The best tips for data enhancement and data validation for your online business – Part 2/2
B) Enhancement and validation of product data
Correct and comprehensive product data are often decisive when it comes to making or not making a purchase. They improve your customers’ shopping experience, generate more sales and fewer forwarding returns due to ambiguous or missing product information.
Properly used, comprehensive product data can also significantly increase that your online shop will be found easily on Google and other sites. Correct and detailed product data are also essential for operators of Amazon or Ebay shops.
1. Search for data of wholesalers / suppliers – alternatives
Your wholesaler or supplier generally provides product data for your online shop. However, this service is not free. Photos of products are often hired out. To avoid these additional financial burdens, you can contact alternative suppliers or the manufacturer to obtain the relevant data. Manufacturers in China have recognized the lack of free, quickly usable product data and often deliver them free of charge with the goods.
2. Explore and rate new sources
Search for product data from sources other than the supplier. This can include exploring a competitors’ site.
Once you have found various sources, use the one with the highest information density.
3. Pay attention to the format
When searching for product information, always pay attention to the format of the data. PDFs or image files are usually unsuitable. To be able to automatically access the information at a later date, they ought to be in a text file, HTML, XML or in a comparable easy-to-edit format. Charts and database files are ideal.
4. Optimize data feeds
Product data available in the shop system are useless if they cannot be read by Google and other internet search engines.Google for instance demands a data feed. This is provided as a CSV or XML file and must be prepared in a particular way. You can find out more about the exact appearance of this feed and what must be taken into consideration in the Google Merchant Center support under the keyword: Product data specifications.
5. Define purchase relevant attributes and extract them from continuous text
Consider how you would search for your product if you were the customer. Which attributes would be decisive for your purchase decision? For a television set, it would be the size of the screen and not the weight, however, for a sleeping bag the weight is often decisive. These purchase-relevant attributes can be built into your data feeds.
If these important features only appear in the supplier’s continuous text, there are tools with which you can extract them. (Find out more at 10.)
6. Use synonyms for products
Some products do not always have a clear designation. In some cases it is only a combination of letters and characters. It is therefore important to add synonyms to the product data of the relevant items. For instance a “Head Mounted Display” is then described more commonly as “VR Glasses” or “Virtual Reality Glasses” or “Video Glasses”.
Synonyms can be manually defined. There is also software that automatically generates the most common designations for numerous products. (Find out more at 10.)
7. Standardize attributes
Data validation also includes standardizing attributes. For instance, clothes sizes must be the same. Customers are easily annoyed when one t-shirt uses international sizes and another one standard EU sizes. Customers can only easily search and compare when the sizes are standardized. Colors also ought to be broken down into basic color schemes. Ten different shades of red ought to be summarized as “red”. If you want to sell your goods in the EU, specifications in inches or pounds are impracticable.
The so-called data normalization can also be automatized by using the relevant software. (Find out more at 10.)
8. Tag products
Tag your products with additional keywords to optimize the internal shop functions and, where applicable, create new suitable categories. Men’s gifts, Christmas, Easter, souvenirs, Valentine’s Day, beginning of term, etc. are not standard attributes. However, if you want to enhance your product data with these attributes, you can create seasonal or special offer categories. If Valentine’s Day is coming up, every word that is tagged with the term “Valentine’s Day” will appear in this category. This makes it easier for your customers to find the right gift.
9. Make use of the automatization processes of the shop systems
Modern online shopping systems allow the establishment of rules according to which products are entered. They can also automatically convert measures or recognize missing specifications as errors etc. The options provided by automatization processes in online shops are nearly unlimited. By using them you will keep your product data up-to-date.
10. Take advantage of data enhancement and optimization software
The software needed to categorize the data, to optimize it for Google and to establish rules can be found under the Google keyword: Data feed optimization.
However, if you are missing thousands of product data and you do not have the necessary resources to extract them from possible sources (manufacturers, competitor sites, data PDFs or product packaging and images) then you might want to take advantage of the clickworker “Product Data Management“ and/or „Web Research“ services.
C) Enhancing and validating further data
In addition to customer and product data there are of course, depending on the offer of the web site provider, many other data that need to be continuously enhanced and validated, for instance the data for Yellow Pages. Depending on the type of data enhancement and validation, you generally need to proceed manually because even the most sophisticated software is not capable of what humans can achieve. Solutions can be found at clickworker under „Solutions for Information and Directory Services“.