CEO Chat on Changing the Product Data Catalog Ownership Story

CEO Chat on Changing the Product Data Catalog Ownership Story - Ori Greenberg

For eCommerce marketplaces, it’s always the same story: they rely on sellers to provide complete and accurate product data, but what if changing ownership were a possibility? What if marketplaces actually owned their own product catalog data and took the reliance off of seller inputs, while still being able to provide accurate product information for consumers? 

There are many roadblocks typically that prevent marketplace enterprises from achieving this outcome, but it is not an impossible feat. That’s why we caught up with Cluster CEO Ori Greenberg, in an interview to talk about the challenges, opportunities, and best practices for driving this industry to change. By transferring ownership of product catalog data from sellers onto marketplaces – success becomes possible for all parties involved, and below we dive into how and why. 

Q: Who owns the product data catalog today in the eCommerce market and why? Is this the standard for most marketplaces? 

GREENBERG: In the eCommerce marketplace landscape it always tends to be the same story. A marketplace starts by relying on sellers or merchants to provide product data, but quickly realizes it is a mess: 

  • The data is insufficient, and not normalized
  • The marketplace catalog experience is bad for consumers.
  • The marketplace catalog is underperforming in SEO and marketing in general.
  • It is actually hard for sellers to list items and causes friction, sending 50% of them to abandon the onboarding process.

However, owning the product data catalog makes so much sense. The sellers can help, but the marketplace must own the process, the guidelines and the standards – to help your sellers comply with those standards.

And if you’re thinking this is not possible, this has been done successfully by enterprises like Amazon’s marketplace, and Google Shopping – and in looking at those examples, the results are clear. That being said, no one has the breadth that Amazon and Google have by themselves – and that’s why Cluster was created.

Q: What does the ideal marketplace product data catalog look like?

GREENBERG: The ideal marketplace product data catalog should be: 

  • Rich with structured product data.
  • Detailed in taxonomy.
  • Inviting, filterable and pleasant in every way.

Q: What is the best practice when it comes to ownership of the product catalog data?

GREENBERG: As mentioned earlier, marketplaces should own the catalog onboarding process, guidelines, and standards – and marketplaces need to help their sellers and merchants comply with those guidelines. 

Q: Why is it so essential to follow these best practices?

GREENBERG: Loosening the rules on product data catalog ownership can cause a mess that spills into other business aspects across the board, and result in poor customer experience, bad seller experience, and poor performance overall.

Q: What are the roadblocks that keep marketplaces from gaining ownership of their product catalog data?

GREENBERG: Gaining ownership of your product catalog data is hard to set up, and taking the first steps can be difficult. You’ll ask yourself why would the sellers go through all the trouble to onboard their product information, and how do I even decide what to ask from them? 

The reality is that it is a lot easier just to tell people, “Here you go – a platform – now just list your products! We’ll use Machine Learning and AI in the future to make sense of what you write!” And then you find out you can’t accomplish this, and the technology just isn’t there – but it’s too late. And, changing your practice becomes even more difficult. 

Q: How can marketplaces work with sellers to create a mutually beneficial catalog onboarding process?

GREENBERG: First, marketplaces need to realize what data they need in order to provide a good customer experience and a frictionless seller experience. Next, help the existing sellers by adjusting their current catalog data. Provide clear guidelines on what is needed moving forward, and proactively help them provide the required catalog data. Examples of how to do this include: 

  1. Pre-build a product data catalog. Start with top-of-mind categories,
  2. Match existing items with the ones in the pre-defined catalog.
  3. Provide matching tools for new products added to the catalog.
  4. Enhance items that are not in that pre-defined catalog on the fly using advanced tools and third-party data providers like Cluster.

Q: How does Cluster help?

GREENBERG: Cluster is an eCommerce data provider that solves for creating a superior online shopping experience through quality catalog and product data for marketplaces and online enterprises (including adjacent markets like eRetail, brands, and financial institutions).

When marketplaces do not have a complete understanding of their product variants, they can oftentimes end up with duplicate listings, which confuses shoppers and in turn, sends them to competitor sites. Building a quality product data catalog is a challenge, but Cluster can identify, validate and enhance product data by matching duplicate products, so inaccurate information doesn’t find its way in front of your shoppers.

Q: What does the future of eCommerce marketplace data look like? 

GREENBERG: No new marketplace can provide an Amazon-like experience, which consumers are now expecting, from the get-go without requiring any help. From the product data catalog to the fulfillment of orders, marketplaces will need to partner with industry-leading vendors to get ahead of the game.

Mutual Marketplace and Merchant Benefits

Changing the script of a story (especially in the middle) is not an easy task, but the results can make for a much happier ending. In this case, restarting can seem daunting but the mutually beneficial results for merchants, marketplaces, and ultimately consumers, can make a major impact on success. Talk with a Cluster expert today and see how our game-changing insights can work for you. 


FUN FACTS

Little-Known Fact: 

When time allows, I love to geek out with customers’ data. Even if the customer didn’t ask for anything, I love finding trends, data gaps, assortment gaps, and insights in general that are intriguing. Usually, I keep it to myself, but sometimes I can’t help but share it with the customer/account owner. 

