Combining Digital Platforms to Create the Digital Supply Chain for eCommerceAssumptions that can occur with a disconnected eCommerce digital supply chain. Have you ever done some online shopping and come across an image of what you think you are looking for, but based on the description, you can’t quite tell if it is what you wanted or even needed? The description has left you wanting more information, but it isn’t there. So you decide you will try to figure it out by looking at the product images more closely. But wait, they only offer two photos in a small size, and you can’t see the product from that one angle you need to make that confident buy. So what do you do? Nothing. You don’t buy it. Or, if you are brave or desperate enough, you will buy it anyway with all your fingers and toes crossed, hoping it is what you want.Another scenario that is all too common is that you ordered something online based on a good description, but when it arrived, it didn’t match the description or images you saw online? Certain functionality isn’t quite what you thought it should be because of the product description, or the color is different in real life than in the image. You are disappointed, even frustrated, and now you have to go through returning the product. As you are driving to the store to return your order, you wonder, how could this have been so wrong from what I read or saw? This disconnect happened because of a broken digital supply chain.What is the Digital Supply Chain? Digital Supply Chain Management?What is a digital supply chain? The digital supply chain is the pushing and pulling of product metadata and product media to an eCommerce website’s layout template that allows customers to view and shop. You have the product information coming from a PIM. You have the related product images coming from a DAM. You have the website layout and functionality controlled by the eCommerce platform. These three independent systems offered by three different software companies are not always set up out of the box to connect and play nice with each other. As a result, the essential details are not aligned or get passed incorrectly, resulting in misleading or confusing product pages for consumers or retailers.Now that we are all admitting to the same pain, we will talk about how the three core systems, Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Product Information Management (PIM), and the eCommerce platform, can enhance your customer’s shopping and buying experience on your website when integrated correctly. Before we discuss the how of setting up your digital supply chain, we will look at why we need to address the digital supply chain issue. Is it an issue that is worth solving, you ask? Let’s look at some pretty compelling numbers that scream, yes, DAM IT! (Yes, we love our DAM jokes. Yes, we think they are DAM funny. And no, we don’t get tired of them.)The Impacts of Poor Product ContentPoor Product content can have an impact on online sales. According to syndigo.com, 40% of consumers have returned an online purchase because of poor product content. Stop and run rough numbers. How much revenue did your business have last year? How much revenue does 40% of returns translate into for your business?The site continues to share the following statistics:More than 90% of consumers have abandoned an online shopping cart due to either cost (61%), delivery time (33%), or poor product descriptions (30%).87% of consumers said they would be unlikely or very unlikely to make a repeat purchase with a retailer that provided inaccurate product information.So what are these numbers telling us? Having poor product information causes customers to return their orders, not place an order, or worse, not come back and shop again. Are these numbers still not convincing you why integrating systems is vital to your business’s success? Let’s look at numbers tied to customer behaviors related to returns for purchases made online from Invesp. This company helps businesses optimize their online buying conversion rates.According to Invesp:At least 30% of all online products are returned compared to 8.89% in brick-and-mortar stores. That is over a 3x return rate of products.Around 49% of retailers offer free return shipping now. Those increased shipping costs eat away at your bottom line, especially when high fuel costs.Of the top four reasons consumers return products, 22% say it is because the product they received looks different.92% of consumers will rebuy something if returns are easy67% of shoppers check the returns page before making a purchase58% want a hassle-free ‘no questions asked return policy47% want an easy-to-print return label62% of shoppers are more likely to shop online if they can return an item in-store.With these statistics, you probably ask why consumers are so worried about a ‘strong’ return policy or looking for ‘an easy, no-hassle way to return purchases? We think it is safe to say that they lack confidence in product images and descriptions online. They are hesitant to purchase something that has a high likelihood of not being what they wanted because of a missed detail or explanation of the product.The numbers and dollar amounts are staggering and illustrate how big an issue still exists in the modern world, which makes this problem plain wrong. The technology of today provides a solution to the problem. Does it take time, money, and effort to fix? Of course, it does. Today, this issue is so significant that you can’t ignore the problem of a broken supply chain anymore. The impacts on customer satisfaction and business revenue are too high not to do anything about it.So, if the technology exists today, why is this still an issue? The reality is that many moving parts have to be put in motion and aligned to solve the problem. To do this right, you have to employ your marketing teams, product buyers, suppliers, and data management team, and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite team – IT.The Three Platforms; DAM, PIM and eCommerceLet’s talk about the three key platforms that need to be aligned and integrated to streamline your digital supply chain. The first platform we’ll talk about is the digital asset management, aka ‘The DAM’ system. The DAM is typically housed and managed by key people in the marketing department with the assistance of IT. The DAM usually lives with marketing because of what content you keep in the DAM.The DAM Digital Asset Management is the primary source of truth for images, illustrations, graphics, videos, audio files, design files, and some office documentation such as word processing, pdf, and