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The Challenges and Opportunities of Web Content Management Systems for Consumer Packaged Goods Companies

Posted @ 11:41 am by Tim Ross | Category: CMS, Strategy | 0 Comments

This is part six of our series on how Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies can leverage web and mobile technologies to drive business results. View other articles in the series here: part one on increasing sales, part two on driving research and development, part three on improving customer service, part four on mobile innovations, part five on turning video into value, and part seven on video analytics.

Web content management systems are not usually the first things marketers think of when they start working on a digital strategy, but they probably should be. While point-of-sales (POS) and supply chain management (SCM) systems have tended to be top of mind for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, content management systems (CMS) are becoming increasingly important as CPG companies look to leverage social media, mobile, and web applications to reach customers and build relationships in new ways.

The basic benefits of CMS are by now widely known, but still bear repeating. For companies with multiple brands, a CMS allows for a more holistic way of managing those brands while ensuring adherence to overarching divisional or enterprise branding and guidelines, which is quite appealing to corporate and brand marketing managers. On the tech side of things, a CMS approach enables the consolidation of websites that were formerly scattered across multiple servers into one secure CMS instance, which is appealing to IT and infrastructure teams. A good CMS solution also helps free up both IT and marketing teams to work on new features and initiatives rather than spending endless hours making content updates across multiple web or mobile properties, which is appealing to the C-suite.

Because of the structure of CPG companies and the type(s) of content they’re managing, they have unique CMS concerns that go beyond simply figuring out what sort of content you’ll be managing and whether to go with a proprietary solution (EPiServer, Sitecore, Oracle WebCenter Sites, Autonomy TeamSite, Adobe CQ5, SDL Tridion, or SharePoint) or customize an open-source system such as Drupal, WordPress, or Joomla.

With multiple brands and geographically distributed organizations, CPG companies have unique content challenges and opportunities. Following are the three we think are most relevant to CPG companies crafting CMS solutions.

 

1. Challenge: Highly Distributed Organizations | Opportunity: Lots of Detailed, Geo-Targeted Data

Large CPG companies tend to be highly distributed, with vast networks of suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, and retailers working in concert with national and/or regional corporate headquarters. That can make for a lot of headaches where content management is concerned, but it also creates unique opportunities. All of those pieces of a CPG organization have specialized knowledge about their own sphere of the business. A retailer in Southern California, for example, will know what sorts of goods are popular in his or her area, what’s selling well, and what’s happening locally that could not only affect sales but also provide useful marketing content. Without a web CMS that makes collaboration easy, however, the corporate marketing director in Chicago isn’t likely to be able to access or use that information, much less target the company’s message to Southern California consumers. An effective CMS, on the other hand, will enable not only the sharing of information, but also the use of that content across platforms—web, mobile, and social.

Giant UK grocer Tesco is a great example of this. The retailer boasts more than 800 stores in eight countries staffed by over 200,000 employees. It is opening new stores all the time, each of which needs its own regional tie-in to the broader Tesco site. Prior to adopting a CMS approach, the retailer was outsourcing content production to multiple agencies, then having Tesco.com staff review content and manually make changes to its various web properties. By streamlining all of that with a CMS, the company was able to reduce the labor involved in updating and deploying web content, resulting in a savings of $150,000 a year and time-savings of 85 percent. It also enabled the store to feature far more products for sale online, thereby increasing sales, and has made it easy for regional employees to make their own updates to Tesco.com, which helps keep the retailer competitive.

“Our customers do their day-to-day shopping online and seven out of ten top-selling lines are fresh food,” says Leon Stoner, web operations manager at Tesco. “This requires a system that enables our employees to update the site regularly and quickly. Ultimately, our CMS is giving our people the power to serve our customers directly without having to rely on a big, internal team of HTML authors and programmers.”

 

2. Challenge: Huge, Uncontrollable Brand Footprint | Opportunity: Engaged, Social Consumers

Large CPG companies have the resources to create and control fairly substantial brand footprints, but the larger the consumer base, the more that footprint spreads beyond a company’s control via customer comments on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon, Yelp, you name it.

A robust CMS won’t entirely solve this problem, of course, but it can go a long way toward helping CPG companies deal with it, both by helping to ensure brand consistency by creating and running all digital properties from one place, and by easily integrating social media into a company’s digital presence. The right CMS can even help provide a company’s more social consumers with plenty of ways to provide feedback, provide the company with more ways to engage with social consumers, and marry customer relationship management (CRM) tools with social media channels so that customer issues surfaced through these channels can be handled alongside more traditional channels like phone, mail, and email, while successful resolutions are widely broadcast through social media.

Molson Coors upgraded its CMS recently and was able to not only bring multiple, distributed sites into one system, but also easily integrate both social media and Google Analytics, as well as custom reporting. The CMS has so improved the company’s ability to publish, share, and gather information that Molson Coors partially credits it with the company making it into the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the first time.

 

3. Challenge: Limited or Overly Complex Feedback Loops | Opportunity: Collaborative, Innovative Customers and Employees

Most large CPG organizations are missing great ideas from employees and customers all the time, simply because they just don’t have an easy way for people out in the world to share ideas with the folks at HQ. CMS can go a long way toward solving that problem by enabling the creation of virtual teams and distributed expertise management and knowledge sharing; and providing user communities, discussion forums, and alternative feedback channels for both customers and employees.

Thanks to its cloud-based CMS, for example, General Mills was able to quickly respond to the sudden growth of the gluten-free market. The company launched its Gluten Freely site in half the time it would have normally taken to create and build a new website. The site is content-rich with plenty of info and tips on gluten-free diets, and even sells products from other brands, but by providing an easy portal for gluten-free consumers, General Mills has not only connected with a new market segment, but also created a great way to keep tabs on what sorts of products this segment is looking for both by tracking what customers are looking for on the site, and by providing easy ways for customers to post questions and comments.

 

Authors: Tim Ross, President of SolutionSet and Paul Kramer, CEO of CatapultRPM.

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