Quotes to Live By: 

Be kind.

Favorite Marketplace:

For basic purchases, Amazon and Walmart. For fun, spontaneous or emotional purchases: Facebook Marketplace. I love the sustainability aspect, plus the fact I can ‘Uber’ a product my way in 20 minutes!

Favorite Snack:

Coffee.

Describe Cluster in 5 Words: 

  1. Comprehensive
  2. Granular
  3. Accurate
  4. Unique
  5. Insightful

Catalog Integrity: Trust Your Backend Data and Shift Focus to Winning the Basket

Catalog Integrit Trust Your Backend Data and Shift Focus to Winning the Basket

Algopix has had the privilege of working with some of today’s leading marketplaces including Facebook Marketplace, Google Shopping, Mercari, Walmart, and others. Through our partnerships we have learned what works and what doesn’t, and our goal is to support our partners in tackling their most pressing challenges. So to that end we all know that eCommerce isn’t static. It is why many marketplaces can’t answer seemingly simple questions like:

 
  • Is my catalog data accurate?
  • Am I presenting the most relevant items at the right prices
  • Do I have the right mix of products to please shoppers? 
  • And lastly, how can I target the right sellers for my marketplace so I can keep shoppers coming back time and time again?
 

On December 8, 2021, during a live webinar, we dove into the most popular ways our team works with these marketplaces, starting with the importance of catalog integrity as the foundation of any marketplace business. Read the transcript below and watch the accompanying video.

Trust Your Catalog Data

First, catalog integrity is being able to trust your backend or canonical catalog data to support two fundamental processes for your business. The first is to improve seller onboarding by automating the listing process. This will release the reliance of your sellers to input accurate and robust information creating a frictionless onboarding process: What I like to call, the gold standard.

 

Then the second pillar I’ll touch on is the importance of having the backend data to consolidate duplicate listings of the same product for a better shopper experience. 

 

So let’s start from the beginning with the first pillar around disparate data and insufficient product content input by thousands of sellers, which leads to incomplete, miscategorized and duplicate product data entries. Let me ask you, what is more attractive to a power seller?

  1. A time consuming and manual process that can fall to easy inputs or 
  2. An easy automated and seamless product onboarding experience with recommended inputs that takes the responsibility out of the seller’s hands?

Well, I’ll answer it for you. It’s the latter. Our team has heard from one of the top marketplaces in the world that on average over 25% of sellers’ submissions are declined due to insufficient inputs because they require too much from sellers. This will create inconsistencies from the start.

 

Help Your Merchants Want to Work with You

The first step of the onboarding process input should be automated; where a seller starts typing in the name of a product in which your marketplace immediately starts suggesting products. This enables the merchant to auto-populate the product information.

 

Now, why is this important? As a marketplace it is your responsibility to make this process as easy as possible, to make your merchants want to work with you. This right here is a huge value making sellers want to list on your marketplace. Most marketplaces that we speak to are requiring a ton of attributes aspart of their product submissions and many sellers don’t have this information. This leads them to abandon the process resulting in poor product listings.

 

So, let’s make it easy for them. How will this impact your marketplace shoppers? We look at your business having two very important clients: your shoppers and your sellers. So we just talked about the sellers’ portion. Now we’re going to dive into how this is going to impact your shoppers. The answer is trust, and trust is one of the most important components for drawing shoppers to your marketplace.

 

Be the Gold Standard, Pivot to Winning the Basket

Marketplaces that aren’t thinking about enhancing backend data with the most accurate and robust product details will lag behind. And it starts with the aforementioned first pillar – having really strong recommendations for your sellers. This, in turn, will impact your shopper’s experience. If you see your product listing with disparate details on the product, the click-out rate of the external research will limit the chances of your marketplace winning the sale versus your competitors.

 

The ‘gold standard’ is being the product expert for your shoppers. An example of another large challenge is duplicate listings of the same products. Here, you will see three of the same products with different photos, titles, prices scattered throughout the DSLR camera category page on Facebook marketplace. This could be totally confusing and on off putting to some shoppers:

Group identical products by sellers

As illustrated above, it’s hard to see what is actually accurate, what’s fraudulent, if it’s the same product that is actually being searched, etc. So, if you have a robust catalog like Facebook marketplace does here, consolidating duplicate items into one listing can improve the shoppers experience. 

 

However, below shows the after view that we have been able to help our marketplace clients achieve:

Here you will see an example of a product listing with all the sellers that are selling this particular item. All the shopper needs to do is choose which offer makes the most sense to them based on price and other things like shipping, or what type of conditions it is in. So, as shown here, you’ve just limited a three-plus click process down to one or two by consolidating those listings into one. 

 

In closing, understanding the importance of the two main building blocks of your marketplace’s catalog will impact your seller and shopper experience. Next, be sure to dive into the importance of promoting the most relevant products with the most informed, competitive pricing – and learn the characteristics of A+ sellers that are right for your marketplace.