<img src="//bat.bing.com/action/0?ti=5648814&amp;Ver=2" height="0" width="0" style="display:none; visibility: hidden;">

How Bad Product Data Can Drive Sh*tty Reviews, Returns, and Refunds

February 21, 2019 / by Tina Eaton

Centralized, clean, and complete data isn’t just a dream to work with for ecommerce managers, it also helps shoppers discover your products, reduces revenue-killing return rates, wins lots of sparkling reviews, and may even help you run digital ads more successfully.

But bad product data that’s disorganized and misleading? Frankly, it’s just as sh*tty for ecommerce businesses as it is for the shoppers it disappoints.

If you’re tired of working for your data instead of having it work for you, keep reading to learn the ins and outs of product data, why quality matters, and how to optimize it to boost your brand reputation.

Product Data: The Good, The Bad, and Why It Matters

When you’re selling goods in an intangible space like the internet, the best thing you can do to make consumers happy is accurately set their expectations. Think about it—all the shopper has to go on is your word. They can’t try on or touch an item until well after the decision and purchasing process are complete. That’s what makes it all the more bitter when customers end up with something they weren’t expecting. 

You can’t possibly set yourself or your shoppers up for success if you’re not working with good product data from the start.

Product data is basically any info that can be shared with shoppers via text, photos, videos, etc. In the ecommerce world, that includes all kinds of things: size measurements, a high-level description, available colors, materials, technical specifications, cost, delivery options, inventory level, instructions, manufacturing data, and so on.

“Good data” is complete, proactive, easy for the shopper to consume, and equally easy for the ecommerce manager to manipulate to deliver a smooth shopping experience.

Since search and navigational tools are only as useful as the information that powers them, good data helps consumers find what they’re looking for in your webshop, with a reseller, or even on a marketplace. Once they arrive at the product page, the data should either seal the deal or lead them to another, more suitable item. And when it comes time to check out, it’s very important that you’re able to display key data points like security details, accurate shipping information, and transparent pricing to keep shoppers from abandoning their cart.

“Bad data,” on the other hand, is inaccurate or missing details, leaves too much up to the consumer’s imagination, and is hard for ecommerce shops to use—resulting in a disorganized experience that gets passed on to the shopper. 

Worst of all, bad data scares consumers away, ruins their shopping experience, or leads to all other negative impacts if they do eventually follow through on the transaction. 

Sh*tty Reviews, Returns, and Other Negative Impacts of Bad Product Data

Ugh, isn’t feeling like you were lied to by a company the worst?

Yeah, that’s exactly how consumers feel when they end up with a products that’s nothing like the glowing description the seller gave it online. Bad data (deservedly) brings businesses down with poor search engine rankings, harsh reviews, expensive returns, and more.

Bad Reviews

Bad Reviews

Source: College Humour

If a shopper ends up dissatisfied with their purchase because of your bad data, chances are they’re going to return it and they aren’t going to do it happily. That’s a bummer because Dimensional Research found that 95 percent of customers who have a negative brand experience are likely to tell someone about it—and half of them will do it in a public forum such as social media. With nearly 90 percent of online shoppers reporting that they rely on these online reviews, it’s going to be hard to stay afloat with bad data.

Increased Returns (And Lowered Revenue)

If the product data doesn’t match the actual product, it’s only a matter of time before your return rates grow and begin eating into your revenue.

In fact, in a survey of 1,500 online shoppers, Shotfarm found that 40 percent of consumers return online purchases because of bad product data. Almost 90 percent of that group also said they probably wouldn’t shop with that same retailer again.

Increased Returns (And Lowered Revenue)

Increased returns due to poor data isn’t just bad for that single transaction, it can actually put a damper on future sales, as well. 

Advertising Restrictions

Facebook, for one, has begun monitoring complaints against merchants on their platform. If a company receives enough repeatedly poor feedback on products or shipping and makes no obvious effort to address it, Facebook will reportedly reduce their ad visibility or ban them outright.

When such a powerful platform decides to start cracking down on bad data, it’s reasonable to expect the trend will catch on.

Poor Search Engine Performance

Low-quality product data doesn’t just affect users once they hit your website—it could actually prevent them from finding your website altogether!

