Online market places offer the greatest advantage to those suppliers who can provide as much searchable information about their products as possible, and this includes providing product attributes which can be used to filter the list of products having performed a search. Ever searched for a television on EBay only to find yourself sifting through page after page of products looking for the right brand, or size? Probably not, because you would have noticed very quickly that down the left side of the screen you can filter out products that are not made by the companies you are interested in, or which are not the right size. This type of filter is achieved using product attributes, small details about each product being sold online which can be used to filter, and therefore find the product you want among sometimes hundreds that you don't.
Of course size and brand may not be relevant to certain products, while other attributes like safety information, weight, power consumption, and energy ratings may be. Now imagine trying to maintain a consistent vocabulary of attributes across hundreds of different suppliers selling thousands of completely unrelated products, this is the problem that faces the online market place.
“Our team used to retrieve data from the web manually, what used to take days can now be accomplished in hours. The service really is fantastic and massively reduces our costs and overheads.”
“It took considerable time and effort to format and remove duplicate entries from the data we collected from websites. Symphony really has made an impossible task possible in a fraction of the time.”
A challenge that many online market places face is in ensuring that products are advertised in a consistent way, and with a high level of accuracy and detail.
Uploading you product database to an online market place can seem like a fairly simple proposition in the beginning but can often quickly become quite complicated. You will be expected to be able to provide not only the usual details about your products like name, description and an image, but to make sure that these values follow the market place owners definition of what-looks-good. In short, the way you describe a product on your side may not be how you are expected to advertise it on theirs. You will almost certainly be expected to also provide product attributes which you may not have and even where you do there is no guarantee that the values you use will be compatible with the market place. Quite often there is a strictly controlled list of words and terms that can be used to describe things like colour and material, and unless you can ensure that you use these terms it is unlikely that your product details will make it onto their site.
Images will need to be named correctly, be presented using the right dimensions and adhere to strict guidelines on quality. You may need to manufacture bullet points describing key details about your product which you may not have on your side. All measurements will need to be quoted using the same unit of measurement, and quite often the way you update product details, including the availability and price of a product involved a completely different process to the one used to upload the product details in the first place.
Online market places offer the greatest advantage to those suppliers who can provide as much searchable information about their products as possible.
In short, unless you have a fairly competent IT function in house, access to, and have a clear understanding of the makeup of your product database, have the time to truly understand the specifications of the site you are uploading to, and have the ability to "re-arrange your data to fit" then integrating with any online market place can be a daunting, and difficult challenge.
We have developed a close relationship with Tesco Direct over the last 12 months and have helped many of their suppliers successfully advertise their products online.