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“Great commerce experiences can only be delivered when brands and retailers are working in close collaboration… walled gardens prohibit this, and intermediate the relationship between a brand and its retail customer.”
— Rob Gonzalez, Co-Founder and CMO at Salsify
To provide the best opportunity for all brands to succeed in commerce, there must be a seamless and rapid commerce experience collaboration, without toll roads, between retailers and brands.
The Open Experience Alliance (OXA) is a lobbying and advocacy organization that works with leading retailers to present compelling business cases for enabling an open environment for commerce.
In an on-demand OXA webinar, Rob Gonzalez, CMO of Salsify and a founding member of OXA, Gareth Ouellette, senior director of product management at Salsify, and Sara Gupta, VP of global retail strategy at Salsify, discuss what it means to have a truly open and free commerce relationship, free of walled gardens, and equal opportunity for all brands.
With a commitment to choice in commerce decisions and a frictionless experience, Gonzalez discusses updates to the OXA and the Open Catalog, as well as how you can get involved.
Amazon vendors once had to always go through Vendor Portal to make updates to their product content. With some brands owning tens of thousands of SKUs, it’s not possible to update and create better experiences for the end-shopper.
Through lobbying with the OXA, Amazon switched their policies to enable automation, a variety of technology partners that broke down walled gardens and removed friction in the brand-retailer relationship.
“The OXA stands to create an open-world model in which brands work directly with retailers, and can choose which technology partner is best suited to help,” says Gonzalez.
The OXA has continued its lobbying efforts with several retailers. Ouellette details many successes and ongoing efforts on behalf of OXA members.
For Amazon, the retailer recently launched Selling Partner API’s, enabling fast and easy product content publishing with automatic categorization without a need for a manual review.
Amazon now supports programmatic updates to product content for the consumables categories as well as an A+ Content API for Rich Media.
At Walmart, Ouellette mentions that OXA is actively working on incorporating style guides into the publishing process. Walmart has recently announced Omnispec API 2.0. It syncs the Item 360 vendor portal with APIs, which was a common pain point last year. The new API will be rolling out through 2022, most likely.
Kroger has taken notice of OXA’s lobbying efforts: “It’s become more and more clear that we are missing out on integrations to support brands that are important to us.” Kroger is now committing to roundtable discussions between Kroger and its partners to provide feedback on how to improve the retailer-brand experience.
OXA’s lobbying efforts at Albertsons also haven’t gone unheard. Albertsons spent a year integrating with a single enhanced content provider. However, after a valiant effort from OXA members explaining that a single enhanced content provider is a walled garden, the brand agreed to expand to multiple providers.
The Open Catalog is the product arm of the OXA. It allows retailers and brands to increase their reach and efficiency by providing a free, standardized product content library that any retailer can pull from and any brand can publish to.
The goal is to open up walled gardens and enable brands to take control of their commerce experiences.
The Open Catalog enables brands to make their product content available to multiple retailers via a single channel.
Brands can find information about the specific content retailers are using and how they’ll use it, such as new item setup and content refresh.
The supported content today includes core information, images, ingredients, nutritional information, and dietary and category-specific attributes.
The focus right now is on the alcohol, grocery, and pet categories, but there’s a plan in motion to expand to other verticals in the future. Brands in these categories can connect to the Open Catalog via SFTP or an API and pull on-demand product content for your product detail pages (PDPs).
There are a multitude of benefits you’ll receive as an OXA member, including:
There are a few requirements to membership — mainly, you have to contribute to the OXA’s goals and efforts. Members must be willing to speak with their retailer partners about content collaboration and the benefits of an open ecosystem for both retailers and brands.
Members should allow logos to be used in private communication with retailers — the OXA has power in numbers. The more brands that join the mission, the more likely the OXA is to be heard.
Finally, members should provide an executive’s contact to be included in private communications to retailers because executive titles may be needed to signal authority.
Speaking with your retailer partners about breaking down walled gardens and toll roads will benefit your brand.
Free and frictionless relationships between brand and retailer will allow all brands to compete on an even playing field.
Free and open commerce for all is the best-case scenario for all brands. Then, the focus will be on your product and your content. Whether or not you have the funds to launch products to a retailer site or the right technology partner to properly activate product content is taken out of play.
To learn more about the OXA and how it collaborates with leading retailers to power an open ecosystem that delivers the best possible digital experience for consumers, watch the full on-demand webinar.
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