Rebuilding a fashion e-commerce catalog with AI: A success story

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Have you ever gone shopping in Milan, Paris, Berlin or London, the European capitals of fashion, luxury, design and iconic lifestyle? If you ever store-hopped across those cities and got your hands on some exclusive, aspirational outfits or accessories, chances are you acquired them from a handful of iconic, world-renowned department stores. Shopping in these unique locations transcends the simple purchase transaction to become an immersive, experiential journey.


An iconic brand

Founded in the mid-19th century, the Customer is one of Europe’s most iconic department store chains with dozens of high-end, prime locations across Europe’s major cities. A true institution, the brand epitomizes the ideals of innovation, aesthetics, design, and luxury for a discerning customer base.


Why the Customer chose Contentwise

In 2020, reeling from a dramatic collapse in retail activity following the onset of the covid pandemic, the Customer decided to launch its e-commerce storefront, with the goal of recreating, in the digital world, their unique retail shopping experience.

The largest and most iconic part of the Customer’s digital catalog is composed of luxury products and fashion items. To provide a complete, customer-centric experience on par with their physical stores, they needed to provide enriched, meaningful, descriptive content for every item offered on their e-commerce digital catalog.

The Customer wanted to improve the effectiveness and user experience of their online store, by building more personalized, accurate use cases for their discerning customer base. A key component of these use cases is the quality of product catalog data.

To enable these personalization and discovery use cases, the Customer needed to overcome one critical obstacle: accelerate the digital catalog production and management process to reduce the effort of the digital merchandising team, which was spending 70% of their time to simply generate product attributes and descriptions, incorporate supplier information, and enrich visual data.

All attributes and data were produced, managed, and manually enriched by the digital merchandising team, using Excel spreadsheets and some features of their Product Information Management (PIM) software.

A total of 10 FTEs managed more than 1,500 brands and over 30,000 SKUs.

The Customer’s key goals were to:

  • Reduce the time needed to perform visual enrichment on a single item from 5 minutes to 1 minute.
  • Improve the quality of product detail pages (i.e. increase the number, accuracy, and consistency of relevant product attributes) while maintaining consistent vocabulary and stylistic choices and adhering to the same optimized ontology structure.
  • Reduce seasonal editorial workforce peak demand due to cyclical collection launches during the yearly merchandising process.

They chose ContentWise Catalog Builder to achieve these objectives.


Reduced time-to-market

Thanks to an integration with the Customer’s photo shooting process, ContentWise Catalog Builder automatically fetches their images, enriches their product description page with visual details, and serves them back to the merchandising team through the ContentWise UI, ready to be imported to their e-commerce platform.

The previous process required the merchandising team to write down and cross-check more than 40 attributes, categories, and filters, for every single item. This activity was carried out on both an excel spreadsheet and a product information management (PIM) platform, often without having images at disposal at the right time, making the visual enrichment phase very time-constrained.

Moreover, our solution imported other attributes coming from different sources, such as PIM and ERP systems, and empowered the merchandising team with an easy visual crosscheck and guaranteed consistency across attributes.

Nearly 40% of the products managed by Catalog Builder didn’t require any edit, lowering the time spent on visual enrichments to a few seconds per item. Another 40% needed at most 2 edits, on either visual attributes or information imported from other systems and fixed during this phase.

Performance KPIs ContentWise Showroom Catalog Builder

This activity now takes 26 seconds per product to complete, compared to the 5 minutes before the introduction of catalog builder.

This is a 92% time reduction for this activity! 

Time that can be spent on more valuable activities, such as improving customer personalization, SEO, customer segmentation and targeting, structuring and optimizing marketing & promo campaigns.


Improved products detail page quality

Before adopting Catalog Builder, the merchandising team often had no choice but to publish product details pages without enough attributes, due to hard delivery deadlines and lack of enough time to carry out the enrichment process. Now, products are guaranteed to be published with all the necessary attributes, while the quantity of relevant information on the details pages increased by 35.5% on average.

Tags number with ContentWise Showroom Catalog builder

The solution automatically assembles uniform online catalogs integrating data from different sources and applying the same brand stylistic tone of voice to every digital asset.

Higher-quality catalogs directly lead to better e-commerce KPIs on SKUs managed through Catalog Builder compared to those that are not:

  • Exit rate dropped by -14.08%
  • Bounce rate dropped by -9.05%
  • Basket-to-detail rate increased by +7.37%

This is the direct, measurable impact of an enriched catalog. Other improved downstream tasks, such as personalization, direct marketing, and search which benefit from this extra quality, are not included in this analysis, but anecdotal evidence and examples tell us that many downstream UX KPIs are positively impacted.


Next Steps

Now that the catalog management process is streamlined and accelerated, the Customer can move forward with new, innovative and valuable solutions to engage their customers. They can use the rich attributes generated for products descriptions and enrichment to:

  • Improve search performances by tuning specific and generic attributes.
  • Boost cross-selling generating ensemble of products and outfits based on visual and descriptive stylistic match across their catalog,
  • Create more specific communication with their customers, based on the rich information associated with the products they purchased in the past.
  • Recreate a similar process for in-store and offline activities, in order to expand their customer engagement also on other touchpoints.


Boost your cart while reducing your effort

Digital catalogs are crucial assets for e-commerce retailers, especially in the fashion industry. The problem is that creating a top-notch digital catalog is no easy job. By maintaining a manually-intensive process, retailers risk producing digital catalogs with inconsistent descriptions, missing details, and errors.

Catalog Builder is the ContentWise’s solution that helps brands and retailers control e-commerce product content quality, enrich the data they already have, and keep it up to date on all channels and platforms thanks to automated data management.

Improve the accuracy and consistency of your product information.

Simplify catalog management with AI.

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