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    How Frequently Do Retailer Requirements Change — and How Can Brands Keep Up?

    April 11, 2024
    9 minute read
    How Frequently Do Retailer Requirements Change — and How Can Brands Keep Up?

    Listing products with multiple retailers opens your business up to a wider pool of customers and increases visibility across your product range — all good things. 

    But juggling all the different retailer requirements can feel like a full-time job. Amazon wants one thing, Walmart wants another, and Kroger wants yet another. 

    When it feels like you’re finally on top of it all, one retailer will change its requirements and you have to start again from scratch. It can be frustrating and time-consuming. 

    But if you want to have a finger in each pie (and why wouldn’t you if you want to reach more customers?), you have to abide by the constantly changing requirements. 

    Why You Need To Keep Up With Retailer Requirements 

    If you want to keep doing business with Amazon, Walmart, Tesco, Woolworths, and any other big retailer with an individual schema, you have to send product data and content that matches their schema requirements and not your own.

    For example, one retailer might insist you upload 360-degree image spins with every product, while another might make it mandatory that you include comparison charts, detailed sizing, or a set number of bullet points in each product description. 

    Keeping up with these requirements will ensure that you have a successful relationship with each retailer. 

    How Frequently Do Retailer Requirements Change? 

    Salsify’s latest whitepaper, “What Is the Next Gen PXM?,” analyzes how many times top retailers changed their requirements in 2023 — and the answer was: a lot.

    • Amazon changed its requirements 217 times.
    • Walmart changed its requirements 241 times.
    • Target changed its requirements 150 times.
    • Kroger changed its requirements 133 times.
    • Instacart changed its requirements 100 times.
    • The Home Depot changed its requirements 395 times.

    Some changes can be small and almost unidentifiable, while others can be challenging to keep up with.

    For example, Amazon added 274 new attributes for over 200 different product types and made it obligatory for brands to use these new attributes. If companies don’t add valid attribute values, their products simply won’t be added to the catalog. 

    In a similar vein, Walmart made it a requirement for brands to share information about an item’s condition. It’s now mandatory for item setup and forms a major part of the search filter results. 

    Why Do Retailers Change Their Requirements? 

    The bottom line is this: The market changes way more regularly than we think. 

    Consumer buying habits evolve overnight, with shoppers constantly seeking out new journeys and information. 

    These big retailers are only trying to please one group of people: consumers. So it’s no surprise that they’ll change, edit, and experiment with their schema requirements to keep up with evolving habits and needs. 

    They do this by running A/B tests across product pages. The digital merchandising teams at Amazon, Walmart, The Home Depot, and other retailers run ongoing tests to see how consumers navigate and interact with their websites

    They’ll use the findings to improve their schema, basing it on real-life, (almost) real-time search and purchase behavior insights data. 

    For example, through A/B testing, Amazon might find that shoppers spend more time watching product videos than they do clicking through 360-degree videos, so the retailer might make videos a requirement. 

    Alternatively, Walmart might discover that shoppers favor certain attributes when searching for specific products, such as neck size for shirts or ingredients in face moisturizer. 

    To address this, Walmart might change its requirements so that brands uploading shirts need to add neck size to their listings or brands selling moisturizers need to add a bulleted list of ingredients. 

    While it’s tempting to stick to your own schema that complements your product catalog and aligns with the data you already have available in your product information management (PIM) solution, you need to stick to retailer requirements if you want to sell products. 

    At the end of the day, you’re not here to simply organize data. You’re here to reach new customers and sell more products. 

    What Brands Can Do To Keep Up and Ensure Success

    Managing the different requirements of each retailer is easier if you build your data management system with the assumption that there are many valid versions of a product. 

    In a lot of cases, brands will stick to one version of a product that includes core data their internal teams deem the most important. 

    However, you’re far more flexible if you can maintain many versions of a product in parallel. Think of each version as an experience rather than a set of data attributes that tell a slightly different story to the next. 

    But this means you need a different data architecture than PIM solutions were originally built on. No PIM solution can store all of this data because the traditional architectures used can’t know and understand every retailer's requirement. 

    Instead, you need a solution that can manage multiple (valid) versions of a product at once — something like a product experience management (PXM) solution that bridges the gap between internal content, data management strategies, and the current market. 

    This kind of solution can create multiple versions of the same product including different schemas for each variation. So, when you need to upload your latest product range to Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, and Target, you can do so quickly and efficiently without manually entering the correct information for each listing. 

    Meet Retailer Requirements Quicker and Speed Up Selling Time 

    The more time you spend wrangling the ever-changing requirements of individual retailers, the less time you spend actually selling. 

    Instead of losing hours manually organizing your product data based on the unique requirements of each retailer, a PXM solution will map your product data to the different schemas. This creates multiple, replicable versions of the same product. 

    So, when you want to add a new product range to Walmart, you’ll already have the data you need mapped to the requirements — it’s simply a case of upload and go. 

    Win on the Digital Shelf by Keeping Up With Requirements 

    It’s incredibly hard to keep up with these changes (especially when retailers are sometimes implementing multiple changes a day). 

    But, if you want to succeed on the digital shelf and remain competitive on some of the most searched retail sites in the world, it’s important to adjust your product data to match schema changes as soon as they happen. 

    Tag(s): Brands Retailers

    Written by: Lizzie Davey

    Lizzie Davey (she/her) is a freelance writer and content strategist for ecommerce software brands. Her specialty is combining customer research with actionable copy to create pieces that people actually want to read. Over the past 10 years, she's worked with top industry brands to bring their vision to life and build...

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