Good search

A good search generates business

 

Good search features create an excellent customer experience in online stores and services. For example, conversion in online stores can be significantly affected by the search function of the service. Some studies have shown the conversion rate to be up to 50% higher among site search users. By investing in search functions and making them easily available, conversion can be increased significantly.

Search engine optimization (SEO) involves trying to affect which products are easily found through organic searches, like Google. On the other hand, by developing site searching the ease with which products can be found within a service can be influenced.

What does a good search look like?

A good site search function consists of several things. First, the search function should be easily available for users to use it. Use should be easy, logical and fast.

It is worth using suggestive logic in the search field. Suggestive search works by the service suggesting suitable products when the user has only entered part of the search term. Further typing focuses the search and narrows suggested options. Another much talked-about approach is semantic searching, where the search engine attempts to recognize the user’s intentions and context, thus producing more relevant search results. For the search ‘Men’s work pants 50 black’, for example, the search engine can pinpoint what products the user is looking for – instead of showing all products for men and all work pants.

Faceted classification uses product property information to categorize search results, allowing the user to easily filter products based on their features. A good search engine will offer faceted categories and make using them easy and quick.

fasetoitu haku

An example of faceted search in practice

It is always worth using product images in searches. The impact of a product image in product presentation and conversion creation generally is very big. When an image is already displayed in the search results, the customer quickly gets a reliable understanding of the product. Product images should also not be forgotten in suggestive searching.

Utilizing searches in product range management and targeting

Site searches should also be saved and analyzed. For example, product contents and keywords, as well as the range of products, can be developed by analyzing how users interact with the search. Search analysis can also be used to support other marketing channels, and results exploited for targeting or personalization of marketing, for example.

Searches and product information are firmly interlinked

Product information, its scope, and its quality significantly affect how site searches work and how relevant results they deliver. The structure of product information, level of classification, and atomicity determine, among other things, what kind of faceted categorization can be created. The search “Show all products from brand X” provides a simple example – searching by brand is not possible without classified product information.

Product information can be fetched automatically from background systems through interfaces. A product information system can also offer the entire search engine as part of a product information interface, which means everything to do with online store searches, for example, does not need to be done within the online store.

In summary, it is worth investing in good search functions. Today’s technology offers appropriate solutions which make constructing a search that benefits all parties effortless. For designing the search logic itself, it is worth consulting someone with experience in building functional searches. Even small actions can significantly improve user experiences and data utilizability.Hyvät hakuominaisuudet luovat verkkokaupoissa ja verkkopalveluissa loistavan käyttäjäkokemuksen. Esimerkiksi verkkokaupan konversioon voi palvelun haulla olla merkittäväkin vaikutus. Joidenkin tutkimusten mukaan sivustohakua käyttävien käyttäjien kohdalla konversio on jopa 50 % suurempi. Eli panostaminen hakutoimintoihin ja tuomalla ne helposti saataville voidaan konversiota nostaa merkittävästikin.

 

Read more about the Elastic Search used in Adeona PIM

tuoteviestintä

Five tips for product communications

Product communications are at a turning point. Due to the change in purchasing behaviour and the explosive growth in the array of channels, product communications has a more diverse role compared to what it was before: product communications are a form of customer service that is always up to date and suitable for each usage situation. For the execution of this, the product information management and distribution automation of today offer many tools that product managers and the marketing department could previously only dream of.

Over the last few years, the markets have become clearly more customer-oriented. It can be said that in commerce the power has shifted to the customer. This applies in B2C just as it does in B2B. Customers buy what, where and when they like. This leaves the role of the seller to offer what the customer needs, where and when they need it.
In order to serve their customers, companies have to listen to the wishes of the buyers and identify the quiet signals of the markets in time. In order to cope in the competition, you must be able to react in an agile way to changing needs and meet the customers at the right time in the right channels, with the right contents. Indeed, it’s possible to say that with the help of product communications we want to create even more effective multi-channel product experiences at all meeting points.
So how are these effective multi-channel product experiences created? Here are five tips:

1. Centralising product information management

The favourite saying of data consultants “you put rubbish in, you get rubbish out” is also true with regard to product contents. Good product communications experiences are based on quality content. When there are many distribution channels, it is impossible to produce channel-specific content management with a high level of quality. In many channels, we come up against rubbish or at least product information that is imprecise or out of date. When product information management  is centralised in one place from which all contents are produced for all distribution channels, content management becomes significantly easier. Of course it’s still important that only high-quality contents are entered into the centralised product information management, but good work done once is available for use straightaway in all distribution channels, without forgetting about the channels of the future, for which the contents are already ‘in the bank’.

