Why does Syndication Matter?
Syndication is a core component of every supplier’s business strategy. With technology, what began as a sharing of information between supplier and retailer is now a customized, multiple-step process across many trading partners and solution providers.
What is Syndication?
Syndication is the efficient transfer of data between brands and their retailer recipient partners.
In today’s retail environment, suppliers have the responsibility to reliably provide accurate product information to consumers and their industry partners. And it’s not just for retailer compliance – Not doing so can cost you in search rankings, shelf space, consumer confidence, and ultimately market share.
A Brief History on Syndication
Syndication has always been about making a portion of product information available to another organization. Originally, critical details required for different uses throughout the retail industry, such as SKU numbers and shipping dimensions, were often delivered simply through spreadsheets and email. It was a simpler process, but it was also insecure, inefficient, slow to update, and prone to breakdowns .
Over the last five years, as the type of content required expanded with eCommerce enhanced content and the evolution of industry and retailer specific requirement, syndication become an increasingly complex process of collecting, changing, and automating product information into recipient systems.
Today, syndication is essential for any supplier looking to bring their products to market. Everything from product descriptions and shelf space dimensions, to online demos and even diet-compatibility depends on upon a reliable syndication network that can deliver all of a product’s information.
Put simply: The entire product ecosystem depends on quality information.
With more and more ways for consumers to research products and make purchases than ever before, it can be difficult for suppliers to stay up to date with all the various retailer and industry specific requirements. This is why choosing the right content syndication partner is so important.
How to choose the right Syndication provider
There’s a better way than spreadsheets. To effectively deliver your product information to your recipient partners, it is important to be aware of a few key principals about content syndication providers.
There are 2 dimensions to a good syndication platform:
1. The business process – the way that data gets sent to the recipient
2. The types of content you can manage
Let’s talk first about the business process…
Syndication is not a “one size fits all” solution. A critical factor in syndication today is ensuring it is delivered to the exact requirements of the recipient. After all, a power tool has very different requirements than perishables. And what has worked in the past will not necessarily work today. You need a recipient-specific platform that allows you to manage that entire workflow as efficiently as possible.
Although a supplier’s product data is often accurate, it may be different than the way a recipient wants to receive or display that data. For instance, some retailers don’t want to include special characters in their product descriptions… or require certain capitalizations… or don’t want to list country of origin. Content syndication partners need to be aware of these unique requirements.
In brick & mortar stores of the past, a product may have made it to the shelf without its accompanying data, but in the digital world of eCommerce, no data means no product display.
And since each recipient is different, Syndigo has built deep connections within our network to ensure that product data is delivered in the format needed. So whether a recipient requires receiving data through an API, FTP, Access database or in a certain file format, the digital images and data attributes delivered through Syndigo will remain consistent across categories and brands.
Now, onto the types of content…
As eCommerce becomes ever-more competitive, it’s important to have comprehensive coverage for all the types of content you need to effectively educate consumers about your product. This content includes:
Core Content – fundamental content to enable commerce. Product name, SKU, short descriptions, basic marketing images, anything above the fold, short description for space management requirements among other things.
GDSN – a type of Core content determined by the GS1 global standards organization, with regulated and standardized data sets for backend logistical supply chain information for loading trucks, distribution warehouse storage.
Nutrition / Wellness Data – FDA-specified nutrition label content, plus derived nutritional information (including potential allergy risks or health benefits, compliance to popular dietary regimens, or lifestyle choices) are all part of nutrition and wellness.
Syndication Done Right: Content Experience Hub
Syndigo’s Content Experience Hub (CXH) is a single integrated platform that allows brands to manage all necessary content through its connected interface. Whether used as a PIM, DAM, syndication engine, or all 3, everything you need to manage your data is located in one common platform to allow all users to collaborate and work together.
Managing all this content for several different recipients is a complex operation. Sometimes wires get crossed and data gets to a recipient incorrectly. When an error occurs, it’s important to address it quickly.
However, without the right content syndication partner, it can be very difficult to understand where exactly something is broken. Many times suppliers don’t even know when there’s a problem until their product is delisted. The result is mislabeled products, out of stock items, lack of online details, and frustrated consumers.
Syndigo’s CXH features advanced content health analytics that make it easier to see and understand what is going wrong, allowing suppliers to find problem areas (with easy to read dashboards and reports) before they become a problem.
Sometimes the information provided by a manufacturer doesn’t tell a product’s full story. For example, nutritional wellness data is not always identified on a product’s label. Or it may not be formatted exactly the way a certain retailer likes it.
