Product Information is at the core of any shopping experience. In the age of Pervasive Commerce, it would makes all apps and websites Product-Aware and enable all businesses to present the right customer with the right product, every time. But what exactly is product information? What does it entail?
The simple explanation is that it is information about a product. But the reality is actually not as simplistic as that. In the digital era, there are certain parameters that product information needs to meet in order to be useful and meaningful in both brick-and-mortar and online contexts.
Essentially, product information is divided into offers and catalog data. Offers data refers to all the data related to the sale of a product – the stores at which it is sold, the price at each store, promotions, availability, shipping details, etc. This information is typically dynamic and changes often. Then there is the more static information i.e. catalog information. This includes deeper more descriptive data like attributes, features, images, unique identifiers, etc.
Together, both these pieces form a comprehensive product record. What does this look like? Let’s consider a product found in almost every household – the toaster. Here’s an example of what some of the product information for an Oster 2-Slice Toaster in red looks like. This is inclusive of variance in models.
Where is the toaster available? – It is in stock across at least 7 different online stores and marketplaces.
Amazon.com Marketplace: $34.50
Sears Marketplace: $45.03
There are deeper levels to this data when you add list price, shipping details, URLs for the product page at each store, individual marketplace sellers, and so on.
Classification: Home & Kitchen > Small Appliances > Ovens & Toasters > Toasters
SKUs at each store:
Sear’s Marketplace: SPM9080178524
These product identifiers are critical especially for barcode scanning and other smart processes that are required by both consumers and retailers.
What about descriptive specifications and attributes?
Anti-jam mechanism: yes
UL listed: no
Cool touch: no
Wattage: 750 watts
Voltage: 120 volts
Indicator lights: yes
Manual lever: yes
Browning nob: yes
Reheat function: yes
Material: plastic and metal
LED display: yes
Cancel option: yes
Defrost function: yes
Bagel function: yes
ETL listed: yes
Energy star compliant: no
Weight: 4.45 lb
Height: 9.6 inches
Width: 14 inches
Depth: 10 inches
Cord length: 26 inches
In addition to this, catalog data includes images, videos, descriptions, etc. As you can tell, all this data is critical for anyone dealing with product information, whether it’s a consumer, retailer, brand, merchant, social shopping app, comparison shopping network, and most any avenue that provides or needs access to product information.
And this is only a slice of all the information about this product. The point here is that when it comes to something as humble as the toaster, we don’t assume the product information to be so layered and deep. But this nuanced information is critical in the digital era to power the shopping experiences of tomorrow. Not to mention, there are many challenges in collecting, aggregating, and normalizing it as well. Next time, we’ll talk more about what qualifies as good or bad product information.