2. Agreeing on the ownership of information

It’s important that a company has a consistent way of managing the product contents needed in the business. Everyone has to be able to rely on the quality of the information that is available and that it is up to date. It is good to define clearly both ownership of information and the responsibility for its upkeep. Who is responsible for technical product information, who for images, who for product information texts and who for prices? Usually the owners are fairly self-evident, but if ownership has not been agreed on mutually, it’s difficult to rely on all information types and their updating having been taken care of. By specifying ownerships, the risk of ‘rubbish’ ending up in some distribution channel can be minimised.

3. Connecting systems to each other

Marketing and communications are fascinating and full of new possibilities. Every day, we come across new handy, often almost free tools with which we can reach our potential customers with our product messages more effectively than before. The number of marketing systems has been said to have increased twentyfold during the last six years. However, underuse of systems is a common challenge in companies. This is understandable if the systems are disconnected and producing content for each one has to be done separately. So, it’s worth thinking about the architecture of marketing systems as a whole. That is, how the systems can be made to utilise shared data sources and how product information that has been enriched in one place can be used in all channels.

4. Making use of publishing automation tools

Marketing automation is a concept that is familiar to everyone, but less is spoken about publishing automation. In principle, it too is automation of marketing and communications. Publishing automation allows the synchronisation of information from one centralised system into all electronic distribution channels. Also related to publishing automation, there are the tools of sales, with which all the required sales materials from offers, customer-specific price lists and sales outlet materials are created. Correspondingly, the tools of marketing can be employed to automatedly fold product cards, data sheets and even catalogues containing thousands of products. Centralised product information management is utilised behind all of these too.

5. Involvement and facilitation

We are living through the rise of employee advocacy. Employees, partners and even customers are made use of more and more strongly in brand-building and communications. This requires easiness in order to succeed. People are happy to talk about a good product, as long as the necessary contents and channels are available to be used without effort.
All product contents with their language versions can be managed in a centralised way and provided for the use of interest groups, for example to be shared in the social media.

The product communications of today and the creation of more effective product experiences done with it, are easier than before by making use of technology. In fact, the key to success lies in how the technology is used. Even a good system does not help if people are not able to use it in accordance with the needs of the company. In this too, it’s worth turning to the experts. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel and it’s worth making use of practices that have been found to be good.

Julkaisuautomaatio markkinoinnin tehostaminen

Publishing automation in Finland

I have been working with database publishing and publishing automation for little over 10 years now, usually as a part of process development of our clients’ sales and marketing needs. Here are some of my thoughts in regards to the state of publishing automation in Finland currently.
First it’s good to note that despite long-standing transaction printing being based on mostly the same concepts and principles (data from multiple sources to one printer), I will not consider it a part of publishing automation here. Personally I see publishing automation in regards to how the (product) content is being published from one source to multiple channels or medias automatically. Read more on how Canter covers publishing automation here.

High quality data opens new opportunities for full-scale utilization of publishing automation

The use of publishing automation is Finland is very fragmented, and many applications with publishing process automation which could have lots of potential uses within companies do exist. The technology is constantly developing and making new and more modern solutions available.
In my view, the single biggest slowdown in spreading the solutions and getting the best out of the systems within companies is the poor quality of the data available. Typically this is the result of undeveloped information management practices and tools. Many of these companies still lack the understanding on how important a well-organized information management actually is. Luckily the digital tsunami has made many companies and management teams to understand how data and the quality of it are important for the entire business. Publishing automation is also based on high quality structured information, regardless of the channel it’s being used for.

