DDS has announced a new digital shelf analytics (DSA) offering for manufacturers. DDS’ industry-exclusive Content Validation solution helps suppliers assess both the presence and quality of their product content on multiple distribution partners’ eCommerce websites through a consolidated reporting dashboard.
In working closely with hundreds of manufacturers to syndicate product content across increasingly diverse sales channels over the last several years, DDS found virtually every supplier was struggling to gauge how their product content is ultimately being displayed (not to mention how it is performing) across their partner websites. This digital shelf analysis has become a major sticking point for manufacturers in evaluating and improving their e-commerce and digital content efforts.
As articulated on DDS’ website, it’s one thing for manufacturers to make their product content available to their channel partners, but another thing entirely for them to verify whether those partners are actually publishing the information online, let alone consistently, and as the supplier intended it to look.
“There is a major challenge for manufacturers with this ‘last mile’ of the journey to get their product information published to hundreds of individual distributor and retailer websites,” said Matt Christensen, president of DDS. “Manufacturers are really at the mercy of their distribution partners not only in terms of how their products look online, but whether they’re listed at all, and from the initial data we’ve been helping them gather, the results are pretty alarming.”
Some surprising data
Through DDS’ Content Validation beta program — which involved several of the largest manufacturers serving the U.S. electrical industry, as well as dozens of their top wholesale and retail distributors (all above $500M in revenue) — data showed that on average, 74% of the SKUs these manufacturers consider “core products” weren’t even being displayed on their top partner sites, while 29% of the SKUs that were listed were missing “basic” product content.
According to Christensen, many manufacturers today are under the impression their most important products are listed on their top partner sites, so in seeking DSA intel, they might expect the biggest issue to be a lack of supplemental, media-rich information beyond “the basics” of a catalog number and a primary image. “We certainly see this content quality issue on many sites,” Christensen confirmed, “but it’s been especially shocking to discover how many products are missing altogether — and these are the ‘bread-and-butter’ items that are part of these manufacturers’ core set. It’s been a real eye-opener for everyone.”
After making it available to their channel, manufacturers are hard-pressed to quantify how—or in fact, whether—their product content appears on partner sites. As Christensen noted, “Some of the larger manufacturers are trying to manually audit this themselves, which is costing them thousands of hours a month while still not generating consistent, usable data for them to work with in terms of diagnosing, and then improving upon, their digital shelf presence.”
This pervasive issue is not only frustrating from a logistical perspective, but it costs both the manufacturer and their distribution partners millions in lost revenue, as missing or incomplete content forces end users to look elsewhere for thorough product information, or worse—to turn to competing products—due to a poor experience with their brand.
“And when they can’t efficiently pinpoint who is publishing what, how can they fix disparities to ensure a better and more consistent end-user experience?” Christensen added. “This is part of the new reality for manufacturers related to e-commerce and digitalization—and another area that DDS set out to address.”
Through their Content Validation service, DDS can show manufacturers how their content is being displayed, down to the individual SKU level, on each partner’s website. From verifying product descriptions and features to calculating how many images and unique specifications are listed for each product, this data is aggregated and presented in consolidated “scorecards” for more measurable and actionable understanding.
This type of DSA information is critical in helping manufacturers understand what issues are occurring where, but compared to other tools available in the market, DDS’ Content Validation solution takes it a step further.
As an add-on to their SYNDICATION/io offering for manufacturers, Content Validation is the first and only solution that offers a comparative analysis based on what product content the manufacturer is actively providing to their partners, versus what actually appears on their websites, giving even more detail as to the specific information each site might be displaying inconsistently or missing altogether.
“Again, these specific, actionable insights help suppliers better communicate with each of their partners and ultimately ‘close the loop’ on product presence and content issues with individual sites,” Christensen said. “Especially for those with extensive distribution networks, this provides the insights needed for their channel- and partner-specific investment strategies.”
More information on DDS’ Content Validation service can be found at www.distributordatasolutions.com/content-validation.