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    June 14, 2021
    7 minute read

    Sean Donovan of MSA Safety: How We Took Control of Our Digital Shelf With Salsify

    by: Sean Donovan
    “Initially, we thought Salsify would just be a useful tool to add onto what we already had in place. But what we found is that Salsify really needs to be at the center of everything if you want to fully appreciate its value.”
    — Sean Donovan, Digital Channel Manager of the Americas, MSA Safety

    A consistent online presence makes a big difference in terms of how a brand is perceived and how successful its ecommerce efforts can be. Unfortunately, at MSA Safety, we didn’t have that kind of consistency.

    Even some of our largest channel partners had inconsistent copy and poor images on our product pages. We needed to find a way to manage that and better control our digital presence.

    My name is Sean Donovan, and I’m the digital channel manager of the Americas at MSA Safety. Our company specializes in safety equipment, supplying workers with everything from personal protection equipment, like helmets and breathing devices, to gas and flame detection systems.

    It’s important that we get our products in front of the people who need them — but without a consistent online presence, our value proposition wasn’t always clear. This was the impetus that led us to look for a platform that could help us get better control over the data that we provide to distributors.

    Our search led us to Salsify — but even then, we didn’t yet understand everything that Salsify could do. Here’s how we took control of our digital shelf with the support of Salsify.

    Centralize Product Information From the Start

    We initially thought Salsify would just be a useful tool to add to what we already had in place. We thought we could use Salsify on the side, and we were originally planning to use it to manage our content on Amazon.

    But what we found is that Salsify really needs to be at the center of everything if you want to fully appreciate its value.

    We have a great enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and we have other ecommerce platforms. But these solutions are useful only for their own particular use cases.

    Salsify, on the other hand, can be the central source for all product information. It can become the place where everything sales and marketing needs for a particular SKU or part number lives. Instead of finding differing information here and there, sales and marketing can find all their information centrally in Salsify.

    Initially trying to use Salsify as a bolt-on solution meant that the implementation wasn’t as efficient as it could have been, and we made a few mistakes along the way. Understanding the central location Salsify should have in our organization has helped us be more efficient across the board.

    Start Small, Then Grow Your Ecommerce Plan

    When we first got Salsify, we input too much data too quickly. We soon found that we were swirling with data. We had to pull back and narrow our focus.

    Instead of trying to handle everything, we realized that it would be best to start by getting a few products under control. We also had to take a closer look at some of the mapping, and there were some issues around attributes that had to get resolved.

    Once that was taken care of, we prioritized just a couple hundred part numbers to initially focus on. We could then expand outward once we were confident in our process.

    Know Where CommerceXM Fits

    The biggest thing we've learned through this process is the importance of understanding where Salsify fits in the organization.

    That's an essential lesson that we learned the hard way: You've got to understand where Salsify fits into your tech stack and where it fits into your organization as a whole before you embark on the journey.

    Otherwise, you're at risk of getting sidetracked on projects that don't take you closer to your end goal.

    You also need to understand what the digital shelf is and how you're going to use it. And it's important to decide how you'll allocate resources toward Salsify — not just technological resources, but also personnel resources, including someone who can manage this permanently.

    Salsify isn't a set-and-forget commerce experience management (CommerceXM) platform. It's a living core of your business and the guts of everything that actually happens in your company. It needs that hands-on management and focus.

    But once you have a good understanding of how it fits into your organization and how to manage it best, you can do so much more than you may have expected.

    Take Control of Your Digital Shelf

    We learned so much in this process, and especially that we can do so much more than we originally thought we could get with Salsify. Our marketing team benefits immensely from having a repository of information where they can draw insights and analytics.

    Speed to market is also now much, much quicker. Our channel partners can launch product pages the day we launch products because we can provide data in advance. So instead of us launching a product and then giving partners data manually, we can make sure they have product information ready to go.

    In keeping with our original goal, that data is in a nice, consistent package. If anything needs to be changed or updated, it's really easy to go into Salsify and make changes on the fly when needed.

    And the great thing is once we make an update there, it goes everywhere. Our digital presence is the same wherever someone might find us.

    Now we're working with some of our larger partners to develop a syndication process. Syndication is still very much in its infancy in our industry, but we're beginning to help channel partners understand what it is and how it can benefit them.

    Many of them are happy with us just providing a basic template, but when they have unique needs, it's now much easier to work with them using Salsify.

    With Salsify's help, we've transitioned from a company that had trouble managing our own digital shelf to one that's now helping our partners understand how they can manage their whole process better. We're excited to continue down this syndication journey and keep expanding on what Salsify allows us to do.

    Watch our on-demand webinar, "Transforming into a Digital-First B2B Commerce Company," to learn more about how digital transformation could help your B2B brand.

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