What should you expect from an e-commerce feed manager?

7'

In 2019, there is a wide choice of marketing channels at brands’ and distributors’ disposal to help to develop business nationally and internationally. In an e-commerce ecosystem that is more competitive than ever, it’s essential for brands to adopt tools allowing them to carry out their e-commerce activity within a single product data management platform, helping them to improve their visibility and performance.

Integrator, aggregator or feed manager – whatever the name, these platforms have one shared purpose: to optimise and distribute product catalogues on a multitude of e-commerce channels (marketplaces, price comparison, affiliation and retargeting platforms, Product Ads, etc.), while centralising all your operations within a simple, intuitive interface.

But how do you decide which platform to choose? Here are 10 factors to consider before choosing your e-commerce feed manager.

1. Connectivity

First of all, a feed integrator must give you the freedom to choose how you wish to import your source product catalogue into the platform: via a spreadsheet (.CSV,.XML,.TXT), URL, or through an FTP server (FTP/FTPS). When synchronising the source feed to the platform, you should be able to connect your product catalogue from your e-commerce solution (Prestashop, Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, Shopware, etc.), or using a PIM. The most advanced players will also import their product data via APIs and/or ERP.

When it comes to exporting products, you need a wide choice of generalist or specialised marketing channels to ensure your strategy is successful in both your domestic and international markets.

Faced with the challenges of a multi-channel strategy, an aggregator must also allow brands and distributors to export their product catalogues to a variety of online and offline channels in order to multiply the points of contact with customers, such as Google LIA, Facebook Dynamic Ads for Retail, etc.

2. Marketplace management

If you sell or wish to sell your products on marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay or Rakuten, you know that each marketplace has its own individual requirements relating to feed configuration and order management.

With a feed aggregator, you are able to meet the requirements of each channel, but also centralise the data from your source product catalogue in a single space and then distribute it to the marketplaces of your choice.

Concerning order management, your orders will automatically be centralised within the feed manager. Some of them, such as Lengow, allow e-merchants to manage them directly from a plugin (Magento, PrestaShop, Shopware or Shopify) or a dedicated API. Finally, for merchants using Fulfilment programs, be aware that more and more integrators are becoming compatible with these services (e.g. Fulfilment by Amazon, Cdiscount Fulfilment, Mano Fulfilment, etc.) in order to distinguish between orders managed by the vendors and those managed by the marketplace.

By having a global vision of your activity on marketplaces, you not only save time, but you also avoid being penalised by a marketplace for unavailable products or an unprocessed order.

3. Flexibility

You now have a large ecosystem to ensure the success of your e-commerce activity. Presented with a multitude of tools including mailing, customer reviews, price monitoring, Web-To-Store, product recommendations, it’s essential to make them interact together to maximise their potential and standardise the strategy you have adopted.

This is where a good integrator will make a difference. It will be able to offer a wide range of functionalities to enrich your activity via an application library (Zapier, Olapic, Textmaster…) or his APIs to communicate your different tools with each other.

4. Ergonomics

If performance and quality/price ratio are essential elements in the choice of an aggregator, so is ergonomics. Since some software interfaces are better built than others, good software should be easy to use. This will enable you to become familiar with the platform more quickly and to get going as quickly as possible, setting up your feeds so that they can be immediately distributed on marketing channels. You will also be able to have a global view of the health status of your feeds.

At Lengow, we’re committed to providing a quality experience for our customers. Our new platform has been designed with this in mind to provide an intuitive experience for users of our platform.

Whichever feed manager you choose, don’t hesitate to request a demo to see if the interface is easy to use.

lengow_feature1_v2

5. Volume management

With the multiplication of marketing channels in the e-commerce market, feed managers must have the structural capacity and sufficient technical load to be able to index hundreds of billions of products each year. If you have a product catalogue with thousands or even millions of products, make sure that the feed aggregator is able to process your product data streams to quickly distribute them to the channels of your choice.

6. Catalogue enrichment

Feed managers also allow you to enrich your product feeds regularly, beyond the simple import and export of your data. Throughout your activity within the platform, you can use a number of features to enrich your catalogue, such as automatic rules allowing you to perform a number of actions such as enriching your product sheets, adjusting your stock, adapting your feed to the specificities of broadcasters, among many others!

Notably, you can exclude products that have a high return rate from the Amazon marketplace, set up retargeting campaigns on specific items that are cheaper than your competitors or even increase your CPCs on products that generate a high margin.

7. The economic model

In addition to the “price” that will allow you to develop your business according to your financial resources, it is important to consider the complexity of your feed and your needs before choosing your aggregator.

To do this, the business model of a feed integrator must be clear, flexible and stable over time to allow you to plan your business with confidence and launch into new channels easily and unlimitedly. Be aware that a commission-based model can lose its attractiveness if you have a large volume of orders. It can quickly become expensive if it is successful.

8. Independence

When merchants decide to sell their products outside their online store, it is important to offer them as many alternatives as possible. Some aggregators still have a limited offer, preventing merchants from diversifying their activity and therefore spreading risks. Before selecting your aggregator, find out how many channels you will have at your disposal to see if it meets your expectations.

In addition, as a technical service provider, the integrator must limit itself to acting as an intermediary between sellers and marketplaces and must under no circumstances intervene in the contractual relations established. Its approach must remain neutral in the management of marketing channels and data transition.

9. Support

But what about support? Once you have registered on the platform you will need to be guided by quality customer support. Support should be available in your native language by email or phone to answer any questions or problems you may have. In addition, support materials must be made available to you (Help Centre, FAQ, tutorials…) to help you use the aggregator independently.

If you want to use a feed manager without having to manage your feed on a daily basis, some agencies are certified and work closely with integrators. They will also advise you on your e-commerce strategy.

10. Expertise

Above all, an aggregator should know its environment. It must be able to develop its offer and technology according to the market and to detect the future expectations of its customers. Fashion, beauty, electronics, home decor, tourism – there are many sectors within e-commerce, each with different strategies. The aggregator should therefore have to be an expert in each of these areas in order to satisfy different types of customers, namely brands, distributors and agencies with different objectives and challenges.

To share their expertise, some players also organise events for brands and distributors. At Lengow, we host our annual Lengow Day, bringing together more than 400 international e-commerce specialists every year.

By relying on a recognised player in the market with good references, you then enhance your skills and can more easily recruit people able to manage your e-commerce strategy.

Since 2009, Lengow has been supporting its customers in the deployment of its business strategy around the world. Today, our platform has 1,600 international marketing channels used by more than 4,000 customers. If you would like to know more about the Lengow platform, we would be happy to present our platform to you and discuss your current and future e-commerce projects.

author_avatar

Naomi Botting

Communications Project Manager - UK/NORDICS