Efficiency via publishing automation

I have noticed that in Finland many small companies have taken the process automation really far, which is quite natural when the business is being developed with small resources and efficiency is always in the center of everything. On the other hand there are also companies which do not think of these things at all, because the knowledge of technical solutions is lacking, or because a third party has always been in hired to supply printed catalogs and similar materials. Fortunately for SMEs, the range of solutions and expertise in the market has become more diverse. Solutions can be found in many price ranges, and every singe euro invested in the development will turn profits faster than before.

Renovation of information logistics is the lifeblood

Medium-sized companies are a mixed bag. There are companies which are still just starting up, and companies which have taken process automation really far. Industry-specific differences can also be significant. For example, many importers and wholesalers have found that maintaining information logistics is their lifeblood with intensifying and globalizing competition. The change in value chains can also be seen in how these companies have had to wake up to the development of information management and publishing automation.

Among the manufacturing industry I still see much work left to do with these things. With export-oriented businesses language version management is a common challenge, which in itself often serves as a powerful driver for optimizing and automating content and publishing processes.
Many of the greatest domestic growth tales involve an aspect where stopping and thinking of internal processes and procedures did simply not happen because all the focus, energy and hands had been caught up in business development and growth control. And at some point it was seen that the scaling and stretching of people was no longer possible or rational.

Publishing automation as a continuation to product information management

At Canter we think that the source of the information in publishing automation is irrelevant, as modern solutions are able to access information from multiple sources. Quality and structure still largely dictate whether automation is rational, what level of automation could be realistic to achieve and what kind of outcome could be achieved. For this reason I see publishing automation as a continuation to product information management (PIM).

Typically the PIM system acts as a centralized publishing database, but sometimes it may also be justified to make separate intermediate storage for different channels and publishing processes. If necessary the information can also be obtained from the company’s partners’ systems. PIM is usually a part of other operative systems, such as enterprise resource planning systems, which provide data that can be further processed and enriched in the PIM system for distribution and publishing. In some instances the product process could be built in such a way that PIM serves as a source of information and as a so-called product master that distributes data controlledly to all systems in use.

Let’s use data from where it already exists

Customer information, as well as other customizable content and variable data needed for printing are not typically replicated to PIM, but are usually read directly from their own sources and connected to the process before printing.
Customization in B2B environments, such as the production of customer-specific contract pricing lists, is usually based on the content of the PIM and ERP systems – sometimes also in the CRM content. For example this includes customer specific product information, price information and contractual or customized product information.

To conclude, there are a number of companies in our country that make use of the publishing automation systems, thus gaining a significant competitive advantage. With publishing automation it is possible to significantly improve marketing processes and improve multi-channel customer experience. There are even more companies that have not yet made use of the opportunities offered by the publishing automation systems for their businesses. As part of marketing automation the use of publishing automation will surely grow in the next few years.

Myyjä graafikkona salestool

Salesman as graphic designer – when everyone gets annoyed

Often sales personnel spend a lot of their work time creating all sorts of discount leaflets and other product information catalogs. For example they might create or compile price lists, product cards or customer-specific listings as an attachment to offers, because the marketing department doesn’t have the time or the skills to help. The sales personnel get annoyed because this takes up lots of their time and because it is boring copy paste job they wouldn’t really have the time, know-how or correct tools for.

On the other hand the marketing department might receive requests from the sales department to create personalized price lists or lists – which should be ready preferably the same day, or at the very least tomorrow because the offer needs to be sent to the client. Or they get asked to tune the self-made, copy-and-paste leaflets because they didn’t turn out visually appealing. The marketing department gets annoyed because this creates more work than they are able to deal with, because of how boring it is and because the sales personnel do not consider the brand uniformity at all when they create the leaflets.

If everyone gets annoyed, the outcome at worst can be visually appalling and content-wise lacking leaflets which take up lots of work time. If the sales personnel start working as graphic designers, does it make any sense to begin with?

All the time they have to spend on something other than making sales shows up in the profits instantly. And then everyone gets annoyed even more.

Luckily, there is a solution. Sales Tool creates good looking product information leaflets automatically, allowing the sales personnel to personalize them a bit – and then Sales Tool handles the rest. The end result is a ready, brand-related offer leaflet which even the marketing department is pleased with. And now everyone is happier.

