talks eloquently about how their CMS and some enterprise strategic thinking solved their complex needs.
So, is there a place for content management in the drive for cost and convenience?