June 02, 2021 I The Experts I by Peter Dods
Do’s & Don’ts for Manufacturers Post-COVID-19
Since COVID struck, I’ve been answering phones and building out our website. In doing a lot of the grunt work, I’ve discovered what it takes to make a successful web product page and how some manufacturers enable that process while others make it exceedingly difficult.
Manufacturers: You only have to get your act together one time, and you get to share your information with your entire dealer base. You get to have your dealers get your product up on their websites faster and with better data management. I can’t think of anything more in your best interest. So, here I present my do’s and don’ts for manufacturers:
List the features. It’s helpful to have this, but don’t make it overwhelming and wordy. One sentence bullet points are what you want to shoot for here. Make it easy to copy and paste it without complicated tables that don’t copy well. Bullets are best.
List the specs. Again, keep it simple. You can use your manual for more esoteric specs. Again, make it easy to copy and paste. Bullets are, again, best.
List what is included with the product. Make it crystal clear what it does and does not come with. Power supply not included? Say that clearly up front.
Make your website searchable for the SKU of the product on your price list. It’s shocking how many major manufacturers have websites with search functions that don’t work. If I have a better chance at Googling the product to find your web page than using your internal search function, your site needs serious work.
Make simple SKUs no longer than 10 characters. The shorter the better. Use a combo of letters and numbers to do this. Imagine you work in a retail store and people are shouting your SKU across the floor. Long and convoluted SKUs make everyone’s life harder.
Have images that have a clear or white background. Grey looks great on your website, but it doesn’t work for our website and it means that eventually we have to take custom photos to get your products to look decent on our site.
Have an image bank with links on your list along with the HTML description and UPC. It’s great if we can lift images off your site easily, but it’s even better if you have a link to them that we can automatically upload.
Offer high-resolution images. It’s shocking how low the quality of images are from some manufacturers. This one effort ripples across the web as people copy images all the time. Why not do it with quality? For example, we should be able to read the fine print on a keyboard.
Have different information on your dealer site than your consumer-facing site. Net pricing is the only exception.
Post pictures of things like features and specs. They should be text only and easy to copy.
Use spaces or special characters in your SKUs. We like letters and numbers only please; maybe a dash if you must. No slashes!
Make it difficult to find the warranty for that particular product. Are some of you making this purposefully difficult to find? All that does is make the consumer hesitate and sends us on a wild goose chase.
Have images on the website that are hard to download. A lot of manufacturers have their websites set up so you can’t easily save-as the image you are seeing. Often I have to take a screen shot of the image or look into the HTML code to find it. For us, using JPEG or PNG is greatly appreciated.
Have a website that doesn’t list every single product that you sell — down to the most minute accessories. Every product should have it’s own page.
Fail to offer a comprehensive list of UPCs for every product you sell us. This is so basic, but I’m always shocked by manufacturers that can’t, don’t or won’t provide this bare-bones information.
Fail to make sure your SKUs are product specific. Some of you guys like to change appointments on guitars but then don’t change the SKU, leaving us to have to figure out which year the product is to figure out what the appointments are. Please stop doing this. MI
Peter Dods is the owner of Honolulu-based Easy Music Center.