According to customer feedback, the use of Sales Tool has helped many of our clients to achieve better results. For example IKH resellers sent us the following message:

Plaudits and big thanks to you for the Sales Tool! It works great, and now our sales space looks great when all the price tags are uniform. This saves unbelievable amounts of our time!

In the video below you can see how IKH uses Sales Tool to create their price tags.

You can have a look at other customer solutions from here.

Should you also free your sales personnel back to sellin? Contact us!

Mitä PIM on?

PIM! Customer satisfaction and profits

Recently I ran across a Donald Duck pocketbook with a cover where Donald is staring at a chicken, eyes wide. The name of the book was “PIM! Hypnosis, mentalists and nonsense”. As much as I do believe in the power of meditation and even hypnosis, that is not what PIM stands for me. For me PIM is the exact opposite of all that: real information when needed, where needed.

PIM is the side of marketing automation which is usually not talked about. According to  Aberdeen Group it increases customer satisfaction by 45%, and adds the same to the profit margin, so this should really be something that every company should be interested in. And they are. A study conducted by RNR Market Research shows that product information market will triple in size over the next five years.

So what does PIM mean, really? PIM means tools and processes which are used to manage the product information for sales and marketing purposes. It’s different from Product Data Management (PDM) or Master Data Management (MDM), in essence the continuation for these two. It’s the step in product information management which guarantees great visibility and first-class purchasing experience.

While PIM is also used to give customers better service, it also adds to the employee experience. Study done by ATKearney shows that each year companies use 25 minutes per sales unit (SKU) to fix product information and creating better harmony within their channels. With PIM this need can be eradicated, since all the information can be sourced from one, centralized location. Employees generally do not enjoy fixing the same thing over and over in different channels.

But are there really that many different channels? Yes there are. I have seen a map with 130 different channels, with new ones coming in constantly. Consider where your company publishes all the product information: on product data sheets, on social media, on advertisements, on websites, on discussion forums, in customer reviews, in user manuals, in purchase systems, in QR-codes, in customer service, in shelf labels, in invoices, in training material… And I didn’t even mention the web store.

PIM is profitable, and even fun once you get into it. And there’s a drop of magic in there as well. When you launch a new product, you input all the relevant information into the product information management system and PIM! All the information shows up correctly and uniformly in dozens of channels.

Read more about PIM product information management here.

Outi Canter asiakastuki

Kettle Beast, customer support and learning all that is new – first months at Canter

In December we got some new blood in our team, when Outi joined us as a Support and Delivery Specialist. Her interest towards Canter spiked once Tuomas tipped her off about the open position, and after having worked at Canter for four months she has learned all sorts of new things to supplement her interest towards solving customers’ issues.

Before joining Canter this Kajaani-born engineer has worked at Ericsson, F-Secure and Synchronoss Technologies Finland in multiple positions. At Canter her job description is multifaceted, and being familiar with the technologies and people is of huge help.

 

Outi_Canter toimisto

 

Even in short time she has learned a lot:

I have learned lot about product information management, as well as where and how the information is used. My job has been diverse and I have been able to do lots of things.

Canter’s band, Kettle BEast,  has also been able to strengthen themselves after Outi joined us.

Right off the bat I was accepted to the company band, Kettle Beast. It has helped me tremendously in adjusting to the workplace as we’ve been able to spend time together in a non-work fashion as well.

 

Outi canter hevonen

Photographer: Mikko Wilson

During her free time Outi hangs around horse stables and takes part in events as volunteer, and she says she’s enjoyed her time at Canter a lot.

Colleagues are happy and helpful, and the work has been pretty much what I expected them to be. At Canter people want to work as a team, and I feel that both colleagues and clients are really seen as people here. Sometimes it’s good to make sure that others are happy, even if that’s not expected of you.

Read more employee stories.

Five good reasons to get PIM

1. Does your product information management process look something like this?

If the answer is yes, contact us and we will help you.

tuotetietokaaos

2. Do you want to provide the best possible customer experience?

In that case, the PIM system is a relevant part of the solution. Through centralized product information management, you will be able to provide high-quality, correct and up-to-date product information through one source to all of your channels and stakeholders – both customers and your own staff.