On an ecommerce site, your data can influence URLs, internal links, metadata on pictures, text-based product descriptions, and of course any marketing content you might have. Using inaccurate or insufficient data in any of these contexts can really drag you down in search engine results.

3 Tactics for Improving Your Product Data

Good data is vital in empowering consumers to make good purchasing decisions—which in turn helps them feel good about your brand, keeps them coming back, and maybe even inspires them to tell a friend. 

Here are three tried-and-true tactics online brands and retailers can use to create better data and leave sh*tty return rates and reviews in the past.

Customize Product Data for Your Customer Base 

Customize Product Data for Your Customer Base

Consumers today are long on ecommerce options but short on time. Without much time to browse, product searches are getting more and more specific—and shoppers are getting less and less patient with product data that doesn’t give them all the info they want right away.

Good product data is product data that converts. Now is your chance to customize your data to your shoppers’ wants and needs. And you can start by checking out what customers have to say about your products (and maybe your competition’s) in their reviews. Do a lot of people find the item smaller or larger than they expected? Noted: Size is important—so get it right! Are a lot of people super happy with the materials and quality of the item? Awesome! You now know that it’s important to highlight that data next time you list something that uses the same material.

Another great way to beef up your product data is to review your website analytics. Check out what terms users are typing into the product search bar, which attributes get selected most often when shoppers are filtering their results, and how long website visitors are staying on your FAQ page. Look around and you can probably find plenty of data to analyze and improve.

Interested in learning even more tips on customizing good product data for your customer base? We thought you’d never ask! Check out our piece on Product Attributes: What Consumers Want to Know and How to Give It to Them

Use Data More Effectively in Product Descriptions

Use Data More Effectively in Product Descriptions

Clothing retailer Everlane uses a selection of great pictures and all the details you could ask for. 

Now that you’ve got a grasp on the kind of product data your ideal audience is searching for, it’s time to put all that awesome data to use and create product descriptions that convert.

First and foremost, lead with your best data! Make the most of keywords and well-known brand names, gender, size, color, and other key info by moving it forward in your product titles. Especially when it comes to ads or selling on a platform that isn’t your own, putting the best data at the front of your title can stop browsers in their tracks and help you make the sale.

Remember that some platforms may truncate long titles—so get to the good data ASAP.

Next, be sure to write a description. A description full of optimized data helps shoppers find your products using a search engine like Google, Bing, etc. When it comes to photos in the description, we highly recommend them. These days, shoppers expect at least several crisp photos. In fact, Google even tells us that high-quality images rank higher in search results. And 93 percent of consumers agree—saying that visual appearance is the key deciding factor in a purchasing decision.

Once you’ve gone through all the trouble of using your great data more effectively in product descriptions, keeping your listings accurate and consistent is probably the hardest part. We know that you know accuracy and consistency are important—but it’s super time-consuming if you’re manually creating and managing thousands of SKUs across tens of channels! Luckily, smart product software like Plytix was invented to automate product data optimization and management.

Eliminate Data Silos and Tribal Knowledge 

Eliminate Data Silos and Tribal Knowledge

Possibly one of the biggest hurdles companies have to face in taking their data from bad to good is having multiple sources of truth. If your team relies on disparate spreadsheets to “manage” product data, it’s not uncommon for one team to be working from a different version than the other, for product managers to waste valuable time tracking down the most accurate version of a product list, and for important docs to get stuck on someone’s computer while they’re out on vacation.

Data silos and tribal knowledge keep the right people from having a complete view of your product data. That disorganization shows when you have the wrong product imagery on your webshop, can’t keep pricing consistent across different resellers, or accidentally oversell items because your inventory list is out of date. 

Having a single source of product data for your company is absolutely critical, because the moment it leaves your hands it’s going to be distributed to a bunch of different channels—and it had better be accurate.

You have way more important things to do than chase down outdated data all day. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you’re going to be doing all day if you haven’t adopted data management software yet.

We’ve got just the thing to improve your product data and turn those return rates around, silence those sh*tty reviews, and get you seen on Google. We’ve got Plytix—smart product information management software that empowers you to centralize, optimize, distribute, and analyze (CODA) product data all from an easy-to-use platform.

Fight the good fight against sh*tty product data with Plytix. Get your data in check right now with our free plan—no credit card required.

Share this article

Tina Eaton

Written by Tina Eaton