presentations. Let’s not forget all the business’s core brand assets, such as the company’s logos.The DAM is how the marketing and creative teams collect and manage these digital assets, produce new marketing collateral, and share content with internal and external consumers and platforms. The DAM system provides the needed digital assets to all the pages of your website, including your eCommerce pages.While the DAM will attach some product data in the form of metadata to the various digital representations of your products, that metadata is meant more for marketing and creative users than your consumers. This metadata allows marketing and creatives to organize, find, and share digital assets. Typically the DAM will not house product information such as weight, dimensions, available quantities, regional availability, pricing, etc. When finding this type of information in the DAM, it is usually the result of an integration with a product information management system. That product data is not editable inside the DAM as that data originates from the PIM, as it should.The second platform is your Product Information Management system. The PIM is similar to the DAM as it is a specialized silo of data about your products. This platform is the source of truth for less media-driven data and more about the product’s physical attributes, inventory, supplier information, manufacturing information, pricing information, etc. Some of this information is important to pair with your media assets on your eCommerce platform.The third platform that feeds into digital supply chain management is the commerce experience manager. This eCommerce platform takes the media assets from the DAM, combines those images with the specific product data in the PIM, and places them into creative website layouts resulting in what consumers see on the eCommerce website. This platform gives you greater control over designing an eCommerce website and how the data is presented and configured beyond what your website hosts will provide. This platform leverages APIs to call and serve up the DAM and the PIM data content. This platform also lets you templatize the layout so designers can easily recreate the same page layout on multiple sites.As CyanGate, we offer you a solution, the Salsify OTMM Connector! With Salsify OTMM Connector, these three platforms can work together and leverage your business. It is possible to synchronize digital assets between OpenText Media Management and Salsify using CyanGate’s Salsify OTMM Connector without custom integrations! Salsify Connector assists you in managing product information in the appropriate source of truth systems by addressing the most common issues such as missing information, changing content, and having consistency between product media and metadata. It allows you to update your product and leverage product assets to attract customers. More importantly, it will sync all digital assets and metadata from OTMM to Salsify. As a result, you can constantly change product content to meet the needs of retailers and distributors.DAM and PIM and eCommerce The ImplementationDAM + PIM + eCommerce when these three platforms work together, they create the trifecta that fuels the digital supply chain of your eCommerce sites and apps. Because of leveraging API-driven integrations, the initial setup is more technical. Still, once you connect the systems, the result of automating and templating your process and sites are endless. The payoff is having a streamlined process for delivering the necessary content to your consumers.Your customers are no longer left frustrated or confused about the product they received in the mail, and it will match more accurately to what they saw and read online. Your customers will be less inclined to return their orders. The biggest win is that your brand will establish more vital trust with your customers and get more and more repeat business that will drive up sales while simultaneously driving down costs. To the executive team at your company, you are now the hero that has increased sales and reduced costs. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be the hero at work?Your Implementation Partner CyanGateBecause integrating these three systems requires the technical skill of developers, architects, and business analysts, using the help of an implementation partner is your most excellent chance for success on this type of project. Your implementation partner will be experienced and knowledgeable on the three platforms, best practices, and the ability to architect the connections efficiently. An exemplary implementation partner is someone who will meet with you before diving into the work to get to know and understand your business. They will spend time with you to learn the current pain points of your teams and your customers. They will also help you establish realistic business goals due to this implementation. And as your partner, they will work with you to design and implement the solution.The goal of your implementation partner is to help your team and business avoid becoming a casualty of the numbers we talked about earlier. You don’t want your business to be part of the numbers that represent the problems that exist in the industry. You want your business to be part of the numbers that represent the positive and rewarding aspects of the digital supply chain working correctly.The reality is that this article does not entirely cover all the nuances of what goes into adequately implementing an effective digital supply chain for your business. Your business is too complex to address in a simple article. We offer a free consultation to your team to discuss your industry’s high-level details and goals for setting up an effective digital supply chain for your eCommerce business. To take advantage of the free consultation, visit us at www.cyangate.com/contact-us/ and fill out our contact form. A representative from our business discovery team will reach out to you and set up a time to talk with you and your team. Schedule your free consultation right now.We understand this will involve many people in your organization. Please check out our blog if you need more time to align calendars and goals for this initiative. We also offer other services, including digital asset management-specific implementation and document management through Salesforce. For this information, go to www.cyangate.com.If you are not sure exactly how we might be able to help you and you want to talk, use the contact form on our website to schedule an initial, high-level discovery discussion at www.cyangate.com/contact-us/.