3. Do you want to boost your product marketing?

By using PIM and its automated publishing solutions you can publish campaign leaflets, product catalogues or cards, create catalogues or leaflets, posters, price lists or shelf labels for shops just by a few presses of a button. You can publish in formats such as PDF, Excel, PowerPoint, and InDesign. See examples of publication solutions here  and here.

4. Do you want to be ready for fast, strategic changes?

If the foundation of your product information management is solid, expanding to new publishing channels, applications or new country or language versions is easy. Via PIM interfaces you can offer product information to e.g. your new retailer’s online store or website, to your customer’s purchasing system or any other channel that you wish to employ. There is no need reinvent the wheel every time.

5. Do you want to get rid of unnecessary manual work phases?

PIM allows you to automatize many routine tasks which would take a long time to do manually (and which often are the most tedious tasks as well). From PIM the product information is brought to the right stakeholders automatically. In addition, you can get rid of excessive copy pasting when you can rapidly produce e.g different Office or InDesign format product publications instead of requiring weeks’ worth of manual work.

Rajapinnat REST API

About API’s and their publicness

A modern application lives or dies based on the availability of its public API. Before having a deeper look into what API’s mean to us, and how they can be used in the most effective way, we should understand the basics.

API (Application Programming Interface) is an interface that allows the application data and functionality to be reached, as well as allowing for further programming of the program or a part of it, for example in regards to standard libraries. These interfaces can function on a very low level and deal with the inner functions of the application itself, for example calling open source libraries within the system. However this article only covers public API’s that are expandable or can be integrated and allow for the application data to be used in a variety of different ways.

API-centric architecture

Traditionally API’s have been considered to be an internal part of the application, or at the very least to be used as a means to integrate something to the application. Modern applications act as services, and this is why it’s important to make sure that expanding the system is just as easy as is the use of the data included in it. Modern applications use and offer a multitude of interfaces, for example social media applications like Facebook and LinkedIn are mainly run on interfaces with separate user interfaces built on top of them (e.g., browser, mobile, etc.).

In an API-centric architecture the applications connect to each other over these interfaces. How a single application has been built doesn’t matter as long as it follows the general practices in its interfaces. API-centric architecture also makes it easier to create device independent applications, so that for example the application can be run on multiple mobile operating systems using the same interface on them all.

 

Adeona_PIM_2017

RESTful API

Using general practices and de facto standards when connecting applications and using the data via different applications makes the whole process easy.

REST (Representational state transfer) is an stateless interface architecture model based on HTTP protocol. Typically REST API offers the information in JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) or in XML format. Our REST API’s use JSON, which is an open format based on readable text and attribute value pairs.

Public API

One of the main ideas of an API-centric architecture in that the interfaces are publicly available and that they contain a comprehensive documentation. Even a good interface will go unused if it’s hard to use or lacks documentation completely. In the best case scenario all the information and logic of the application can be reached via the API. This makes it flexible to connect, integrate and expand the system with needed applications.

Public API doesn’t however mean that all the information within the system would be publicly available. API calls are always authenticated so that the user will only have access to information they have credentials for.

More information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representational_state_transfer

 

PIM has to be easy

At Canter we work each day to make product information management (PIM) as easy as possible. As with everything else, those who manage to make complex things easy will prevail, and this is also the case with product information management.

Although it’s not complex in the first place.

Or at least we don’t think it has to be, and following few principles will go long way. While company and industry specific differences do exist, the basic principle will always be the same.

PIM is not an IT project.

It is the implementation of new mode of operation that includes both change management and automation of manual processes. PIM system does not do everything automatically, but instead operates as enabler. In order to make product information management for our clients as easy as possible, we have focused especially on the following and been actively developing them.

Easy acquisition

We think that acquiring IT system should not be a complex task. Pricing models based on the amount of users or transactions direct the decision making incorrectly, and instead we think that it is more important to find out how to make most out of the usage and processes. The more our clients use the PIM system and the data it provides, the better are the benefits they can get out of it.

