How P2C can help businesses navigate the complex commerce landscape
In the ever more diverse world of omnichannel selling, organisations are seeking agility, consistent messaging and a truly global reach
The rapid proliferation of social commerce is complicating today’s multi-touchpoint retail landscape even further, adding to the pressure on companies already challenged by optimising dozens of channels across a variety of regulatory frameworks. In response, a new strategy, product-to-consumer (P2C), is emerging. We look at the issues it is intended to address and what it means for business.
What are the challenges of the current commerce landscape?
Today’s world of commerce is one of abundant opportunities and myriad challenges. The proliferation of various touchpoints – including rapidly growing social commerce platforms such as Instagram Shops and Pinterest Shopping – has created many more pathways to the consumer. At the same time, it has ushered in an age of astonishing variety, with most companies now selling through multiple channels across different territories. In each of these territories, all of which have their own regulatory frameworks and norms, companies will often be selling through their own website, retailer websites, product aggregators and social platforms, each with its own data requirements for text, images and video. Unsurprisingly, the result – known as commerce anarchy – can often be a little chaotic.
“Commerce anarchy is for sure the major challenge we are dealing with in order to establish a strong and successful ecommerce offer,” says Margit Gosau, CEO at Sport 2000. “More concretely, it is the complexity of processes, data, sources and channels which we have to juggle in order to fulfil today’s customer needs in omnichannel processes.”
What issues does this lead to?
Today’s consumer visits dozens of channels before making a purchase – comparing prices, product reviews, images and more. Their experience with a specific brand has to be the same across every touchpoint, otherwise customer loyalty risks being damaged. The problem for companies is that having to manage such enormous volumes of data across multiple platforms in many territories inevitably leads to inconsistent messaging, which creates fractured consumer pathways. A customer might see a discount on social media, which they then can’t find on the brand’s website. They might be attracted to a product on an aggregator, only to discover that its specifications look different on another retailer’s website. The impact of this is reputational damage of the sort that results in lost sales and an erosion of confidence in would-be loyal customers. A recent study of 375 brands, service providers and retailers found that 27 per cent felt poor product data was causing them to miss sales opportunities1. In the past, businesses have tried to overcome this by optimising every channel, but this can lead to escalating costs per transaction and increased internal complexity.
What is P2C?
P2C management is a new strategy within the commerce ecosystem that condenses multiple functions into a single system to manage the flow of product data – be it text, images or video – between suppliers and buyers in real time. With P2C, companies can better control their data across thousands of channels, automatically converting the information to meet individual requirements. This gives companies easy access to new markets, enables cross-platform operations and speeds up product-to-market times.
What does it mean for businesses?
This kind of consolidation has all kinds of benefits for brands, retailers and marketplaces. First of all, it unifies data, which allows users to streamline their internal systems. It also simplifies inventory counting and guarantees the kind of consistency of communication that strengthens customer loyalty. The platform’s simple interface cuts down administrative hours, which speeds up a product’s go-to-market time and drives sales. Its global reach unlocks new markets and ensures an organisation can be ready when a new channel opens up so that even more traditional-leaning firms can keep pace with the kind of agile born-in-the-cloud hyper-scalers that often threaten to leave older businesses in their wake. For example, making a change within the product information value chain would typically take companies a month to complete, but P2C enables them to update their data across the globe in a day.
And what does it mean for the customer?
The P2C platform enriches customer experiences by creating consistent buyer journeys across multiple channels. People can research a product using a search engine, check out what their peers are saying about it on social media, purchase it from one website and then review it on another – with the product information entirely consistent throughout. Up-to-date product data also empowers today’s conscious consumers, who want to make informed choices about provenance and sustainability. When a company has this kind of wraparound control of its messaging, it closes the gap between online information and the physical product experience, which decreases the return rate and, ultimately, deepens brand loyalty.