Syndigo’s nutritional algorithms developed by professional dietitians can review the ingredients in a product and identify new claims that product qualifies for, such as being part of a paleo diet or gluten free. Not only that, the CXH also optimizes the product content so that those claims and terms can be searched on, and filtered by, to further expanding the product’s reach. Plus, Syndigo’s access to retailer data templates and industry standards including GDSN, ACES and PIES for Automotive and GUIDID/UDAMED for Healthcare mean that the product information is in the proper taxonomy for each recipient.
Optimization & Alerts
Just because a brand has completed the attribute requirements for a recipient doesn’t mean that the data has been optimized. The best brands in each industry do more than submit the minimum required data. There may be a better way to articulate the features of a product. Recipients can review the data submitted from a brand and have the ability to comment, tag and notify a brand if they have to take action to update their data.
These notifications and alerts are built into the interface of CXH so that a brand can proactively know when they or when a trading partner need to take action to improve some part of their data.
Knowing how your content is performing and how it is impacting shopping behavior is important to making sure that brand’s data is moving the needle. Syndigo provides predefined and custom reports, as well as in-context analytics and dashboards that help clients understand key metrics as they are reviewing their data.
Creating product information can be expensive. Brands want to make sure they’re getting a valid return on their investment. Certain product information experiences can have a much better performance for certain products than others.
CXH also has an A/B testing feature that can isolate unique content experiences and compare the performance results. This allows brands to understand what content truly makes a difference on key consumer metrics like click through rates or add-to-cart.
Don’t have the data?
Syndigo has the ability to create data on behalf of clients.
We have a number of data entry locations around the world that allow brands to send their products to be photographed for eCommerce and space management. In addition, Syndigo has a dedicated staff that can input data from the label of a product to ensure that it is completely and properly uploaded to CXH.
Service and Training
White Glove Service
Rather than relegate service questions to an FAQ or limited support center, each of our clients has a defined account manager and account partners to help guide you through the process. We understand that content creation and syndication is a complex and sometimes challenging process, and we want to help you get it right. It’s part of our “white glove” philosophy that we strive to attain (and maintain) with our clients.
Content Experience Academy
Some clients wish to receive additional training so they have more know-how on taking action on their data. Content Experience Academy allows clients to come to our facilities to learn together in different education tracks about how to use CXH, to syndicate to more retail channels.
Syndigo has worked to amass the world’s largest directory of recipient relationships… built a unique platform based on years of experience and relationships with hundreds of retailers and distributors…
But while syndication is the key to successful product information management, just having the technology to connect is not enough. You need to understand how each of your recipient needs to accept your content, within their own data structures. You need to work with a solution partner who can ensure that your data is being passed through accurately. Business rules, content scoring, and data quality validation are all critical in a good syndication provider.
Syndigo applies these data quality rules to all content, regardless of whether it’s uploaded from supplier data or captured manually in one of our data centers. Before your data is even published, CXH lets you know how well your digital assets are in compliance with your recipients’ requirements, in near real-time.
Taxonomy: Not just a fancy name for organizing
Data quality (or ‘governance’) is obviously paramount to your successful content management programs. However, it’s often focused on only one part of the equation: the input and management of content, from a supplier’s point of view. To ensure all your digital assets are being properly displayed online, you also need to consider the recipient’s definitions … and ultimately your consumer’s viewpoint.
Consider this: If you sell over-the-counter medicine for colds, how do you define and categorize it? Is it a decongestant? Cold-and-Flu remedy? Analgesic? Is it considered a seasonal remedy, or healthcare item? The way that your retailers refer to and group these items may be different than the way you do, which is why it’s important to have a syndication partner that understands these variances. But in addition, it’s important to also understand how your shopper will search for these items.
Taxonomy is all about understanding the varied and multiple ways that consumers refer to items, in addition to the categorizations that suppliers and retailers make. Syndigo, as part of our data operations, employs a full team of data scientists and taxonomy experts to ensure that the information we manage for you have the proper descriptions and structure to meet the needs of everyone in the industry.
Syndication has grown from a basic “one to many” dissemination of information to a highly customized interactive sharing of digital content across suppliers and their retailer recipients.
Syndigo’s Content Experience Hub connects with more than 12,000 brands and 1,750 retailers globally to deliver product information to market quickly, with updates and synchronization in near-real time, while managing all your content in one place, so brands can work efficiently and collaboratively.