Easy acquisition also depends on:

  • the length of the contract – we believe in the added value we provide, not in long contracts
  • the possibility of starting with just simple specifications
  • what sort of training is included
  • how the client is supported with change management
  • the update guarantee

Easy deployment

Easy deployment of a system leads into powerful use. When the basis is solid, it is also easier to do change management.

Easy deployment means many things:

  • how well the specification workshops are managed and prepared
  • clear practices and industry-specific productization
  • ease of installation and parameterization of the system
  • functioning Application Program Interfaces (APIs) facilitate the integration
  • best practices and connectors to the most common systems

Easy usage

Easy-to-use user interface motivates the users to handle the upkeep of product information and benefit from the data.

Good user experience is the sum of its part, and listed are just few key points:

  • logical, reliable user interface
  • search functions that work faster than a though
  • smart recommendations
  • mass editing, importing and exporting; especially useful when dealing with large amount of products

Easy integration

Seldom does a PIM system operate alone, and usually it’s a part of at least one other system. It is very common to have it integrated with many other systems, for example with ERP or a webstore.

System integration needs to be easy, so well documented and standardized API makes it easier and faster for everyone. This allows the data to be exchanged between multiple systems without massive integration projects.

 Easy expansion and usage of data

We want to help our clients to benefit from their product information more effectively. When PIM interfaces are functional and open, it’s easy to build data-based applications with the help of product information. This allows for our clients to work with those they see fit themselves.

Could we help you to make your product information management easy as well? Contact us! 

 

Top moments of 2016

We’ve left yet another year behind us and have started a new one. After the first two weeks I can easily say that the following 350 days will fly by us swiftly, as they usually do. With all the “Let’s do everything better this year” hype going around it’s good to remember that we’ve achieved a lot during 2016, and as such we’ve summarized the year in a list.

1. New office space

We love Spektri! We have furnishing by Martela, interior design and taping done by Jenni, and a brand-colored wall and soundproofed windows. We also have an oven, and during the latter part of the year we ate more croissants than ever before in our lives – combined. But the most important thing are the people here, so feel free to visit us and take a look!

toimisto_canter

Welcome!

2. New friends and colleagues

In 2016 we (and our band) were joined by Abel, Turo, Mary, Ivar and Outi. It’s so great to have you guys with us!

3. Adventure Park Huippu

The day we spent at the adventure park Huippu was really something for those loving and fearing the heights alike. Jumping like Tarzan really showed us our true strength. If you’re looking for something more than just another day at the office, Huippu is most definitely worth a look.

img_0816

So cool!

4.Kettle Beast

During the last quarter of the past year it was time to let our actions speak louder than our words. During our Christmas party on 28.10. our office band Kettle Beast performed their first gig. Even the little issues with electricity didn’t slow them down, and the band was rocking, all of us were dancing and everybody was enjoying themselves. The first gig was far from being the last, and one and half months later they were playing again at our housewarming party. And they’ve already been booked again..

KB

Kettle Beast after their first gig.

5.Housewarming party

During December we had our housewarming party just three days after all the taping was finished. The house was full of clients and affiliates enjoying great food and drinks! We had good time, and according to the positive feedback so did our guests. Kettle Beast were better than ever before.

IMG_1557

Housewarming party in December.

6.Popcorn machine

We thought we’d be really unique and imaginative when we took a popcorn machine to the recruitment fair, but our dreams were quickly shattered by dozens of other people having the same exact idea. Oh well! The machine has been running in our kitchen ever since charming everyone, and I can tell you that many challenges have been succesfully dealt with with a popcorn bowl nearby.

popkornit

The machine that saved our days.

7.New clients

Last year we got to start new projects with Fredman Group, Leipuriliitto, Helvar and Orient Occident. It has been an honor to get to know you and to work with you in order to further business and product information management applications. Your needs and requirements allow us to develop as well.

IMG_1571

We and part of our new and old clients.

8.Old customers

” We only have nice customers”. This is a saying that can constantly be heard throughout the office, and it reminds us how behind every company and title there is always another person. We’ve been lucky to meet some great people to help us bring our development projects over the finish line, and to help us build a new and better ensemble. Thank you, for allowing us to work with you!

Here’s to a successful 2017!