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Accelerating product readiness in the new normal

In the second installment of our ‘Doing More With Less’ series, we explore the critical challenges and opportunities that we expect Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies to face today in the “new normal” and in the future as consumers increasingly pivot to digital purchases.

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Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are always looking for faster and more efficient ways to launch products and make them available to their customers. Now, the urgent need to provide critical household essentials to consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic has these companies thinking even more about how they can accelerate their product readiness.

With so many consumers required to stay at home, and many relying almost exclusively on eCommerce channels to secure household essentials, CPG companies are under intense pressure to make products available and ensure that they are displaying complete and accurate data about those items on online channels. And while the need to deliver on their brand promise is greater than ever, these companies are operating with fewer resources and leaning hard on teams that are working remotely—and often struggling to collaborate in real-time.

Certainly, CPG companies are facing critical business challenges in the “new normal.” But they also have clear opportunities to improve internal processes and use technology to drive productivity and efficiency to get their products to the consumers who need them, quickly. 

Here, we explore two key challenges and the related opportunities for CPG firms in the new normal:

Delivering and displaying accurate and complete product information on eCommerce channels  

Launching products, even everyday items like toothpaste, deodorant, or soap, requires a lot of time, energy, and preparation for a CPG firm. Dozens of hours are spent collecting, packaging, and verifying product ingredient information, imagery, and marketing copy from multiple sources before sending it off to eCommerce partners and channels. 

With so many people, pieces of data, and systems involved in the process of packaging up product data, it’s no surprise that the risk of missteps—such as submitting and publishing inaccurate or incomplete data—is high. 

A better approach: Consider using an AI-powered searchable “one-stop-shop” content repository for product data, imagery, and copy. That way, eCommerce managers and digital marketing managers can locate and package up accurate data much faster, automating workflows that typically cost countless hours. Today’s AI technology can automatically expose incorrect or missing data about products, allowing teams to rectify data gaps before submitting information to external partners. 

As the economy begins to open up in the next few months, enabling product data accuracy will be especially critical as teams look to launch products that have been stockpiled or put on hold during the pandemic.

Bringing products to market swiftly through eCommerce channels

Making critical household essentials available through eCommerce channels quickly is so important right now, as multiple states continue to maintain full or partial stay-at-home restrictions. But for big CPG companies that sell many products across many categories, launching products on eCommerce channels is time-intensive work—and again, their resources may be in limited supply right now. 

To speed up the process, forward-looking CPG companies will want to embrace machine learning tools that can automatically organize and associate the many pieces of unstructured data for a single product, such as PDF, image, or Word document files—and furthermore, preemptively auto-populate data fields for new products by learning from past files. Instead of manually entering new product information field by field, the eCommerce manager can now spend a fraction of that time validating and correcting information.  

Change is never easy, especially in the midst of even greater disruption. But CPG companies that seize the opportunity to move away from the status quo and accelerate their product readiness not only will be able to deliver on their brand promise during this challenging time, but also, better meet the needs of consumers in the future.

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