What Is Data Enrichment and Do I Need It?

by | Sep 28, 2020 | Blog

The following blog was written by guest author Alexandra Borzo, a contributor for Amber Engine, a software company dedicated to empowering data and marketing innovation in multiple industries.

There was a time when the word “data” felt like your bridge into the future. There you were, peering into a coming era filled with new technologies and AI you’d only seen imagined in movies like Mission: Impossible and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The idea of consumer and client data, in particular, would open exciting doors to ingenious remarketing campaigns and pinpoint-precision messaging.

As online marketing and ecommerce have gotten bigger, however, your enthusiasm has sagged under the weight of what “data” really means in the day-to-day. Data also points to product data, which is surprisingly difficult to keep accurately and consistently across departments and teams. That gets even harder when you have to optimize data for different ecommerce marketplaces too, with their unending variations and requirements.

In general, data represents one of the biggest challenges you face. And that’s true for just about all businesses today. There’s too much random data across teams, and no systems to clean that data up and use it as flawlessly as you’d like. That’s where the idea of data enrichment starts to look pretty attractive. Product data enrichment finds all the gaps and inconsistencies in your data and then updates everything with accurate and relevant information.

Is data enrichment something your team can take on by yourselves? Or is it worth hiring a specialist? Do you even need data enrichment?

If there’s anything we can say decisively—no matter your business or situation—it’s that you need a strategic approach to unify all product information (including photos, SKUs, dimensions, descriptions and more) across marketing, sales and customer service channels. Breaking down the walls between those data silos is the lynchpin for improving data quality…and your bottom line.

Keep reading to discover if data enrichment should be a part of your data strategy, too.

The Data Problems You Have Now

The most common challenge we hear about when working with retailers and suppliers is that their data has inconsistencies and gaps. In fact, it has too many to count. Even more alarmingly, they also tell us how their data isn’t organized in the way people shop for their products.

This is a problem. A big one.

To uncover whether your organization could be suffering from sub-optimal product data, check each of these points below. If one or more is true for you, you probably need data enrichment.

You’re Not Thinking Beyond Keywords

Product data enrichment includes more than plugging in the keywords you want to rank for. In fact, the data you can enrich goes beyond written product descriptions. Other types of data that are central to making your products “sticky” in search and compelling to consumers include SKUs, enriched photos, your catalog data and more. If you aren’t enriching all this data, that’s the number-one sign you still have some work that needs doing.

No Team Responsible For Data

As we’ve worked with our own clients, we’ve found that few have staff who are responsible for data. In bigger organizations, those data people might be the product buyers or even a devoted PIM team. These professionals are responsible for covering all the databases across their product catalog. But they’re few and far between. If you’re one of the many companies without a devoted team to count on, that’s the number-two sign you probably need data enrichment services.

No Big-Picture Focus On Ecommerce

Even the companies who have data teams still haven’t shifted the strategic dialog to ecommerce data optimization. Ecommerce? Yes, just about every company with a product to sell is talking about it. But focusing data efforts on the optimizations specific to this world still isn’t happening. In a world where ecommerce has grown 129% since April 1st this year, treating ecommerce as anything short of a strategy in and of itself is an error. Don’t have your ecommerce plan totally figured out yet? That’s the third classic sign that you have some days of data enrichment ahead of you.

So… Do I Need Data Enrichment?

If you fall into any of the trends above, that’s the first strong indicator that you need data enrichment. Once you’ve decided that you need data enrichment, the next step is to decide who should do the work. Here’s a simple litmus test of whether you should enrich the data yourself or contract it out:

Do you have time to enrich that data yourself?

If the answer is “no,” or if you could make time but still don’t have the expertise, these are indicators that you will save more than just resources if you hire a data enrichment specialist. You’ll also save your sanity. Trust us—working for months on your data only to find out you did a lousy job is enough to break anyone’s heart.

Even for consumers who still prefer the hustle and bustle of offline shopping, the “pre-shopping” search lives online. This means that your website and your marketplace catalogs need to have all the details those consumers want (and in the format they expect). Shoppers will turn away from your store or product in a fraction of a second otherwise. Data enrichment is the stopper for that leak.

How Do Consumers Want Their Data?

Online shoppers aren’t looking at products as a mishmash of “data.” They’re looking at products for the automatic emotional feedback as they endeavor to find whatever it is they want.

To deliver consumers that experience, it’s our job to polish all that product data.

Product data enrichment starts with data that has to meet a certain benchmark. You can’t enrich data that has no recognizable form to begin with. To get data up to snuff, this means ensuring it’s complete and has no careless inaccuracies. This sort of “clean-up” is done in the initial phase of data enrichment. From there, the data is further enriched with improvements to photos and specific optimizations that meet the requirements of each marketplace.

After that, you ensure that all your product data is easy to find and well-organized anywhere that buyers can find it. This means prepping your product details for your website, your digital catalog, for Amazon, and for Wayfair—or wherever else you’re selling. The bottom line to data enrichment, after all, is…well, your bottom line.

Tactics For Data Enrichment

So maybe now you’ve seen the light. You know that data enrichment is a solution for innumerable headaches and also the key to triggering more online sales. Simply start by updating all the important details in your data like measurements, materials and colors.

But, once you get that initial phase of clean-up done, what other kinds of enrichment should you focus on?

There’s more to ecommerce product data enrichment when your end goal is to increase sales. You can leverage digital assets, for example, like individual product photos and your digital product catalog. Seriously—enhance all your product photos, and you’ll see just how visually impacted consumers are. Videos showing a product in action will have an even bigger effect for that same reason.

Other resources like specification sheets, material data safety sheets or even technical drawings can also help buyers trust you and match your products to their exact requirements.

Find The Right Data Enrichment Service

With the enormous boom in ecommerce we’ve seen this year, most analysts are saying that these new consumer trends are here to stay. All shopping will start online and most of it will finish online. And yet, it seems like there’s nothing to be excited about anymore—you’re just left with an even longer to-do list with data management and products to launch on multiple online marketplaces.

Managing the nitty-gritty of all those data details doesn’t have to be a pain in the rear, though. In fact, data enrichment services exist because it’s so impractical for most businesses to optimize the data themselves.

Furthermore, a specialist can apply enrichment knowledge your team simply doesn’t have.

Click here to learn more about enrichment services from Amber Engine and receive a complimentary assessment of your product data.

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