Would you ever purposely give your strongest competitor the competitive advantage? Probably not. This is essentially what makes time to market (TTM), or how long it takes to get your products listed, so important in the ecommerce playing field.
In fact, you could have the highest-quality product feed out there but still perform poorly if your competition beats you to market. Performance, however, isn’t the only reason why TTM is so critical.
A long TTM carries a variety of negative consequences, including:
- Poor reputation as a follower, not a leader
- Missed opportunities (the ones that come when you’re still working on listings)
- Wasting excess resources
- Low agility and flexibility to make changes
Essentially, nothing good can come from taking too long to get your products listed. But with quality product feeds being so critical and channel requirements becoming increasingly complex, is it even possible to shorten your TTM? Yes – and you don’t have to sacrifice at all on the quality of your data while doing it! In order to do this, however, you’ll need a quality product feed management solution.
The right product feed management software can not only minimize the time it takes to get your products listed on the web, but it can actually increase your level of agility, speed, and innovation. But how? And are there ways to know if a tool is up for the challenge?
In this article, we’ll examine the different ways in which the right software can minimize your TTM and provide an infographic with 5 key TTM-specific questions to ask during your evaluation of feed management software. Ready to get started?
Here are 5 ways the right product feed management software can shorten your time to market.
1. Automate processes
With the right product feed management software, nearly every manual task can be automated. From data integration and syndication to category mapping – automation can save you time throughout the entire feed preparation process – allowing you to get your products to market fast.
Find a software that is capable of integrating your data from any source and format, including via import APIs. Not only will this make your feed much easier to manage, but it can also be extremely helpful and efficient for adding supplemental, value-adding information to your feed (e.g. product ratings or additional images).
Also included in top-of-the-line software are a variety of integrated export APIs, which allow you to seamlessly get your product feed to a given channel, and quickly. This eliminates the need for manual CSV file handling and saves you a lot of time and headaches.
Some software offers the option to schedule exports for specific times and days. Since it’s important to keep all of your channels stocked with the most up-to-date information, this saves you from having to manually and regularly export your feed.
Then, of course, powerful feed management software should include delta uploads, which allow you to export only products with new or updated information – instead of having to export your entire feed all over again. This can save you a ton of processing time.
A top tier tool will also automate the task of category mapping. Just imagine how much time you’d save without having to manually map each individual product to the correct category. Automatic exclusion of unprofitable products can also cut down your time spent on feed preparation.
Automated data mapping is another great way to save time. Certain software will automatically map your import feed to the relevant export field. However, this can only work if software includes preconfigured export templates, which we’ll get into later.
All in all, turning manual tasks into automated tasks minimizes the time required to prepare your product feed, which, in turn, will enable you to get your products to market faster.
2. Minimize complexity
At the end of the day, good feed management software can save you time by simply making your job easier. If you’re able to clearly comprehend your data while making edits, you can get things done a lot faster.
The right feed management software will include functionalities that allow you to make edits with drag-and-drop logic rather than with complex code. This simplicity and ease-of-use can drastically cut down the time you allocate to the task.
Another huge time-saver is the ability to apply edits in bulk. For example, let’s say you want to add the color of your products to their descriptions. In this case, you’d simply need to make the change once to have it applied to either your entire inventory or your desired group of products. This characteristic, in particular, saves you from having to manually edit individual product attributes.
One of the main culprits for a long time to market is time spent identifying and fixing product feed errors. This, however, isn’t a problem with the right feed management software. If the software includes an analysis feature, you’ll easily be able to scan, detect, and fix critical errors in your feed. Some software will even provide automated suggestions on which edits to make to fix the said error.
Some also offer an option to view your edits in real-time, which can eliminate the risk of only seeing a mistake once your products are already published.
3. Maximize independence & streamline processes
In order to minimize your TTM, you’ll need to use software that requires no programming or coding knowledge. Feed management software should cut out the middleman – giving you control over your product feed and eliminating your dependence on IT. This means that you won’t have to wait around for them to make changes and you’ll be able to work at a faster pace- already cutting out days or even weeks of your TTM.
Being able to easily digest your own data is key to being able to get important tasks done quickly. The centralized overview and simplicity offered by some software enable this.
Feed management software should allow you to independently prepare your feeds from A to Z without any external assistance (aside from a great support team when necessary). By cutting out the middleman and providing the technology you need to get things done, feed management software allows you to get your products listed in no time.
4. Ensure channel-readiness
Connecting to a new channel takes a ton of time. First, you need to research the channel-specific feed rule and requirements, then you need to structure your feed to fit these specs. With most channels updating regularly, keeping track of all of these changes can be a major time-sucker. By using the right feed management software, you’ll never have to spend time with any research.
Good feed management software will already have integrated all of the major shopping and marketing channels, as well as niche and regional channels. If your software updates these regularly and essentially does the research and channel-analysis for you, then you can cut out a huge time investment.
Some feed management software includes preconfigured export templates for popular shopping and marketing channels. This makes it easy for you to ensure that your feed is in the required structure and includes the compulsory information for each relevant channel.
Moreover, an advanced solution provider may have close ties with industry leaders like Facebook or Google. They may be some of the first to hear about big changes or new opportunities – and they will share this information with you – ensuring your place as a first-mover.
Moreover, most feed management software offers advanced optimization capabilities. Product feed optimization isn’t only used to increase the performance of your feed, but it’s also important to make sure the channel accepts your feed in the first place. Many channels may only accept product feeds that are of a certain level of quality. Therefore, this aspect of feed management software ensures your feeds are welcomed the first time around – instead of being rejected and having to re-submit – which can lengthen the time it takes to list your products.
5. Increase agility
Agility and speed go hand in hand. With today’s ecommerce players coping with a growing number of new channels, regularly changing requirements, and a fast pace of innovation – agility has become more important than ever. Not only does agility give you the ability to survive in today’s changing industry, but it also helps you minimize your TTM and thrive.
A good feed management software can help your business stay agile, by making sure your data is agile. This means:
- Always available
- Easily transformable
- Consistent and high quality
- Fast & connected to a large ecosystem
- Always in the right context
Agile data allows you the flexibility necessary to capture new opportunities as they come and secure your place as a first-mover. This not only guarantees you the competitive advantage, a short TTM, and the ability to connect to new channels as they appear but also gives you more room for further marketing efforts.
Note that not all feed management software is capable of helping you minimize your TTM.
Here are 5 questions to ask to get to the bottom of whether or not a tool can help you speed things up!
Productsup.io is a powerful, intelligent and easy-to-use platform for product content integration, syndication and feed management. With no coding needed, the cloud-based SaaS solution empowers the business user to assess channel readiness, transform, optimize and distribute high quality product content to thousands of retailers, data pools, marketplaces and marketing channels, such as Amazon, Google, Facebook or Walmart. With agile data and connectivity, Productsup enables clients to do more business, stay ahead of competition in an ever changing and complex market environment and capture new opportunities as they happen. The company has more than 10 industry award wins to date and outstanding customer testimonials. Major partners include Google, Marin Software, SAP Hybris, IBM and Kenshoo.